I spent all afternoon yesterday and will spend a lot of today working on our contents list. I am required to make a list of all our material possessions that burnt in our house fire in February 2012 – almost a year ago now. We are required to have this list completed and all the items purchased before the one year anniversary of our fire. I have three weeks (or so) to get this completed! And while I’ve been working, I’ve been thinking. The following is some of those thoughts:
I never considered myself to be a materialistic person. I never needed to have the best of anything or have the newest contraption. Growing up, we had other people’s cast offs, shopped at the second hand store, bought the fruit and veggies many other would pass over. My husband and I still do that today.
That being said, the house fire (and insurance money) had the potential to change that frugality. There were times when we would catch ourselves thinking that everyone needed new beds, instead of the perfectly fine donated beds. We’d think, “Everyone needs brand new winter boots.” But they didn’t, not really. Or I’d think that the perfectly fine washer and dryer in this house wasn’t enough; I needed to buy what I was “entitled” to buy with my insurance money.
We got caught up in the excitement and the entitlement of the situation. When we first started out after the fire we drew up the plans for a beautiful house with the help of a construction company. It had high ceilings and a wrap around double deck. Every child would have their own room; the master bedroom was massive! We planned out all the entrances so that dirty gardeners wouldn’t track the garden into the house. The laundry room would have made dealing with clothing a breeze…to a point. It was our dream home! And the insurance would have allowed for that. It’s what we had insurance for! But it was bound to create a life style and an attitude that we didn’t like – in ourselves and in our children.
And so, we chose to think differently. We chose to see things with different eyes. We took off our insurance money glasses. And we put on our “live like no one else, so you can LIVE like no one else” (1) glasses. We bought the house next door, and as my husband likes to say, we became our own neighbors. We started buying clothes and toys from the second hand store. We paid off debts – both to friends as well as to banks. We continued to watch the flyers and sales and replaced items (tools mostly) while they were on sale. We focused on the quality of items rather than on sheer quantity. (The quantity issue is also one of space. There just isn’t room for a lot of S.T.U.F.F.)(2)
Don’t get me wrong! We bought stuff brand new (and at full price), and we upgraded items we had before. Where we once had a DSi, we now have iPods, for example. My clothing that burnt was mostly second hand store finds while most of my replacement items are brand new. My food processor was replaced by a second hand Hobart which by far suites our needs better than the food processor did!
Things are not nearly as important as they once were (before or after the fire). We cherish our relationships with each other, with our children, and with our friends a little more. Family relationships are one of the main reasons we chose this relatively small house (much smaller than what burnt, and WAY smaller than what we were planning to build). Here we are in each others’ space; there’s not place to hide (but there are places to be alone, if needed). It keeps us honest – the kids with us and us with each other. We have to spend time together and that’s important.
Three weeks left to get this list done, so I’m off!
(1) This is something Dave Ramsey says in his material.
(2) S.T.U.F.F. – is Flylady’s acroynm for Something That Undermines Family Fun.