Sacrifice Not

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I recently read Effortless Savings, which I reviewed last week. The book was a fairly typical spend-less type of book, which I have read several of. However, the tag line of this book (“A Step-by-Step Guidebook to Saving Money without Sacrifice”) really bugged me.

It took me a while to figure out what about it bugged me. Then it occurred to me: I have largely adopted an attitude that we should sacrifice in order to conserve resources (both personal and communal). While I understand the appeal of saving money without having to give up anything that I enjoy, I don’t think that is something we should necessarily be striving for.

I think the desire to not sacrifice is quite common, so I please don’t take this blog post as speaking against Effortless Savings or Richard Syrop, but the cultural values that makes such a tagline appealing to potential readers.

While I often fail, I make it my aim to use as little as possible in order to give more. Because I have so much room to grow in this area, it has been possible for me to significantly improve in this each year…and I’ll be able to do so for years to come.

That said, I don’t want to go so far as being a spartan monk. God has given us great beauty and luxury in this world, and if we reject simply to reject it and not in service to a higher goal, we dishonor Him. But by giving up what we could rightfully claim, in order to bless others in His name, I believe we can better honor Him. After all, when we sacrifice in the little things, we’re echoing Jesus’s great sacrifice on our behalf.

My thoughts on this are constantly evolving (and hopefully maturing). I’d love to hear what you think.

Effortless Savings by Richard Syrop (Book Review)

effortless_savingsI recently read Effortless Savings: a Step-by-Step Guidebook to Saving Money without Sacrifice by Richard Syrop, having received a copy to review. Since I’m always looking for ways to cut back (especially now that I temporarily without income!), I welcomed the review copy.

Effortless Savings is separated into various categories, so it makes it easy to get to the section that most interests you: Telecom Services, Insurance, Home Energy, Grocery Shopping, Health and Beauty Products, Clothing and Household Items, Automotive Expenses, Additional Shopping Strategies, Restaurants and Entertainment, Vacations and Travel Expenses, Credit Cards and Banking.

Some sections are more helpful than others. Since I’ve read similar books and websites, I probably didn’t find as many useful tips as others might. Particularly, Syrop mentions several ways to save on restaurants and entertainment I’ve never considered…my main strategy to this point has been to eat out as little as possible!

Along with some good tips, there unfortunately a few that I find unethical (misleading the cable company into thinking you’ll cancel, bringing your own food into a venue that has a no-outside-food policy) and cannot recommend.

If you are new to cutting costs, this book could be useful to you.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Effortless Savings in order to write this review.

Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas (Book Review)

waldenonwheelsI recently read Walden on Wheels at the recommendation of my fellow hippie and sister-in-law. We regularly discuss ways to consume less and pay off our student loans faster (I still am only halfway, but she’s finished now). In our talks, we have discussed many of the themes of this book.

In Walden on Wheels, Ken Ilgunas writes about his journey from graduating with an undergrad degree with $32,000 in debt to graduating with a masters from Duke with no debt, by working hard, spending very little and living his graduate school days in a van on campus.

Ilgunas frequently refers to his debt as holding him back from freedom, and I completely agree.

“Taking out student loans was a momentous event in my life, yet I don’t have the faintest recollection of the event. I know it happened because I definitely went into debt, but I don’t at all remember signing any forms, shaking any hands with financial aid officers, or noting the frown that was surely fixed on my mom’s face as she cosigned the loans with me–which was, by the way, probably a daunting prospect to her, as I’d given her no indication that I’d one day exhibit traits of industry, ambition or responsibility.

“I do, however, remember not hearing any warnings about the consequences of debt or the likelihood of a bleak postgraduation job market. And I do remember hearing, form a chorus of voices, that ‘student debt is good debt’ and that ‘money shouldn’t stop you from going to the school you want to go to.’ ” – p.8

Ilgunas speaks to the burden so many college students and graduates are facing just as they are starting life on their own. While I don’t entirely share his pessimism for the outlook for our generation (the Millennials), I do believe that we will have to change our lifestyles and stop believing all the lies about money and consuming if we are to have much hope of a comfortable life.

I have no plans on downsizing to a van in order to pay the last of my student loan debt off. However, I will continue to seek ways to do without things that other people may think are necessities.

I do recommend Walden on Wheels if any of the above sentiments resonate with you.

I Trust in You, God

I am amazed at how quickly I have felt settled here in Colorado. The only thing that keeps this life from feeling “normal” is my lack of a job.

When I was recently disappointed at being so close to being offered a job before the position was closed, I realized it was an opportunity to recommit to my trust in God’s goodness and sovereignty.

All along this job hunt, I’ve asked God that he make it obvious that the job that I will receive is from him. Yet with my actions I have continued to futilely strive for what he has not provided.

I will not sit back and passively wait for a job, because that is not what God asks of me. But in my job searching activities, I seek to renew my trust in him and belief in the goodness of his timing and ways…even though they aren’t my timing and ways.

I know that God is good, because he has shown it to me over and over. So I know that this season of waiting and uncertainty is also his goodness for me. He must have more growing and learning for me.

I do not know how long this season will last, but for today, may my heart and actions say, “I trust in you, God.”

My Life as a Coloradan

photo1 (9)I’ve now lived in Colorado for 6 weeks. I have a driver’s license and green-and-white license plates (we have them in the front too). I’ve hiked miles of mountain trails and view the mountains daily (no 2 days’ view is the same). I’ve walked to the library, park, stores and restaurants, and taken light rail to a Rockies game. I’ve met new friends and feel home in my new church.

I’m quite in love with my new state.

Apart from a job (I’m working on that!), I”m quite settled here. I’ve made big moves before, but I never felt like I got settled this quickly. I know that hard times may come, but I’m much further into the process than I would have expected to be at 6 weeks.

More updates to come, I’m sure, but I didn’t want to leave you all hanging any more!