Stay Thrifty My Friends

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to spend my money as ethically and responsibly as possible. My goal is to purchase as much of my clothing as ethically as possible. My definition for  “ethically purchased clothes”  is two fold:

  1. any clothing item produced in a manner that uses natural, non-toxic, ethically harvested, and fairly constructed materials. Basically, anything made by fairly paid people out of natural, safe materials.
  2. anything bought second-hand

I have about 130 items of clothing. I’m including everything that I wear on my body. Out of those items, about 49% were produced and/or purchased ethically. I would like to be in the 70-80% range at some point. I don’t think 100% is realistic for me. Somethings are just not reasonably able to be purchased ethically and I can’t always find something I need in my size from secondhand places.

I’m doing this because I want to honor God with my money more and more. I’m not all the way there yet, but my clothing choices have been a great start. It’s hard for me to knowingly buy clothes that were produced in a way that hurts people and the rest of creation. Sometimes I can’t avoid it, but when I can, I do. This means I buy much of my clothes second-hand. I’ve found that this is way more fun then buying brand new. If you know what to look for, you can buy premium quality items for a fraction of the price. For instance, I found a pair of very lightly worn black engineer books that retail at $329 for only $37! In my size, in the color I wanted, from the brand I wanted.

However, somethings like socks and undies you can’t buy second-hand. Buying things that I can’t (or don’t) want to buy secondhand usually means spending more. But it’s totally worth it. I just buy less things at once and eventually I will be able to replace what I have with more ethically purchased items. While I am concerned about saving money and paying off debt, I don’t want that to mean that I buy the cheapest thing available because at this point in history, that means it’s made by poorly treated workers in crummy facilities. That’s where my money goes. I don’t like that at all. So, I’m doing my best to change my spending habits and it has turned out to be fun and has saved me money.

A Reason Is Not An Excuse

As I’m writing this, I’m reading Dr Townsend’s book The Entitlement Cure and it is challenging me big time. I need to hear what he’s saying and I know SO MANY people who could benefit from this too.

Something that really stood out to me right off the bat was his statement on page 35:

“A reason is not an excuse.”

A reason and an excuse are two different things with two different means but it is so easy to get confused. I know that I do it from time to time. In the context of this book, the “reason” someone might have an entitlement attitude is because of the way their parents raised them but it does not “excuse” their attitudes and behaviors. Dr Townsend points out that each person is 100% responsible for their behaviors and attitudes.

We are all responsible for our own behaviors and attitudes. No matter how we have been treated. No matter who has said mean things to us. No matter how things fell through in your life. We are responsible for our responses. Just you. Just me.

Regardless of what I’ve been through, I know that someone with less than me has dealt with worse circumstances and been wildly successful. I have to remind myself of this regularly or else I get all “woe is me.”

So many people have not allowed their reasons to be their excuses. Chances are you know some of these people. It’s likely you are one of these people in some capacity. You can do it. I can do it. Let’s do it together.

Turn Signals

One of my most vivid early memories is of my dad driving and using the turn signal. This is weird, I know. I just remember thinking to myself, “O my gosh, someday when I drive I’m going to have to use a turn signal every time I drive!? How do people remember to do this?”

Flash forward to now and I realize that many people do not use turn signals (you know who you are) and I use mine without even thinking about it. Literally. I don’t know why this struck me the other day but I realized that without any conscious effort I flip the turn signal on and off when I’m driving. You do it too (hopefully). How cool is it that we can get a good habit so ingrained in us that we do it without even thinking? I think it’s pretty amazing.

When all of this came together in my head, I started to think: what other things are so ingrained in me that I do them without conscious thought? And then I got serious, what bad habits do I have that I do without even realizing it? It’s scary, isn’t it? Scary that we can get so used to doing something that it becomes not just second nature or easy, but it seems to become a part of who we actually are.

One of my bad habits has been to be short and rude when the people close to me ask me questions. For whatever reason, I cultivated this into a unconscious habit that I’m only now starting to understand and break. I love what Tom Ziglar and Jim Rohn say about habit and success:

The fastest way to success is to replace a bad habit with a good habit.

For me, this means teaching myself to take a quick second when I’m questioned and actually listen instead of going straight to annoyed. This is hard. Like really hard. But then I remember back when I thought that using a turn signal every time I turn was incredibly daunting but now I do it without thinking. We all have things that used to be hard for us and now they are easy. Draw on this experience to overcome your bad habits and create new ones. I’ve created new good habits and so have you. We can do it again. And again.

Just Say No

Your “no” is what makes your “yes” valuable

I have a book on my shelf about having a “yes attitude.” One of the best selling books of 2016 was about a year of saying “yes.” I know moms and dads who go out of their way to cultivate a “yes” attitude in their kids by doing whatever they can to avoid saying “no.” It seems like so many people are saying no to saying no. Not me.

Think about this: what good is your “yes” if all you ever say is “yes?” Does it even mean anything? It’s the difference between a vending machine and a slot machine. Put a dollar in a vending machine and you will certainly get a snack. Put a dollar into a slot machine and you might get back way more then you put in. A “yes” from a slot machine is much more valuable than a “yes” from a vending machine. Why? Simply because the slot machine says “no,” like alot.

Think about this: every time you say “yes” to something you are simultaneously saying “no” to something else. Your time and energy is limited. Your can only do so much. A knee jerk “yes” reflex attitude can have you choosing to do things that you do really want to do or might not have time to do.

Make those yes’s count. Don’t be afraid to say no.