Freedom in Discipline and Boundaries
Around our house, we are making changes and re-evaluating life. My husband graduated from seminary in the spring, finishing a degree he has been pursuing all of our married life together, and he also started a new job that allows him to have weekends off. So for our family, we are learning a new rhythm to life and cherishing all the extra time together.
We are also evaluating in other ways – one of those being our budget. It’s probably an understatement (and redundant to say here on this blog), but I love food. And for us, it’s been the one area of our lives that we haven’t practiced much discipline.
Do I think you can eat healthy on a budget? Yes!
Have I ever tried it? Not really!
So in an effort to cut back on the amount we spend on food (eating out and groceries), we have gone to the cash system. Have you heard of this? You put money in envelopes either each pay check or once a month and when the allotted money is gone from the envelope, you are done spending money. Pretty simple!
We’ve only been at it for a few weeks, but I can already say that the discipline I have to practice when I’m shopping and planning meals along with the boundaries set with having the cash in hand has given me a new sense of freedom.
Remember how care-free those college days were and how we all had no money and it didn’t matter? In a sense, I’m re-creating that scenario – sort of. For example, this week, I had $5 left in my grocery fund – with a fridge full of food – and I went to the store for a few essentials. Suddenly, I was weighing the 3 onions I bought and calculating the cost and then deciding between milk and eggs (I chose eggs). We have more than enough to get us through the week, so it felt great to have to say no to some things I wanted and just be thankful for what we have.
Here are some things I’m learning:
When enough is actually enough. It’s easy to look in the pantry and fridge and think “Oh, we have nothing to eat!” But now that we’re on a budget, I see with new eyes – and we actually do have enough…more than enough – for ourselves and to share a meal with others.
My natural instincts are not good. Sometimes I would wonder, “Where does our money go?” But in the last few weeks, I have seen where our money WOULD HAVE gone. So many times I had the urge to buy something, to go out to eat, to pick up a few extras, but since I am on a tighter budget, I don’t give into the urge. But if I don’t have the cash right in front of me, I will spend the money and swipe my card. My natural instincts are to spend…so setting boundaries has been really healthy for me.
You can eat well on a budget! I’ve said this to so many people, but I’ve never put the philosophy to the test. But it’s true: you can eat well on a budget. It’s possible to eat good, healthy, tasty food on a budget. There are somethings I compromise on (like not buying organic bananas), but some things I don’t (I still choose local, organic, grass-fed meats).
It takes time and effort. It does take extra time and effort to eat well and stay on budget. I am planning more meals ahead of time, constantly evaluating what I have on hand, and spending more time cooking and cleaning than ever before, but it’s worth it.
It’s healthy to have to say ‘no.’ Our society is such a ‘yes’ society – for many of us, we rarely have to say ‘no.’ But it’s good to have to practice discipline and say ‘no’ sometimes – even if it’s to something good – like great food.
The discipline I am learning in this one area of my life is applicable to so many other areas, and I feel like for me, it’s turning into a spiritual discipline – to learn to say no, to be a good steward of what we have been given, and to be thankful for what we have instead of always wanting more. Not everyone needs to learn these lessons, but I know I sure do – and the thing about a budget is it never ends. We continue to be handed an opportunity to learn discipline, and I, for one, am glad for the lesson…and the freedom that it’s bringing to live within these boundaries.