What Kim Kardashian Can Teach Us About Contentment

Contentment

I usually “live in a cave” when it comes to current events… but it’s almost been impossible to avoid the fact that Kim Kardashian chose to pose nude for the world recently.

Only God knows her heart. Only God knows why she made this decision.

I’m not here to call her names. She’s been called enough things this week.

I’m not here to talk about how her actions make other women feel. Many other writers have done a great job of that. Nor am I here to open up a discussion on what is and isn’t appropriate to be shared with the public.

But what I think we all can learn from Kim Kardashian is an important lesson on contentment.

Yes, contentment.

You see, so many of us buy into the lie that money and fame will buy happiness. We chase after more. We wish we had a bigger house, a nicer car, a better job, more clothes. We want to be in a place where we can afford to buy higher quality items or have more wiggle room in our budget.

We look at that family at church, or the family in our neighborhood, or that blogger online, or that family member, or that movie celebrity and we envy what they have that we don’t.

We think, “If only we had this…” “If only we had that…” If only we had more money…” “If only we had more in savings…” “If only we had a better job…”

We believe that more will automatically equal greater happiness and fulfillment. We want what the Jones’ have.

But here’s the thing: the Jones’ probably aren’t happy.

As Kim K. has shown us this week, having a net worth of $65 million dollars doesn’t equate happiness. Even though she can pretty much afford to pay for whatever it is on earth that she wants, from my perspective, it appears that she’s still seeking something she doesn’t already have.

Contentment

I think it’s fantastic to get on a written budget. I think it’s often helpful and good to look for ways to increase your income. But, ultimately, know that the best thing you can invest your time and effort into is developing contentment.

If you’re not 100% fulfilled, happy, and embracing right where you are, there’s a good chance you’ll never find fulfillment or joy elsewhere — no matter how much money you make, how many likes your post gets on Facebook, what kind of house you live in, or what kind of promotion you get at work.

Contentment is much more valuable than the greatest net worth on earth.

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We Paid Cash: A Down Payment

We paid cash!

A testimony from Anne of Modern Mrs Darcy

My husband and I set a big hairy goal more than ten years ago. We wanted to move out of our much-loved starter home (6 people, 1 bathroom, you get it) into a slightly larger place — while keeping our first home so we could rent it out. We wanted to do it before our oldest child — then a toddler — hit the teen years.

We did our research: our banker suggested we borrow a big chunk of change off our first house to use as a down payment for the second, but we didn’t want to. We were uncomfortable with cashing out our equity: the big crash of 2008 was still fresh in our minds, and we didn’t want to give up the margin we enjoyed because of our small mortgage. Besides, once we put our first home into use as a rental, we wanted that place to cash flow. That’s easy to do with a small mortgage, but much harder with a brand-new 80% one.

So that meant we needed to save up a down payment from scratch. While still paying the mortgage on our first home. Yikes!

To make a long story short, we did it. We moved into our new place in May, and our new tenants moved into our old home a week later. Here’s how we did it:

Think long term.

We have known for over a decade that 1. we wanted to move before our oldest was a teen and 2. we wanted to keep our first home when we did.

Richard Foster says that people overestimate what they can accomplish in one year but grossly underestimate what they can accomplish in ten. We were working with a ten-year plan.

Sweat the big stuff.

Most Americans spend the most on housing and cars. We had a low mortgage payment on our first home, and we aren’t car people. (That’s a nice way of saying our cars are old and inexpensive to operate.)

Bonus: we don’t freak out when one of us dings the minivan backing into the stone wall at the park. Hypothetically speaking.

Put it on autopilot.

For years, we’ve relied on automatic deductions to take a portion of our paychecks straight out of our checking account and into savings. This was especially helpful early on when we were lacking in enthusiasm because we had so far to go.

Stick to the essentials.

The closer we got to our goal, the more motivated we became. For the last year we spent very little on nonessentials. The closer we got to the goal, the more we cut out because we were close enough to taste it.

Save dollars big and small.

Unexpected birthday checks, payments from consignment stores, yard sale funds, freelancing checks: whether it was $3 or $300, we banked all those extra income checks in a designated savings account at a not-normal-to-us financial institution that was really a pain to withdraw funds from.

Just keep swimming.

Ten years ago, it was daunting knowing that we needed to save up a big chunk of change starting from zero. But we just kept plugging away.

We were inspired by Crystal’s own journey to pay cash for a house. Like her, progress came slowly at first, and then all at once.

It wasn’t easy, and it took ten years, but paying cash for the downpayment on our new house sure felt great!

house keys

Anne Bogel loves strong coffee, long books, and big ideas. She’s putting a timely spin on timeless women’s issues at her blog Modern Mrs Darcy, where readers engage in an ongoing conversation on womanhood today. A classic INFP, Anne couldn’t choose a favorite book – or child – if you paid her, but she would love to talk about your best-loved titles and what we can learn from heroines like Lizzie Bennet and Anne Shirley all the live-long day.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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Dear mom who is so tired of living on a tight budget…

Dear mom who is so tired of living on a tight budget...

Dear mom who is so tired of living on a tight budget:

I know that you want to give up.

You’re worn down from watching every penny you spend.

You’re exhausted from carefully calculating how you’re going to stretch your grocery dollars to feed all those mouths that seem to never stop eating.

You wish you didn’t have to wait for ever until that item you need goes on sale for the lowest price so you can make it work to purchase it on your beans and rice budget.

You are tired of re-wearing the same thing over and over again. Tired of praying every time you get in the car, hoping it will start. Tired of having to turn down yet another get-together with friends because there’s no way you can afford to pay for dinner out at a restaurant.

You just want to check out of your money-strapped life and go have a latte and a massage. Or maybe money is so tight right now that you would just love to have a few extra dollars to spend on something you want at a garage sale, instead of having to reserve every nickel and dime for only the basic necessities.

Can I encourage you? The difficult choices and hard sacrifices you are making will be worth it… and they could make a major impact on generations to come.

Not too long ago, I was being interviewed by a magazine writer about raising financially responsible kids. I shared with this interviewer some of the things we’ve done with our kids, such as: letting our children handle money from the time they were young, giving our children opportunities to earn money, and encouraging our children to become givers.

As the interviewer continued to ask questions, she became more and more excited about the things I was sharing. At the end of our conversation, she said, “It seems like you’ve done so many things right as parents. Do you ever make mistakes with money or have you failed as parents when it comes to teaching your kids about money?”

I was able to share candidly with her that, yes, we’ve failed in many ways (see yesterday’s post for an example!), but because of our parents’ and grandparents’ examples, we’ve made a lot fewer money mistakes as a couple.

The sacrifices they made to live on a budget and get out of debt paved a trail for us so that it wasn’t as difficult. In addition, their sacrifices inspired and motivated us to want to stand on their shoulders and do even better than they did. We, in turn, hope to inspire our own children and grandchildren to go even farther than we have or will.

In those moments when you want to throw in the towel, when you are discouraged about your budget, when you are tired of all the short-term sacrifices, when you just want to pull out that credit card to buy something you don’t have room in your budget for, remember this: your children are watching. The example you set before them will impact them in powerful ways — either good or bad.

So don’t throw in the towel. Don’t give up on your budget, even though it’s tough.

Your children and grandchildren will thank you one day for your wise money management… and that will make it all worth it.

Don’t quit! The best is yet to come!

Cheering for you,

Crystal

photo credit

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How I Saved Today: Making homemade foaming hand soap

Making Homemade Foaming Hand Soap

Thank you so much for your enthusiastic response to my first How I Saved Today post yesterday. I think this is going to be such a fun post to put together.

I’m going to try to get it this feature posted daily. However, I know you all will be patient and understanding if I don’t always get it done every single day. Because sometimes, well, life just happens and my best-laid blogging plans go out the window. :)

I knew I could count on you all to give me great input on repairing glasses with missing screws. I should have just asked you before I tried to fix them myself! But alas, they are fixed and now I had a kit to fix them should a screw go missing again in the future.

That said, I’m hopeful maybe there will be fewer lost screws in my future, because I took the advice some of you left and secured my glasses screws with clear nail polish this morning. What a brilliant tip! And one that I would have never come up with on my own. Thank you, all!

Homemade Foaming Hand Soap

How I Saved Today

I saved today by making some more homemade foaming hand soap. This is SO easy to do and a great way to cut down on hand soap costs.

I used a little dish liquid, water, and some Citrus Bliss essential oil for the hand soap today. For detailed instructions, see my post on How to Make Foaming Hand Soap.

Homemade Foaming Hand Soap

How did YOU save today? Tell us in the comments!

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How I Saved Today: Repairing my glasses {and what do you think about making this a regular feature here?}

How I Saved Today: Fixing My Broken Glasses

For awhile now, I’ve been thinking it’d be fun to have a feature called “How I Saved Today”. This would just be a short post about a specific way I had saved money that day. I can’t promise it will happen every single day, but I’m going to try it out here (hopefully a few times per week) and we’ll see how it goes.

I wear contacts almost full-time as they seem to work better for my eye sight. But I also wear these special glasses when I use the computer.

{The optometrists here will know what I’m referring to, but I’m not sure of the official name of these glasses. I just know that my eye doctor prescribed them to me while I was writing my last book and said they would cause my eyes not to get focused and locked in — which was causing my eyesight to go downhill. I get so focused on what I’m doing that I’ll forget to look up occasionally like you’re supposed to do to help your eyes not get locked in on any one thing. So these glasses are supposed to help with that. Anything to protect my eyesight from going downhill while I work on the computer and write books? I’m all for it!}

Last week, the screw fell out of my glasses. We searched high and low and could not find the screw anywhere.

I wore the glasses without the screw, but the lens kept falling out. I knew I needed a long-term solution, but I also knew that I don’t have an eye doctor here in TN yet. So going somewhere to get my glasses fixed would kind of necessitate having to also schedule an eye exam. Which would cost money out of pocket that we didn’t need to spend since I’m not due for another eye exam for a while.

I thought about taping the glasses together, but knew that would just bug me. So instead, I bought an inexpensive eye glass repair kit and fixed the glasses myself.

It took me all of 5 minutes and they are good as new. Best of all, the eye glass repair kit came with extra screws so I can fix the problem in the future if it happens again to my glasses or Jesse’s glasses.

A simple solution, a few minutes of time, and quite a bit of money saved = totally my kind of thing!

How have you saved money today? Also, would you be interested in me regularly running a How I Saved Today feature here? Leave a comment and let me know if it’s something that would interest you.

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48-Hour Giveaway: Lumsing Portable Device Charger (5 Winners)

Lumsing external charger

If you travel often and are always needing to charge up your devices, this giveaway is for you! I usually don’t get too excited about electronic gadgets and gizmos, but when I got this Lumsing Harmonica-Style Portable External Battery in the mail, I was pumped!

You see, even though I use an external battery case on my phone, I often will end up running that down if I’m traveling all day or at a speaking event all day. So this Lumsing is perfect for me. It’s so lightweight and portable. I can stick it in my purse or bag and know that I always have a backup battery if my phone is almost dead.

I’ve already used it multiple times on my last trip and it was a huge blessing — especially since I had a 4-hour flight! You just plug it in ahead of time and fully charge it and then take it with you. Whenever you need a device charged, plug the device into the Lumsing and charge it like you would normally charge your device!

Lumsing Portable Battery

Here are the specific details on the Lumsing from Amazon.com:

  • High Capacity, 10400mAh of capacity. Charges all iPhone four to five times, a Galaxy S3 thrice, or an iPad / iPad 2 once.
  • Made with high quality Original SAMSUNG Li-ion battery and premium microchips, within CE, FCC, ROHS certification ensures reliability; 500 + recharge cycles over the life of the battery.
  • 4 LED indicators reveal the battery level; One indicator represents 25% of remaining power. Input: Micro USB 5V 1.5A; Two Output: USB 5V 1A&5v 2.1A ensure charge two devices the same time to enjoy simple life .
  • Stylish & portable harmonica style design; ergonomic design for easy handle by one hand; The UV craft, high wear-resisting; The side wire drawing process,the product more high-grade
  • Multiple protection system inside for safety. It’s designed for avoiding overcharge, overvoltage, overcurrent, and short circuit to ensure reliability. PERFECT for long plane flights, road trips, or whenever you need to charge your mobile devices wherever you are.

You can find out more details on the Lumsing on the product page on Amazon, on their website, or by following them on Facebook or Twitter.

Want to win a free Harmonica-Style Lumsing External Battery Pack? Just click on the graphic below and type in your name and email address. Five winners will be chosen and posted early next week. This giveaway ends Saturday, September 20, at 11:59 pm, CST.

Enter the Giveaway

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