Sunday, September 21, 2008

At the face of a financial crisis

I'm sure the economical crisis we are facing isn't something local - as I read on other people's blogs, and learn from conversations with friends who live abroad, the same is happening all around the world. Banks are crashing, gas and food prices are soaring, and the average family finds it more and more difficult to get by.

My husband and I have always been frugal-minded, not afraid of taking the challenge of spending less, using second-hand, recycling, and getting by without excessive luxuries. However, recently it seems as though something just happens every month, which makes us spend far more money than we originally planned. This month, for example, it was our washing machine breaking down. We also bought a house and have a baby on the way, and while we didn't acquire a huge mortgage like people tend to get here, and don't plan to get every fancy item out there which our baby will supposedly "need", the necessity to be creative and resourceful becomes more and more prominent.

We began thinking our money might not be entirely safe in the bank, and the thought of relying on government compensation in the case our bank crashes makes me feel uneasy. It happened to another bank a few years ago, and some people never got all their money back. We are thinking of splitting our savings, so as not to put all the eggs in the same basket.

Rhonda Jean recently wrote a post calling us to "live like squirrels", stocking away for the difficult times ahead. I agree with Rhonda on the point that we need to make our best efforts to pay off debt, and not to acquire any new debt. I also believe we could all benefit from "getting real" about our actual needs, as opposing our wants. I know people who would be honestly baffled if they were told they don't actually "need" a trip abroad every year.

I do think, however, that facing a difficult economical situation should never drive us to a point when we refuse to help others in need, explaining it by limiting our budget in such a way that charity isn't included. It happened several times that we have given to charity supposedly more than we could "afford", and God provided for us abundantly every time, returning our contribution in unexpected savings, gifts, and employment options. Charity is not a luxury, and He will never, never forsake those who extend their hand to others. Moreover, a strong, supportive community is a very important part of surviving in the face of economical breakdown. Mutual help and trading home-grown produce might become much more common in the near future.

I'm also convinced that the number of children we welcome and embrace should not depend on our fears of the future. Russia's birthrate crisis is supposedly tied to the dire economical situation in that country, and the government is trying to solve the problem by paying fairly large sums to new mothers. However, they are missing out on the fact that the situation is largely the same in many countries which are far better off financially. I'm convinced that Russia's problem is rooted not in its poor financial situation, but in lack of faith - the Soviet regime had done everything possible to wipe out every remnant of religious communities, no matter if they were Jewish, Christian or Muslim. When we don't trust God to provide, largely it doesn't really matter how much money we have.


lady jane said...

Excellent points and a delightful and insightful link to bunny trail. Thank you!

I'm a kindred spirit with most, if not all at times, you share. One point you brought up in this post is about giving to charity. To give with a cheerful heart because the Lord loves a cheerful giver, not to 'expect' a return but oh so gracious and delighted when/if it happens. To keep our eyes upon Him Who gives all and every good thing, along with the challenging things to bring us in a closer walk with the Almighty. The *widow's mite*: giving when we have little, because the Lord leads and it's the right thing to do. The benefits are many. And glorious.

Bless you as you prepare for this week. May you see Him in every little thing, dear friend.


Mrs. Amy Brigham said...

Very good post, Anna! I've been reading reports that as the my country's economic system continues to collapse, it seems charity is one of the first places people are tightening their belts and this should not be so. Our local food bank has hardly a thing on the shelf anymore and I've heard that the charities in rural areas are faring even worse, especially as gas costs are making *small* deliveries a foolish thing to do. Sean & I have discussed it and have decided that with the food prices rising, both our grocery budget and our charitable giving needs to rise in step with these scary price leaps. We especially like to donate gluten free and allergy friendly foods as we know how pricey these foods can be yet how *important* and necessary to someone with illness. We are hoping we will be able to continue to donate these food items for some time, even if we must cut back in other areas.

And even *if* people truly cannot donate money or goods, their time and physical labor can also prove immensely beneficial to others--be it organizing food at the food bank or helping an elderly or disabled neighbor accomplish some task around the house or yard.

Ace said...

Great post Anna! I talked to The General about taking our money out of the banks for awhile now. He is mulling it over, I pray God will give him wisdom. It amazes me how many people are terrified now, not that they won't be able to eat or have clothing or shelter...but that it won't be what the WANT. Yeah, I like to have nice things too, but my world isn't over if I don't (one of the good things about growing up poor :) I also don't think it is child abuse to not give your children everything and go into debt to do it (why we MUST do disney land every summer, we MUST have dvds in our cars, etc).

Btw, Robyn at has some great posts on doing without. She figured out a great way to wash by hand, I love to know this stuff ahead of time..just in case.

Babies don't NEED things, it usually just gets broken or ends up as clutter. They NEED loving and protective parents, Breast milk, diapers and LOVE! Oh, and a safe place to sleep (but I ended up co-sleeping with both of mine until about a year old, easy, lets me nurse and sleep and I saved my first daughter's life once because I caught her right when she was very sick and too weak to cry. Never let them cry it out. She would have DIED had I "waited ten minutes" )

Many Blessings :)

Julia said...

I am hoping this economic crisis will force us into living simpler, less material goods oriented lifestyles. I thought I was always frugal, but I find myself driving much less lately and I'm starting a garden.

Anonymous said...

We were married this past Febuary, and with me leaving work to stay at home we have struggled alot. However in say saying that we have had to become utterly dependent to God for all our needs, and not only hav ethey been met but we have had extra to give to others. God always, always meets our needs. For the first time in my life I have learnt to knit, sew and keep a flourishing vegetable garden-things I would not have done if we had enough money. A friend told me a while ago that 'God never makes a child in a christian household that he doesn't intend to feed. Fear is no reason to brings Gods blessings into this world.

Thank-you for your inspiring blog Anna, may god bless you.


Anonymous said...

God is the giver of all things. Nothing we have is by "chance" or by our own "doing". God expects us to honor Him with ALL He has given to us. All of the worry about finances these days is for nothing. Nothing if our hearts our right with God. If we have made our money to be our "God" or our "idol" in life, then yes, we will be hurt in these tough times. However, if we have placed our hope in the Lord, He will sustain us at ALL times. Each day has enough trouble of it's own. We need not worry about the future. It's in God's hands. Think thoughts of what God wants from you today. Seek the blessings in THIS day. Give us THIS day, our daily bread.
God bless!

Laura Brown said...

You make an excellent point about charity, Anna. We, too, have sometimes given more to charity than others might find reasonable on our income, but we have never, never, never been left short because of it. I truly believe that God will not allow someone to be deprived as a result of giving to others.

USAincognito said...

As our economy changes, I have discovered that "living like the Jones's" (which is living broke) is starting to hurt people more and more. That is why I am all about living a debt-free lifestyle and staying that way! With no debts and with investing at the least 15% of my salary into mutual funds, I don't ever need to worry about rising prices because I am prepared for whatever will come. :)


wow so great

Rose said...

Hello Anna,

As usual a very thoughtful post.

Recently it seems as though something just happens every month, which makes us spend far more money than we originally planned...

This is the season of your life, you are establishing a household. You are doing it thoughtfully and frugally. Congratulations to you and Mr T.

Rose in Oz

Anonymous said...

So much to think've touched on many things that so many are experiencing. Good comments too! reason I enjoy visiting your blog. You do foster good conversation. The mark of a good hostess, I would say!

It is so easy to forget others in need when we, ourselves, may be suffering. We are careful in how we spend, & I don't ask anyone in the family to do anything I'm not willing to do myself. I do believe we should remember that even if we cannot give, in a strictly monetary sense, to this charity or that organization, we can & should spend our time helping where we can. Cash is, & always will be, important to the function of any charitable institution, but when I'm low on discretionary income I usually find that I can give by lots of "doing". God seems to grant me an extra measure of energy & strength to carry out these tasks....I am thankful!!


Anonymous said...

Oh my, I know what you mean about there always being something! Seems there is always something we need to buy, fix, replace, etc. I agree with not putting all of your eggs in one basket. We have use several differen funds, banks, etc. We're also of the mind that it's good to keep cash on hand too, if you have a safe place to keep it.

Andrea said...

Rose said what I meant to, that you're setting up a household together, and so it makes sense that expenses will be a bit higher at first. Just think, though, how the investments you are making now will pay off over time as your family grows! There are a few things where it really doesn't pay off, in the long run, to pinch pennies, and I think reliable household appliances are definitely one of those areas.

May your new washing machine prove stout-hearted and sound for many years to come! ;)

Anonymous said...

Just don't skimp on the baby clothes or you will be doing lots of laundry (she says as she puts her baby in the 4th outfit of the day).

GraceHead said...

AIG debacle has been in the works for a while.
Imagine you're praying over being ripped-off by an insurance company. Imagine that you have a unique gift so that God's voice often sounds audible to you, such that you can write down stuff that you hear word for word. How strange would it sound to be interrupted during your prayer to have God rant about how insurance companies are going to fail and the bigger they are the harder they will fall? Imagine again, that all of this happens years before anyone has heard of the looming financial crisis that is unfolding before our eyes. Well, as amazing as that all sounds it happened to a friend of mine, Timothy, on May 18, 2005 and it is published for anyone who is interested:

"The Giants of This World Will Fall...Stand Not in Their Shadow / Timothy, be wary of things of dishonesty and greed in nature of those in whom you have dealt. Those in whom you have dealt, greed is at the heart of that which they do. Nowhere is help or compassion found.You are a number, a mere sign of your dollar. They will fall and come to nothing. ... If I come and remove and destroy all things, which are and lead My people into vanity, what is left?...Your life and your free will to choose, to save it or lose it. Blessed are those, who lose their life in this world for My sake...they have their reward. Woe to those, who lose themselves in this world to keep their life...they are lost. Therefore, out of love, I will remove all obstacles from their path, so they may see Me clearly and run to Me, for I wait with arms open.
All must crumble, all must be shaken.
All must be removed, all foundations broken, all must be moved from their places.
All will be done as it is written, all will be divided.
All will stand naked before their Creator so they may choose...
choose life and love, My people!"

Timothy did not know what to think of this at the time, but recent news has shed light on what he was told back then.

More recently, this letter has a few more details of the collapse:

Ripening for the harvest,

Anonymous said...

I have been married 24 years, and enjoy your charming bolg very much. The economy is a challenge for most people now, and my family has had the toughest year in many. Some things don't change though, faith, baking something special for dessert when the meal is very simple (beans and cornbread) and the reality that babies require very little in the way of things. Your love , a dry diaper, clean clothes, and lots of brestmilk. As the mother of 9 I can't think of anything else you'll need.

Analytical Adam said...

I think the biggest reason is feminism (and women puting off getting married). The stats speak for themselves here in the US as birthrates among women in their 20's have gone down a great deal while the numbers in the 30's are lower (because fertility is lower in the 30's then 20's) but down to a much less degree when compared to the 1960's. There were about 250 live births per 1,000 women in the 20-24 range today only about 120 in both 20-24 and 25-29. And about 200 in 25-29 in the 1960's. In the 30's it was down but only slightly. You have about 120 per 1,000 30-34 in the 60's and about 100 today. Similar 35-39 age range. 50 vs 40. So the issue is women are puting off getting married and I do have to say at least in the US women are told only men have to get married but they don't and everything is the man's responsibility which of course men can't have children and aren't going to be interested in women that show that they really aren't interested and don't try to make some effort on their side which OK men maybe in many cases should take the first step but after that you have to respond in return which many women don't want to do and clearly aren't interested in getting married until 35 or even older. Women are taught to not listen to men except the Rabbi and many Rabbi's blame rank and file men for everything and use them for scapegoats including things that are beyond their control. Yet many intelligent men who tend to be more stat and fact oriented then women would tell them this but they are taught never to listen to us and to think they are better then men in every way which of course is nonsense but also has led to women to think because they can put off getting married and there is nothing wrong with it because men are bums. Last weeks Parsha said it all. Eve gave in to temption and to make up for this women in the future should resist certain temptation that really are going away from their role although they can rationalize it but at the same time men do have to question a women if what she is tellin you seems to be against what G-d wants. Adam was punished for listening to his wife in this case as he should have told her that he could not disobey G-d but he did no and this sin men have to correct that men should NOT GO ALONG with their wives if what they are saying seems to controdict the torah and they should question why they are saying this.