Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Christians And Thrift

I hope that the majority of my readers will agree that being a "soulless, rootless" consumer is not the way to go through life:) While the consumerist lifestyle is currently being promoted by the "powers that be", it caused quite a bit of reaction. Some of the opposite trends are minimalism and (extreme) thrift. So I wanted to say a couple of words about it.

There is nothing wrong in itself with being a minimalist/thrifty person. The real problem with minimalism as I see it is that it's often promoted as a pseudo-spiritual movement, a quasi-religion and tends to attract people like vegans, New-agers and the like. Then it becomes another attempt to find a meaning in your life through things, but unlike consumerism, this meaning comes not from accumulating stuff but rather from throwing it away for the sake of saving the Earth or something similar. This should make Christians rather wary since we know that it's Jesus who gives us the meaning (and salvation).

It's a bit trickier with practicing thrift. Any serious Christian will at least give some thought to what the Scriptures say about the family life and labour division. For many of us, especially in the countries like the USA where so many women work full time, giving away half the family income often means a substantial lowering of the standards of living. Plus, such families tend to have more than an average number of children, too. Being thrifty and creative is the only way to go forward for them and I think we should all admire the sacrifices some of them make to live according to their principles and give others an example of it can be done!

Yet, on the other hand, there are also families where the husband's salary alone allows them to live quite comfortably, own a nice size home and even enjoy vacations. I'm afraid that they are sometimes made to feel uncomfortable for not being "spiritual enough" for not adhering to the rigorous thrift routines like not growing all of their vegetables, e.g.

Being thrifty for the sake of thrift isn't really much different from spending money for the sake of keeping up with the Joneses, imo.  People should be pragmatic and shrewd when dealing with money matters. They should plan ahead and not take more debt than they can afford, like taking a huge mortgage which they can ill afford on two full salaries all the while complaining that "the society" doesn't allow mothers to stay home or wasting a student loan of 50.000 on a degree in basket-weaving; however, going the opposite way may turn you into a Scrooge, which is nearly just as detrimental.

I sense a certain streak of Puritanism in some fundamentalist Christians who are, unfortunately, nearly the only ones left promoting traditional family values so that those who may stumble upon them will think that this puritanical avoidance of all nice things in this world is what the real Christian should do. It's right along there with claiming that a mother can't relax in the garden with a nice book but should work at some home business instead, "to be like a Proverbs 31 woman".

I just mentioned mortgages. In fact, I talk quite a bit about mortgages on this blog, because that's what keeps most wives and mothers working. I have pointed out lots of times that houses are getting bigger while families get smaller and that you don't really need a big house to be happy. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with having a big house, either, if it's a financially prudent thing to do. And whatever house you choose to buy, for most of us it will still mean taking a mortgage. So I don't believe that mortgages are evil or sinful and should be avoided all together.

Because for most folks, it would realistically mean that they can't afford a house at all. Of course, you can always rent and save and may be, buy a piece of land and build later or live in a trailer. Realistically speaking, most people will still need to get some sort of a loan and if a trailer is all a young family could afford, may be they should wait a couple more years before getting married.

The same holds true for many other things. I do visit thrift shops and buy second-hand. I also regularly buy new clothes. I wouldn't buy second-hand shoes as you can't make them really clean, but the clothes you can just wash at high temperature. I don't think owning second-hand clothes makes me a better person  or more spiritual. It's just a choice I made. I could choose buying less clothes of better quality but I like changing them often:) We do other things which are probably a bit wasteful but which we can afford.

In my opinion, that's the real key to one income, traditional family living: do only things you can afford and try to save money for eventual hard times. For one family it'll mean only wearing second-hand, for another not going on ski vacations quite that often. We are all different and it will always stay so. And thank Heavens for it!


  1. Housewife OutdoorsJune 14, 2018 at 4:06 AM

    "Then it becomes another attempt to find a meaning in your life through things"

    You managed to verbalize so perfectly what has always bothered me in minimalism. I could have never put it that well myself. Thank you!

    I was quite interested in minimalism at one point when I was fed up with clutter. But since I am also a survivalist, I cannot me minimalist. And then I realized that in minimalism, THINGS still define your whole life. I have read some minimalist blogs where people who live in San Fransisco write long stories how they just had to give up and buy another pair of shoes. They couldn't go through all year with one pair of ballerinas...

    There is nothing wrong in making your life as nice and comfortable as possible, while you focus on the truly important things in life. I actually happen to think that my duty as a housewife IS to do exactly that; make our life as nice and comfortable as possible. :)

    I think this same -disharmony, maybe?- is in body positivity -movement. It just makes you focus on your appearances and body even more. When the problem is that people obsess too much about their looks, when they should find something meaningfull to focus on.

    Minimalism or hoarding, it is still focusing on THINGS, right? And body positivity or body hatred, both are just obsessing about your BODY. Your looks. Your surface. Developing your character or focusing on something else than yourself is so victorian...

    I am not saying people shouldn't try to look nice and decent. It is ironic, isn't it, that the more obsessed society gets with people's looks, the uglier clothes people wear? Young girls with full countour make-up and saggy grey sweat pants, obsessing with their tiny little tummy and not realizing that washing their face and putting pretty skirt on would improve their looks much more, if that is so important.

    I am sorry I wrote so long comment again. And full of off-topic. I should put stuff like this to my own blog but somehow I enjoy so much more when I write to your comments than to my own blog.

  2. I don't mind long comments:)

    I watched lots of minimalist vids on YouTube looking for tip on decluttering and saving money, so couldn't help noticing a thing or two.

    For years, feminists have been pushing an image of a housewife as a domestic drudge who doesn't have anything nice happening around her. I have a feeling that some Christians appear to think that this caricature is, actually, how things at home should be, which I disagree with.

    You don't update your blog very often do you?

  3. No, only maybe twice a month. Just did, actually. But my posts always end up being something quite different I planned to write. :)

  4. Yes, I've seen your updates now!

    It does happen with posts sometimes:)

  5. I just noticed you had commented my post about Macabi skirts. I answer here, too, to make sure you get my answer.

    I don't know why insects don't go under that skirt, they just don't. We have lots of mosquitos and horseflies at our cottage so I have really tested that. I have also never had I tick, and we do have them too: I have removed over 30 from my dog this year...(she has very sensitive skin and cannot use those tick drops or collar that are sold for dogs.)

  6. Thanks! Interesting, I wonder how they do it? I don't mind mosquitoes so much, but ticks... My cat also brought a couple home last year. But it bothers me much more if I find one on myself:)

    1. Housewife OutdoorsJune 19, 2018 at 2:02 AM

      I hate ticks, too.

      I think that the hem of that skirt is so sturdy that it kind of swipes all insects away or something. But it has protected me marvellously.

      Here in Finland ticks carry a lot of Lyme's disease and even TBE which can cause brain fever, so avoiding them is rather important.

  7. I wonder how people used to deal with them in the past? i hear so much about Lyme's disease and yet ticks are quite common in summer. Could it be so that some are more sensitive to it than the others?

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