This weekend I went to the Basic Rider Course to learn how to ride a motorcycle. I sat at the "girls table". There were 4 of us. The gal who sat next to me was single and in her late 40s. The gal across from her was married and about the same age. At one point, I mentioned my blogs and reading a lot of books. I mentioned that I write posts about saving money. The gal next to me looked at me like I had two horns on my head and a big red nose. She said to me, "What's there to say about saving money? You just pay yourself first." She essentially meant that before you spend anything, you should make sure you save some money and set it aside. She was a bit more hard core about it, I think than the way I've phrased it, though.
When I was a teenager, a friend of my dad's gave me similar advice. "First, give 10% to God. Then, give to yourself and save 10%". Though my dad wasn't a Christian, his friend was. I always thought his advice was good advice.
I don't think the gal I spoke with on Saturday was a Christian. I say that because of the general gist of our conversations and when I asked her if she went to a particular church--she simply said no. She didn't say that she went to another one instead. Her priorities with her finances were different from mine as they also were different in her whole life which was reflected to me in many things she said. I want to share some vagaries about her life. She is a single mom who was married for over 10 years. She has several children. I asked at one point if she had ever stayed home with her kids while she was married or if she had always worked. She responded with a quick "I've always worked" in a tone that said "of course". I responded by saying that I post about little ways I find to save money since I stay home and homeschool while my husband works. So, we're a single income family.
There are many ways for families to approach money and finances. One way is for both parents to work so that you have enough money to purchase whatever you want and need. Another way is for parents to choose to live more frugally on one income so that one parent can stay home with their children--whether for homeschooling or to take care of their children and get them where they need to go. I appreciated the book, Miserly Moms, because Jonni McCoy and her husband went from being a 2 income family to 1 so that she could stay home with their kids. When you choose the second route, sometimes the one income earner does make a lot of money and there isn't a great deal of need to be very frugal. But, I think that more often than not, living on one income requires all involved to be frugal and fiscally responsible.
I don't think that "saving money" is as simple as giving to yourself and making sure you save. We all have habits that guide how we live and how we spend every day. It is those habits and daily choices that we make that determine whether we are really saving money and being good stewards of what our families have.
One of the things I love actually about saving money is the good feeling that I get from it--the satisfaction that comes from the feeling I am honoring my husband's hard work at his job and that I am making the most of what my family has by shopping and using/consuming things wisely.