I ask myself this question all the time. Even when I have gotten rid of several car loads of clothes, toys, books, and garbage, I still look around my house and think "too much stuff!"
One reason I feel this way is that when you have a lot, you have to take care of it. "Where much is given, much is required", right? I look at the mountain of laundry and think "If we had less clothes maybe there would be less work." I know that isn't true. I would have just as much work because I would be forced to wash the clothes more often in order to keep everyone covered.
Another reason I ask this question is to try and keep our desires in check. If we are not careful the line between need and want can get seriously blurred. Allow me to illustrate.
When my husband and I were first married, we lived in a townhouse. My husband had been very clear with the Realtor that we wanted a
There was a couple from church who lived just a few doors down. They were in a similar situation, same rank, same size
They had 2 cars and were making payments on both. They had a dog and 2 cats who "required" a special, expensive kind of food from a specialty pet food store. They both had cell phones. She explained that she saved "so much" by keeping up her cosmetology license so she could buy her salon quality hair and nail products at a discount.
For the most part, I thought it was their own business what they spent their money on and I didn't really judge them...until one day... The wife asked me to watch her little girl, who was about 8 months old, while she went to a doctor's appointment. She gave me strict orders not to change her diaper unless it was "stinky". She explained that "Diapers are so expensive. I just hate wasting money on something like that. I can't wait until she is potty trained." I agreed to her request and she left.
Soon the baby started crying. I realized that her diaper was about to burst with wetness so I changed it. When her mother returned, I told her what I had done and why. She gave me a sour look but said it was fine. She also told me that her daughter was very prone to rashes and had been seen by a doctor several times for the rash and even a suspected urinary tract infection. "No one can figure out what her problem is?" the mother said in frustration. I had a pretty good idea!
This experience gave me a glimpse at what life could be like for us. Yes, they seemed to be a more elegant and accomplished couple on the outside, but at what cost? We were using hand-me down furniture and going to the laundry mat. That was what we felt our situation required. We were paying off debts and getting a few things we really needed. And no one in our household was actually suffering!
A few years before this, I attended a single adult fireside given by the stake. A young couple from another ward spoke to us about the struggles they had when they were first married. It was a little humbling because she was the daughter of a well-known and respected member of the stake. They were very open about their struggles and how their parents allowed them to struggle in order to help them grow. It wasn't that they were mistreated or that they were making bad choices. They were just young college students who had nothing.
They also explained that they wanted to follow the counsel of the church leaders so they decided that the wife would not work. She would stay
I was deeply touched by their faith in this commandment. As I said, I worked for several months after we were married. As the time approached for our first child to be born, I became concerned about whether or not I would have to work and put our child in daycare. The answer was a mixed blessing. My husband was deployed 5 weeks after our son was born. The extra money we received from that, along with the reduction in gas and food costs, balanced out to almost exactly what I was making at my job. A few months later my husband was promoted, giving us a little more than we had before.
I have never HAD to work since then. Sometimes things feel a little tight. Sometimes it is because we have made poor choices in how we use the income we have. Sometimes it is just part of life. Any time I start to feel the pinch of a tightened belt, I remember those two couples. I think about which example I want to follow. The choice is easy. Yes, it may be a little humbling and even painful to choose the right path but the rewards are immeasurable.