After a huge and busy Mother’s Day on Sunday, my first television appearance on BBC1’s The Big Questions with Nicky Campbell, yesterday fate reminded me why the Frugal Fam’s core values are so important to me and my family.
I had an interview for a job up in Essex, about an hour and a half from home. Even though the post was part-time and mostly from home, I was conflicted. Basically, I love the life we have; my only worry is not enough money, thus the interview. But the word conflicted does not come close to describing my feelings about the job. I felt that every hour that I spent doing it would be one less hour I had to do what I love most: living and writing about the Frugal Fam’s core values.
When I got back from the interview, I was greeted at the door of my daughter’s nursery with the words that she had had another seizure and was taken by staff to the local hospital. It was a not so gentle reminder of the truths that had begun this journey for our family nine months before. First, my daughter had her first seizure in June of last year and then only a couple of weeks later I lost my job. But rather than being a devastating lost, it was in some real ways a blessing.
What we discovered in the months when I could not work was a lesson that more families are being forced by fate and the economy to recognise: that we can survive on less; less money and less things. What we cannot survive upon is less of the precious time we have with those we love. The recent deaths of several high profile people including actress Natasha Richardson, reality TV star Jade Goody and the young son of Tory leader David Cameron illustrate that the greed, which has caused this current financial crisis, cannot replace the most sacred of commodities: time of which we have no guarantees.
For me, this is why Family first comes as number one in Frugal Fam’s core values, because it is the motivation for all the others. I try so hard to save money, simply so I can invest not in savings bonds or retirement funds, but in my husband, my children, my friends and my community. I try to be environmentally friendly so that I will leave a better place for my children and grandchildren. I strive to be healthier, not so I can fit into some fashion prototype, but so that I will live longer and be there for my children…and so that they will live longer as well.
Today of course, my daughter is running about, demanding that I make pictures with her and laughing. But after an almost sleeplessness night, waking every time she turned and even when she did not, I am mindful of why I do what I do. In a time when we talk a great deal about family values, but do very little to value our families, when I must go on television just to defend the right to have the families we want, I feel that the investment I am making into my family and yours is timely.
If the current crisis is teaching us that greed is not a value worth investing in, then what is? I believe that the greatest resource we have is our families; whether they are small or large. I hope that we as individuals will examine our goals and I hope that our nations too will begin to invest resources not in large banks and companies, but in the most basic building block of all societies: our families. So as I sit here at my desk with too little sleep and too much to get done today, I too am seeking answers to the difficult questions:
Family first. How can I manage our finances so that I do not need to take that job? How too can we arrange our lives so that my husband has the time and energy to be there for his child? And still have time for one another?
Saving money. What else can we do that will leave more money at the end of the month…instead of more month at the end of our money? Isn’t this the key after all: learning to live on what we have?
Environmentally friendly. How can we save this precious earth, its animals and resources so that our children and grandchildren have a future as well?
Healthier living. What can I do to give me and my family even one more day together? One more moment of memories?
I hope that you too will join me on this journey of discovery. And offer the solutions that you find to others. Remember…messes can be cleaned up, money is just paper and will rot eventually, but it is the eternal resources such our planet and our children, in which we must invest our times and our hearts.