As June came to a close, I sat down to work out our finances and get our summer activities paid off when I came across an email from Becoming Minimalist. The title of the article struck me and made me take a second look at what exactly we were spending our money on: “Our Money Is Only As Valuable As What We Choose To Spend It On.

This concept has changed the way my family uses the money we bring in. From day one of my young marriage, we decided to only ever rely on one income to pay bills. We knew we wanted a family and I wanted to stay home and raise the children we would have, but in our culture of consumerism, one income households are few and far between. We are told our success relies on how much money we make, which means in the last 16 years, I have not been very successful. But I have raised 3 amazing boys and have given them years of memories and experiences, and learned to measure my success in a different way.

Living with one income has, at times, been a big struggle. It has forced me to make big changes in my life, like overcoming a shopping addiction that I thought of as my measure of self worth. When I look around and see all the big houses and nice cars others have, I sometime become overwhelmed with a sense of shame. My husband works hard for what we have and I know I could bring in more money to have nicer things. I have been told I am lazy or that I am lucky to have someone take care of me because I don’t go to work. But essentially they’re telling me I am not worth as much to my family because I don’t make a lot of money.

But then I look around me and I see my children and the relationship I have with them. My 16 year old son and I recently took a 3 day trip to Chicago together. We had fun and made memories that will last throughout his life. Each of my boys has a unique personality and sense of humor that I know and I have helped shape because of the amount of time we have spent together.

The amount of money we have and the things we own do not define who we are. The things we are willing to sacrifice, the time, the memories, the life we give up, tells us how much the name brands and the square footage of our homes are worth to us. What we spend our money on shows us what is of value in our lives. So as I pay bills and look over our credit card statement, I smile at the memories of Chicago, the camps my boys will enjoy, and find my worth and my value in my life that is defined by the relationships I am blessed by every day.