A recent batch of Money Mom letters from Green Sherpa has everyone talking a lot about how people are getting used to working with less, and are stepping into action to create a good life on a whole new level. If you have tips and stories about what you have done in recent months to adjust to spending less, write them in the comments below. We all love to hear how others are making it work for themselves and their families.
Dear Money Mom,
You talk about life flow and cash flow in your articles. Reading that sometimes the best action is to drop the oars and go with the flow is surprising when everyone seems to be working so hard to survive. Can you explain when to row hard to meet a goal and when to give up?
Dear Rowing Hard,
What a great question! It used to be we could set a goal, put it on a to-do list and move forward. Now, most often, setting a goal brings up fear. This strange economy makes the goal feel bigger, scarier, more daunting with more risks. We are being called to be flexible in how we reach them, most especially in deciding when to keep pushing and when to ease up.
For me goal keeping has become a hybrid of surrender and action. My five-year-old daughter had a bad experience at her swim class and was scared to go back. Once we freeze up about something, we’re setting up the expectation to have another bad experience. That’s when it’s time to set up a new expectation: The next week, I sent my daughter to swim class with her grandma. She wouldn’t get in the water. So we talked on the phone from the pool, and I realized it was time to step even further back and define a completely different experience for her.
We agreed to inch toward our goal of getting in the water instead of stepping toward it. I set up a new scenario. I would get in the water with her next week. She felt good about that and we made an agreement. Instead of giving up, we kept the goal, but we backed way off of our original way of doing it. We eventually met the goal by setting up a new, safer-feeling way to inch toward it.
If setting a goal brings up fear because life is throwing so many changes right now—i.e., want to buy a house but don’t know if my job is safe—ask how you can inch toward it. If the rowing is tough and exhausting, ease up a little and ask how you can make it more doable. The hybrid approach allows you to keep your intentions in view while allowing ease into the challenge.
Dear Money Mom,
In my daughter’s school, there’s a group of moms who trade everything from zucchini from their gardens to manicures. All they do is talk about how much money they save. They invite me to join them, but I don’t have anything to trade. What can I do?
Willing but Unskilled
Dear Willing but Unskilled,
Everyone has something to offer. If you really dig in and consider your areas of expertise and passion, you’ll hit on what you have to trade. First consider what you can do to bring greater value into your home. How can you provide your family’s basic needs without spending? Contemplating what you need and how you provide for yourself may help you realize what you can easily offer others. Do you cook? Do you garden? Are you a good garage organizer? Get your daughter involved. Would she like to pet sit or walk the neighbor dogs? Weed the neighbors’ gardens for a basket of fruit and vegetables?
Your moms group is on to something. The concept of buying locally and bartering services is taking over as the value of the dollar continues to slip. People are forming their own currencies in groups like this. It is cooperative style living without living on a commune. If you’re still stuck on what you can offer, use that community to help you. Talk to your friends and daughter. They know your strengths and offerings best. Browse Craigslist and see what others are thinking. I have a neighbor who does waxing, and another friend who paints and fixes things. It’s about getting really resourceful. If you need it or use it, likely someone else will, too.
Originally published on GreenSherpa