Main Menu

Material v Spiritual Wealth – Living a Very Frugal Life with Kids


Providing for the family is a responsibility of being a parent. Since I first became a parent my definition of what “providing” means to me has morphed many times.

In the beginning, I basically wanted to provide as much as possible – me, my time, love, toys, experiences, ideals, whatever. We wanted it, we would move towards having it – within reason. We didn’t start out materially rich although we felt comfortable with the in flow of money for the most part.

As my experiences with money, life, divorce, work, and the return to college influenced the amount of material wealth we experienced I noticed a trend. Feel bad about lack of money, children reflect the feeling, ask for more, mutual disappointment that we couldn’t all just have what we want, and a fervent effort to change our circumstances.

Then quite sharply, it hit me. Material wealth and spiritual wealth – or fulfillment in life – are two vastly different experiences. Sometimes they go together, sometimes they don’t. Material wealth is dependent upon circumstances while spiritual wealth is not. This is evidenced by the fact that some people in the most dire circumstances may find themselves feeling very spiritually rich or fulfilled.

I decided to give up, for the moment. Give up the drive for more. Be grateful for “less”.ย  Surrender to the experience of life instead of resisting our experiential reality. Establish our priorities.

Priority #1

Be grateful for what we have and recognize that we choose the experience of our circumstances.This is the foundation for all of the rest. Period. A process, but the choice is always ours – individually and as a family.

Priority #2
Be home with the kids as much as possible. If working outside of the home is required, do so in short spurts, work where the kids can be with us, or make sure at least one parent is home with the kids until we all decide otherwise.

Priority #3
Do not incur future debt that will not pay itself off (school loan may be okay for a time to complete a degree that may yield a greater income). It just doesn’t quite work to be frugal and incur debt at the same time. They don’t quite equate.

Priority #4
Earn income in ways that serve humanity and our purpose. Otherwise, the material wealth we experience isn’t spiritual wealth – it’s a lie masquerading as truth. I’m also not into marketing which may seem to my detriment at times, but I’m working on it. I realize people must know I exist for me to be able to serve them. All in good time.

What does this look like in real life?

We currently rent an old 3 bedroom home in a rural area on the edge of a 60 acre family property laced with interesting collectables and a string of other homes belonging to the owners – for $300. Quite honestly, some people may find it difficult to humble themselves enough to live as we do. I know I’ve had some stuff to work through along the way myself!

Living where we live offers the opportunity for everyone in the family to experience clear perspective. We can choose to be content and grateful in any circumstance. Sure there are ups and downs – and we choose to live where we live – for now. We are working towards home ownership when the right home comes along. Until then we’re cool to save on rent. ๐Ÿ™‚

We intentionally spend, save, and plan. Food is important, the bills need to be paid, and all of us have desires we would like to fulfill. Material wealth isn’t bad – it can be a lot of fun to acquire and play with material things. So we do – selectively.

The kids most often get a monthly allowance so they can count on something, even if a few dollars, to spend the way they want. We dream often, writing out lists and vision boards of what we think we might like. We work to enjoy the process of visioning and waiting as much as actually getting what we want.

I am working more and more towards a 1 in 1 out rule with stuff. Since we do live in a small home we don’t have lots of room so there’s a giveaway bag next to the trash and we take it to the thrift store when it’s full. We have all grown more accustomed to the process of getting, using, giving.

All in all, the experiences we have are more important than whether or not we have a certain amount of money. The deepening realization that true, lasting happiness is ever present at the base of our being and does not independently come through material goods or circumstances is how we enjoy living a very frugal life with kids.

As the kids come to know their true inner worth they seem to feel less swayed by the frustration of not having enough because they realize that the idea of “not enough” is not entirely true. They also get to launch big ideas about what they want to be and how they want to live when they “grow up”. Even though we choose to live frugally right now that doesn’t mean the circumstances won’t change in the future or that they can’t create something different for themselves when they’re older. ๐Ÿ™‚


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Enjoy the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Money Matter$ โ€” Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares her experiences on several ways to save money as a parent.
  • A different kind of life… โ€” Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares her utopian life and how it differs from her current one!
  • Show Me The Money! โ€” Arpita of Up, Down & Natural shares her experience of planning for parenting costs while also balancing the financial aspect of infertility treatments.
  • Material v Spiritual Wealth – Living a Very Frugal Life with Kids โ€” Amy at Peace 4 Parents shares her family’s realizations about the differences between material and spiritual wealth.
  • If I Had a Money Tree โ€” Sheila at A Gift Universe lists the things she would buy for her children if money were no object.
  • Financial Sacrifices, Budgets, and the Single Income Family โ€” Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of living within your means, the basics of crafting a budget, and the “real cost” of working outside of the home.
  • Overcoming My Fear of All Things Financial โ€” Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares how she is currently overcoming her fear of money and trying to rectify her ignorance of all things financial.
  • Confessions of a Cheapskate โ€” Adrienne at Mommying My Way admits that her cheapskate tendencies that were present pre-motherhood only compounded post-baby.
  • Money Matters โ€” Witch Mom hates money; here’s why.
  • Money? What Money?! โ€” Alicia C. at McCrenshaw’s Newest Thoughts describes how decisions she’s made have resulted in little income, yet a green lifestyle for her and her family.
  • What matters. โ€” Laura at Our Messy Messy Life might worry about spending too much money on the grocery budget, but she will not sacrifice quality to save a dollar.
  • Making Ends Meet โ€” Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares about being a working mom and natural parent.
  • Poor People, Wealthy Ways โ€” Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses how existing on very little money allows her to set an example of how to live conscientiously and with love.
  • The Green Stuff โ€” Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares how natural parenting has bettered her budget – and her perspective on creating and mothering.
  • Jemma’s Money โ€” Take a sneak peek at That Mama Gretchen’s monthly budget and how Jemma fits into it.
  • 5 Tips for How to Save Time and Money by Eating Healthier โ€” Family meal prep can be expensive and time-consuming without a plan! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares five easy tips for how to make your cooking life (and budget) easier.
  • Belonging in the Countryside โ€” Lack of money led Phoebe at Little Tinker Tales towards natural parenting, but it also hinders her from realizing her dream.
  • Total Disclosure and Total Reform โ€” Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl gets down to the nitty gritty of her money problems with hopes that you all can help her get her budget under control.
  • Save Money by Using What You Have โ€” Gaby at Tmuffin is only good with money because she’s lazy, has trouble throwing things away, and is indecisive. Here are some money-saving tips that helped her manage to quit her job and save enough money to become a WAHM.
  • Two Hippos & Ten Euros: A Lesson in Budgeting โ€” MudpieMama shares all about how her boys managed a tight budget at a recent zoo outing.
  • ABBA said it โ€” Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen ponders where her family has come from, where they are now and her hopes for her children’s financial future.
  • Money vs. Time โ€” Momma Jorje writes about cutting back on junk, bills, and then ultimately on income as well ~ to gain something of greater value: Time.
  • An Unexpected Cost of Parenting โ€” Moorea at MamaLady shares how medical crises changed how she feels about planning for parenthood.
  • 5 Ways This Stay at Home Mom Saves Money โ€” Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares 5 self-imposed guidelines that help her spend as little money as possible.
  • Frugal Parenting โ€” Lisa at My World Edenwild shares 8 ways she saves money and enriches her family’s lives at the same time.
  • Conscious Cash Conscious โ€” Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares her 5 money-conscious considerations that balance her familyโ€™s joy with their eco-friendly ideals.
  • Money, Sex and Having it All โ€” Patti at Jazzy Mama explains how she’s willing to give up one thing to get another. (And just for fun, she pretends to give advice on how to build capital in the bedroom.)
  • Money could buy me … a clone? โ€” With no local family to help out, Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wants childcare so she can take care of her health.
  • Spending Intentionally โ€” CatholicMommy loves to budget! Join her to learn what to buy, what not to buy, and, most importantly, where to buy.
  • New lessons from an allowance โ€” Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a follow-up guest post from Sam about the latest lessons their four-year-old’s learned from having his own spending money.
  • How to Homeschool without Spending a Fortune โ€” Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares tips and links to many resources for saving money while homeschooling from preschool through high school.
  • It’s Not a Baby Crisis. It’s Not Even a Professional Crisis. โ€” Why paid maternity leave, you may ask? Rachael at The Variegated Life has some answers.
  • “Making” Money โ€” Do you like to do-it-yourself? Amy at Anktangle uses her crafty skills to save her family money and live a little greener.
  • Money On My Mind โ€” Luschka at Diary of a First Child has been thinking about money and her relationship with it, specifically how it impacts on her parenting, her parenting choices, and ultimately her lifestyle.
  • Spending, Saving, and Finding a Balance โ€” Melissa at The New Mommy Files discusses the various choices she and her family have made that affect their finances, and finds it all to be worth it in the end.
  • Accounting for Taste โ€” Cassie at There’s a Pickle in My Life shares their budget and talks about how they decided food is the most important item to budget for.
  • Money Matters… But Not Too Much โ€” Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting shares how her family approaches money without putting too much of a focus onto it.
  • Parenting While Owning a Home Business โ€” In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the pros and cons of balancing parenting with working from home.
  • Crunchy Living is SO Expensive…Or Is It? โ€” Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about her biggest objection to natural living – and her surprise at what she learned.
  • Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems โ€” Sarah at Parenting God’s Children shares how a financial accountability partner changed her family’s finances.
  • The Importance of Food Planning โ€” Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro discusses how food budgeting and planning has helped her, even if she doesn’t always do it.
  • Kids & Money: Starting an Allowance for Preschoolers โ€” Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses her family’s approach and experiences with starting an allowance for preschoolers.


Are you struggling as a parent? If so, I’d like to share something with you: a story and some hope.