Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ethical consumerism - enough really IS enough

~Stewardship - When faced with a purchase I ask myself, can I actually afford this? (Which is far different from “do I have the money for…”) I ask myself “Can I do without this, or figure out how to get this in a better way?” I ask, “What could I do with this money that would serve a greater purpose than this item would?” I ask, “If I don’t purchase this, what will I do with this money?”~ (Ethical consumerism - So it starts)

~I’ve come to realize, to an extent, how frivolous we can be. Last April we went credit card free (don’t admire us, I’ll tell all in the next post.) Since then, when I think “hm, food to eat? Or this pair of shorts for Gideon?” the answer is a no brainer. On our one income, you get creative, or you go without. It’s that simple. Next time I’ll share our story of going credit card free, along with a silly story of my pride. Socks.~ (Ethical consumerism - I expound)

When Mark and I got married we were NOT good with money, and on top of that, we were literally not earning enough to make ends meet. Our solution? Marks credit card. Instead of spending less, we just charged everything. Please don’t go shaking your head at our parents for not educating us on proper money management skills - they taught us, we just chose not to learn from them. To this day, I wish we had. So, to make a long story short, we maxed out, and missed or was late on several payments. Our monthly credit card bill was usually about $400.00, minimum. At that point, Mark was earning enough money for a family of 3 to make ends to meet, but with a bill of $400.00 just to pay the interest on our card, we were in the same financial boat that we had been in. Mark was earning more, but we owed more. So, last year we were referred by a friend to a debt management program, and we enrolled. Payments were much more affordable, we got to chose the day of the month that we paid the bill and there was an end in sight - to be debt free. However, the company that we had our credit card through, has a policy that if you enroll in a debt management program, you MAY NOT OWN/USE ANOTHER CREDIT CARD, AND YOU MUST STOP CHARGING. Which really makes perfect sense. If we did use another card, and they found out, they would kick us out of the program and we would be back to square one. That, my friends, is not a risk we are willing to take. (This is how I learned to ask “can I actually afford this?” (Which is far different from “do I have the money for…”)

So it became official, on April 3 2008 in the year of our Lord, we went credit card free.

And we were/are in a good spot financially, because if we stretched just a bit, we can make ends meet. Without owning anyone anything further. Unless, the car needs new tires. Or we had a co-pay for the Dr.. Or we were in a wedding. These things were not and could not, be a part of the budget. On more than one occasion my parents stepped in to help us with something that needed to be charged, so we do owe them some. (For instance, there was just no way to get around the fact that in November I needed a $300 satin cognac maternity gown for my brothers wedding, don‘t blame the bride… someone else picked out the dresses.) So Like I said before, you get creative, or you go without. Speaking of that November wedding, and creativity - it’s now time for my story.

Before Gideon was born, we were handed down plenty of very nice baby clothes. Some as big as 3T. There was an adorable little pants and vest suit. That just so happened to fit Gideon in November. So for the wedding we had several dress shirts to choose from, a clip on tie, and my mom found a pair of perfectly sized perfect condition dress shoes at goodwill. However, we had 0 dress socks. All we had for Gideon to wear under his new dress shoes were white, tan or red socks. Did I mention that because of a job position switch , Mark was making less than we needed, with his first commission check weeks after the wedding? Well, we were broke. We literally only had a few cents in the bank. So, I start thinking “what am I going to do? Gideon needs dress socks. I don’t have a card to charge it on! If Lisa’s (the bride, and now my sister-in-law‘s) family sees Gideon with a suit on and white socks, they’ll think our family has no class. They’ll think we’re a bunch of country bumpkins (which isn’t far from the truth) and they’ll forever hold us in judgment. They’ll think of John and Lisa’s children‘s “other grandparents” as unsuited to be their grandparents. They’ll fear that Lisa’s children will grow up unprivileged and uncivilized. They’ll look down on John . I can’t do that to them! I can’t do that to him!” Worry. Pride. Sinful. Silly. Socks. So, what did I do? Out of shear brilliance, and obvious desperation- I crafted toddler dress socks out of 2 mismatched toddler socks and one mismatched men’s dress sock (on a side note, how does that happen? So many socks, non that match.) For your enjoyment, I will post a picture of said dress socks soon… well, only one, I’m not sure where the other one is. : )

And you know what, At the wedding reception, I realized that Gideon’s beautiful “dress socks” never even showed. The pants were just a tad too long, which hid his socks completely. He could have worn NO socks and no one would have been the wiser. *Sigh* Some things, most things, just aren’t that important.

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