Oregon radio host Georgene Rice of KPDQ-FM show interviews Jill Savage, co-author of “Living with Less so your Family Has More: Redefining Your Priorities to Put Your Family First.
Rice – What motivated your family that required you to live with less but with returns of much greater value?
Savage: We fell into it and realized what we had. We weren’t living a “Less is more” life…my husband had a job with a good paycheck, we had two young children and he felt called into the ministry and wanted to go to Bible College. We moved to a small town and our plan was for me to go to work and find day care for our children. But I couldn’t a job and we went to plan B, which was to open a day care at our home…as we put together a meager income…we had much less financially but we were experiencing so much more, relationally, our pace of life slowed down, we were spending more time together, we were laughing together, taking walks in the evening…we moved up five steps relationally. At that point we decided we were going to make relationships the priority over money.
Rice: You begin the first part of the book with “Vision”, that less really is more…talk about the vision to do this and the practical means to carry it out.
Savage: We can identify some of the things that we are feeling, and that’s a good place to start. If you’ve ever said, “I’m tired of living with constant stress”, “I feel disconnected from myself”, “I just want to laugh again”…work, daycare, soccer practice, quick meals and shallow relationships…that’s a red flag, Is it possible to do things differently then how we’re doing them? And begin to explore that vision. Once we begin to have that vision, then it becomes daily decisions to put it into practice and begin to make it a reality…
Rice: Was it difficult for the kids, who might have enjoyed the take out dinners on the way to soccer practice, to sign onto this change?
Savage: I think the hardest part is just making the decision. We just made a huge, life-changing decision when my husband resigned as pastor of a church that we planted ten years ago…it was a heart-wrenching decision but it was a right one for our family because we were ready to be in a season of less stress, but it made no sense because it was our primary income…when the kids began to see the difference in our stress level and our boys have mom and dad back. When you’re used to the material things, it is hard to go without but when you begin to the relational benefits, then you breathe easily again.
Rice: So much of what we do is driven by and largely influenced by our income, paying for retirement, college. And these aren’t bad things. We are driven by those considerations, often times to the exclusion of others, that we would say are most important to us.
Savage: I would completely agree. We let the dollar drive us and sometimes it drives us away from the family that means so much to us…we’re trying to help families to think about it, while you are in the midst of raising your children, what is it that you really want to accomplish?
Rice: Did you find others that were critical of your decisions? Did you find there was peer-pressure by others, observing the decisions that you are making?
Savage: We discuss the concept of adult peer-pressure in the book…the truth is that we as adults live with it each and every day. We look at what our neighbors are doing and think they are giving them so many opportunities. And we neglect to see how stressed out they are…I have felt the pressure from other adults, because living with less, less activities, less stress, less money, is definitely counter- cultural…We have to know what we want to accomplish as a family and we have to stand strong against that peer-pressure that will draw us away from what we really want.
Rice: Talk about the adjustments we need to make internally before we make these changes externally.
Savage: Some of the attitudes we talk about are contentment, learning to truly be content and to pay attention to places in our life when we’re not content…That is an attitude of the heart that we really have to work on and we have to learn how to move to contentment from discontentment. Another attitude is sacrifice, because living with less means sacrifice…it goes against the grain what is intuitive…Frugality, truly learning how to spend less, frugality takes some time and intentionality, when we don’t have the time to be frugal, then that’s one thing that goes out the window. We have a phrase in our house, “We have more time than money”…Faith is another attitude. We are ordinary people trusting in an extraordinary God.
I’ll tell you in our living with less for 20 years, we have dozens of God stories…knowing that God is still in control.
Rice: Your last chapter is about community, you need other people to achieve this goal.
Savage: You really do because if you are always hanging around people who aren’t living with less, you will start to feel that peer pressure. On the contrary, if you are living with people who are living with less, you are going to spur one another along…there is great community online…my own blog, every week I do different living with less posts at jillsavage.org. Those posts are designed to provide community.
Rice: Give us just a couple ideas of how to live with less and some reasons why we should pick up this book. What are some of the practical things?
Savage: Some of the practical things begin with, “Do you even have a plan for your finances?” And if you don’t have one, lay one out…it’s a plan that you can do together, as husband and wife, utilizing tools like cash and when the cash runs out, you’re done spending. We talk about how to take a vacation on a one income budget…what are some strategies, how to eat out on vacation with your family…We talk about higher education at a lower cost…We try to provide practical actions for your family that we have experience with or we have seen families who have lived with less successfully.
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