By Victoria Rolfe / Red Hook, N.Y.
If you are a normal weight like I am, sometimes people will say to you “Oh you are so lucky, you don’t have to worry about your weight at all,” or even more erroneously, “You are so lucky you can eat whatever you want.’ Neither of these statements could be further from the truth. In fact, the only reason that I am normal weight is because I do worry about my weight, every day. And I do watch what I eat, every meal. It is just as much a struggle for me as for them. In fact, maybe even more so, given the fact that I am only 4’10”, making every calorie count!
So, what does that have to do with money, you ask? Well, I have also had people say to me “You are so lucky that you got to stay home with your kids and did not have to go out to work.” And once again, luck had very little to do with it. Many of the women who said this to me had husbands who were making more money than mine did. These women also had big new SUV’s or minivans, cable TV, new clothes and shoes, maybe a Coach bag and (back in the day when I had dial-up) high-speed Internet. I would wager a bet they also thought nothing of going out to lunch, buying coffee and drinks out, getting their nails and hair done, and picking up takeout for dinner.
And yes, before you start yelling at me, I know there are single moms or other circumstances when women need to work, but my point is that often what people perceive as luck may actually be the result of choices made every day in life.
Luck can also be a matter of perception in another way. Let’s say you get into a car accident, and you break your arm. Are you lucky or unlucky? Well, some might say of course you are unlucky! You got into a car accident and broke your arm, for goodness sake! How can that be lucky? But then there is the person who says “I am so lucky that all I got was a broken arm! I am still alive!” Same scenario. Completely different perspective.
So, what is luck then? It is a matter of the results of your own actions, and also a matter of perspective. So, the question is can you create your own luck? You absolutely can!
Let me create a little story for you to illustrate my point even further:
Let’s say Dick and Jane make the exact amount of money. Ok, scratch that, since Dick probably makes more. Let’s say Dixie and Jane make the same salary and through some cosmic fate they have the exact same bills and expenditures every month. Each is able to save up exactly $100 per month after everything is paid, giving them each an extra $1.200 per year.
At the end of year one, Dixie takes that money and goes on as much-deserved vacation. Jane puts it in a one-year CD (back when you could get some interest from a CD that is). At the end of year two Dixie needs some new living room furniture, so she spends $1,000 on that plus a hot new outfit with the remaining $200.
Jane now has $2,424 (her yearly savings of $1,200, plus $1242 in her CD). She puts $2,200 into another CD and spends $30 on a water filter for her tap so she can stop buying bottle water and spends $70 on an indoor antenna for her TV and cancels her $110 per month cable service. With the remaining $124, she has a great time at the thrift shop buying a new wardrobe for the coming year.
Year three. Dixie has her usual $1,200 at the end of the year. She splurges on buying herself the latest iPhone, which is just out, plus a nice case for it.
Jane now has $2,244 from her CD, plus $350 saved by not buying bottled water, plus $1320 saved by not buying cable every month, plus her usual $1,200 per year. A total of $5,144. She spends $800 buying a washer and dryer so she can stop going to the laundromat. She also decides to invest the remaining $4,344 into a low-cost index mutual fund.
At the end of year four Dixie has her usual $1,200. Jane has her usual $1,200 plus $350 saved on water, plus $1,320 saved on cable, plus $180 saved on laundry. And her mutual fund did pretty well to earn her 8%, so she now has $4,691 in that for a total of $7.741. I could go on and on with this story but I hope you are starting to get the picture.
One night, Dixie meets Jane at a party. When the topic turns to finances, Jane happens to mention that she currently has about $3,000 in her savings plus a mutual fund with over $4,500. Dixie is impressed and amazed and comments how “lucky” Jane is to be so far ahead of her, while she, herself still struggles living paycheck to paycheck. Does this sound familiar? Is Jane lucky?
So how about turning your own “luck” around? And one day in the future maybe you will chuckle inwardly when someone tells you how lucky you are to have such a nice healthy nest egg for your retirement and a nice bright future to look forward to.
Will you change your luck to help find your own pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
A long, long time ago, after the birth of her third child, Victoria made the life-changing decision to leave the work world behind and devote herself to being a full-time mom and homemaker. Along with her new title of Domestic Engineer, she took on the role of the Chief Home Economist for the family.
At first, it was scary to try to live on less than half their income, but Victoria found that she not only rose to the challenge but thrived in the enjoyment of learning to live their best life with limited resources. She embraced this new frugal lifestyle of the at-home-mom and went on to add a fourth child to the mix. And their family was complete.
Along the way she acquired a great deal of wisdom in how to not only avoid debt, but pay off mortgages early, buy cars for cash, travel on a shoe-string budget, and send kids to college with no student loans, all while also saving a tidy nest egg for retirement. She currently educates others in these skills through her business Bright Future.
Now living the life of a modern homesteader in the Hudson Valley, New York, Victoria has added gardening to her list of skill sets as she grows many of her own vegetables to supplement her family’s primarily vegan diet. And she has come to realize that this waste-not, want-not, carbon-friendly, sustainable life she is living is not only benefiting her own family but also our Mother Earth, and that each of us has the obligation to live a responsibly sustainable life not only for ourselves, but for the greater good of our community, and our planet. We can all do this one household and backyard at a time. We are the world! And it all begins right at home.
Victoria can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org