Scarcity & Finances

When I reviewed the Energy of Money book last week, I forgot to mention an important topic that really resonated with me: personal perception of scarcity.


Scarcity is all about your outlook and often has little to do with your actual situation. Over time your sense of scarcity becomes so ingrained that it almost becomes part of your personality, like being perpetually optimistic or pessimistic. This personal view of life tints your entire financial scenario and reflects your perceived scarcity or abundance


One of the first book exercises asks you to reflect on is your family’s financial circumstances at the time of your birth and when you first remember learning about your family’s financial standing. Personally, I grew up quite poor, but always felt like we had enough and knew others who had less, so I felt well taken care of even though we often lived paycheck to paycheck. Hubby grew up in a pretty affluent family, but he didn’t think about it much either way and mostly took his family’s financial status for granted. Some people in the book remember thinking their family was really poor until they found out they were actually well off, but their parents simply feigned scarcity constantly. It made me wonder what early lessons our kids are learning about scarcity.


I realized after our last “money honey” talk, where Hubby was exclaiming about how “we’re hemorrhaging money“, that we simply have two different perspectives on scarcity. Based on my family background, I don’t panic unless we don’t have enough to pay the bills. Hubby’s family finance experience says that if we’re not saving/investing quite a bit more than we are making, then something is wrong. Obviously there is a big difference. It’s not that I wouldn’t prefer for us to be getting ahead rather than treading water, but we clearly are coming from different places on the scarcity spectrum.


Upon more reflection, I realized that food is an area where I often “feel” scarcity. My family never was hungry growing up, but we did live a forty-five minutes from a big shopping center, so we only did a big shopping trip once a month. So even though I can walk to a supermarket in 10 minutes, I still shop as though I need to have enough to feed our family for two weeks. It’s partly because I have the habit of shopping at several different specialty stores, where I buy certain things at each one – so I know if I go to TJs that I’m going to buy cereal for the month! The verdict is out as to whether this actually saves us any money or time, but I do love my weekly organic delivery. And even though he had plenty growing up, Hubby seems like my perfect match, because he gets anxious when we start to run slightly low on food. Likewise, it used to be a pet peeve of mine when we got low on something he would say that we needed to use it up (so we could buy more), but my thought was always that we should make it last as long as possible before replacing. 


But I am guilty of feeling scarcity when it comes to kids clothing. I have this sense that suddenly they’ll outgrow stuff and I’ll be stuck shopping in season at full price. So, my habit is to buy in advance for the season or year ahead on sale. I’ll buy a whole bunch twice a year and almost nothing in between. Our Big Guy is a big grower, and early on was growing out of clothes in no time flat. So I rightfully felt like he always needed new clothes. On the other hand, Girly’s growth is more average and she’s actually in clothes sized for her age. Out of my shopping habit, last fall I bought Girly clothes in the next size up thinking that she would grow into them in a few months. Consequently, I realized the other day that she probably has enough new clothes in her closet to last her another year! Obviously, we have no true scarcity in the clothes department, but my perception is driving our purchases. I also realized that I’ve felt the need to buy almost all new clothing our kids because Hubby’s family was always very well dressed, and I want him to feel a sense of pride and wealth in seeing our kids in nice clothing. With this enlightenment, I’m committing myself to buying more used than new and not buying more clothes until they truly need them…a big personal revelation 😉 


What’s your view on scarcity?
Does it differ from your partners?


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Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.


Potty Talk

Our Girly is growing up fast, and I’m proud to report that this weekend every poop went in the potty! She’s had three successful weekends of consistent potty use…so I’m finally ready to share without feeling doomed to jinx our good fortune. Now we’ll just need to practice some patience until she transitions to a classroom with a potty (although her teachers are willing to try potty visits). 


After two years of washing two loads of poopy diapers every week, I am more than ready for her ditch her diapers!


But as you can see by her proud smile, we can’t claim too much credit for her potty readiness…it really is her choice. We also give my parents full credit for potty training Big Guy, we called it potty boot camp: he went to visit for five days and he never went back to diapers!


I do have a few pointers thought for parents who haven’t been through potty training yet:

  • Splurge and buy a true potty and a toilet seat ring – some kids highly prefer one over the other, and you just don’t know until they try them out. Plus, if you have a second bathroom, buy a second set – chasing after a potty is the last thing you want to do with a ready/willing potty user!
  • Stickers aren’t exactly eco-friendly – I think they sure beat the options of buying/washing diapers. We sure don’t scrimp on stickers and always put one on the potty chart and one on their hand to remind them of going potty.
  • Potty books are a big must, and we have a few in each bathroom. I bought a few new, but I’ve found several more at the Goodwill for $.50! There are lots used online too. These are my favorite potty books:
  • Buy second hand – like everything, potty training is a phase that won’t last (we all hope!), so splurge on books and stickers instead of a new seat if you can avoid it.
  • There are a few eco-friendly potty options now too: who knew you could buy a Bamboo Potty Seat? It’s also nice to see that the Eco-friendly 3-in-1 Potty and “Natural” potty are quite a bit cheaper than the conventional plastic potties.

We do use disposable diapers on between diaper washes and on trips, and I prayed the last time I went to Costco that it would be the last pack I would ever buy!!


Lastly, while not a prerequisite to potty training, both our kids are still enamored by our new water friendly Toto toilet. The high efficiency flush is certainly more impressive and the slow self-closing toilet lid seems to work like magic!


What are your potty tips?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Just Between Friends sign-up

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m buried in outgrown kid clothes/stuff and am anxious to purge them (even though it is hard to let go a cute outfit like this one). Some of the clothes and gear I’ve already passed on to friends, but honestly there a lot of value still left in them and I’m reluctant to pass them all on without recouping some of cost. Any way about it, it’s going to take a big effort, but I want to be as efficient as possible and get the most return for my time, energy and kid stuff. Plus, any proceeds from my sale are earmarked as spending money for our Denmark trip, so I’ve got an incentive.

So, I had heard about the Pass It On sale from my friend Stacy, and was about to research it some more when I was on UrbanMamas and saw an ad for Just Between Friends at the Portland Expo, April 30th – May 1st. This one appealed to me more, since it’s on the MAX line, so I’ve signed up as a consignor and a volunteer.


My goal this spring was hold a huge yard sale, but honestly the idea of sitting around all weekend hawking kid stuff isn’t my idea of relaxation. I’ll probably still do a household porch sale, but at least I won’t be buried in kid stuff. Plus, I don’t really think I would be able to get the same volume of sales as at a huge consignment sale, like Just Between Friends.


Also, the idea of selling at consignment stores was even more daunting. I’ve taken a some clothes to Bella Stella, but out of several bags of high quality in season clothes, they took about a 1/2 bag. Then in order to get the credit I have to go back and shop within six months…which reminds me that I need to shop soon!


“Just between friends” if you’re interested in getting first look at some of my stuff, get in touch. Also, let me know if you’d like to shop together for sale itself.


Have you consigned, shopped or volunteered at a consignment sale?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Story of Citizens

As always, I can’t help but share my enthusiasm for Annie Leonard and her brilliant Story of Stuff films series. So here’s the latest, which is about corporate power and how citizens lost control. It’s less than ten minutes, and you’ll no doubt be inspired…or at least motivated to take action:






What are your thoughts on the film/topic?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.