It has been good to share our story of our "experiment" in not spending money for two weeks. The portrayal in the Post article is accurate, though of course it's not the whole picture of who we are. We think the author wrote an excellent story. Yet, it's still been quite hard to read all of the comments on the Post website, where people jump to certain conclusions about us; some are accurate and some aren't. I don't blame them. Some people are out there truly struggling for survival, and we're fortunate that's not our case. My aunt in Alabama is working with a group of men who are homeless, struggling for basic needs, while she can't always afford to pay the church's bills, such as heating. When she started her non-profit Jack's Place, I was financially stable enough to be able to send off a small check right away to help her out a little bit. (Her blog is listed on the bottom right, Homeless in America)
I know the people who were very bothered by the Post article are very unlikely to come to my blog, thinking they know enough about me after reading the article in the Post. But in case they do read this, here are some replies to their comments.
- We don't live in a McMansion. Our house is about 1300 square feet.
- We don't drive SUVs. Our cars (1999 and 2000), and are paid for in-full.
- When we bought our first house, we were offered a far larger mortgage than we knew we could afford. We bought a house at a reasonable price with a 30-year mortgage and monthly payments that fit in our budget.
- I'm not a government contractor in the typical sense of the word. I work in Africa about 6 weeks per year, training African peace-keeping soldiers and I work for a private company. When I'm in the USA, I don't work outside of the home; in other words, I am a stay-at-home mom most of the year.
- We do give savings to the poor. See comments above and below.
- Yes, we know we can do better with our finances, and hope to do so.
- We have struggles, like everyone, and we're not going to share them all on a blog!
Even though we estimated what we "saved" but not spending, it's hard to say for sure what we would have spent. You don't really know for sure, if you don't actual spend it! And you don't really know what you spend, unless you track where every penny is going. If you use cash, and don't save receipts, or jot it down in a check register, you won't know for sure.
I think the blog will be taking a new path until my next trip to Africa in January or February. I'd like to address all these issues raised by various people and get our finances completely in order. But it's not an overnight fix. It will take some time to evaluate our priorities, and to thoughtfully determine what is a want, and what is a need.