finding contentment in living frugally

Daniel and I by no means ever rolled in dough, but I must say when we lived in San Diego, we didn’t have to live as frugally as we do now. (We’ve always lived on a budget, but this season is different.) Before Zane, we lived on two incomes for two years post my graduate studies and since Zane, we’ve mostly lived on Daniel’s income with a few random income from my previous per diem work. Yes, we had to tighten our budget once I became a stay-at-home mom, but nothing like what we are doing these days. Now, with Daniel building his property management business, let’s just say we are living on a very slim budget. One that I struggle with sometimes when I want our family consuming organic or hormone-free meats, fresh produce, and healthier snacks and drinks. Then add having to rebuild our supply here of miscellaneous items for the house and ourselves and that complicates everything. As I describe our situation in which we placed ourselves in, I must add that we are fully aware of the sacrifices that need to happen to set us up for future success. This is temporary living. Of course I dream of the day to give even more generously, buy healthier groceries, go clothes shopping for kicks, and most of all, not think twice about spending (within reason)! But in the interim, this new season of life is helping to discipline me, have more faith, and be more creative! There’s always an upside to life’s challenges.

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>>Discipline: I have to prioritize my spending and desires. What groceries take precedent this week? What can I buy organically grown or conventionally grown? Which store has good prices for quality items? How do I stop my temptation from wanting to grab take-out food while I’m out? I especially love treating myself to a specialty food item (anchovies stuffed olives ;) so some weeks I get it, while other weeks I have to hold off. No such thing as instant gratification these days! ;)

>>Faith: God always provides. And this is the best time to witness His work and to show others how at peace we are about it. We have received at various times money either for holidays, birthdays, etc. which really help with buying items for Zane, our home, and self-care for ourselves. And free babysitting! That’s always a blessing for date nights and doctor visits. He always provides enough.

>>Creativity: Now that I can’t buy every food item or thing I want, I go about exploring how to make it myself. For example, I finally made sushi! So now I don’t desire to have it out and about as much. This is the same with making fruit and veggie smoothies. Also, I’m excited to learn more about essential oils and how to use it to remedy our ailments, build our immunities, and clean our house. I’ll try making my own sanitizers and cleaners soon! This saves us money and is healthier! Zane and I visit the library more for borrowed books and DVDs, and attend a lot of free reading and arts sessions. We even got selected for five free swim lessons I heard about from a friend. So it’s all about being creative and resourceful with what access I have and growing in the area of do-it-yourself.

So I, and others, can look at our situation, and see the downsides of it, but I’m thankful we are going through it because we are growing heaps while experiencing it.

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the joy in selling our first home

When we put our first home on the market in May 2014, I couldn’t share much publicly since our move to Australia was not known by all. Now that we’ve settled a bit here, I’m finding the need to share our experience since in many ways it was a joyous one amidst the many stressors that was associated with getting it ready for open house and inspections and ultimately, sold. And to do it all with a toddler..

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So how did it all begin? Working beautifully as a team, Daniel found a selling agent that charged under the normal commission rate, thereby saving us thousands of dollars. In our case, this translated to the quality of the service being ‘less than’ what we’d expect from an agent who charged the normal rate. We didn’t mind though. When choosing a selling price, we looked at the COMPS and decided our sweet Christine (our name for the house) had the potential to sell at a higher price compared to her similar age and size counterparts because of all the work we had done on her. Although she was born in 1958, she was looking the best she ever did with remodeled bathrooms and kitchen and hardwood flooring. So when we told our agent the price range we were comfortable listing her at, he thought it was too high and even said he’d do a cartwheel if it sold on the higher end. Well, we knew the market and we knew our house, and we trusted in God, so long story short, the buyers who we selected who were the first to look at the house paid above asking. As well, we received above asking price offers from a handful of other people. (I never did get my cartwheel!) The house could have been sold in one day or so, but we held out for five days. The overall experience was joyous because we handpicked the buyers. They are a cute, loving, energetic, young couple who were looking to love on their first home. Their personal letter won us over. (You’d be surprised about how bland some letters can be.) Daniel and I felt they were us three years back when we first bought Christine. To know the next owners of Christine would make beautiful memories in it was heartwarming. Also, to be in a position to recoup the money we invested in her and gain some was a bonus to set us up for our future home purchase in the Gold Coast. Lastly, we became friends with them after the sale and even went to their housewarming of Christine. I was happy to prove that not all transactions had to be cold and driven solely by money. My heart took precedence sometimes.This transaction left us with sweet memories of our first home that Zane grew up a little in, and even better, opened the door to new friendships. I’m glad we took control of the selling process and got to infuse our values and desires in it. Thanks be to God!

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being me in a new place

Hi everyone! Ah, how I miss writing. These days it’s not a matter of having time to blog, but rather energy. For those of you who aren’t kept up to date on my Facebook page, I’m nearly 19 weeks pregnant! I thought I’d have energy in my second trimester, but apparently that isn’t the case when you have an active toddler and need to run a household and active social life, hehe. I’m not complaining, just explaining. ;-) Anyways, we are nearing six months here and I wanted to share how happy and thankful I have been feeling lately. Since finding our church at the beginning of December, life is coming together well. We are making meaningful friendships and a community is starting to be built. I feel loved, appreciated, and cared for. To clarify, not all of our friends are believers, and that’s okay. :-) In addition, I feel like I’m finally getting to be ME in a new place. This means several things. First, I am less dependent on others for answers and guidance with finding my way here. Before, I’d subscribe to what others did or advised because I had no comparison. I went along knowing it wasn’t in line with my standards or preferences. For example, this was the case with buying groceries. I do not prefer big supermarkets that are overpriced with produce that is either not fresh or local. Recently, I went exploring and found an organic meat butcher, a seafood shop that sells local, fresh fish, and a weekly Farmer’s Market. I can’t even describe to you how independent and more like myself I felt once I came across these shops. It was as if a piece of me was back in place. Hooray for quality food! Second, another piece of me came back alive when I got back into cooking meals for others and had opportunities to do thoughtful things for people. To get to serve in a meaningful way again utilizing my gifts made me happy! Lastly, I feel more me as I build a schedule, and thus a life that’s helping me grow, be inspired, and has meaning and purpose. My weeks and weekends are filled with time with our little family, extended family, and friends. We attend church regularly and are getting involved. I try to be intentional with my time with Zane by cooking with him, reading many books, visiting the library, and involving him in life skills. And recently, I’ve joined a weekly mom’s devotional group and a Bethel study group (studying the Old Testament). Both will grow me in knowledge and wisdom. Needless to say, I am busy! But wonderfully busy because there is much down time blocked off for rest.

I can continue on about other life updates, but rather I wanted to focus on the ones that are encouraging me to blossom where God has planted us. I’m thankful I feel this way and it’s only been half a year. I shall bathe in the goodness of life that we are experiencing right now.

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