Humble Pie

Humble Pie

A few weeks ago Girl Ninja and I joined a young couple’s Bible study. We’ve really grown to appreciate each of the couples in the group. The meetings typically wrap up with a time for prayer requests. Last night, as each person/couple was making their needs known, I noticed a common theme. Many 20 something couples face some  serious struggles.

While I am worrying about what savings account will give me the best interest rate, there are people wondering if they’ll still have a job tomorrow or if they’ll have enough in their checking account to pay rent. This is when I was force fed some humble pie.

Girl Ninja and I have no debt. Our income is far higher than I ever would have anticipated. We have a decent chunk in savings. And we are adequately preparing for the future.

What am I worrying for!? Does it really matter if my savings account earns 1.3% interest instead of 1.7%? Do I really need to stress over a home purchase that is three (or more) years away? Heck no  I don’t, but sadly, I do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that one shouldn’t look to the future, make plans, etc. We all need to be doing that. But what we don’t need to be doing is worrying about worrying about having to worry.

Girl Ninja and I have set up contingency plans for one reason: So we DON’T have to worry. But guess what? I still do!

I stressed about not  having a fully funded E-fund so I focused on that, once that was knocked out I began worrying that we weren’t saving enough for a down payment, so I increased our savings percentage. Only to become stressed that I NOW feel like I’m  over saving and not doing a good enough job enjoying life.

This weeks Bible study served as a much needed reminder that Girl Ninja and I are in a very different place than the typical newlywed young couple. We need to remember the small things, be responsible with what we have, and be generous with our excess.

This was my “welcome back to reality” pimp slap across the face this week. Have you had one recently? Do you get so caught up in yourself that you forget to have compassion for others? Do you know any good/honest/hardworking people that are doing their best, but are struggling to make ends meet?

p.s. J Money at Budgets Are Sexy obviously has had similar convictions as he recently announced his newest project Love Drop. It’s pretty awesome!

35 thoughts on “Humble Pie”

  1. The other day I was reading an article about a Make A Wish child dealing with leukemia, that was a painful pimp slap to my face. I try to never take anything for granted and really appreciate what we have everyday. Like you I’m fortunate to have a job, a beautiful wife (who also brings home some extra $$$), and a decent net worth. I do struggle with the balance between spending, saving, and giving. I need to work on that. I have a friend who is like an older brother who lost his job a few months back and just had a baby. Talk about a struggle. Thanks for this post, we all need to keep a perspective on our lives.

  2. I think there are two things…

    1) You do have to be concerned with your life and your situation. Read this: Charitable Donations and when it doesn’t make sense to give your money away –>

    2) Eating humble pie should be a weekly thing. There are obviously people out there with far worse situations than yours or mine, and the key to acknowledging it and using it to keep in check, but not blaming them for their situation is the real lesson.

  3. Funny isn’t it, how you turn the microscope on things in your own life that seem so important, When you raise your head and look around you’re suddenly struck with the real disasters that are going on in others lives. My husband and I have been so fortunate like you with jobs, money, lifestyle and opportunities. I got a little reminder of that last week. We sponsor a woman in the Congo through Women for Women. My package for my new “sister” showed up and she’s only 20yrs old, with 4 children, no education, husband murdered and she’s been the victim of violence. My paltry $30/mth will allow her to put her children in school and start her own home business. THAT is bang for your buck! If you haven’t heard of this before check it out. It’s a wonderful organization and they help women and their families in the most appalling conditions.

  4. I was setting up my wedding registry and going a little nuts. I registered for Waterford crystal stemware at $80 a piece!!! I got a call from my mother that night who has a serious infection and needs expensive medication that she can’t afford. I took the expensive crap off my registry and sent her a check. Paying $80 for glasses just seems so stupid when people are struggling to get the essentials.

    Maybe it’s not really relevant to my registry…but it was a strong reminder that things are not important. I took them off the registry to remind myself of that.

  5. You should give those other couples a link to your website and say “make sure you check out my net worth in the sidebar bi0tch!” Haha that’ll show ’em.

    Now seriously, I think it’s great that you are concerned for your fellow man. Compassion is universally awesome, but it’s also important to realize that many people put themselves in bad financial situations. For every “Extreme Home Makeover” family that’s struggling, there are 10 “woe is me” families that could be doing just fine if they weren’t so crazy with their spending or lazy about working.

    The important thing for me is to make sure my compassion goes towards those people who are working their butts off and doing their best, and it’s still not enough.

  6. Just yesterday, as I was stewing over which account to use for which payments, I heard of how Tropical Storm Tomas approaching Haiti will necessitate relocating a million people already in homeless camps because of the earthquake. I suddenly swallowed a dose of humble pie as I realized how good I have it.

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  8. I have similar tendencies. I’m a young single guy and just this morning, I was thinking: “How much will it cost to raise 3 kids?” lol. Like you I saved for my E-fund and now my next goal is to pay off my car in January (and I keep thinking about the house I’m saving for 5 to 7 years from now and the truck I want in 12 years!). As Jesus said:

    “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:31-34

  9. I experienced this a couple weeks ago. My husband just lost his job, so I was fretting about not being able to make my student loan payments. Of course, my student loans are in deferment because I’m still in school. My coworker said, “Red, you’re making unnecessary payments to debt and worrying about them. Some people can’t even put food on their table. Have some perspective.” And when I started really thinking about it, I realized how incredibly lucky we are to have such low expenses that we can live on only one income. Sure, we can’t do everything we want to do on one income, but it’s better than having to move back in with our parents because we can’t afford rent, utilities AND groceries. It’s definitely important to realize how blessed we all are that we have the luxury of working toward debt freedom. Some people will never get to that point.

  10. I worry about sooo many things! Biggest right now are wedding, house, children, retirement! I go in circles about which one I worry about most….but they are all ever present.

  11. Humble Pie? Oh yes, I just ate some last week, when I was browsing some blog sites and came across a lady’s blog who had just 2 weeks ago, lost her 4 month old to SIDS. She described her incredible struggle to carry on without her baby – the reality of her life now – all the pain that has crushed her to her very core… Now, I have 3 healthy happy children that often drive me insane. I have to forget about the insanity and thank my precious Lord that He has blessed me with these precious lives for as long as He’ll let me keep them – that He has entrusted them into my care and He can call them home at any moment – that I must enjoy the good AND the bad because it’s all part of being a mom. I MUST stop complaining and reclaim the joy of motherhood!

  12. Sure I know many people who are struggling. Some due to a bad break – job loss, spouse walked out, kids costs more than planned, etc. But then there are some due to self-infliction such as consumerism, poor planning, being wayyy too spendy (I guess that’s a word). In any event I choose to help both types of people as much as I can.

    I think your approach is good Ninja, it is good to allow yourself to be concerned with the future. Many times you can have a stellar year or two and then wham…a year full of unexpected events. Case in point, a few years ago I worked for the Fed Gov’t and was laid off. Who ever heard of such?

    My agency had to do a rift due to excessive spending and other events at the time. Well, it happened and if I had debt, owned a home I could not really afford, and had not been saving, I would have been in a real financial crisis. And even with all my planning, if I had been unemployed for a year or longer, that could have meant financial ruin for me.

    So thank God that during those years I had it GREAT I decided to live well below my means, be frugal, and remain concerned about the future. Unfortunately not everyone learns this lesson until it is too late. I also learned that giving back through tithes, donating my time, and other resources (while employed and unemployed) helps me keep things in perspective. I have even instilled this type of belief system in my children. Bottom line…we all have a responsibility to one another whether we want to admit it or not.

  13. It’s good you realize you have been particularly fortunate and that there are significant problems with income inequality both in this country and the world at large.

    Unfortunately, I see signs of people lucky enough to be earning six figures at a very young age, but who consider their salaries “measly” and whine about the possibility of marginal tax rates reverting to the same levels as during the Clinton years.

    “Greed is good” and “me-me-me” have been the trend in this country for the past 30 years, and I don’t see these developments as healthy for either the country or the individuals involved. When I was growing up in the Eisenhower and Kennedy years, the top marginal tax rate for earners over $400K was 90% and you didn’t see anything like the complaining over taxes you routinely hear now. Instead, CEO salaries were 20-30 times those of lower workers (unlike today where they are 300 times larger), middle-class workers realized genuine increases in income with comfortable retirements, and the country was solvent enough to enact major infrastructure projects like the Interstate Highway System and to put a man on the moon. Today we can’t afford high-speed rail projects like those that have been in place in Japan and Europe for decades, the middle class is falling steadily behind, and the poverty rate is increasing by the minute.

    Don’t get me wrong; I earn a decent living, and I like the idea of being successful in a capitalist economy. I want everyone to pull their own weight, I expect there to be some degree of income inequality as the natural result of capitalism, and I especially admire people like Bill Gates who use their wealth to benefit massive numbers of suffering people in third-world nations. The danger, I’d say, is when America’s some of wealthiest and most privileged start to think of themselves as a persecuted and punished underclass because (God forbid!) they should be asked to pay a modest tax increase that still leaves them far ahead of the much larger segment of the population that is truly suffering.

  14. Glad you realized this. I personally have been feeling a little disconnected from you, the Ninja, just because I’m not in a situation (and I don’t think many who read this are) where I can save thousands of dollars of cash per month. I have no room to complain comparatively, but the fact remains that there are some months where saving anything simply isn’t in the cards, so when that disconnect keeps showing itself, it gets harder and harder to identify.

    I’d be interested to have you write (with their permission) about some of the other couples and their struggles. You could put your voice on it of course, but I think writing about some different situations (with your perspectives thrown in) would make for some very interesting reading.

  15. My husband and I are probably a lot like you and your wife. We are very blessed as a young couple and are able to meet all of our needs and many of our wants. A good serving of Humble Pie every now and again helps keep things in perspective.
    That being said–our biggest blessings are not money or things–but our freedom to make choices and our health. These blessings allow us the ability to work hard and make (what are hopefully) intelligent decisions with our careers and money. This allows us to work towards debt freedom and have some wiggle room in the ole budget.
    And one of the greatest things we can do when we are in a position of having more than we need is to give and help others. There are some people that don’t have their health and can’t work–let’s help people like that. There are people who haven’t made good financial decisions–let’s guide those people with our experiences. Being frugal and being concerned about building wealth allows people to do these kinds of things.

  16. The timing of this post is pretty interesting. My wife and I just went through a rough patch with large unexpected expenses and stressing over it. About a week ago I read an article about the Cholera death toll in Haiti and the fact that the rebuilding process is so slow and tons of people are still homeless. I realized that no matter what our situation will never get that bad and I should be thankful for what we have. It really puts things in perspective when you see that there are a lot of people worse off than you are.

  17. I’m sometimes so focused on my own debt that I forget that other people struggle, too. One of my co-workers just came back from maternity leave, and she is the primary breadwinner in her family. Her husband stays at home with the three children (all under five), and everyone at the office kept asking her if she missed her new baby. Her reply? “Doesn’t matter if I do, I’ve got bills to pay!”

    It really puts things in perspective, when new mothers can’t enjoy time with their babies because they have bills that need to paid. Compassion and understanding towards others even when consumed by our own troubles is so, so important.

  18. I try to think about that every time I start to get whiny about my job. I have an awesome job and the little things that aren’t perfect aren’t worth stressing about.

    I just got a dose of embarrassment pie last week. I sponsored a talk at my son’s school. A lady brought in raptors to teach the kindergarden about birds. I wanted to be anonymous but didn’t specify that and both the bird lady and the teacher pointed us out as the ones who paid for the session. I felt like a major dork. I don’t want to rub that into people’s faces. I just want to help.

  19. Humble Pie is good for everyone. My husband and I have no debt. We have a well funded E-fund, vacation fund, planned spending fund, etc. Our budget is locked down and we track everything, and contribute to retirement funds and our children’s education funds monthly. This is incredibly important to me to maintain.
    I eat humble pie every day though. We only got to this point when my husband came forward and told me of a gambling addiction for a year that cost us $25K. My way to deal with it was working together as a couple and me getting a lock-tight control on the finances. But I eat humble pie every time I catch myself thinking about how great we’re doing for a couple our age (i’m 30) and how bad it was just two years ago. We’re only human (or in your case, Ninja Human)

  20. Every once in awhile I have to force myself to take a step back and give myself some perspective. Mr. and I are doing very well for ourselves and while we are enjoying our new baby and our new car, a lot of our neighbors are struggling to keep their houses and scrounging for minimum wage jobs. I find myself totally oblivious to the economy and the reality of life for most people because we’re pretty well insulated against most of it.

  21. Well, as long as you are humble and keep feeling what you’re feeling towards your struggling fellow mankind, you’re ok by me! And I’m coming from the place that those people you’re talking about are. I could sit here and be jealous and spiteful, but ya know what? I wish for everyone like me, there are 10 more of people like you who have been responsible and/or fortunate and don’t have to deal with crippling debt and difficult job situations. Enjoy your success, but be there to lend a hand, send a quick prayer, or give a hug to those you see in need, at the very least.

    Best wishes to you and Mrs. Ninja!

  22. I’m constantly throwing myself this pity party concerning not having the job that I want and how I’m not in the place where I want to be in life. Three days ago, I was reviewing some documents of the child that I sponsor from Columbia, the family makes 73 dollars a month, it was a total blow to my ego. How can I be so selfish and still want more when people in the world are coerced to live under financial restrictions that are beyond my comprehension. I live in complete luxury and I’m not satisfied and then you have these folks that are thankful for what they do have. I certainly have been re-evaluating my selfish ways, I don’t have it bad at all!

  23. FOR SURE! Always. I’m torn between my parents (firmly middle class, a good financial role model) and T’s family, who, er, are most certainly the opposite.

    It’s tough – compared to his family we have so much and no doubt he feel obligated to help. I mean, here I am talking about saving up to achieve my travel dreams, and his immediate family have so many dramas of their own. In fact, he was quite down last night thinking about this (Not just financial issues though, but other more personal family matters that they’re going through.)

  24. We have this happen to us a lot. Especially when we begin to pray for all of the struggling (practically to the point of divorce) couples around us! It makes us very humble and grateful to God for what we have!

  25. I had this moment not too long ago. I was reading in bed with the hubs, and he mentioned some cost that had come up (like getting a new tire or something), and I found myself getting really angry. I said something to the effect of “when will this (being bad crap we have to pay for) ever stop?! We’re never going to have money to just blow! We pay all our bills, we save for our efund, and we save for retirement, but where is the fun!!!!!!”
    and as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I instantly regretted them. We are so fortunate to be able to do all three of those not so fun things. There are people who can’t even pay their bills let alone save for retirement. Maybe I don’t get to go out and drop thousands on a new handbag, but I’m far more blessed with money than most. God always said he’d meet out NEEDS. Anything extra is just icing on the cake. 🙂

  26. Ninja- @ first glance I thought that was a picture of someone being force fed pizza…..and it made me really hungry. then it made me think of the simpsons halloween special where homer was forced to eat unlimited donuts in hell and instead of getting upset he just kept eating! i think i’d be like that until maybe the 10th slice or so. 🙂

    Oh and I do take my great situation and family life for granted too often….need to remind myself just how good I have it every once in a while.

  27. Dude, thx so much for spreading the word on Love Drop! Really means a lot. We’re excited as hell to finally get this launched and ready to start DOING GOOD 🙂 Have a blessed weekend over there bro.

  28. Yes, both with health and finances. I started a donation sub-account in my ING for stuff like this.

    It happens all the time when I read about family grocery trips being replaced by the food bank or seeing what care those less well-off take of their belongings. I will never forget walking home from the subway one night when I had a mother and kid behind me. And there was constant chatter about “never going into the park at night, because it’s dangerous, right mom?” and then I heard them open the door to the local coffee shop I’d just passed and call in, “Got anything left for us tonight? A bagel?” …bleeeeeah. That’s not a good feeling. I also pass a woman who “lives” outside the deli with her little black cat on a leash – they’re both homeless and she takes special care to make sure he’s eaten and blocked from the public. I ended up buying a drawing for $20 from her. It was nice to have a way to give her money for something she provided – I felt like it made both of feel better to have me walk away with a drawing on cardboard.

  29. Since I’m so close to those years when I couldn’t even afford the $30 at the low-income health clinic to treat my bronchitis, or had to choose between that week’s groceries and paying the garbage bill on time, it doesn’t take much for me to remember how awful that situation can feel. I’ve paid off most of my debt and am working on building up savings now, but I still get anxious about money– I think it comes from not wanting to return to that point of scarcity. That said, lots of my friends are worse off than I was during those years and much worse off than I am now. It’s not my place to assign blame, so I just am very conscious about how often I suggest going out to lunch with them (for instance) or doing stuff together that requires money. The free stuff is usually more fun anyway, and it’s usually more focused on connection and getting to know people.

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