Time + Money Management: We Have a Choice

posted by Andrea | 06/22/2015
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time and money choices

 

Several months ago, I wrote a post entitled Why I Almost Never Say ‘We can’t afford that’ and a few months before that, I wrote a post entitled: We HAVE the Time, We just Don’t MAKE it.

Both posts were well-received with lots of positive feedback. However, both posts were also somewhat controversial in the sense that I got many comments and emails from people who did not agree with my reasoning.

The emails and comments were not rude, and I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with me… however for some reason, I have continued to think about the opposing comments and emails I received regarding those 2 posts over and over again for the past several months.

I guess it just bothers me that so many people seem to have such a “defeatist” attitude towards their lack of time and money. 

Yes, I COMPLETELY understand how frustrating it is to feel like you’re not getting ahead financially — even though you seem to be working your butt off day after day after day. After all, I ran a business for almost 4 years, barely breaking even while working WAY more than full-time hours in addition to another part-time job!

I can also FULLY relate to feeling pulled in 100 different directions, having SO much to do, not enough time to do it, and feeling like there is no other option but to work myself ragged and hope that half my list is crossed off at the end of the day.

However, that’s not how I choose to live the majority of my life — because I hate those feelings of “needing” and wanting more all the time… and I also know I have quite a bit of control over those feelings.

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Last month, I shared what I personally try to do when I’m feeling less than content with any certain area of my life. Whether it’s finances, time-management, my physical appearance, my home, my business, my daily life, etc. I use the 5 Things Rule to snap myself out of my “funk”, realize how much I do have to be thankful for, and how much control I do have over various areas of my life.

Of course, just “thinking on the bright side” doesn’t always magically fix all my issues — but it does usually help me to realize and remember that in almost every single situation I HAVE A CHOICE! I’m not just a victim. 

we have a choice

When it comes to our finances, there are truly many things Dave and I cannot currently afford to pay cash for… but even those “unaffordable” things are still unaffordable because of MY CHOICES.

If it was a dire need or a life or death necessity, I’m fairly confident I could take out a loan, put it on a credit card, ask friends and family to help, or cash in our retirement savings to pay for it. Those might not be very good choices, but they are still choices I have.

So I guess the main reason I try not to say, “we can’t afford that” is because I know that deep down, the real reason we don’t buy something is because “we are CHOOSING to use our monetary resources in a different way.”

Can we really not afford pizza for dinner or a fun lunch out with friends, or are we simply choosing not to spend our money in that way because we’re paying down debt, saving up for a big purchase, or we’d simply rather spend that money on groceries so it goes further?

Can we really not afford that toy for our kids, or are we simply choosing not to spend our money in that way because we’re saving up for a family vacation… and because frankly, our kids don’t need another toy!

Can we really not afford to buy a brand new car, or are we simply choosing not to because we don’t want to go into debt, have monthly payments, and spend so much money on something that will depreciate the minute we drive it off the lot? (For the record, I don’t think a new car is a bad thing if it fits your budget!)

Can we really not afford to go on vacation, or are we simply choosing to budget our money towards different avenues — like braces, school tuition, building our retirement funds, etc.?

Can we really not afford cable TV, or are we simply choosing to pay the electric bill instead as we know electricity is more important than TV?

If you really REALLY stop and think about it, every time you spend money (or don’t spend money) you are making a choice. Some of the choices are much easier to make than others — but there is ALWAYS a choice.

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The same goes for how we spend our time.

I cannot tell you how many times I hear someone complain about their lack of time or about how busy they are… and honestly, it really bugs me.

After all, we ALLLLLLLL have the exact same amount of time to use every single day, and we all have the opportunity to make various choices as to how we spend that time.

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Unlike our finances, there is no magical way to “make more time” — we all are stuck with 24 hours a day to utilize in the best way we can.

Yes, some of us work outside the home and work more hours than others — but I have to argue that working those hours is a personal choice. We are all adults and if we really wanted to, we could choose to be unemployed and/or live off the government in order to be home with our kids and have more time for other activities.

I’m not saying that’s a great choice to make — but I know a handful of people who have purposely made this choice for one reason or another.

I know I have personally cut back on many different activities that I used to really enjoy doing — all in an effort to simplify my life and have more time for my family, my business, and my house projects. In a few more years, once house projects are finished and my children are older, I might be able to say yes to many of those activities again. But for now, I’m choosing to say no.

Do we really not have time to be on that volunteer committee, or are we simply choosing to say no because we’ve reserved our nights for family time?

Do we really not have time to take on another client, or are we simply choosing to say no because we don’t want to stretch ourselves too thin and have to pull time from other activities we also enjoy?

Do we really not have time to keep our homes clean, or are we simply choosing to use that time for other activities with our family, friend, career, etc?

Do we really not have time to cook from scratch, or are we simply choosing to use some processed foods because cooking from scratch isn’t a priority for us and we’d rather have more time for other activities we enjoy more?

Every day, we have hundreds and thousands of choices as to how we will spend our time… it’s up to us to choose the best way for our current life and situation.

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When it comes to time and money management, I’d argue there honestly isn’t a specific “right” or “wrong” choice for any of us. It’s all personal preference and weighing the pros and cons over every situation — often on a daily basis.

You all know that I’m a HUGE advocate for being good stewards of our time, money, and other resources… and I think part of that process is realizing that how we use our time, money and other resources is almost alway OUR CHOICE.

Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule, but at least in my own life, I’ve noticed that even when I feel like I’m being 100% forced into something, it still always comes back to a specific choice I’ve made at one point or another.

So I guess I’d like to challenge you to not only become more conscious about how you’re managing your time, money, and other resources; but also to push that defeatist attitude out the window and take ownership of the fact that in almost every situation, the choices WE make are determining how we spend our time and money.

What do you think? Am I crazy? Or do I have a valid point?

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48 comments

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  3. Pixie508

    06/30/2015

    You are 100% right! Life in general is about choices.

    My husband and I have made choices that have caused us to back out of some activities and get involved in others for multiple reasons (time commitment, mission, life balance). For instance, our church VBS takes a decent sized time commitment from me because of my roll, but it only lasts a month or so, and because of it’s mission and the way we value it, we (as a family) work through that… it means that my husband has to take on more of the household duties, and spends a little more time “single parenting” during the few weeks leading up to it, but in the end, we know it’s a finite project, and as a family something we feel is important for the children of our church and the community at large. There was a time when I wouldn’t have done it due to other commitments, but it has now become a priority for us annually.

    And as for money – we def make choices! There are things that we *could* afford, but don’t do because then we couldn’t do XYZ. Our resources are finite. We got news that we were going to unexpectedly need a new roof. Well, that was not in the budget this year. Thankfully we were able to get financing at 0% for a year, so that we can pay it off at no additional penalty, but it is something that we needed to do. It also meant that several smaller projects that were planned for this year have now been placed on hold to free up the funds that were allocated for them (we were supposed to do some landscaping and remodeling a bathroom and painting the other bathroom – all 3 are on hold. They don’t equal the cost of the roof, but none of them are urgent. The roof is.)

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  4. Lynda

    06/27/2015

    I say “Absolutely!”

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  5. Anne

    06/23/2015

    Laura Vanderkam’s books have been game changers for me on this topic: 168 Hours: You have more time than you think and All the Money in the World.

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  6. Gillian

    06/23/2015

    Wonderful post, Andrea! You write very well, and make sure to add caveats to allow differences in lifestyle/opinions than your own. But you are indeed refreshing.

    I live with a ‘victim mentality’ husband whereas I am a 100% personal responsibility mentality wife. Yes, it has caused issues between us. Once you become aware that you ARE responsible for your life, that nothing is “done” to you, and that only you have the power to change your viewpoint, actions, and life, it does become irritating to hear others taking the easy road of “it’s not my fault” and “there’s nothing I can do”. There are many resources and books on motivation and changing your mindset. I like Gretchen Rubin as well, “Better than Before”.

    Really, circumstances are of your choosing, long and short. But that’s hard for folks to hear, because then they have to own up that they did it, whether directly, or indirectly. And it’s easy to defend the nameless underdog, a logical fallacy, to shoot down an argument.

    Here’s an example, my husband complains that he has no time now because he is taking courses …. but he forgets to mention he left school earlier in his life rather than finish. He also choose to take courses at this time, so why complain. He choose. He needs to own his choice. Your earlier choices DO come back to haunt you in some way, shape, or form.

    Now my frustration sometimes arises from doing all of the things to help yourself, like eating healthy, working out frequently, watching calories, and still not seeing the scale budge (menopause). My reframing in this situation is …. I’d certainly be fatter if I wasn’t doing all of those things to help my body, so I AM doing some good, even if it doesn’t meet some internal expectations of weight loss. I am healthy nonetheless.

    Thanks again for opening up this discussion. It’s refreshing to associate with folks who own their life.

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  7. Lynn O.

    06/23/2015

    You have a VALID POINT! Thanks for the post, this is well said.

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  8. Kerlin

    06/23/2015

    Completely agree with your pointof view. Taking responsibility of our actions is key to not only be happier but increases the chances to succeed in whatever you “choose” to do.
    Thank you!

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  9. Gabriela

    06/22/2015

    Yes…all we have is a choice. And it starts with God. Even He let’s us choose Him or not. We choose to be happy or not. We choose our attitudes. In James says to be thankful for everything, even the bad stuff – and it is our CHOICE to view every situation as something we can learn from. Every situation. At the moment my time management is super bad. But I realize it is my choice so I am not complaining about my super unproductive days. It is in my power to change.
    Regarding the money, I read Adam Stanley’s book “How to be rich” and is really good. About how we do have a LOT. So I agree with not using “can’t afford” because we actually have so much….
    Thank God for your gift of reaching and helping people. 🙂

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  10. Pascale

    06/22/2015

    I fully agree with you Andrea. Great post!

    I once heard a quote from a great psychologist who said “There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who refuse responsibility and those who take responsibility.”

    For the first group of people, it’s never their fault. It’s always something or someone that caused their problem. They see themselves as victims instead of victors.

    For the second group of people, it’s not necessarily their fault, but they take ownership and are proactive in how they handle situations. They don’t see themselves as victims, but as victors.

    Everyone can change the way they look at life. It’s only a decision away. It’s a choice to be a victim just as it is to be a victor. The battle starts in the mind.

    The same thing applies to our moods. We can choose to be happy and positive. We don’t have to accept every thought or feeling that comes our way. We can either accept it or refuse it.

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  11. Jenni

    06/22/2015

    I generally agree with this post, but I don’t think it’s a mistake to say you can’t afford something. To me, it is just a way of putting limits on what you are available to spend/do. And I do think that it’s true to say you can’t afford certain things, because even if your monthly spending were zero, your income is still limited, so you wouldn’t be able to afford certain things.

    One insight I had recently was that instead of looking at myself as time-poor, I could look at myself as time-rich, “spending” it in my daily tasks on things that mattered to me. Every day, I was given “time dollars”, and I chose to spend them primarily on my children and taking care of our home.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I honestly don’t think it’s a “mistake” to say that either — however, I know plenty of people who use “I can’t afford that” or “I don’t have time for that” as wimpy excuses to get out of things they don’t want to take responsibility for… or to complain about the fact that they seemingly have such a rough life (when I know they truly don’t).

    So no, I don’t think it’s bad or wrong to say it once in a while… as long as we don’t say it with a defeatist “woe is me” type of way 🙂

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  12. Rachelle

    06/22/2015

    Really enjoyed the discussion this topic generated. Lots of thought provoking replies to a great post Andrea! Thank you for making us look at our lives and ourselves in a different or deeper way… You have a great site (and insight) to spark enthusiasm for life and self development.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Rachelle!

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  13. Barb

    06/22/2015

    Excellent post Andrea!!! I am more conscious of how I spend my time, money and other resources now, more than ever before in my life. However, this reminder is always beneficial, and frankly makes me feel thankful for having so much freedom and control over my own life.

    I also loved the two quotes you used! I immediately copied and saved them for later. Thanks!

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  14. Daniele

    06/22/2015

    Andrea, I do agree with pretty much everything you are saying. Thanks for the post! I would maybe add that while we all have the same exact set of TIME given to us, we do not all manage that time with the same amount of ENERGY.

    I am learning (I think) that time is not the only factor in managing our choices of what to do with our time. Ultimately, yes, it is all still a choice. To equalize everyone with “the same amount of time” makes the actual minutes of our day the primary focus. Everyone cannot approach their time with the same amount of energy depending on life circumstances, illness, stages of life, and much more.

    I’ve done a fair amount of teaching of time management, and again, I truly agree your post! In my teaching though, I ask people to not only assess their time (as in solely minutes/days/months, etc), but their levels of energy in this particular stage of life (how much energy does it take me to do ____?). For example, attending an event or volunteering for a charity may take the same exact time for both introverts & extroverts, but their energy levels will probably strongly differ after that event. This in turn impacts how much time it may actually take…introverts maybe needing to rest more from that event (taking more time) and extroverts maybe feeling totally energized for the next thing.

    This often helps to inform people of how much time they actually have to do what is necessary or needed, what they would like to do, etc. and helps to refocus and personalize our approach to time based on our particular make-up as a person. Then hopefully, we can make better choices!

    Just my two cents for the day! 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes — GREAT point!

    Thanks so much for sharing Daniele!! You are exactly right.

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    Lynn Reply:

    Daniele, thank you for this. I don’t think everyone comprehends that all of us are unique and not all of us have the same resources. Yes, a disability might be considered not the norm, but there are many, many individuals have invisible disabilities or different circumstances. I don’t say this to play “the victim card”, but to point out that some of Andrea’s generalizations can be unintentionally hurtful. Some folks’ energy is drained because they pour a lot of their energy into caring for a parent or child, or perhaps they just pour themselves into caring for others less fortunate. Some folks’ energy is drained because of lupus, fibromyalgia, or some other invisible , chronic condition. So thank you for pointing out that different people have different energy levels.

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    Jenna Reply:

    That’s a great point! I was thinking, I know we all have the same amount of time, then why can’t I seem to get anything done? As I lay on the couch with morning sickness and a migraine. Obviously I’m not going to get anything done and it does “eat away” at my available time when I’mjenna sick, tired, pushed to the limit, etc. Thank you for pointing out the obvious when my thinking is so one track. Made me feel a little better about my messy house 🙂

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  15. Carl

    06/22/2015

    Andrea, long time reader, first time commenter. Loved the post because I have come to the same conclusions in my own time/money management journey. Thanks for sharing!

    I would also add that we not only have the responsibility to ourselves to effectively manage our time and money, but a responsibility to our communities as well. If we frivolously waste our time and money we are robbing everyone of our talents and resources. Once we take responsibility for our actions we can finally live authentically.

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  16. Kathy C

    06/22/2015

    You are exactly correct. It’s all about our choices, even bad ones we have made in the past where the consequences continue to suck our money or time. We just have to stop and think and be honest with ourselves.

    Every day I look for ways to “make more time”, by doing another task better, NOT doing tasks that aren’t urgent, going to bed later/getting up earlier, etc.. One awesome way for me to “make more time” is by taking vacation time at work but no going anywhere. We only take a “go away” vacaton about every 5 years because it is so expensive (we save up and pay cash), so that leaves me with vacation time I can take for other things. So when I take a 2 hour or 4 hour “vacation” from work, that instantly makes time! And by only taking a vacation every 5 years, that saves money.

    Another way I “make money” is by having a pantry challenge twice a year and eating things I’ve already bought or preserved (we do buy milk and cheese that month). But you can make bread and tortillas from things on hand in your pantry. If you normally spend $100 a week at the store, then…maybe $400 savings that month! This works best when you stockpile other items like toilet paper when it is on sale.

    Think outside the box and come up with ways to “make” time and money!

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  17. Tamara

    06/22/2015

    The little boxed item at the bottom of this post should be huge and bold. This all comes back to one truth, whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right. Attitude and mental thoughts will lead you down the path you’ve chosen. If you don’t like the path you’re on, time to change your thinking.

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  18. Ann

    06/22/2015

    Very well said! I agree 200%
    God bless you as your family welcomes your precious little one!
    Love your blog & these kind of posts are my FAVORITE!

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  19. Amy

    06/22/2015

    I look forward to the possibility of you delving further into this topic as I’ve been left feeling confused. While I have passed on invitations to take a European vacation, mani/pedi, 5-star restaurant and Broadway show with friends, yes I know that was a choice. I chose it because I was uncomfortable living out of my means. -I totally understand that was my choice, but I felt empowered saying “no” versus feeling defeated. Was I defeated based on this post? Are you saying it’s time to throw caution to the wind and start spending?

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    Andrea Reply:

    hmmm… I wondering if you might be mis-reading the post a bit. The examples you mentioned seem to prove my point EXACTLY — and I think you have an AWESOME attitude towards your finances! Yes, you are making choices, choices that you feel great about and choices that will ultimately propel you to the life you would like to have for yourself.

    You’re choosing to forgo activities and events that you feel might stretch you too thin financially, so that later, you will have more money for other activities and things that are more important to you. And the fact that you are making those choices WITHOUT complaining or bemoaning the fact that “you can’t afford________” Is exactly what I’m trying highlight in this post.

    It’s OK to say no to things you choose not to do — even if you could make the time and money for them. It’s YOUR choice, and I think it’s awesome that you aren’t complaining about how horrible your life is because you can’t afford to do all those fun things that your friends are doing. You are acknowledging the fact that you CAN afford them, but also making a mature, conscious choice not to spend your resources on those activities. THAT’S the whole point I’m trying to get across in this post 🙂

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    Amy Reply:

    Mea culpa! I definitely misread! The defeatist attitude are people that have allowed themselves to become victims of their choices. And sadly, they don’t even realize it was their doing based on their choices. Whereas, I was thinking of someone who may just find it easier to say, “I’ll pass because I didn’t budget for that activity this month.” As someone who prefers having cash to back purchases, I wholeheartedly respect this response, and would find it frustrating to listen to someone “generally-speaking” complain about his/her finances.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — OK good. I’m glad it wasn’t something I said incorrectly 🙂

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  20. beth

    06/22/2015

    You’d probably really enjoy Laura Vanderkam’s books “All the Money in hte OWrld” and “168 Hours” They deal with both of these concepts.

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    Andrea Reply:

    hmmm… never heard of those books but I’ll definitely look into them. Thanks!!

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    Jennifer C Reply:

    Those books by Laura Vanderkam also came to my mind while reading this– definitely worth a read!

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  21. Kelly Hess

    06/22/2015

    Andrea – I completely agree with you. Is frustrating when people complain about ho they do not have the time or energy for certain tasks and then they tell you about all of the activities they are running their kids to. Same goes for money, do not complain about your lack of money and then tell me about your car payments, camper insurance etc. We all make the choice of where to spend our time and money!

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  22. lydia @ frugaldebtfreelife

    06/22/2015

    I agree and I disagree. My husband and I are working middle class. We work very hard and we live within our means. And yes that means we make a lot of choices to live a more frugal and conservative life so that I can stay home with my children. We have given up a lot of what some might consider luxuries.

    I agree that we are in control of how and where our time and money are spent. However, our family has chosen to become involved in organizations that minister to those who are living in cases where they don’t have the luxury of time or extra money. It isn’t a choice to pay for pizza or cable, it’s a choice to pay for the electric bill or put diapers on their kids or feed their families.

    I really don’t think I could look in the face of a single mom whose husband walked out on her while she was pregnant and she is working 60 hours a week and barely scraping by and tell her she could afford to pay her electric bill, but she is just making difference choices. I realize that is an extreme case and probably not what you’re referring to, but you live in Michigan, Andrea. Take a drive into Detroit and see how people are living outside of the suburbs. Look at the struggles they have.

    I really do enjoy your blog and I do hope that you see my words as honest and not harsh as I am trying to see yours.

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    Lynn Reply:

    Thank you for saying this.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Oh yes, of course. There are exceptions to every “rule” and that’s why I tried to remember to write — “in ALMOST every situation, we have a choice” — because I’m fully aware that there are many situations when people literally do not have a choice — or it’s a horrible choice (like you mentioned).

    That said, based on surveys I’ve given and all the comments/emails I’ve gotten over the past 5 years of blogging, I personally feel like the vast majority of people ready my blog would not fit into that type of extreme situation.

    My goal is just to get people thinking about how they are using their resources and realize that in ALMOST every situation, we have more control over the choices we make than we might think!

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  23. Becky

    06/22/2015

    I don’t think you’re crazy and I really enjoyed your previous posts on the subject, but this one didn’t sit as well with me. Yes, we have choices, but the reality is that sometimes it’s not your choice. You included an option that is a perfect example of what I’m talking about:

    “Yes, some of us work outside the home and work more hours than others — but I have to argue that working those hours is a personal choice. We are all adults and if we really wanted to, we could choose to be unemployed and/or live off the government in order to be home with our kids and have more time for other activities.”

    I don’t consider that a choice. Someone who is perfectly capable of working, but would rather stay home, so they mooch off someone else (whether it’s government, family, or whatever)? I think I just don’t see this as black and white as you do. Yes, most of our lives, and some of our problems, are certainly self-regulated, but I think there’s a lot of gray area, too.

    I totally agree that there are lots of choices to be made in life, and all of our choices affect us in positive or negative ways. There are so many things in life, though, that we don’t really have a choice about. Yes, you could say, “Well, you could have chosen to live in West Michigan, where the cost of living is way less, but you CHOSE to live in California and you have to live with the results, and not get frustrated about it.” If that’s where someone’s job is or where their husband was transferred or whatever, it’s not really much of a choice, you know? Yes, technically, it’s a “choice,” but not really. (This is not my story, but I can see how it might be frustrating to be in that situation and feel like I’m being told it was my choice.)

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Becky,
    My point in using the “living off the government” example was merely an attempt to show that there is almost always a choice.

    While I did mention that I personally would NOT recommend that choice if you have the option of working… I included that example because SO many people who have emailed me over the years complaining about the fact that they could never afford to stay home with their kids because they “need” to work.

    Obviously, I don’t know the whole situation, but I do know several families who could simply cut back on a few vacations, get a less expensive vehicle, or make a few other sacrifices to be able to have one parent stay at home with their kids.

    Maybe it was too extreme of an example — but I was trying to show that even in extreme situations, there is often a choice 🙂

    Once again, I would NOT support or recommend that anyone mooch off the government… I was only trying to show that it was just one of many choices we are able to make.

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  24. Jennifer

    06/22/2015

    I think about this often, because I’m nearly 30, about to have my first baby, and all my friends are in the stage of life where they have small children and/or demanding jobs, are buying houses, and are on the front end of their careers and therefore often have a lot of demands on them without having a huge paycheck to compensate. It is very easy to complain about not having time or money for things, and I agree with you that in most cases we have a choice and aren’t the victims we sometimes claim to be.

    Sometimes I think there is an underlying emotional cause for these complaints, i.e. that people are feeling pressured beyond what they can handle and, when asked to take on a new responsibility, they just lash out defensively. I know I do this. ‘Why does everyone think that I have unlimited time for this sort of stuff?’ etc. Sometimes that kind of defeatism (as you put it) is just an unconsidered response to what I feel is pressure.

    A secondary reason why people may talk this way is that sometimes it feels more acceptable to say ‘I can’t afford that’ than to say that you choose not to have it! For whatever reason, I definitely think that ‘I’m busy’ and ‘We can’t afford to do that’ are things that society will generally accept as excuses, whereas ‘I don’t think that’s a valuable way to use my time/money’ isn’t. That’s a shame, because it pushes us into this defeatist attitude!

    I don’t know that there is always the full scope of choice that I might wish in these areas. Perhaps that’s what some people are complaining about, really – that we don’t always have the choices open to us that we wish we had. (We might wish we had our dream job part-time near to home with benefits and a great salary.) But I agree that we do still have choices, and sometimes we ignore them just because we are too upset about the ones we don’t have to appreciate the ones we do.

    Personally, as I am starting out with my first child, I’ve been trying to be very mindful of how I talk about time and money, because I always feel depressed when others are constantly complaining about them. I don’t want to put across an attitude to my family of victimisation or defeat by constantly saying ‘I can’t.’ I’d rather convey that, because I value something else more, ‘I won’t’!

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    Debbie W. Reply:

    Jennifer, I think you made some good points about the mentality that goes behind people saying they don’t have enough time and money. Especially about it being more acceptable reason to others. A few months ago, our money was extra tight. My kids kept asking for this and that, and I was responding with things like “that’s not the best use of our money right now,” but they kept asking.

    Finally I said, “look, our money is really tight right now and we just cannot afford those extra things.” After I said that, they seemed to understand and stopped asking. I didn’t get the feeling that they felt bad in any way, it’s just that when I worded it that way, they seemed to understand better that our money had reached it’s limits of choice and no other choices could or would be made beyond that.

    I think that so often the frustration is that we have to choose *either this OR that* when our hearts tell us that that we need to be able to accomplish *this AND that.* It is the limits that are so frustrating.

    But I also see the point that recognizing and accepting that there are limits on time and money can help us make better choices with what we do with them both. Unfortunately no one can do everything they really want to, but we can all decide what the best choices are for using whatever we do have.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes Debbie — thanks for sharing. I can totally see how just rewording it with your children helped your situation. I also think it’s good to be honest about our finances (especially with our kids). I don’t want to pretend like we can afford anything we want. I just know so many people who use the phrases “we can’t afford that” and “we don’t have time for that” as cop-out excuses even though they aren’t really true.

    Thanks for sharing your perspective!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, yes, yes, and yes! You said this extremely well and I really appreciate this comment.

    Congrats on the soon-to-be new baby… and also on the fact that you are already thinking ahead to how you want to talk about time and money with your children!

    I think that’s when I really started to think about these topics as well… because I did not want my children growing up hearing me complain about CHOICES I was making. Yes, I’m certain there will be times when I sit them down and say “look kids, we just can not afford that right now so stop asking”. but for the most part, I hope I can show them that if they REALLY want or need something, we can get creative, work hard, and figure something out — instead of just sitting back and making excuses.

    Thanks again Jennifer!

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  25. Heather

    06/22/2015

    I agree to a certain extent. I think this is a very middle class perspective. Some honestly do not have the liberty of choice, especially financially. When the money doesn’t even cover food and shelter, some have no choice but to say I can’t afford that because it is 100% true., the money is gone .

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’m sorry to hear that heather — I realize that must be extremely frustrating. These situations are exactly why I tried to say “in ALMOST every situation we have a choice”. I fully realize there are always exceptions to every “rule” — I just clearly can’t list out or qualify all those exceptions in everything I write so I have to generalize at times!

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    Georgia Reply:

    I’m going to kindly add my “two cents” as I grew up in a lower class single parent home and still had “more” at times than friends with two working parents. I watched the choices my mom made and learned how to live well frugally and sacrifice in areas that were not of importance to us.

    It’s not just about the money that comes into your home, but rather the money that goes out. I see and hear of so many people that say that can’t afford much, yet they spend WAY too much on entertainment, food, clothing, cars, haircuts and beauty supplies, sports, etc.

    Everyone is free to spend what they want as you have said Andrea, but then when people say they do not have a choice or can’t afford much, it all goes back to where their money is going.

    I know people (of low & middle class) who spend money like it’s nothing because it’s payday and they “feel” like they should be rewarded. Shopping is not wrong, but when you are “broke” the next day because of your shopping purchases, that ‘s not rewarding yourself.

    I also know of these same people who are always “broke” or “spending money they do not have” on so many frivolous items without much thought.

    Example:

    – Gas Stations (sodas, candy, energy drinks, magazines, alcohol, etc. You can easily spend $10- $20 on junk there if you are buying for yourself or family.)

    – Starbucks & Coffee Shops ( You know how expensive these can be. And if you are buying for yourself and a kid or two, you will easily spend $15-$20 there for drinks and pastries/sandwich.)

    – Movies/Sports Games/ Amusement Parks/ etc. (Your children don’t have to go to these places once a week or even once a month. These places will easily cost $50 – $100+ for the tickets, food, drinks, etc.)

    – Target & Walmart- ( I know people who love to go there to pick up a “thing or two” and will also buy a cart load of other items that caught their eye, was a good price, or they think they need or could use.

    – Fast Food- ( This is a big area where “broke” people will spend and justify since you can order off the dollar menu or use coupons. Even then it adds up quickly, especially when you are going multiple times a week.)

    I don’t say these things to put anyone down or to say I am perfect in my spending habits, but to show that the many times I thought I was “strapped for cash” or poor, it all went back to my choices I was making. Anyone can save money no matter how little or how much they make, it’s all about choices and self-control. May all of you have a wonderful day~ 🙂

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    anonymous Reply:

    I have to add my two cents here. I live adjacent to a very low income area where most people rent apartments or small single family homes. Those homes have foot high weeds, broken down cars and appliances on the dead brown lawn and what appears often to be bed sheets tacked up for curtains. But the cars are new and driving by at night one sees huge flat screen TVs and every roof has a satellite dish. Big wheels and bikes dot the open areas but you never see a garden hose, or any living plant that is not a weed. These people are very low income but my sense is that they are in that boat because they made repeatedly bad choices. My husband and I drive 20 year old cars, have paid off a mortgage and have put our daughter through college and braces. We lived on one income and it was not any 6 figures, trust me. We went without cell phones, cable TV, showtime and Netflix while we stayed out of debt and put money into 401k savings. What makes the middle class what we are is we are strong and proud and self sufficient. We don’t have more kids than we can feed, we work hard and take care of what we have. We go to church, we care for our children, and we stay off drugs and tobacco. Who buys cigarettes but very poor people. The same ones who use federal tax subsidies to fill their carts with starchy junk foods and soft drinks. Yep you can buy cola with food stamps. It is all about choices. Would I buy a lottery ticket on a dare? No way. Yet I see women with lots of kids buying them instead of quality food. William James said we don’t change our attitude by changing our circumstances but rather the opposite. I see cycles of poverty repeating in this country starting with dropping out of high school and teen pregnancy then welfare and dependence on handouts paid for by those of us who choose to work. I know there are some legitimate cases of need, but for the most part, people at the bottom of the ladder just won’t put the first food on the first rung.

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    Aja Reply:

    I understand why it might be frustrating to see flat screen tvs in homes of people whom you assume don’t work and spend all their time and money in frivolous living. That being said, there is a mean, prejudice and judgemental theme flowing through your post. I feel like you could benefit from getting to know those neighbors and seeing their humanity. What you see is not always what you get, and living meager, taking care of your lawn and not smoking or gambling does not give you the right to make such harsh generalizations. One day you will need someone to remove their glasses of pretense and look past their own misconceptions about you, hopefully they are more gracious than you are showing yourself to be.

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  26. Siobhan

    06/22/2015

    Great perspective and I agree..we all have a choice. I often find that I take on the defeatist attitude when I feel overwhelmed because deep down I know I did not make the best use of my time, money, etc..

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  27. Janet

    06/22/2015

    Andrea, thank you for often focusing not just on what to do to simplify but also on our attitude towards it. You are great at reminding us to “put away childish things” and be adults, which means we take responsibility for our decisions. There is too much victim mentality in society today!

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  28. Tracey

    06/22/2015

    Right on, Andrea! It’s HOW we choose to spend either. So true.

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