Throwback Thursday: The Ten Dollar Garden of 2007

Thursday is near its expiration this week, but I thought I’d take a few minutes to reflect on the garden I tended ten years ago. At that time, my funds available for gardening were next to nothing, so I bought ten dollars worth of seed at our neighborhood dollar store. My daughter and I just sprinkled and raked all ten packets over a 15′ x 10′ plot in my parents’ back yard. We didn’t do much else in the way of maintenance other than keeping it watered and enjoying its parade of blooms. A couple of the packets were oddball mixes that contained a great variety of flowers, ranging from baby’s breath to black eyed susan.

During that summer, a few neighborhood kittens had regular adventures in this dense garden:

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This was the last summer of my daughter’s early childhood. She started Kindergarten that fall, and I went to work full time during that school year. After that summer, our lives changed in ways that we could not have imagined. I met my husband. I found a job where I finally felt at ease at work, a job I still have to this day. We found a place of our own, where we lived for five years next to the little lake full of mallard ducks.

These pictures remind that we once reveled in simple pleasures and that our lives would only be better if we took the time to do so again.

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A Money Saving Tip

Serious Conditioner

I have a simple strategy for saving money: shop less. When I hear a commercial about how I can save $10 off a $50 purchase this weekend only, I consider that I can save $50 by not going to that store at all.

I do not write this to imply that I look down on consumerism in general. I am part of a capitalist economy, where I can’t completely escape the principle stated so well by Bobbi Fleckman in the movie This is Spinal Tap, “Money talks and bullshit walks.”

I am not above wanting to enjoy the fruits of my labor through buying something special I want but do not need. I have found that shopping less is the quickest route to getting those things. Instead of having lots of things I bought at a good price but didn’t really want, I have less things that satisfy me more. Over time I have bought less because I have grown to feel like I have bought everything I ever wanted. Before I buy anything, I consider if I would purchase that item if it were not being sold at a discount.

Consider all the things you have that you wouldn’t have bought at full retail. Imagine still having all the money you spent on those things.

I used to be caught in a trap of stockpiling deals, clipping coupons and watching sales. The result? Less money to buy the things I really wanted, less satisfaction with the things I had and certainly less gas in my gas tank. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of wanting and buying more.

I was so ruled by getting more at the best cost that I actually used it as an excuse to stay in a dead end relationship. At the time, my daughter was just a baby, and I devoted a lot of my mental energy to the task of buying as much food for as little money as possible. I was driven to stock up against some future calamity, such as her father losing or quitting his job. I buried my unhappiness with him by chasing deals. For a couple months, I made the excuse of staying in the relationship because in leaving I would abandon a deep freezer full of meat and dinner deals.

When I ran out of room to hoard more bargains in the kitchen, I then made a silent ultimatum, that I would wait until the deep freezer was empty to see if this relationship would become tolerable. By the time the freezer was half full, reality intervened, and I ended the relationship. I also decided to part with 90% of my possessions because I was beginning a new part of my life where I would no longer let my attachment to things drive important choices in my life.

I remembered, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself” (Matthew 6:34). I have not regretted my choice. I am not burdened with an unhappy situation or tethered to so much junk.