Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Poor People, Wealthy Ways

Welcome to the October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Money Matters
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how finances affect their parenting choices. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
We have a small family, a small apartment, and even a small dog. We support ourselves on a very, very, very small budget.  While there are constraints and stress due to finances, I mostly appreciate our simple, frugal existence.  Despite, or perhaps because of, having very little money, I am able to model the behaviors and values I want to teach my son.

I want to teach him that our time together matters more than a career, paycheck, or prestige, so I chose to stay home and raise him instead of going back to work.

I want to teach him the value of life not materialism, so we engage in free or inexpensive activities like hiking, biking, the library, and spending time with friends.

I want to teach him to reuse over and over and over again before recycling, so we buy used as much as possible and are active on Freecycle.

I want to teach him to leave a small footprint, so we live in a 1-bedroom apartment without heating, air conditioning, a washer or a dryer.

I want to teach him to take care of the air he breathes, so we bike to our destinations as often as possible and drive a fuel efficient car.

I want to teach him that people are already beautiful, so I don't spend time or money on hair, clothes, make-up, or jewelry.

I want to teach him that food comes from the earth and animals, so I cook from scratch as much as possible.

I want to teach him that most of what surrounds us in this land of plenty is excess, not we indulge in few luxuries. 

Even if we could afford to do things differently, I wouldn't significantly change my lifestyle. Finding meaning outside of consumerism is a way of life for me. Parenting my son this way has provided some of the most profound and transformative moments of my life. What's more, my actions today affect the planet that I leave for my son tomorrow.  By caring for his earth, I show him the true depth my love.

The one big change I'd like is to leave our dark, suburban apartment. I think our dream home would only have one more bedroom but LOTS of space outdoors (and a man cave for my husband).  I could spend hours outside unschooling  Munchkin, keeping a vegetable garden, observing and caring for animals, hiking, and watching the native grass grow. I could set an even better example of how to live fully and freely. I'm pretty sure Munchkin would blossom and grow as well if nature was out his back door instead of down the road. We would both be more in tune with our humanity, with our earth, and with each other.

Until we can afford to move to a home more in sync with our values, I will continue to mother my son in poverty by monetary standards, but in wealth by my own ethical standards. And I will always try to teach my son how to be rich without money.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon October 11 with all the carnival links.)

  • Money Matter$ — Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy shares her experiences on several ways to save money as a parent.
  • A different kind of life... — Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares her utopian life and how it differs from her current one!
  • Show Me The Money! — Arpita of Up, Down & Natural shares her experience of planning for parenting costs while also balancing the financial aspect of infertility treatments.
  • Material v Spiritual Wealth - Living a Very Frugal Life with Kids — Amy at Peace 4 Parents shares her family's realizations about the differences between material and spiritual wealth.
  • If I Had a Money Tree — Sheila at A Gift Universe lists the things she would buy for her children if money were no object.
  • Financial Sacrifices, Budgets, and the Single Income Family — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of living within your means, the basics of crafting a budget, and the "real cost" of working outside of the home.
  • Overcoming My Fear of All Things Financial — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry shares how she is currently overcoming her fear of money and trying to rectify her ignorance of all things financial.
  • Confessions of a Cheapskate — Adrienne at Mommying My Way admits that her cheapskate tendencies that were present pre-motherhood only compounded post-baby.
  • Money MattersWitch Mom hates money; here's why.
  • Money? What Money?! — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw's Newest Thoughts describes how decisions she's made have resulted in little income, yet a green lifestyle for her and her family.
  • What matters. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life might worry about spending too much money on the grocery budget, but she will not sacrifice quality to save a dollar.
  • Making Ends Meet — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares about being a working mom and natural parent.
  • Poor People, Wealthy Ways — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses how existing on very little money allows her to set an example of how to live conscientiously and with love.
  • The Green Stuff — Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares how natural parenting has bettered her budget - and her perspective on creating and mothering.
  • Jemma's Money — Take a sneak peek at That Mama Gretchen's monthly budget and how Jemma fits into it.
  • 5 Tips for How to Save Time and Money by Eating Healthier — Family meal prep can be expensive and time-consuming without a plan! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares five easy tips for how to make your cooking life (and budget) easier.
  • Belonging in the Countryside — Lack of money led Phoebe at Little Tinker Tales towards natural parenting, but it also hinders her from realizing her dream.
  • Total Disclosure and Total Reform — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl gets down to the nitty gritty of her money problems with hopes that you all can help her get her budget under control.
  • Save Money by Using What You Have — Gaby at Tmuffin is only good with money because she's lazy, has trouble throwing things away, and is indecisive. Here are some money-saving tips that helped her manage to quit her job and save enough money to become a WAHM.
  • Two Hippos & Ten Euros: A Lesson in BudgetingMudpieMama shares all about how her boys managed a tight budget at a recent zoo outing.
  • ABBA said it — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen ponders where her family has come from, where they are now and her hopes for her children's financial future.
  • Money vs. TimeMomma Jorje writes about cutting back on junk, bills, and then ultimately on income as well ~ to gain something of greater value: Time.
  • An Unexpected Cost of Parenting — Moorea at MamaLady shares how medical crises changed how she feels about planning for parenthood.
  • 5 Ways This Stay at Home Mom Saves Money — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares 5 self-imposed guidelines that help her spend as little money as possible.
  • Frugal Parenting — Lisa at My World Edenwild shares 8 ways she saves money and enriches her family's lives at the same time.
  • Conscious Cash Conscious — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares her 5 money-conscious considerations that balance her family’s joy with their eco-friendly ideals.
  • Money, Sex and Having it All — Patti at Jazzy Mama explains how she's willing to give up one thing to get another. (And just for fun, she pretends to give advice on how to build capital in the bedroom.)
  • Money could buy me ... a clone? — With no local family to help out, Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wants childcare so she can take care of her health.
  • Spending IntentionallyCatholicMommy loves to budget! Join her to learn what to buy, what not to buy, and, most importantly, where to buy.
  • New lessons from an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a follow-up guest post from Sam about the latest lessons their four-year-old's learned from having his own spending money.
  • How to Homeschool without Spending a Fortune — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares tips and links to many resources for saving money while homeschooling from preschool through high school.
  • It's Not a Baby Crisis. It's Not Even a Professional Crisis. — Why paid maternity leave, you may ask? Rachael at The Variegated Life has some answers.
  • "Making" Money — Do you like to do-it-yourself? Amy at Anktangle uses her crafty skills to save her family money and live a little greener.
  • Money On My Mind — Luschka at Diary of a First Child has been thinking about money and her relationship with it, specifically how it impacts on her parenting, her parenting choices, and ultimately her lifestyle.
  • Spending, Saving, and Finding a Balance — Melissa at The New Mommy Files discusses the various choices she and her family have made that affect their finances, and finds it all to be worth it in the end.
  • Accounting for Taste — Cassie at There's a Pickle in My Life shares their budget and talks about how they decided food is the most important item to budget for.
  • Money Matters... But Not Too Much — Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting shares how her family approaches money without putting too much of a focus onto it.
  • Parenting While Owning a Home Business — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the pros and cons of balancing parenting with working from home.
  • Crunchy Living is SO Expensive...Or Is It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about her biggest objection to natural living - and her surprise at what she learned.
  • Mo' Money, Mo' Problems — Sarah at Parenting God's Children shares how a financial accountability partner changed her family's finances.
  • The Importance of Food Planning — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro discusses how food budgeting and planning has helped her, even if she doesn't always do it.
  • Kids & Money: Starting an Allowance for Preschoolers — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses her family's approach and experiences with starting an allowance for preschoolers.


  1. This is beautiful, what a lovely passion for life to instill in your child

  2. Lovely and inspiring goals! Thank you for sharing how you can be wealthy because you don't have much, not in spite of that.

  3. This is a beautiful post, and something I'm also striving toward with my own family. I'm hitting a frustrating time, where Kieran has discovered the joy of "stuff," and I'm struggling with how to respond to his relentless cries of "I want THAT!" with each trip to the store. Hopefully it will be another "this too shall pass" phase!

  4. We finally moved out to the country ourselves this past year. We are tightening our belts even more than before -- because the low cost of living is counteracted by a high cost of commuting -- but it's been worth it. Having a (very small) patch of land to play on, neighbors who play in the street, and a park we can walk to has made a huge difference in our feeling of freedom. Plus, we are able to garden, which is both calming (for me) and educational (for the kiddo). I hope you get your dream someday!

  5. My values are very similar to yours. But I admit that when we can afford to splurge on 'stuff', it is hard not to. I am really trying to employ the steps of The Work (of Byron Katie) to examine and resist my urge to practise self-love by accumulating paraphernalia.

    And like you, I desperately want a house in the country! That is a goal that we are definitely working toward!

    (BTW, you obviously don't live in Canada if you can live without heating! I won't be trying to do that anytime soon.) ;-)

  6. Thank you for sharing your values -- so beautiful and inspiring! I feel strongly about our needing some serious simplifying as well as readjusting our consumerist tendencies, and your attitude and practice with regards to both of these sound wonderful. Here's to finding your dream home someday, too! Sounds delightful!

  7. I'm amazed that you live in an apartment without heat! Maybe it's your climate, but around here, especially in our house with it's original windows from 1961 that leak heat like crazy, that would be impossible.

    It's great that you can model your ideals for your child. They pay much more attention to what we do than what we say.

  8. @Jazzy & Lactating girl: Yes, I live in a temperate climate. Plus, we're well insulated inside our apartment building. It does get pretty chilly in winter, though. I have a small space heater for really cold days, but I use it sparingly. I also bake on cold days, and that heats things up really well since our place is so small. Still, our power bill is never over $30/month, even in the coldest months!