Tuesday, October 11, 2016

On Keeping Up Appearances

I keep hearing these stories about young couples taking a huge amount of debt to be able to afford their "dream house" which they hardly have time to enjoy since they have both to work full time to pay back the mortgage. Of course, an average family which consists of two grown-ups plus two kids doesn't need a big house. They hardly ever have time to clean it anyway.

When you read old books like Miss Silver stories you see that wealthy people who used to live in big houses usually didn't live there alone. Besides servants, they shared it with relatives in reduced circumstances, nephews and nieces and cousins and they often had visitors to stay over. It's not what's happening nowadays. Nowadays I see couples going above their means just to keep up appearances. No family with only two kids needs 5 bedrooms. No family needs to go on vacation three times a year.

It's not that these things are wrong in themselves. It's just mind-boggling that so many wives and mothers choose to work just to finance this insanely materialistic lifestyle and that so many families go deeply into debt to acquire unnecessary stuff.

The truth is that despite ongoing recession or however it is called we are still abundantly blessed with wealth that previous generations could only dream of. We all have a roof above our heads, running water and sanitary accommodations, we don't have to cook on the open fire, schools are free, internet is full of free resources as well, clothes can be bought rather cheaply, nobody is starving and nearly every family has a car.

However, a lot of folks evidently have emptiness in their souls which they are trying to fill up with consumerism. Even homemakers are pressed into spending every free moment making money, instead of pursuing a hobby or socialising with the neighbours. The truth is, we all could do with less stuff. I've read articles about ladies spending 500 pounds and more per month on makeup. I mean whatever???

In life, there are needs and wants. You don't need to live in a semi-detached. You don't need a latest car. You don't need many luxury vacations. You don't need eating out twice a week or even twice a month, etc etc...especially when you are a Christian, you should ask yourself what is more important, following God's design for the family or keeping up appearances.


  1. I live in an affluent area of Texas, and yes, as someone who's an older SAHM with modest means, I see so many other younger SAHM and working friends doing exactly what you describe. Most live in large homes, drive expensive SUV's and are taking expensive vacations with their kids before they would even be able to remember them, multiple times a year. The houses in our area now *start* at $200,000 USD (we bought ours years ago when prices were much more reasonable). I am doubting these friends can genuinely afford their lifestyles without the help of credit cards. As someone who's learned their money lessons the hard way, going through bankruptcy due to life circumstances and poor planning, I cringe when I see yet another Facebook post of theirs showing off yet another expensive family vacation or purchase of another expensive vehicle. Making memories is important, but it can be accomplished via a much cheaper route, and one that can allow mom to be at home enjoying those memory making moments, and "the Joneses" don't care a whit what care you're driving or house you're living in while you do it.

  2. Maggie, I have been reading Dave Ramsey lately and he said something along the lines that if you are well known in most restaurants in your town, you are deep in trouble:)

    I guess my point was that it's really quite possible to live cheaply if you just make some adjustments and have lower expectations. For instance, what's the point of a huge house if only three or four people live in it? It's not like we have our extended family living with us any more.

    We also tend to accumulate stuff we don't need. A couple of years ago a relative decided to clean her closets and donated a lot to charity. Most things were in the 1970s style and brand new! She spent a lot of money on something she didn't need and didn't wear just to throw it away 40 years later.

  3. About sums it up:

  4. Housewife from FinlandOctober 12, 2016 at 4:53 AM

    What people also forget is that going to work is very expensive! If wife stays at home, family will need only one car (at least in most parts of Europe). She wont be needing expensive clothes for work -even if you dress nicely at home, those clothes are usually cheaper than those needed in offices and you do not need so many of them since you can do laundry more often.

    If you add kindergarten costs that are saved if mother stays at home, I think that in most cases it makes no sense financially for the mother to work.

    And if couple is childfree, well two adults should really cope very well with one income. Though to be honest, we struggle time to time, mainly because we have a share of husband's family's summer cottage and unexpected bills occure... And I do get a little allowance from insurance company since I am not healthy, so our situation is not entirely compareable. But anyway.

  5. Nowadays luxury is all about having more material things, but I tend to think that having more time and being more relaxed is luxury, too! So even if one-income couples lose in financial department, they get something else instead.

    Unexpected bills are a bother! That's why it's important to save and not waste money on unnecessary things...

  6. Housewife from FinlandOctober 12, 2016 at 6:32 AM

    I don't like touching my savings... I feel upset every time I must actually use the money I have saved... :)

    But you are right, free time and relaxation, they are the real luxuries of modern world. And getting enough sleep. It seems to me that working people hardly get enough sleep. I have read that people sleep one hour less than they used to back in the 80's. That cannot be healthy.

  7. I'm convinced it's unhealthy when people don't really have time just to hang around, that's why I'm against tight schedules. Your mind needs to relax! And I tend to think it's bad for kids, too. Their whole day is structured, not only school and housework but all the extra things they are doing nowadays like participating in 22 clubs and various activities. They just never seem to have time to go out and play. Well, at least here they are still doing it, but we live among common folks not the UMC uptight neighbourhood:) (Or those who are trying to pretend they are...)

  8. Housewife from FinlandOctober 13, 2016 at 3:31 AM

    I just read that in England many kids are not allowed to play outside because their parents are afraid of kidnappers and pedophiles. :rolleyes: Which makes no sense since most of the pedophiles are -surprise, surprise- stepfathers, not total strangers... One more reason for women not to divorce and re-marry.

    Luckily here in Finland most people still think that fresh air is most important thing to kids and force their kids to go out and play.

  9. Pedophiles already existed in my time and we still played outside. We were warned against them and taught not to talk to strangers, not to accept candy etc. There are some common sense precautions and then there is paranoia. But, of course, it also depends on where exactly you live. I read that in the USA, for instance, some areas are very unsafe.