Tag Archive: NaBloPoMo


addict

I have a son who is an addict.

My beautiful blue eyed child who has so much within him to offer this world through his love and compassion and wacky sense of humour. Probably the hardest thing about addiction for family members is being open and honest with those around you. People are so quick to judge, point fingers and give advice. You are judged on so many levels as a parent as to not being strict enough, helping too much, giving excuses for bad behaviour, treating one child different to another etc, so when something as hectic as this comes along, you want to hide away from what you expect will only be accusing fingers.

Surprisingly, I can’t think of condemnation from those I have shared with, but pity, yes. So it becomes easier to share the more you talk about it and there’s healing in sharing too, and suddenly you find yourself hearing stories from others who have either travelled the road themselves, or have a family member or friend who has been there/is there. Now that was very unexpected. I have come to realize that addiction is a huge issue that touches many lives and families. I have a passion to speak to young people and share our story and implore them to not go down that road. It’s one thing sharing with those you know, it’s another thing going as public as this. I have learnt so much through this road that I feel it is beneficial to share the journey with others, while at the same time withholding some parts of the story that I feel only my son should share when he is ready one day. So this is more of what it has been like as a mom and what I have learnt along the way.

We were a place of safety to our son at 15 months, then foster care and eventually adoption at 5 years old. Yes, there is addiction in his biological family, and no, we would not have done anything differently. We love and accept him completely and are commited to him for life. Addiction is the great leveler – it does not matter what age, race, religion, financial bracket, area you live in, male or female, whether you are part of your biological family or an adoptive one, it can touch your life if you choose to go down that road.

He excelled in Primary School, gaining merit awards for academics, but struggled to stay a part of things consistently, so sport never really featured. We had assessments done that revealed we were dealing with a genius IQ, but the signs of ADD were strongly visible, so we went the Ritalin route for a few years. Not one specialist could ever give an accurate diagnosis as to all that he was struggling with, and we had varying ideas presented to us. I knew there was something not right and so was very protective of him and often shielding him from trouble and making excuses for bad behaviour. At the onset of adolescence, trouble started big time and we struggled for years with a defiant, rebellious teen. In the 2nd week of Grade 9 he announced he was not going back to school. You cannot believe how we tried and then eventually gave up the morning battle of trying to pull this huge kid out of bed. We came under heavy criticism at this stage from people. How I wish I knew then what I know now. I don’t know if we could have stopped the drugs, but we would have had understanding as to what we were dealing with, and we would have coped better as a family. He eventually finished Grade 9 at a Home School. He is such an amiable person and very well liked in all circles, so people often did not believe us as to what life was like at home. We moved Provinces when he was 16, and that’s when we believe the drugs started. He basically did nothing for 2 years and then somehow managed to get his Grade 10 at a Home School while doing drugs at the same time.

Addiction is a behavioural disorder and the drugs may follow only years later. The first part is called dry addiction where you see the behaviour, but there are no drugs. That’s why we never saw the change-over to when drugs were added in the mix until 6 years later!

You know what an idiot you feel like when you have made the comment ‘he displays so many symptoms of someone taking drugs and yet he’s not taking them!’ We just didn’t see it until I found a small empty ‘bankie’ (small plastic bag that dagga is sold in) on our toilet floor – I knew straightaway what it was, but your mind doesn’t want to accept it. Within the week I confronted him and he confessed to it. Just writing about that time brings tears to my eyes – I so did not want this to be true. I even went as far as giving him activated charcoal that day I found out because he said he had just tried LSD for the first time the night before – I was just desperate to give him something to get this poison out! I could not understand why you would want to put acid in your body and that this stuff was in my son’s body! Little did I know that there are always lies when it comes to addiction and LSD had actually become his drug of choice.

My son’s counselor said to me last year that moms were not made to parent an addict. It should never have been this way. Moms love and care and nurture and protect – all of that gets ripped away, other than the love, when you land up with your son in addiction! You have to think addiction first and son second. It is all very hectic to deal with. So many emotions – anger, hurt, betrayal and yet a love so deep that just wants him to get better.

Dreams for the future are dashed. Facebook posts about his peers graduating from High School, university etc, getting their driver’s licence just break your heart in 2. While I want to celebrate with my friends, and I do, at the same time, I mourn the loss of what could have been. Recalibrating is the order of the day.

Co-dependency becomes a common household word and you have to realize that you played a part in making it easier for him to stay in addiction by always rescuing him. What you thought was good, was not! It’s a whole mindset change, a whole new way of loving and parenting. The three C’s help a bit in that I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it and I can’t cure it.

Healthy changes in your thinking are vital. I am so thankful for the training my husband does as, alongside the support group, it has been invaluable in helping us get stronger and able to deal with all the challenges and changes in a life with an addict. The training he does has got to do with how our minds work and how we set goals etc. One specific help has been the statement ‘think and say what you want, not what you don’t want.’ Another help has been the acronym CHIVE which stands for having the courage to live lives of humility, interdependence and vulnerability in order to live a life of excellence. Number one thing for any addict or supporter to learn is humility – to see your fault and start to deal with it without defending, justifying, denying, blaming or rationalizing. It is no easy road, but the journey makes you stronger and it’s so worth it in the end.

My son went from Primary care (1 month) to Secondary care (1 month) to long term rehab for a year. He is now volunteering at the rehab at 23 years of age and at the same time doing his Grade 11, with the plan to do matric next year. So many people have said the length of time in rehab is a waste of time. I strongly disagree – the way he was living before rehab was a waste of time. Now he has his life back on track with a feeling of hope and purpose for his future. If he had stayed as he was, the only other 2 options were jail or death. It has been a tough 1st year of rehab with a relapse in the middle that had us all reeling, but it was that very rock bottom that he needed, and from then on he started to climb towards health in body, mind, soul and spirit. He found God again and it has been amazing watching his spiritual relationship with God blossom and grow over the last year. One of the steps (in a 12 step programme that the rehab runs) is about realizing that you are powerless in your addiction and need God to help you through.

Biggest help to us as a whole family has been attending the HEAL addiction support group on a weekly basis, where we learn about addiction, hear other families stories and get to chat to recovering addicts and ask them questions we might have. Our daughters attend from time to time. It’s a family disease as each family member is affected and needs recovery. My husband and I have held onto each other for support through this, and I am thankful that it drew us closer together and we worked towards being on the same page with regards to our son. That’s why long term rehab is important as it gives time to all involved to process and heal.

Addicts are told not to go back to old places, faces and things – we need to learn and change so that we are not the same when he visits – we cannot afford to be a part of the group of ‘old faces’ that could trigger a relapse. You learn that co-dependency is basically doing for others what they can do for themselves, living their lives for them with more passion than your own. Before you realize what it is, you would do all that, thinking you are doing the right thing. It’s only through talking to others and understanding how destructive it is and how powerless it makes the person you are being co-dependent to, that you start working towards change.

The thing to realize is that we all do it to certain extents, and often moms battle the most as we honestly see it as caring and loving our children. But we land up with our children not learning how to stand on their own two feet and feeling entitled. It has benefitted us in further parenting of our girls and in general life living. All parents would benefit from reading the books ‘Boundaries’ in its various forms for different ages and settings by Cloud and Townsend and ‘Co-dependent no more’ by Melody Beattie. You learn how very vital chores are in the household, how consequences have to take place, threats with no back-up are no good to anyone and consistency in what you say and do is so very important and how giving your children everything they desire is so dangerous. They need to learn delayed gratification from an early age.

The concept of tough love suddenly makes sense. I think this is the part that people on the outside of your family battle to understand the most. Believe me, I battle too with the thought of my son relapsing and saying, that’s it, you are not welcome in this house anymore or to be a part of our lives. When you understand, that by saying ‘shame’ and maybe allowing him to stay with one more chance, you are taking his power away and making the chances of death or prison even stronger. Addiction is a one way ticket to death unless the person realizes their problem and starts to do something about it. They don’t even like taking someone into rehab who is not there by choice, because until the denial stops they are wasting their time and your money! It’s called the disease of denial and the way the road often starts is with the phrase ‘it will never happen to me!’

Addiction is a costly journey to all involved. It costs you emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally, socially and financially. Rehab costs can run into the millions if you allow it. Long term rehab is the only way in my opinion and from our experience and also through listening to the advice of others. It often takes a long time to get into full blown addiction – there is just no way that a person will sort it out in a month or three. At least a year is needed for a good recovery. The other thing is that addiction is a lifelong journey. Relapse can happen with one glass of wine (the most common form of relapse comes through a drink), and so they are told no more drinking, ever! Sometimes I think that we should all live with that kind of vigilance in our lives and with the motto that is used in AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) ‘just for today!’

For me, as a mom, it has been the toughest thing I have ever had to deal with, but I am on the road to recovery and so thankful that my son is doing so well. I have to learn to live without going on the ups and downs with him as that is not helpful in my recovery. This is one of those experiences that at this stage I can say that God really does work for the good in all things to them that love Him.

[For other stories involving struggles with Addiction, click here]

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well, here we are – December 2 – WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?

yup, somehow December snuck up on us all again and pretty soon it will be Christmas – you know the time to celebrate gluttony and spend time, energy and money on buying things for people that they don’t need or often even want? wait, that’s not sposed to be it, right?

it’s Christmas – the time of good will to all mankind and a whole lot of Fah La La La La’ing…

let me cut to the chase – what excites me every year about Christmas is the stories of people who get creative around this time to reach out to others – the lonely, the old, those in hospital, those living on the streets – whose Christmas is not likely to look anything like worshipping the Fat Elf of Gluttony – and making even the smallest amount of difference in their lives [although i see Love, Joy, Hope, Community and Acceptance as huge big-ass gifts]

Christmas

tbV and i are about to celebrate our 5th Christmas together and before we let it run away with us, we decided to be intentional about coming up with some of our own new traditions that will help this holiday feel special to us… and that got me thinking about how we collectively [as the bigger community of us] can help each other to make this the best Christmas possible for the aforementioned ‘least of these’ and others…

This is what i want to invite you into. If you already have a tradition of doing something for others on or around Christmas day, then i would love for you to share it in the comments section. If you have ever been the recipient of someone else reaching out and doing something meaningful and life-transforming for you on Christmas day i would love to hear those stories as well. But more importantly, the invitation is to sit with your friends and/or family and come up with one new tradition to start doing this Christmastime that will help make someone else’s Christmastime really special [especially someone who needs it more]

Will this mean inviting someone into your family meal? Or volunteering with a group of friends at a local shelter Christmas meal? Will it mean getting creative in gift-making? Or sitting down and writing a letter, note or card to someone who is likely to spend this time alone? Or are you going to really hit one out of the park by taking this kind of inspiration and turning it into something that the recipient will remember for a long long time?

So, in the comments section of this blog, i want you to share with us all the idea you have that you are going to do this Christmastime. Perhaps you want to draw some more inspiration from these amazing stories of families who got creative in raising their young children as world changers. But let us know what you’re going to do – and the hope is that as we share ideas, we will be inspired by other peoples’ ideas and try out some of these things together…

Who is in?

giving2

If i ever met you and we got to sit down together, perhaps over a cup of coffee or a plate of barbecue riblets, there are some things i would love for you to know… and there are a lot of things i would like you to know, but here are some more things that i would love for you to know:

[1] Be who you are. Know who you are in terms of character, belief and behaviour. These things are a creation-in-progress and will shift and adapt as you grow older and there will be strong influences from your culture, your context and the people who are both in and around your life. But make sure that you are in control of the process and make changes when you feel changes are necessary [and don’t be too proud or stubborn to do so] and not because outside forces are causing you to. If you are someone who follows Jesus, then let His life and teachings be the outside forces that help shape this person you are becoming. Also take from His example that even though He spoke differently when He was with the crowds and when He was with the religious leaders and with His own group of friends, He never changed who He was. Be who you are, in all contexts and with all groups of people. Let your Social Networking self be your hanging-out-with-your-friends self be your office self be your Sunday-morning-at-church self… and so on. Once you start wearing different masks and ‘becoming’ different people at different times to please those around you, it becomes way too stressful and complicated. Decide who you are and what you believe and be that person. 

[2] Be when you are. When you’re at school, the tendency is to make statements like, ‘As soon as I leave school…’ or ‘When I have a job…’ People tend to ask you when you will get a boy/girl-friend. The moment you have found someone to date, the questions pretty soon start to focus on marriage. On your wedding day there will be some idiot [yes!] who starts the conversation about ‘your first child’ and apparently as soon as you have your first it becomes all about your second. Be when you are. Celebrate the time and context that you are in [even if something in you is hoping for the next stage or situation to be true]. Be present and be content and make the most of when you are, because that will change soon enough and if you have been living in the next moment, then you will more than likely be missing out on all you could have made of the present one. If you are one of those other people then STOP ASKING THOSE QUESTIONS. For someone who singleness is a real struggle for, for the couple who have miscarried or have been trying unsuccessfully for two years to fall pregnant, for the parents at their wits end about trying to raise child number one well, those questions, no matter how well meaning they may be can really hurt. Let us celebrate those around us in whatever time and season they are currently in and let us come up with some better questions. Be content, but continue to dream and desire if there is something you are hoping for.

[3] Be where you are. If you are doing a gap year in another country or have been transferred by work to another city for a few months or if you are working overseas for six months to pay off your student loan or even if you move to a new city or country, be fully there. Our friend Darin travels a lot and even if he is in a hotel room for one night he completely unpacks his bag to remind him that for that moment or time, he is in that place. It is a habit which helps him to be fully present. tbV and i have lived in three different places in the four years we have been married and it has been so important to make each place our home while we are there. In a similiar way to being when you are, this setting of your focus on the now and who of your present context enables you to have far deeper relationships and experiences than if you were living with a passing-through attitude. Live as if you are going to be there for the next twenty years in terms of creating the space you live in and especially in terms of the relationships you build. Be where you are.

[4] Live. A lot of christians get this one wrong [and others as well, but we have less excuse]. In John 10.10 Jesus warns His disciples that ‘the thief comes only to kill and to steal and to destroy’ [and you can see a lot of that killing, stealing and destroying happening if you don’t choose to be who you are, be when you are and be where you are] and then He goes on to say, ‘But I have come that you may have life and live it to the full.’

Too many people exist. Not enough of us truly live. And that is what we were created to do. We were created to be truly and fully alive and I personally believe that is only possible when we embrace God and live a Jesus-following life, and especially not when we focus simply on rules and regulations and what we can and can’t do but more deeply live out lives that Love God and Love people in life-transforming ways.

Take time to do a quick stock take of your life. If you are spending 6 hours a day slumped in front of the television, if you are playing World of Warcraft for hour at a time that could be spent with your family, if sport or work or church or any other form of hobby or time spender is encroaching upon relationships or people, if no time in your week is dedicated to pouring into someone else’s life in any way, if you are not getting input [through books or speakers] from people who will help you grow and develop into a better person… and a hundred other things… then you are closer to existing than living and there are some changes to be made. There is not time like today to do this. What one change can be made in your life today to help you to truly live?

Anyways, there are many other things i would love for you to know, if i could get to sit down with you at that coffee shop table, but these feel like some good ones to begin with…

Are there any things you would want me to know?

[For the first part of this ‘Things I would want you to know’ series, click here]

rollinsi am busy reading and loving and being completely challenged by the book ‘The Orthodox Heretic and other impossible tales’ by Peter Rollins.

the first story from the book that i shared i titled ‘a parable to slap you in the face’ which you can read here and it is completely that…

and as much as i want to pretty much copy down every story from the book, but can’t, i would like to share another one in the hopes that it will encourage you to get hold of this book and read the rest of it for yourself.

oh, and some of you will be tempted to start formulating your argument to this story or the principle it is suggesting, as you are reading it, but i encourage to try and open your mind and heart and invite the Holy Spirit to really help you to honestly hear what is being said and test whether it might be something you need to hear and act on…

TURN THE OTHER CHEEK

WE STOOD AT A DISTANCE, WATCHING. We looked on silently as Jesus took His place on the top of a mound, waiting patiently for those who had gathered to settle themselves. We looked with a certain displeasure and discomfort at the disorderly mob that surrounded Him. There must have been hundreds of people pushing in to hear His words, most of them poor and hungry. The place was brimming over with the sck and the dispossessed, the widow and the orphan, the ones without a voice and without hope. We watched as Jesus looked at them with compassion and prayer peace into their lives. As He stood before them, we heard Him pronounce blessing upon those who are poor in spirit, for those who are mourning, for those who are meek, for those who are merciful despite their hardships, those who are pure in spirit, and upon those who seek peace rather than war. 

But Jesus also challenged them saying, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” He said to them, “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. If someone forces you to carry their pack one mile, carry it two. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” Then He finished by saying, “Do to others as you would have them do to you. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

When He had finished, He turned toward the west, where we were sitting, we who have the power, who have the authority, and who have a voice. For a time He just stared at us, then He approached and addressed us directly: “Do not be mistaken, these words are not for you.”

Then Jesus raised His voice and said, “I am sending you an infinitely more difficult message.” 

A time is coming, when those you now treat as enemies and slaves will show you nothing but love in return, when those who you curse with indifference will offer you blessing. When you slap these people on the right cheek, be prepared for they will turn their left cheek toward you. When you steal their cloak, they will offer you their tunic. And when you demand that they carry your possessions for one mile, they will freely carry those possessions for two. They will give freely what you demand from them, and they will not seek to gain back what you have stolen from them. They will treat you as you would long to be treated. You will judge them but they will not judge you. You will condemn them but they will not condemn you.

Before leaving us He finished by saying, “These people are my message to you. Heed this message and you will live. Ignore it, and you will perish.”

Commentary:

Whenever we open up our Bible and read that Jesus commands us to love those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and repay evil with kindness, it is easy to apply this to our daily interaction with others. However, these teachings were not given to people like us [by us I mean people who can afford to buy this book and are educated enough to be able to read it [or have computers and be able to be reading this blog – Brett Fish]. These were not spoken primarily for the powerful to apply as middle-class modern platitudes. They were spoken to the powerless, whose country was under occupation and whose very lives were under constant threat. 

It is likely that, like me, you do not face the kind of persecution that Jesus’ original listeners faced. Indeed the unpalatable truth may well be that we are the ones who oppress the type of people that Jesus spoke with – not directly with hatred in our hearts, but indirectly through the clothes we buy, the coffee we drink, the investments we make, and the cars that we drive. By reading these words in an affluent, Western setting we can so easily domesticate the words of Jesus to the extent that they become little more than advice on how to treat a shop assistant or a passerby.

In the above story I attempt to undermine the reduction of Christ’s words to the level of inane politeness by drawing out how the words are directed towards the oppressed rather than towards the oppressors. In this way I am attempting to remind myself that these words are spoken to those people whom I hurt and destroy through the choices I make on a daily basis, and that I am merely overhearing them. In the above story, I ask myself to imagine what Jesus would say to me if I had been there at the time. Would He address me with the words “If someone takes your cloak, give them your tunic as well”? Or would He be more likely to address me with the admonition “Stop stealing from the poor”?

Wo. Right between the eyes hey?

There are two unhelpful responses to reading this story:

# One of them is taking on a whole bunch of woe-is-me condemnation and just feeling bad or guilty for a while until it wears off… as opposed to perhaps being convicted to some extent and looking for some areas in your life that might require change [the products you buy for starters – why not begin with your coffee, chocolate, clothes, groceries, cleaning products?]

# The second response is to dismiss the whole story as twisting the words of Jesus to say something He wasn’t [this is an interpretation of the events and seems to speak to address the context quite effectively and i would agree that Pete’s ensuing questions are ones we should be asking and answering with much love and wisdom]

The helpful one would be to take time to really hear what it is saying, test whether the message is for you and the respond appropriately.

So continue to turn the other cheek if you believe that is what Jesus is saying to you through this story… but also be alert for where you need to be the one to stop slapping it…

this week is Thanksgiving which is a fairly alien celebration to us as South Africans…

but as South Africans living in Americaland, this is now the third time we will be celebrating it and so it has begun to find a special place in our hearts…

and with a focus on giving thanks, who can go wrong? [don’t mention black friday or cyber monday and we may get out of this alive]

there is so much in my life i have to give thanks for [and that is even in the midst of a time that has been a little bit of a struggle for me in various ways] and it would take a hundred blog posts to even start denting that [don’t worry, this is not the start of a 100 part series]

but tonite i hung out with two guys who graciously invited me onto their most fun radio podcast and the show ended with my new friend Jacob asking Josiah [aka Tea-man] and myself one thing we were grateful for…

and i spoke a little bit about friends. and yes, there was an obvious side reference to the tv series and could we BE any more thankful [and how one day Matt Perry will respond to me on Twitter – how about it Matt? love your work!] but one of the things i am always most grateful for in my life is the many [and your mind would be blown if you had any idea how many] meaningful friends i have in and around my life.

the kind of friends i spoke about in particular are those whose friendship is so deep and powerful [through quality over quantity of time spent together] that you can see them once a year or even once every three years and it’s like you’ve been spending time with them daily for the last year – you just pick up exactly where you left off… you got anyone like that? take a moment and picture them. pick up your phone, open your Twitter, grab a pen and paper and LET THEM KNOW!!! those are such special friendships.

i spoke of my friends Debbie and Barry Autwick from KZN in South Africa who surprised us a week before flying over here with the news they were coming and we got to hang with them for two days and just laughed so much [it was him!] and learned great new bands to listen to [Bastille] and discovered addictive happiness-making videos [What the Fox says and other music videos by Ylvis – have you checked out their ‘Flight of the Conchords’esque ‘The Cabin’?] and spoke about life and God and truth and laughed some more [did i mention they topped up my supply of Nachtmusiek and Milo?] Oh man, such good times and i have seen them a maximum of one to three days per year or less over the last five to ten years…

i thought of our new friends Steve Graybill and Helene Scalliet who we met pretty much in passing during our time at the Simple Way but stayed in contact with online and so our friendship has largely grown as we’ve shared ideas and read each others blogs and followed the activity and thought and heart of the other online and just such quality people who planned a trip to come visit us a few weeks ago [and yes they had other friends in the neighborhood but after less than a week in total of relationship they chose to fly across the country and spend some days at our place] and we laughed and spoke and got to know each other and were challenged and prayer walked and it was amazing – and the other day when i was feeling particularly low i go online and there is a mail from Steve that was just so encouraging and real and loving that it lifted me right up.

and i could go on for a long, long time. but the point is realising [which i do often] and being grateful for [which i am all the time] and then trying to be more regular in the letting them know just how much they mean to you [which i try to do, but probably fail horribly at simply because there are so many of them in my life]

so many of those friends are the ones who pooled their resources together and gave generously [and are giving] so that we could be first at the Simple Way [in terms of flights] and now here [in terms of flights and monthly support] and they are not all people that have a lot, but what they have they share. we are blown away by the generosity constantly shown to us.

so this week [and beyond] i want to take the time to say thank you to my friends – i hope that they know – and i hope i will get better at telling them…

what about you? is there someone in your life you need to let know how much you care about them or appreciate them or what they meant to you? if anyone wants to share a story of a good friend like i’ve shared here, i would love to read those – one story of one friend you have who means a lot to you… and go.

savemoneySaw this by my good friend Terran Williams on Facebook and having just come out of our study of the book ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most’ [which i would highly recommend that you and a group of friends get hold of and work through over 8 weeks!] a lot of this looked similar and definitely worth taking a look at especially as we gear up to the Christmas season with goodwill and debt for all… it doesn’t have to be that way…

If you want to spend less, here’s 59 ways how.

Reading this won’t cost you anything, but can save you a lot of money – especially in silly season when sellers conspire to get you into a feeding frenzy of purchases.

When it comes to money, if your outflow exceeds your inflow, the shortfall will be your downfall. Conversely, if your inflow exceeds your outflow, what remains is retained.

And what is retained can be used for giving more, saving more and getting out of debt. Now, we’re talking.

On facebook, I started a conversation asking people their best advice for spending less. I did not expect the sheer amount of potent insight that would arrive. I have edited through close on 60 comments. And have added in my own stuff, which I have collected over the years from financial wizards the world-over.

CONTENTMENT

1. Decide on what is enough years ahead of the time. Most people simply increase their standard of living to fit the income they receive. In the book ‘The millionaire next door’ the case is made that most millionaires don’t appear to be as wealthy as they are, because they have learnt to limit their expenses. Though their income has increased, they don’t increase the lavishness of their lifestyle along with it. They didn’t become wealthy through making more money than you, but through spending less.

2. Draw a circle – the circle of ‘enough’ – and put what’s enough for you in the next decade inside of it: What kind of car will be enough? What kind of house? In which area? What kind of holidays? Then – even if you can afford more than this, don’t go beyond this. Need inspiration? Think of Warren Buffet – second wealthiest man in the US – who lives in the same modest house he bought in 1958.

3. Ignore the Jones’. Don’t buy things you don’t need, with money you don’t have, to impress people you don’t even like. Comparison is a curse.

KNOW THE FACTS

4. Get into the habit of keeping a simple record of how much you spend and on what. Seeing it in black and white should be enough to shock you into spending less.

NEEDS AND WANTS

5. Ask yourself if you need it or want it. My 3 year old told me, ‘Daddy, I need choccy.’

I responded: ‘Eli, need or want? Need means you can’t live with out it, like air and water. Want means it’s nice but you can live without it.’

‘Daddy, I NEED it,’ was his unflinching reply. The consumerism of our day has blinded us to the difference. Do you really need Levis jeans? Won’t Mr Price’s denims do? Buying your first house – do you really need a third room, garage and pool? Your first car – do you really need rims?

6. When retailers say ‘save’ they mean spend. Don’t ask, ‘Is it a deal?’ Ask, ‘Do I need this?’ If you don’t need it, you’re a sucker, not a saver.

BIGGER PURCHASES

7. Get three quotes before buying something expensive.

8. Re-use. Secondhand will do.

9. Don’t buy every new gadget. Use your phone and computer for at least two years.

10. Buy good used cars – a brand new car usually loses 10% of its value as it is driven from the showroom.

MONEY BACK

11. Have loyalty cards where you shop – Pick n Pay, Clicks, Vitality for example. If used diligently, every month you will get back in vouchers a few hundred bucks.

12. If with Discovery, make sure you get to gold status and milk the rewards. Many families of four get back about R12000 a year – and are forced into healthier lifestyles too.

FOOD

13. Eat before you shop. A hungry tummy causes you to buy stuff you never intended on buying.

14. Waste not, want not. Reduce wastage – don’t throw food away. Left overs are great. Get creative with how you use them to make another dish.

15. Cook with less meat per week. Start adding beans and lentils to food for protein.

16. Less coffee. Spending R20 a day equals R100 a week equals R400 a month.

17. Take lunch to work. This will easily save you between R600 – R1000 a month.

18. Date night? What about date afternoon or morning? A coffee and dessert date, or a picnic, can sometimes be more special than a full meal out.

19. Buy food in bulk and do once monthly cooking of large quantities, and freeze.

20. Plan a weekly menu (e.g. Monday chicken night, Tuesday no-meats night, Wednesday fish night). This way you are less lightly to buy take-away or pre-made meals.

21. Stop throwing hundreds of rands on your lawns, and rather save hundreds by growing a vegetable garden.

22. Eat at restaurants less. You’ll enjoy them more anyway.

23. Shop online and order a delivery. The delivery cost is always less that the ad hoc spend you undertake when walking the aisles.

GIFTS

24. Don’t spoil kids at Christmas time. Buy them something to wear, something to read, something they need (e.g. a tooth brush), and something to play with.

25. Keep unneeded presents – and pass them on. (Try remember who gave you what, so you don’t give the same gift back to the person a year later!)

SHOP AROUND

26. Look at your bank fees. Take a bank statement and add all those fees to see what you really pay. Compare with other banks. FNB and Capitec seem to lead the pack at the moment when it comes to less fees.

27. Take your Homeowners Insurance off your bond a/c and add it to your Householders Insurance – you could save up to 50%.

28. Make use of the amazing factory shops – whether it’s baby food or clothing or household goods you’re looking for.

29. Reprice household and car insurance, without forfeiting the required levels of coverage. Make the effort to phone around, and request better deals. Don’t use Hippo – it owns all the companies it will get quotes from for you.

30. Get a cheaper phone contract. Cell C leads the cheaper-rates charge at the moment.

AVOID DEBT

31. Save up for things you want (even if you have the cash already, pretend you don’t!)

32. Tear up your credit cards. If you don’t have the courage to do this, then tear up all but one, and set a low limit on the amount you can borrow from the creditor.

33. Freeze your credit card in a tub of water. If you really need it you can wait for it to defrost. Seriously.

34. Don’t use a credit card unless you have the discipline to settle the full balance every month. Credit card interest is extremely expensive.
Clothing accounts are a definite problem. Buy clothing cash.

35. Slam the phone down on the sweet salesperson who kindly offers you more credit. No, they are not the answer to your prayers.

36. Be weary of paying via debit orders. R200 a month doesn’t sound like much, but that adds up over time. Rather save up for a few months and pay cash for the item.

37. If you do have debt (loans, store cards, store credit facilities) try and consolidate the debt. This may reduce the total installment and use money saved to further pay off the debt.

38. If you don’t consolidate the debt, list them and conquer them one at a time. Pay minimum amounts on all, but pay all excess money you have into the smaller ones until they are wiped out. That feeling of crossing it from the list, will give you the boost to wipe out yet another debt.

JUST SAY NO

39. Don’t buy if you can’t afford or don’t need. (Write this somewhere you can see everyday.)

40. Think ‘functional economics’. This means that you weigh up what the item will be used for (how important is it?) over the cost of the item. Example:

41. Should you use that extra money on new tennis shoes and racket (if you play twice a month) or on a bigger dining table (which your family will use twice a day)?

BUDGET

42. The word budget has gotten a bad rap – it is basically just a plan. When you budget, you’re spending on paper, on purpose, before the month begins. But many people view a budget as a straight jacket that keeps them constrained. Freedom and budget just don’t seem to go together. However, when you see that a budget is just spending your money with intention, you’ll actually experience more freedom than before. Some pointers: Give it three to four months to start working. It won’t be perfect the first time you do it. Spend every dime on paper before the month begins. Over-fund your groceries category – most people underfund that category. If married, spouses budget together (and husbands – if applicable – need to loosen up and quit using the budget as a whipping tool on their wives).

43. Use the time-tested envelope system. Each month draw a large lump sum of cash from your account, which reduces charges for the month. Then take a pile of envelopes and label them each with the different things that need to be paid – e.g. petrol, house-cleaner, gardener, toiletries, cleaning products, food etc – and place in the envelope the relevant monies for that month. If, say, you allow yourself R600 for petrol in the month then when that is coming to and end you just go out less in the car until you have seen that month through. Always allow an envelope for emergencies. Once all these bills are accounted for in envelopes, then you know exactly how much you have spare to spend on incidentals or a luxury perhaps.

SPEND MORE TO SPEND LESS 

44. Spend more in the short term to save more in the long term. Two examples: solar geysers pay for themselves in no time, and a low fuel consumption car may cost a bit more, but it quickly pays for itself – and you start to save considerably.

45. The most substantial debt people face is their home loans. When purchasing a house, fight for lower rates – get at least two bond originator agencies competing for your business. Whenever you get a pay rise, be sure to increase your monthly repayments by that same amount. If you get a pay rise of 10% per year, and follow this plan, then you will save yourself in effect nine years of repayments!

WORK TOGETHER

46. Discover the potential of Ubuntu – the collective and co-owning of some of the things of life. You don’t have to own everything to enjoy and use it.

47. It could helps to grocery shop with a friend. Often there are 2 for 1 but you don’t need 2 and it won’t keep, shopping with a friend can help keep grocery budget down.

48. Join a co-op of people who order food with you.

49. Arrange a toy swap group.

50. Buy big items which you will not use often with a friend and share the cost. Lawn mowers and boats are examples.

OTHER SAVERS

51. Ditch DSTV and borrow DVDs from friends, or the library. Read more.

52. Use public transport. Golden Arrow busses are cheap, as are trains, and you avoid expensive parking and petrol costs. Finally, some reading time too.

GET HONEST 

53. Ask yourself searching questions like, ‘Can you really afford the car you’re driving? And the house you’re living in? And the school you’re sending your kids to? And the restaurants you’re eating out at? And the shoes you’re wearing?’

54. Stop using shopping as therapy. Emotional spending causes a lot of people to end up in serious debt. 79 percent of women go on spending sprees to cheer themselves up, according to a 2009 study released by the University of Hertfordshire, in England. 40 percent of the women surveyed named ‘depression’ as a reason to go shopping.

MAKE IT LAST

55. Take care of your stuff. Bottom line – purchasing something is the start of the relationship, the hard work has only just begun. This means: don’t put your clothes in the wash after wearing them once (the machine damages it over time); get your car serviced regularly etc.

MORE ON CONTENTMENT

56. Discontentment is the root of greed. Friederick Nietsche said it best: ‘What causes one man to use false weights? Another to set his house on fire after having insured it for more than its worth? Three quarters of our upper classes to indulge in legalized fraud? What gives rise to all of this? It is not real need … for their existence is by no means precarious. No, they are urged on day and night by a terrible impatience at seeing their wealth pile up so slowly, and by an equally terrible longing and love for these heaps of gold.’

57. Love people and use things, rather than use people and love things. Many of us spend far more time weekly buying stuff than playing with our kids. For example, in USA the average parent spends 6 hours a week shopping and only 40 minutes playing with their kids. Don’t be that guy.

WORK AT IT

58. Financial planning and living is like being on a diet. If you are serious about losing weight, you draw up a plan of what you should and should not eat, you avoid temptations and get excited about even the smallest change or success. With money you need to plan what you should and should not spend (not can and cannot), avoid temptations and get excited about the smallest change or success. Imagine if you joined a financial Weigh Less club called “Save More” and every week you had to bring in your credit card and bank statements for the weekly weigh in. Yeah, spending less requires a rigorous, constantly re-inforced decision.

59. Abundance tends to undermine discipline. Yet discipline is what undergirds abundance. So keep disciplined, and your life will head in the direction of abundance.

Thankx Terran Wiliams [https://www.facebook.com/terran.williams.7568] and friends…

What about you? Do you have any helpful suggestions to add to this list that have worked for you?

i just picked up Peter Rollins book, ‘The Orthodox Heretic and other impossible tales’ today, am three stories in and already want to sit and type all three of them out.

but that’s probably illegal or something and so i’ll just share the one for now as an encouragement to get hold of this book and have your mind blown away a little bit.

and in fact it is the one story i heard him tell before, live at the Wild Goose festival, two years ago…

‘Jesus and the Five Thousand [A first world translation]

Jesus withdrew privately by boat to a solitary place, but the crowds continued to follow Him. Evening was now approaching and the people, many of whom had traveled a great distance , were growing hungry.

Seeing this, Jesus sent His disciples out to gather food, but all they could find were five loaves of bread and two fishes. Then Jesus asked that they go out again and gather p the provisions that the crowds had brought to sustain them in their travels. Once this was accomplished, a vast mountain of fish and bread stood before Jesus. Upon seeing this He directed the people to sit down on the grass.

Standing before the food and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks to God and broke the bread. Then He passed the food among the twelve disciples. Jesus and His friends ate like kings in full view of the starving people. But what was truly amazing, what was miraculous about this meal, was that when they had finished the massive banquet there was not even enough crumbs left to fill a starving person’s hand.’

rollinsCommentary: The initial shock of this story relates to the way that it inscribes selfish and inhumane actions onto Christ Himself by twisting the story we all know of Jesus feeding the multitude. While it would seem perfectly acceptable to attack governments, corporations, and individuals for failing to distribute goods appropriately and turning away from the poorest among us who suffer as a direct result of our greed, it would seem inappropriate to read such inhumanity into the actions of Christ Himself. If anything, Christ was one  who demonstrated a life of joyful simplicity, radical healing, and unimaginable love. Christ challenges us to look outward, and thus He should not be the One whom we condemn.

Yet in the Bible we read that those who follow Christ are nothing less than the manifestation of His body in the world today (Colossians 1.24, 1 Corinthians 12.27, and Ephesians 5.30]. The presence of Christ in the world is said to be directly encountered in the presence of those who gather together in His name. In very concrete terms, people learn of Christ through those who claim to live out the way of Christ. However, if Christ is proclaimed in the life of His followers, if the body of believers is thought to manifest  the body of Christ in the world, then we must stop, draw breath, and ask ourselves whether the above tale reflects how Christ is presented in the world today, at least in the minds of those who witness the lifestyle of Christians in the West.’

So yes, that is just one story out of three i have read so far, each one as equally powerful… you should seriously check it out.

 

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