Easy Come, Easy Go or is there a Better Way?

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How much money do you spend each year on entertainment? This includes concert tickets, movies, theater, alcohol, restaurants and vacations. If you have children, how much of your budget goes to music or dance lessons? Athletic activities and events? Day care? Summer camps, smart phones and computers?

The funny thing is that while most people are willing to spend enormous sums on technology and fun, they spend very little on the basic necessities of life. People fork over money for life’s luxuries and pleasures, but they are less likely to spend money on simple things like a new toothbrush. I’ve known people to use one toothbrush for a whole year! The brushes are splayed, and just think of the bacteria that live there? And you can get a toothbrush on sale for .99 cents.

Some forego purchasing paper towels, napkins or toothpaste thinking they are saving money by using soda to brush their teeth, and substituting paper for cloth napkins and towels forgetting the cost of water, electricity and detergents to wash them.

I’m a three napkin a meal kind of girl. I never was neat, even as a child. And Bounty paper towels that tear in half save me time and money when I need to mop up a spill or spot-wash my white kitchen tiles. We all have to decide how we spend our money and what is worth the cost.

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When I think of people with addictions and how much they spend (or steal) for drugs it blows my mind. Not to mention cigarettes and booze; which may lead to expensive medical bills later.

Food alone consumes a huge chunk of change. Add to that housing and rental costs and you’ve got an oversized budget. Does everyone max out their credit cards these days?

My parents suffered through the “great depression.” My mother recalls that one week they had only one can of soup to get by on, and she was also pregnant. They were so grateful for the Salvation Army’s Soup Kitchen without which they would not have survived.

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Because of their struggles, they were ever grateful for the blessings that later came into their lives. I was 14 before they owned their first home. For years, we lived in an upstairs apartment over my Scandinavian grandparent’s house. My father didn’t have a car until I was 12. That first home was their pride and joy. They gave it plenty of spit and polish and lots of love. My father never allowed his daughters to drive his car because it was his only means of transportation to work.

In the backyard, they planted a garden for vegetables and filled the rest of the yard with flowers. Their rose bushes were tended to like children. Raspberry bushes grew along the fence line. I remember them saying that they enjoyed making their home and yard beautiful in thanksgiving to their God who sustained them in hard times and then blessed them with plenty.

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After they were gone, I went back to my hometown to see our old homestead. I was shocked with what I saw. The once pruned hedges and green lawns were weedy and brown. There was no longer a garden. The flowers were gone. The house was unpainted. The yard unkempt. My heart wept.

What causes people to turn beauty into decay? Where are the pride and gratitude for owning a home and property? Some people hold gold dust in their hands and then quickly let it slip through their fingers. It’s all about setting priorities and giving back.

Thanksgiving is not just a once a year acknowledgement of blessings received. Every day the words “thank you” should find their way into our hearts and pass from our lips. “Through small and simple means, great things come to pass.”

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