Does my budget fit my values?

Hi everyone. Annie here. So I’ve been thinking about values lately…

I like to think of myself as more green than not (it’s a broad spectrum, for sure). I fancy myself a bit of a conservationist, ecotarian, and plain ol’ granola head in general. I’d probably be average in Portland, but for Texas, I’m really crunchy!

And I think that crunchiness and frugality go hand-in-hand, so it’s a wonderful marriage of simplicity. Well, where’s the rub, you ask?

My square footage. 

I just read Alex’s great post on her living space, and it’s been something that I’ve been thinking about lately. A lot.

Full disclosure: I have a family of 5 plus one high school foreign exchange student, and my house is 2,930 square feet (Google tells me that is roughly 272 square meters). (Have you MMM followers just spat your coffee out yet?)

Our last house was 1,339 square feet, but it was in a neighborhood that we wanted out of, so here we are…in our McMansion, with a pool, on a cul-de-sac, in a desirable neighborhood, with great schools, living the American dream…and feeling guilty about it.

My initial, go-to feeling when I read things like MMM or Alex’s post is usually guilt; I know this about myself. (Psychoanalyze me if you must, but I just go with it.) I even get a little jealous of the simplicity of it all and the challenges of living in a small space and how you have to be so smart about it.

So I take that guilty feeling, and I say, “Okay, so what? Do you want to move into an apartment?”

“Well, no,” I answer myself, “I’ve put a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and money into this house, so that wouldn’t be fun.” “Okay, then what? How are you going to reconcile living out your values with this big ol’ house?” Well, that, I think, is the key. If we’re blessed enough to have plenty, then I feel that our responsibility just broadens. I think I have some valid reconciliations with their corresponding values:

  1. Hospitality – We have hosted a foreign exchange student for this past school year.
  2. Hospitality – We host friends and family events quite often (utilizing our pool every chance we get).
  3. Frugality – We’ve started renting out our spare room and even our whole house.
  4. Ecotarianism (not quite there yet) – I’ve started learning how to garden.
  5. Conservation – I replaced all of my water hungry plants with drought-tolerant xeriscaping.
  6. Frugality & Conservation – We are probably the only ones in our neighborhood who still haven’t used our air conditioner yet this year.
  7. Conservation – I use reclaimed wood ALL over my house in my decorating and would much rather make a piece of decor than buy it.
  8. Frugality – I’d rather learn how to fix something myself than pay to get it fixed (i.e. sprinkler system repair, simple electric work, simple plumbing, etc.).
  9. Frugality & Conservation – I compost and recycle. I don’t let any organic waste leave my property; it all goes back into the ground.

You get the point. But is that enough reconciliation? I don’t know. It’s really just for me and my husband to answer. Who knows? We could put our house up on the market next week and move into a tiny apartment. Or not.

I think it’s good that it’s at least on my radar so that we can continue to strive to live out our values. Consistent assessment is a good thing.

And for you, do you have any reconciling to do? Maybe it’s not with your house, but is there any part of your budget that is in contradiction to your values?