I'm daughter to Lissie, sister to Jess, wife to Brien, mom to Hannah, Lily and Eleanor. I am a stay at home mom to my girls, and my free time is dedicated to gardening (I confess I'm still a novice and look to Lissie and Jess for advice), baking and cooking, and card making. I'm doing my part to make the earth a bit greener, trying hard to avoid processed foods and HFCS, and find the "slow food" movement intriguing and inspiring. I love visits to my local farmers' market, fresh produce, reading, getting out in nature, and spending time with my family.


Catholic, homeschooler, lover of books and great wine and an amateur gardening addict.


I'm Melissa aka "Lissie", mother of Rachael and Jessica, and grandmother to a passel of the sweetest children on the planet. I'm a semi-retired public educator and professor who works from home for a small publisher. I am a lover of all things beautiful ... flowers, the mountains, nature scenes, the innocent faces of children, and my rock and fossil collection, to name a few. I enjoy shopping at the farmers' market for fresh foods and then experimenting with new recipes. Good food and good wine delight me. I love to travel so my suitcase is always packed. Like my daughters, I take pleasure in simple things ... clothes drying on the line, tomatoes so fresh they are still hot from the sun, good books, and interesting movies. I'd like to know everything before I die.

I have been actively trying to stop buying things that I do not need and when I do buy something I try and buy handmade (Etsy) or used (Craigslist). It is hard. It is very, very, very, very hard to walk into Target and not be swept into impulse buying. As silly as it sounds I have been thinking of that movie The Matrix before I walk into a brick and mortar store - will I succumbed to the design, advertising and consumerism that our culture has programmed into me or will I stay strong and conquer it?! I lose a lot of the time, to be honest. Any slip up that isn't on my list means I've succumbed including cute hair bows for Ella, more baby socks for Grace (where do all the baby socks go in a house, that is what I would like to know), new sippy cups for Gabriel, a book for me, etc. are all easy things to slide into the cart and justify because they are only a few dollars.

I know so many people who are enamored with Dave Ramsey and to be honest I like him a lot too. I like that he tells people what they need to hear to get out of debt. But he ultimately misses the big picture because he makes it seem like those who are on debt diets which require a serious restriction in their extraneous spending are sacrificing and missing out. We all feel like that, at least I do. We don't have any real debt to speak of aside from our mortgage and the minivan, BUT, I do think that when we scale back and keep the house a little cooler in the winter or warmer in the summer or do not stop and get ice cream cones for the kids after going to the park or we choose to buy the cheap band aids instead of the cartoony tattoo style, etc. that we feel like we are missing out and that we are suffering in some way. At least I do. And I've come to the conclusion that the true path to having good mental health and a happy life is genuinely getting past the suffering/lack mentality and realizing that happiness is not tied to money related experiences. Why is this so hard?

I've been reading Your Money Or Your Life, which is possibly the best financial book that I've ever read and it isn't about budgeting or longterm financial retirement planning, getting rich or living frugally. It is about changing your brain patterns to having a genuine reduction in WANTS. The first step in the book is to calculate honestly how much money has come into your life via earned income, gifts, real estate gains, etc. - every single thing from the moment you entered the financial economy, figure out the taxes you paid and then see the amount that you have netted. And then you assess all the liquidity in possessions and financial accounts to see where you stand. You have to assign a dollar amount to everything you currently own. Then you assess your debt load with mortgages, car, credit cards, student loans. It is startling to see how money has come into your life and then see where it has gone and if you are even solvent. Of course there are unavoidable expenses like food, shelter and transportation but this helps you to assess how much money you've assigned to those necessities over the years. The entire process is startling and frankly pretty sad. I've wasted a lot of money in my short life. I'm not sorry for every purchase but you can bet I've literally thrown away thousands and thousands of dollars on things that I cannot recall. Not every meal out or book/DVD purchase or ice cream treat is a bad thing - life should be enjoyed and money can provide opportunities - but the culmination in a monetary amount of years of unchecked spending for things of that nature is stunning to me.

I had my first recognizable conquering moment this week. I was gifted last year for my birthday with a set of dishes that I have wanted for years and years and I really love them and get a huge amount of pleasure from eating on them. I certainly do not think all material things are bad and shallow by any means, just that I really want to focus on keeping and buying things that really are functional and make me happy. Anyway, these dishes are lovely and finely made and I will hopefully be using them in our family for the rest of my life. My sister called to tell me the company that manufactures my dish pattern was closing their local outlet store in her town and would I like for her to pick up some pieces that I did not have. These dishes are not inexpensive and it will take me years to flesh out the pattern with serving pieces and what not but I managed to restrain myself and had her only buy pieces that I thought I would actually use often that I do not already have - the rimmed soup bowls. Are the tea cups lovely? Yes! Do I love them? Yes! Do I already have tea cups in another pattern that I enjoy using? Yes! So, no tea cups for me. It is funny that not having her get the tea cups feels like such a milestone. 6 months ago without thought I would have had her buy every single piece of my pattern that was on sale just because I would have felt like I was getting a good deal. So, the progress in the reduction of my wants is slow but I am truly trying. And I did make it to Target last night and not one thing that I didn't enter the store for landed in my cart. Slow and steady takes the win, right? I've just got to keep trying to be mindful when I go into stores and only go when I really need something.

As for Craigslist, I just became acquainted with it in the past two months and I've been so pleased. I had a few things on my list for our household and I've found most of them for a fraction of the price that they would be new and they are all in great shape. The list includes a dresser for my baby's room, a desk for Bob's office ($30!), and tile for a backsplash in our kitchen. I'm on the hunt for a gently used wagon now for the kids for this summer.

Conquer, conquer, conquer my impulsive consumerism.

ETA: I drafted this post last night, quickly edited it this morning and posted it. Then this evening we ran out to Best Buy for a new external hard drive (need) and ended up with the new Tiana movie (want). And we hit Chick Fil'A for dinner. Sigh. One step forward, two steps back.




Lissie said...

I remember when you and Rachael were teenagers, I told you to keep from spending money needlessly do these three things:
1. Do not watch TV with commercials.
2. Do not buy magazines focused on fashions or ones with ads.
3. Do not go to malls ... ever. When you go shopping, make a list and buy only those items.

The advice is easy to give, but can be more difficult to follow.


Jess said...

My weaknesses are not malls, I only go there to get my hair cut or to get shoes for the kids at this point! And I hardly ever watch live TV, the couple shows I like I record on the DVR and fast forward through the commercials.

My problem is being online. I love the computer and the social connectivity that it provides me. I dare anyone to spend a half hour browsing Etsy without finding something wonderful that they just WANT. My magazines are Mother Earth News, Southern Living and Fine Gardening, so not really fashion oriented. Etsy and amazon are my nemesis. And I have to go to Target for general household things and that is a weakness as well.

I'm trying, at least there is that!

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