Small Bad Decisions Can Lead to Costly Mistakes (AKA: The Day I Ran Into My Husband’s Car)

Small bad decisions can lead to costly mistakes

Y’all. Something you might not know about me is that I can be quite brainless.

I lose things in obvious places. I forget where I’m going. I call people and can’t remember why I called them. I’m terrible at directions and navigation. And I often walk into a room and can’t remember why I am there or what I was supposed to be getting or doing in that room.

For some reason, I can handle big details and complicated projects involving dozens of moving parts, but I can be a hopeless cause when it comes to very simple things.

This morning was a perfect case-in-point. I was supposed to meet a friend at the coffee shop at 8 a.m. I was excited that I had gotten up and around early and was actually going to be on time.

I dashed to the car, pushed the button to raise the garage door, quickly started the car, backed out, and then heard a big crunch behind me…

Oh me, oh my! I had hit something while backing up and I knew instinctively what it was — Jesse’s car.

Yikes!!! So much for my good morning and actually getting out the door on time!

Even though I was scared to, I knew I had to get out of the car and go look at the damage that had been done.

I slowly made my way to the back of the car and breathed a huge sigh of relief: it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d expected. There were a few scratches and dings on his car, but it was mostly my car that had taken the brunt of the impact.

Even then, it wasn’t all that bad: mostly just a large 4-inch crack in the plastic bumper — something that wasn’t too obvious if you weren’t looking for it.

But it was still damage and it was completely the result of my brainless haste and I knew I had to go break the news to Jesse.

I came in the house and, trying to sound as calm and un-alarmed as possible, I hollered up the stairs, “Honey, I’m so, so sorry! I just ran into your car!”

Lest he picture massive damage, I quickly reassured him, “But I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds. Trust me. It could have been a lot worse.”

I was trying to find the perfect balance between expressing remorse and not creating undue panic.

He wasn’t thrilled with this start to the morning, but he was gracious in his response and came down to survey the damage.

I apologized profusely and told him I should have looked in my rear view mirror. It was my haste to get out the door that had caused the accident and my lack of remembering obvious things — like looking behind yourself when you back out of the garage.

The most embarrassing part? This is only the second “accident” I’ve caused and the other one also happened in our driveway. Yep, I told you I was brainless!

When I came home from meeting my friend, Jesse told me, “You know what? I did some calculating and realized that a few simple bad decisions resulted in potentially hundreds of dollars’ worth of damage.”

I gulped at that and immediately started beating myself up for being in such a hurry. But he wasn’t done talking yet.

He went on, “It wasn’t all your fault this morning.”

“But yes it was!” I protested.

“No,” he replied, “You see, the kids were irresponsible last night and left a scooter out in the driveway where I usually park my car. I saw the scooter and, instead of having the kids pick it up, I just parked on the wrong side — right behind you in the driveway.”

“So, we’re actually all to blame.” He went on. “The kids know they are supposed to put all of their outside toys up at night. They didn’t. And I was careless in parking the car right behind you instead of moving the scooter and parking where I usually park.”

A careless move on our childrens’ part plus careless moves on both of our parts all added up to costly damage to our cars. We had a good talk about personal responsibility as a family and we all committed to do a better job to not be careless or hasty in the future.

The good news? The cars are still completely drivable and the damage won’t hurt them in any way, except to potentially lower their trade-in value.

Learn from our mistakes today. Be thorough. Be careful. And don’t be in too much of a hurry. Seemingly small bad decisions can add up to costly mistakes.

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6 Things Our Family Has Chosen to Splurge On

6 Things Our Family Has Chosen to Splurge On

Note: This post was inspired by Andrea Dekker’s post on how they decide what to splurge on and what to save on.

I think that many people have this idea that if you’re frugal, it means you’re miserable. That you save every single penny and hold onto it for dear life.

In my view, that’s not what frugality looks like at all. Yes, I’m an advocate of never spending more than you need to. Yes, I’m a firm believer in taking time to scout out the best deal. Yes, I’m all about making-do and doing without if you are in a tight spot financially.

But despite all of this, I do not believe that you should become a miser or a tightwad in the name of “frugality.” After all, I believe money is just a tool. The purpose of money is not to accumulate as much of it as you can; it’s to do as much good with it as you can.

This is not just about giving and making an impact, but also about investing and spending your money in a way that is in line with your family’s priorities. It means deciding to save money in areas that don’t matter to you so that you can spend more money in areas that do matter to you.

The purpose of money...

For the first few years of our marriage, pretty much every extra penny went to paying for making it through undergrad and law school debt-free. We had made a choice: 1) to invest our money into law school and 2) to try to do it debt-free.

By making these choices, it meant that other things had to take a back seat: we didn’t buy anything that wasn’t a basic necessity and we made-do over and over again in order to stay out of debt.

Choices can have either consequences or rewards. In this case, it turned out to be rewards because those choices put us in a position to eventually have wiggle room in our budget to make other choices — like being able to splurge on some budget areas that are important to us.

As our budget has increased, we’ve have lots of conversations over what areas are priorities to us and what really matters to our family long-term. These priorities sometimes change as our seasons of life change — and that’s a good thing! Priorities and needs change over time and so should our budget.

6 Things Our Family Has Chosen to Splurge On

Here are 6 things we have decided are worth splurging on right now in this season of our life:

1. Giving Generously

This is paramount to everything we do and the driving force behind why we want to manage our money well. Truly, there is so much blessing in being a giver!

And the thing we’ve found is that you can’t out-give God. The more we open up our hands and let Him use our resources to impact others, the more fulfillment and joy we receive in return.

6 Things Our Family Has Chosen to Splurge On

2. Children’s Activities/Sports

All of our kids are actively involved in one sport — Kathrynne is on swim team, Kaitlynn takes ice skating lessons and private coaching, and Silas just started baseball. Each of these costs a fair amount of money — from the cost of equipment to the costs involved with competitions and swim meets, to the costs involved with lessons and coaching.

For some families, this investment might not seem worth it — especially when you factor in the time investment (Kathrynne has swim practice/meets 3-4 times per week, Kaitlynn has lessons/coaching 3-4 times per week, and Silas has baseball once per week). For our family right now, we feel that this is money and time well invested because of the character we see our children developing.

Not only do these activities encourage our children to be more outgoing and brave in new situations with new kids and adults, but it challenges them to work hard, learn to listen and follow the instructions of their teachers and coaches, face their fears head-on, and have a good attitude even when they struggle or don’t place well in a competition. We truly believe that the lessons they are learning from these sports will be invaluable for them the rest of their life.

Case in point, just last night, Kaitlynn showed me a large bruise on her arm that she’d gotten from a bad fall in ice skating. I said something like, “Ouch! That had to really hurt!” She quickly responded enthusiastically, “My coach says that if you don’t have bruises, you’re not an ice skater!”

Instead of running from hard things, she’s embracing them as part of the process of perfecting new ice-skating jumps and maneuvers!

6 Things We Splurge On

3. A Cleaning Lady

I fought against the idea of hiring a cleaning lady for a long, long time. It felt so extravagant and just plain wrong for a frugal person like me to spend their money on.

But Jesse kept on encouraging me to just consider it. Finally, after much coaxing from him, I broke down and tried it one time.

And I was hooked.

For many people, this might not be a wise investment of their money and I honestly hesitated to even put this out here publicly for awhile because I know that some people might be a little put off by it.

But here’s the truth: Jesse and I both work 30-40 hours per week and we are committed to homeschooling our kids, so we’re learning that we have to look for ways to streamline and simplify our lives if we want to have breathing room and margin.

Having a cleaning lady come in a few times per month saves us at least 15-20 hours each month. That’s 15-20 hours we get back to invest in our kids, invest in our marriage, and maybe even to spend sleeping or just enjoying downtime!

When we divided the cost by the number of hours it saves us, we realized that it was very worth this expense for this season of life. Because we make a good income and because we found a cleaning service with good rates, it really only costs us a few hours of our time working to pay for the cleaning service each month. Right now in my life, I’m all about spending a few hours of time working in order to save 15-20 hours per month!

We still have to keep up the daily maintenance — and we all pitch in to help with laundry, pick up, bathrooms, kitchen cleaning, etc., but it’s been incredibly helpful to have someone come in and clean our floors, dust, deep clean the shower/tubs/toilets, and clean our windows.

6 Things Our Family Has Chosen to Splurge On

4. A Good Hair Stylist (for me)

I’ve mentioned this before, but this is probably one of my biggest (and one of the few!) splurges I make on myself.

There’s something about a good hair day that just makes the whole day so much better! Having a good hair stylist means that I have mostly good hair days instead of constantly fussing and being frustrated with my hair when I mostly cut it myself.

When I started going to get my hair done at a more expensive place about five years ago, I quickly realized what a difference it made. My hair looked much nicer. It was much easier to fix. And it needed very little maintenance from me on a daily basis.

In addition, Jesse loves it when I spend time and money on my appearance (he’s the spender in our relationship, remember?!), so investing some money on my hair every other month is actually a way that I show my husband that what’s important to him is important to me.

5. A Gym Membership (for Jesse)

When we moved to Tennessee, Jesse signed up for a guy’s fitness group at a small locally-owned gym here. Honestly, this has been one of the best things he’s ever done for his health!

He’s faithfully gone to the gym at 6 a.m. 3 times each week almost every week since signing up and it’s been so amazing to see the impact it’s made in his life. Not only has he gotten a lot stronger and fitter, he’s had so much more energy and zest for life as a result!

I love to see how healthy and strong he’s becoming and how he’s pushing himself and excelling. The accountability and motivation he’s received from going to the gym and being apart of this group for the past 10 months has been life-changing for him!

6 Budget Areas Our Family Splurges On

6. Traveling as a Family

We keep things pretty simple at our house and don’t spend a lot of money on Christmas or birthdays. Instead, we’ve decided to prioritize traveling and giving our children experiences versus things.

Since we homeschool and Jesse and I are both self-employed and can work anywhere, this allows us the flexibility to be able to travel regularly. And we all love doing so!

We’ve found a lot of ways to travel inexpensively: we look for great deals online and book things when they are at their lowest rates, we almost always use the same airline and hotel chain so that we can rack up points and use these for free tickets and hotel stays, and, as much as is possible, we utilize credit from Swagbucks to cover the costs of some of our travel expenses.

While these tricks allow us to spend as little money out of pocket as possible each trip, we still do invest a fair amount of money on travel each year. However, for our family, the memories we make, the things we get to the see, the history and geography we learn together, the experiences we get to share… are all worth the investment.

Your turn: What does YOUR family splurge on? Or what do you hope to splurge on when you have the wiggle room someday?

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Have you tried Listia before? If so, I’d love to hear about your experiences!

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)
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Abby emailed in the following tip:

I am writing about a mobile website called AdsMoi that allows users to watch advertisements and get paid. It isn’t much (like a $1 day) but it adds up.

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5 Frugal Ways to Show Love on Valentine’s Day

5 frugal ways to show love

Guest post by Abby Winstead Wandering

Valentine’s Day is a polarizing holiday. On one side, you have Team “every day should be a celebration of love.” Those people argue that February 14, is a “Hallmark holiday”, a day manufactured by greeting card companies and chocolate makers to boost sales. They say that, if you really love someone, you’ll spend all 365 days each year showing it.

On the other side, you have Team “Valentine’s Day is a day for you to lavish me with all the presents I didn’t get at Christmas”. That team asserts that… well, I’m not sure what their reasoning is.

I fall somewhere in the middle. In no way do I think V-Day should consist only of the obligatory exchange of gifts. I also don’t think it’s necessary to skip the day altogether. I think that, like Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day should serve as a reminder to treasure the things and people we should be grateful for every day.

For those of us who want to find a way to our love to the special people in our lives without breaking the bank or giving into the commercialization of the holiday, I have 5 ideas to help you out!

1. Write a love letter.

There are a hundred little things about my husband that I’m thankful for each day. From his patience with the kids during bath time to his enviable laundry skills, I’m constantly reminded of why I love him.

While we both say “I love you” on a daily basis, we rarely expound on the reasons why. Annual birthday and anniversary cards are about it. I know both of us would be thrilled to receive a handwritten letter from the other identifying all the reasons we’re still so happy to be a part of this marriage.

2. Do something they love.

My husband and I have divergent interests. He loves playing golf and watching futuristic TV shows, and I love spending time in the kitchen and watching cheesy dramas. Shock your spouse this year by planning a day dedicated to something he or she loves!

3. Give the gift of alone time.

I love my husband. I love our children. But from the time I was young, I’ve occasionally needed time alone to recharge. I’d guess that many parents are the same way. As much I love being with the ones I love, sometimes it’s necessary to have a break from questions and diapers and being “on”.

I never want or need much time to myself; I usually only last a few hours before I begin to miss the noise and the sloppy kisses.

This Valentine’s Day, giving the gift of alone time can be a thoughtful no-cost or low-cost gift. Consider allowing your spouse to get out and about alone, or maybe with a friend. A few hours sipping fancy coffee or browsing a favorite store might be the perfect gift. Or, if possible, take the kids out or to visit family while the other parent hangs at home, napping or catching up on a favorite show.

4. Take a walk down memory lane.

If your relationship is anything like mine, it has evolved over the years. The new and exciting affection of the early years has been replaced by a deep, steady love born out of confronting the raw realities of life together. That transition is natural and necessary.

I wouldn’t trade the lessons we’ve learned or the way we’ve grown with each other for anything, but it’s easy to get caught up in the details of day-to-day life. Sometimes it’s nice to remember the people we were when we fell in love nearly ten years ago (or more!) This February 14, dig out those old photo albums and love notes. Remind yourselves of the reasons you fell in love.

5. Prepare a special meal.

Tastes and smells have the power to take us back in time the same way sights and sounds do. Think back over the course of your relationship, particularly the beginning, and focus on the meals you enjoyed together.

What stands out in your mind? Maybe it’s the cuisine you enjoyed on your first date, or the first time he made you breakfast in bed. For dinner on Valentine’s Day, recreate that special meal in your own kitchen.

What are your favorite frugal ways to show your love?

Abby is the wife of a patient man, mom to their two baby bears, and teacher of some cool kids. She loves dark chocolate and pretty napkins; the kitchen is her happy place. She lives in Mississippi and blogs at Winstead Wandering, where she shares the wandering thoughts of one who is not lost.

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