This summer, I hope to work on our family’s appreciation of what we have and generating a feeling of satisfaction now.

My husband and I have three kids, ages 8, 6 and 4. I feel like I spend the better part of my life saying “no” to their requests. When I hit the stores with them in tow, I try to avert disaster by announcing that nothing outside our list will be purchased, but every single time, their demands come in waves, beating me down, leaving me tired and guilt-ridden. 


My youngest child had a birthday last weekend, and he’s the only one we’re still having family parties for. Somehow, this one birthday gathering, which falls in the midst of beautiful spring weather, has ballooned into a huge party. Of course it’s fun, but the bottom line is that my son gets spoiled. So when he stood screaming in the candy/trinket/checkout aisle post-party for yet another “something,” I nearly lost it. When will these kids, or any of us for that matter, have enough? This summer, I hope to work on our family’s appreciation of what we have and generating a feeling of satisfaction now.


Get real


I can’t call my kids out without taking a few lumps myself. Even following my “spring splurge” of garden plantings, my eyes were green with envy as I watched a neighbor’s yard get professionally landscaped the other day. There is just something about instant gratification that is so darn good; I get that. I know it’s that feeling my children desire, too. But there’s a whole different kind of satisfaction that comes from hard work and waiting. Let’s strive for that.


Get focused


When finances are thin, or any time for that matter, there’s nothing wrong with taking inventory to remind yourself of the good things you already have. Kids can do this, too. Help them find their inner yogis and take a few moments to reflect on what you’re all grateful for. Focus on those areas of life that you’re already experiencing satisfaction. It’s one of my biggest fears that I’ll wake up at the end of my life and only then appreciate all that I’ve had. I’d rather start now, thank you. And I think you should, too.


Get fine-tuned


Don’t get me wrong, goals are a necessary part of both happiness and financial freedom. Once our solid base of gratitude has come alive, I really believe that there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. When you find some peace with important things in life, stress levels lower, anxiety decreases and you just know you can accomplish what you set out to do. Whether that’s a new Hot Wheels car in the check out aisle, paying off a bill or saving a specified amount for retirement, make sure you’re zeroing in on something with purpose.


Get going


Give it a try. Be grateful, refresh your goals and, like that old ’70s Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young hit song, “Love the One You’re With.” They might not have been talking about quite the same situation, but I think the sentiment still rings true: Be grateful for what you already have.


Molly Logan Anderson is a freelance writer who lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband, Mike, three kids and black lab. Join Molly on her family’s journey of living a frugal life and making financial freedom their reality.