spendy, cold and wet

May 12, 2010 |  Category:   happy purchases life

Nice crisp days we’re having…if it were OCTOBER. It’s been cold here in NY, the kind of windy cold weather that totally catches you off guard because you’ve put all the winter gear away and you were just getting used to summer temps. Spring is so fickle.

So far, May has been a very, very expensive month – Summer camp and Fall semester preschool tuition paid in full, business insurance, an expensive oven repair at the kitchen, and as of today, Adobe CS 5 and a new Macbook Pro because our 5 year old laptop completely died last night (ok, that unexpected purchase hurt just a little). I did eventually find some summer clothes, on Mother’s Day. I usually belabor over purchases, but I didn’t this time (I’m the one who spends an hour or more at the fabric or paper store going back and forth over a single item). I found a dress off the sales rack and a pair of jeans. I glanced at the price. It wasn’t horrifying or anything, but it wasn’t cheap either and if it would have been 2 weeks ago I would have put the dress back on the price alone. I tried it on and then headed straight for the register. Dress and jeans in bag. Done. I came home and bought some sandals and a new bathing suit that I really needed (you would berate me if you knew what kind of awful mishmash combo of swimwear I’ve thrown together for the last 4 or so years).

I have to say, it was liberating shopping like that. Not thinking twice about the money, not justifying it or feeling guilty. I’m always so careful about budgets and we’ve been so broke in the past, that it was just liberating to make a purchase without really caring this time. It’s not like we are suddenly rolling in dough, but because of the way both our businesses have been steady lately, paychecks are coming in with more regularity than before. Apart from these splurges, however, I think the greatest difference in having some kind of steady income is being able to do the small things that we never felt we could do before, like takeout when we’re too tired to cook, an ice cream cone or a special treat on one of our outings, lunch or dinners with a friend, an iced coffee. Seems simple, no? But I don’t take these small pleasures for granted. We didn’t indulge in any of these things even 2 years ago when I took out $100 from the bank machine for mad money for the month. When it was gone, it was gone. I would dodge invites for dinner or drinks with friends because I didn’t feel we could spend that money on something so non-essential. When we didn’t have any money to save, we collected loose change and kept a dollar jar where we’d put a dollar a day so that at the end of the month we could deposit $50 into our savings. Wasn’t much, but it was something.

Some of our extreme money saving tactics have stuck around and I don’t feel they are going anywhere, like haircuts at home for Mark and the girls, buying only what’s on the grocery list, eating out only a few times a month. We rarely take big vacations. Our budget still only allows for one bottle of wine a month. We always make coffee at home. We drink only water, we never buy juice or soda.

After this expensive month we’re going back on a budget, but it’s nice to be able to exhale from being so tight-fisted, to not have a silent debate with yourself over every single purchase, even if it’s just for the little things.

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  • Joni May 12, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Jenna, I understand you free lance and do it successfully. However, have you thought about a career change? Training to be a paralegal and doing that? It would be much steadier income than your current job.

  • Steph May 12, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Why don’t you buy juice?
    Do you make it with the fruit instead?

  • Selkie May 12, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Bravo; You deserve it! (Know that. YOU DESERVE IT!)

  • jackie May 12, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    wow. i don’t usually comment but i was reading over the first couple of comments and a bit amazed at what people feel is okay to post in response. i always appreciate your honesty and that you continue to be authentic despite what i’m guessing is daily criticism of your decisions. anyways, enjoy your new purchases. such fun stuff!

  • iyang May 12, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    good for you-enjoy! p.s. I LOVE the drawing!

  • Chai Ling May 12, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Jenna, I like your extreme money saving tactics! I personally found it unique and cool : ) Not many can often do ordinary things in an extraordinary way like you do.

  • Joni May 12, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    Look, it isn’t “criticism” (so much for Jackie being a real life financial adviser). Although I dearly hope Jenna and Mark’s company will become the next Mrs. Fields, their situation sounds somewhat precarious. Jenna deserves to be able to purchase a little make up, buy some take out, maybe some seasonal clothes without thinking it’s going to mean deprivation next month. I’m sure their income is being eaten up by health insurance, mortgage, property taxes, school fees, etc which leaves very little to enjoy life. I worry whether they even have life insurance, enough medical coverage, etc. This kind of scrounging seems to be wearing her down. It’s like Suze Orman says – if you have to count the squares of toilet paper you use, you may as well throw in the towel.

    In earlier posts, Jenna mentioned that the free lance lifestyle was starting to bore her. Has she considered a better paying career? A full time job in a more lucrative field (not art) that offers benefits, especially retirement, medical, dental?

    Jenna, have you thought about a government job???

  • Anna @ D16 May 12, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Wow, Joni. Just…wow.

    Um, anyway…! Jenna, don’t you sometimes wonder how much “extra” cash you’d have if you could somehow revert to the money-scrimping skills we all had when we were younger and poorer? I think about this all the time, but especially in those “takeout when we’re too tired to cook” moments. I’m like a goldfish when it comes to money — I expand to fit the confines of my tank.

  • Sara Jensen May 12, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Man, I totally get this post. Really, its one of the reasons we left NYC one year ago. I love where we are, but I still miss it. There is a price that you pay to live there, insurance rates are INSANE, school, kids clothing etc. But even when we had a nice chunk of change in the bank, as a mother I realized that it was harder and harder to let myself spend money on myself. I would do the math of for like a pair of shoes that I would have never thought twice about. “This pair of shoes would cover three days of childcare, 1 pack of diapers and an order of Curry Rice.” It has actually gotten to the point where my husband almost yells at me to get a new pair of jeans. I wont think twice about getting Henry something though, seriously, I would spend my last dime on him.
    As an artist myself, I have an even harder time being at a “desk”. Working for myself enables me to spend more time with Henry. Sometimes, I am up late working because he had a doctors appointment or was sick. Sometimes my husband and I help each other out with work. This is why a lot of people choose to freelance or work from home.
    Even when I have no spending money in my checking account because all of our bills hit at once or we’ve invested in a new project, its okay…because we have our family and we are really working on things that are mostly exciting (sometimes not but work, is work).
    It might be hard for other people, who are not artistically inclined to understand why people like us wouldnt want to be a paralegal, or work at the dmv and frankly I think that paralegals make under 50K a year last I checked and I dont think that would cover living costs in NYC, even with benefits.

  • mau May 13, 2010 at 2:29 am

    i live on an island in the mediterranean and our hospitals are free, as is my daughter’s school. having said that, we do pay a lot of taxes. however, we too find ourselves trying to save money and not quite managing. i admire you for sticking to doing what you love and what you know you’re good at, even if it means that a monthly paycheque isn’t guaranteed. you are teaching your girls some valuable life lessons. btw, mia’s drawings are evolving really quickly! are those tears i see? that’s amazing! 😀

  • Joni May 13, 2010 at 2:59 am

    There’s nothing wrong with living very lean if that’s what you want exactly. But it’s very, very hard to pay for your own medical/dental insurance, property taxes, unexpected bills, you know the drill. You’ll find yourself avoiding candy to avoid a cavity ( ie dental bill), always wearing very worn clothes, etc. Maybe this is preferable to some people, but it frankly sounds like it’s wearing Jenna down. Honestly, she sounds tired. The bills will only get bigger as her kids get older and they eventually WILL get cavities on their adult teeth, need spending money, sprain an ankle, you know the drill. I only THANK GOD that she and her husband have extensive family support just in case anything happens to them (so their children will be taken care of) and their business revenue keeps going up (here’s to a blockbuster year! I hope everyone buys their products!)

  • Joni May 13, 2010 at 3:06 am

    Jenna, if you have any savings, please put it into some low-risk investments. I noticed that your Whimsy and Spice prices have been slowly climbing too. Hopefully your profit margins have too. Because I am shocked and worried that you cannot afford a cup of coffee here and there, or must agonize over buying drug store make up for yourself, or even cancel dates with friends because you can’t afford a casual meal out. I’m glad things are changing and you two are slowly growing a financial cushion, but please consider looking at other investment options to grow your savings, be on the look out for any minority partnership opportunities (there are always more than people like to think) and consider a more lucrative career if you choose to quit free lancing.

  • Joni May 13, 2010 at 3:21 am

    Lastly,a government job is NOT the DMV. How incredibly short sighted. there are opportunities for artists too. Also, it’s not a pleasant sight to see mothers giving EVERYTHING to their kids and looking like bag ladies. It’s not good for mothers/women/or their children to forgo their own friends, social lives because they are too bogged down at home and wind up spending all their time either working or with their kids. I’m not exactly impressed by Sara’s “I’ll wear my jeans down to a single thread but I’ll at least be a devoted mom” statement. Quite frankly, I’m shocked about such an attitude.

  • Joni May 13, 2010 at 4:30 am

    I was so pissed off by the sanctimonious “we’re starving artists and saintly mothers…you’re not” attitude that I did something PRACTICAL.

    Jenna, go to “I will teach you to be rich.com (no spaces.) It shows how you can have MORE money by making it than saving it. On this wonderful blog, there’s info about a venture capitalist who started a company called paperwheel.com. It’s basically cute stationary. However, it makes her MORE money per month than her venture capital monthly salary.

    Get it? Start an artistic stationary business like that.

    (How about that, suckers)

  • Lauren S. May 13, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Jenna, I really enjoyed reading this posting. I, similarly, grew up without soda, meals out, new clothing (only bags of hand-me-downs), etc. as my dad had his own business. For juice, though, my mom bought the frozen canned juice, which is by far cheaper than buying juice ready-made. We counted everything!

    My husband also had an entrepreneur dad, and we now both work in really stable environments (gov’t. and energy) because of the roller coaster lives we experienced as kids. My husband and I have paid for everything ourselves (school, wedding, etc.), which is fine, but the scary idea is that neither sets of parents have retirement! While some of the parents have switched to working for regular businesses, it’s very scary for my husband and me to know that we may be supporting them.

  • Anna @ D16 May 13, 2010 at 8:37 am

    I want to quote Chuck Close, the commencement speaker at my graduation from art school 13 years ago:

    “I’d like to say something to the parents of the art majors. This is probably not what you had in mind, you know? You hoped maybe – I don’t know, maybe medical school, maybe a degree in law, but I want to tell you that a life in art can be a wonderful life. Artists live better at near-poverty level income than yuppie bond traders do at much larger income.”

  • Mary-Ellen' May 13, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Good for you! Sometimes, we all need to just stop worrying. Unfortunately, I have been living on a very strict budget for many years and am praying for this economy to get better so I don’t have to be on eggshells worrying about the loss of my job.

    I love your idea of change and saving what you can at the end of the month. I really need to start doing that. Thanks for the great idea.

  • Mery May 13, 2010 at 9:00 am

    I love the drawing! Looks like a scene from an artsy french film… a Godard, perhaps? ..in the rain, central figure crying and the background full of happy people. AWESOME!

  • Rachel May 13, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Such a odd place the internet is when you can share your life with strangers and it opens you up to all sorts of debate.

    Haven’t checked in with you in a while Jenna, and I hope you are all well. Have been thinking of you (and I saw the W&S blurb in my issue Real Simple, nice!)

  • Mery May 13, 2010 at 9:05 am

    ps: I’m totally w/you about the spending. And you are my inspiration when it comes to budgeting. Although I have a long way to go to achieve Jenna’s standards of ascetic budgeting practices 😉

  • Shanna May 13, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Jenna, thanks so much for sharing so openly. C and I are both self employed – working at what we love most. The words you share could be written about our life, almost down to the letter (aside from your awesome $1 a day jar!). The lean times can be tough at moments, but I feel that it allows the times of more steady income to be so much more appreciated. I agree that it’s a wonderful feeling to make a few purchases for yourself without analyzing, and I’m glad for this feeling. I’ve lived the other way, working at a job that wasn’t a good fit, spending hours away from home and getting paid well. But the sincere truth is, I’ve never been happier than I am now – in lean times and in not-so-lean times. So happy things are going well for you and your family. xo

  • lindsay May 13, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I recently read an article that stated Americans may never spend the way they used to. The writer acted as if this was a bad thing. I’m a sahm/artist and my husband is in commercial construction sales. With building loans coming to a hault, it’s been a rough 2 years financially…and the best time we’ve ever had. We have a strict budget now. Instead of going out to eat we have backyard picnics, we rent movies instead of going to the theatre, we ride our bikes to get coffee or ice cream on date night….we turned off our cable and we read & do crafts at night instead. My husband and I have started a local side business and it’s starting to become profitable. Like you said, it’s nice to be able to buy new flowers for the front porch or fill up the car with extra gas to hit estate sales without worrying our budget will be screwed for the month…however our paired down, simple lifestyle is here to stay. We’re simply happier this way.

  • jennifer May 13, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Holy mackerel…what did I miss? To each their own. Love the chuck close quote, anna.

  • Nicole : Three By Sea May 13, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Interesting comments…I guess I’m the weirdo (or lush!) for thinking the real travesty in all of this is budgeting for only ONE bottle of wine a month- LOL!
    You keep on rockin’, Jenna, I think you’re to be admired on many levels.

  • Anna @ D16 May 13, 2010 at 10:04 am

    (Jenna, I’m sorry. I know I should just be quiet. I can’t stop myself.)

    Joni, you are WAY out of line. The comments and suggestions you’re making are not only insanely presumptuous, but also outrageously offensive. You are essentially trying to tell a grown women (who you do not know, I might add) that the life she and her husband have chosen for their family is wrong. Do you even realize how grossly inappropriate that is?

    That you could even come close to concluding that Jenna and her family are living in some kind of horrible, struggling situation or in abject poverty is completely INSANE. You have taken some fairly average and common sentiments about money issues and attempted to turn them into a kind of quasi-abusive, neglectful situation, when OBVIOUSLY nothing could be further from the truth.

    You have gone way too far with your comments. Ordinarily I would keep my mouth shut and not try to fight someone else’s battles, but your are comments are just SO incredibly offensive and demeaning to so many people, myself included.

  • Annie May 13, 2010 at 10:06 am

    I understand your point 100%, and admire you for being so thoughtful about money.
    I live in your ‘hood, have 2 kids and my husband and I are full time employees with steady income.
    And we keep wondering how people do it.
    The thought of leaving brooklyn is often in our heads but its a town we love and want our kids to grow in.
    So we make sacrifices, like buying in bulk, making as many meals at home as possible, no juice, no soda…
    I am trying to start my own business and its terrifying not knowing what will happen next.
    I don’t know anything about other of your “commenters” but when they pay your rent and feed your children they might have a right to tell you what to do with your life or what kind of job to have.
    You are doing awesome.
    Your business is something to admire and has grown amazingly.
    You are talented and do what you love…
    what else do you need.

    Lastly, because of my husband’s business there is always PLENTY of wine bottles in my house looking for some one to drink them. so feel free to ask when needed.

  • UNI May 13, 2010 at 10:21 am

    SO 100% right Anna! keep your freakshow to yourself Joni. you’re scaring me.

  • unha May 13, 2010 at 10:22 am

    For doing what she does, how she does with her family have continue to impress/inspire me since we’ve became friends. The commenter, this is a 40-yr old very very smart talented practical woman with two beautiful smart children and an awesome husband. No need to worry about her career.

    As Anna says, it’s outrageously insulting to a lot of creative entrepreneurs out there, trying hard everyday!

  • Jane Flanagan May 13, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Jenna – I really admire your financial awareness. I think so many people (myself included at times) just aren’t reflective about how they spend their money. It seems like you’re making deliberate choices about what you really want and need. I’ve been on a spending fast the last while and I really love how it has made me contemplate how I spend.

    I think most of us would like a little more cash, but the truth is expenditure always rises to meet income. I do sometimes long for my lean student days when every penny counted and I only ever spent money I had. There really is something to be said for that and for balance. And “more” isn’t always the magic bullet it appears to be.

    Keep up your amazing work!

  • David May 13, 2010 at 10:30 am

    We are exactly with you. Middle class in Brooklyn
    is not for whimps. Keep up the good work.

  • nole May 13, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Jenna, I can’t tell you how much I appreciated your honesty in this post. I’ve been working in a relatively well-paid and substantively-interesting government job for the last eight years – but having spending money and not worrying about dinner out with friends hasn’t been liberating at all. Instead it has made me feel more and more dependent on an organization and career path that I don’t truly enjoy. Now that I’m getting ready to leave this job and pursue something that makes me truly happy I’m finally starting to think about a real budget for the first time, and it’s an amazing feeling. I would much rather cut things out of our budget – take out, new clothes, anything – as long as it means getting to do what I love every day.

  • modernemotive May 13, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Jenna (and Mark!),

    My unsolicited advice… keep doing what you’re doing. Last I heard, not living beyond your means was a good thing. In doing so you’re also raising your girls to understand and appreciate that money doesn’t grow on trees, hard work pays off and you don’t need the latest “thing” to be happy. Those life lessons are priceless and help us all define our “own” measure of success in whatever form that comes – spiritually, financially, emotionally etc.


  • Jenna May 13, 2010 at 10:36 am

    ok ok ok, guys, this has been a stressful 24 hrs with our unexpected computer crash and our ecommerce site was freaking out yesterday and I have a million work pressure and deadlines blah blah, so I really have had no time to respond and react, but this is getting a little out of control so let me be quick for now.
    Joni, we do not know each other, however, I know that you have been a long time reader and supporter of our blog and business for awhile and have had some very encouraging and supportive comments in the past. For that I thank you. But I think you are making some assumptions here that are just so left field from a few words in this post. What people are taking offense with is that you suggest completely changing who I am…a paralegal? government job? There is no need to worry about us. We are doing fine. Actually better than fine and better than we ever have. If my parents and family and close friends are supportive of our choice to live an entrepreneurial lifestyle and further encourage us down this path, then other people need not worry. One last thing, our prices have not gone up. They have remained the same since ’08.

  • Helen May 13, 2010 at 10:38 am

    I totally admire your honesty and understand how it is to try and save and save and occasionally exhale. Glad you enjoyed it, glad you get that freedom from worries at least for a little while. You so much deserve it. One of the commenters here reminds me of my father in law- to suggest that the path you have chosen is wrong and that you could rectify all your past mistakes with a better paying, secure job in another field is belittling to say the least. I understand that people who are not in this field do not understand this path- and I know we complain about aspects of it- but we did not choose a life dictated by financial security. We are doing something in the world to try and change it, little by little. It is what we love and we are good at it, as a friend recently reminded me when we were commiserating over the financial instability of this life path. When my father in law suggested that we stop being artists, stop teaching, stop trying to run a business so that we can be more financially stable, he might as well have said stop being everything you are and stop caring about everything that is important to you. It is so important to us to pass on our values to our kids- I love that my four year old and two year old play “art opening” and “my business”- wouldn’t change that for the world.

  • jean May 13, 2010 at 10:56 am

    In a way, working freelance can be more “safe” as you’re diversifying your clients.

    Working full-time is essentially working for only 1 client and if you lose that job, you could be hurting for awhile.
    Besides, I know so many people who can’t find full-time job anyway right now.

  • a creative friend May 13, 2010 at 11:19 am

    you know, i have to put my 2 cents in here. this is nuts. i seriously respect you jenna for following your dreams and doing work that both you and mark love to do. you couldn’t be better role models for your children. you children will learn to do what they love and be happy everyday.

    there is no fail safe solution, i grew up in a ‘stable’ military family. we pinched pennies, like other families. just because you have a full time job does not mean you are in a less stressful situation. so at 18 years old, when i got out of the military, i decided to go to art college. and just to prove a point: i out earn my military parent by double. it can be done, you just have to figure it out as you go along.

    anyway, regardless as to how much money you make, it will never be enough, you will always want more. when i have kids, they will play with pots and pans and in the dirt outside. my mom used to make our play-doh. i loved it. there is something fun about doing with less, i think it makes you more creative. i think it is great that this family and other families really look at what they spend money on and how they can do better. it is not so much about the money, but lifestyle.

  • Marisa and Creative Thursday May 13, 2010 at 11:42 am

    If there is one thing that frustrates me in this world, it is still the notion that artists don’t, can’t, shouldn’t, won’t~ whatever you want to call it ~ make a great, and I mean great living with their work.
    Let’s take note here: times have changed. I make more working for myself as an artist than I ever did working for someone else. And I live in Los Angeles, which to echo David’s comment is also “not for wimps”. Being an entrepreneur of any discipline takes a special courage. It’s not for everyone.
    Even with all of it’s uncertainty, I have to honestly say I’ve never felt more secure than I do working for myself. Why? Because I have built a business. There is nothing else in the world that compares to the fulfillment that comes from building something that is yours ~ especially when you are doing work that you love.I would not trade it for anything. And with all the opportunity that now exists in the world, I’m actually surprised that a person would encourage another to give up on a life they want, that fulfills them, in the name of more “security”. Having worked for others, worked for myself, owned houses, rented houses, had debt, had no debt, car payment, no car payment, lived on a budget, not lived on one ~ I’ve learned that the feeling of security, that gives me the most peace every day, only truly exists within me.

    Jenna, thanks so much for your honesty. I greatly respect your creations, thoughts, and willingness to stand up for what you believe in.

  • Joni May 13, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Jenna, thanks for answering. It sounds like you’re squirreling money away for retirement and other things and have chosen the present to be your lean time (I hope.) As for everyone out there who is going on a “live your dream” spiel, of course people should live their dreams. It’s adolescent to lecture such a cliche. But the BIGGEST concern people who are 40+ (this is a financial fact) have is about money. They are looking down at 50 very soon and often wind up hoping that social security + medical + savings will be enough. Well, I hope it is but if it isn’t, now is a good time to boost savings.

  • Joni May 13, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    As for everyone else, please, give me a break. That government employee who now will work their dream job? I highly doubt she’ll forgo her pension savings owed to her and any accrued benefits. She has the financial cushion to take a risk. Good for her. That couple who work stable jobs because of childhoods watching their parents barely make it? Yes, you will probably support them if they have a huge medical problem (cancer, diabetes, you name it) or can’t afford the bills for their home and come running to you. Truth is, many, many adult children support their parents for whatever reasons. Check out CharlesSchwab.com – the facts are there on how to manage such a situation.

  • Makayla May 13, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    I love you Jenna and family (and Anna from D16). I am a graphic artist in Utah. Not the prestige of NY, but same work. I LOVE what I do and I love the flexibility of it. I am home doing freelance while my kids sleep and do play dates. It is so rewarding to be able to make ends meet and reach financial and family goals while doing what you love.

    If your dream is to work for the gov’t, than do it. If your dream is to make delicious treats for people around the world, than good for you and make it happen. If your dream is to be an artist, make it work.

    I think the real travesty is when people go to a constant daily grind job and never pursue their dreams. If you really love doing something, people will see it and you will be rewarded financially and have a very fulfilling life.

  • Joni May 13, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Lastly, parents over way overestimate the “love” behind their sacrifices. I’ve seen many children NOT seeing the scrounging as an act of parental love, but as an example of someone’s financial decisions, good and bad. Children look at their parents’ with the same detachment as a stranger’s. You don’t believe it? Ask any financial adviser or family lawyer. Kids are pretty cunning observers too and they’ll mentally get around the whole “We’re wearing threads because we’d rather spend on you” cliche. Instead, financial study after study says that they’ll weigh the pros/cons of such a lifestyle when it comes to deciding their own in a surprisingly critical and objective manner. Instead, they gain more self-esteem and perspective when mommy and daddy treat themselves, have rich outside lives and personal growth that has nothing to do with their children (of course you also have to demonstrate parental love). You don’t believe me? I’ll bet anyone here 100 bucks.

  • Steph May 13, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    I just had a question about the juice. 🙂
    I wasn’t critizing Jenna in the least Jackie.
    I’m genuinely and sincerely interested is all.

  • Sara Jensen May 13, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    I know that I should step away from this, but I just cant. Bag lady? Wearing jeans down to the last thread? Giving everything to my kid? Not really the case, sorry. I could have just made an assumption that Joni doesnt have kids, or was a horrible mother but I didnt!

    I just decide that a pair of shoes is frivolous at this point because I have a kid and other things are more important. My husband and I have always thought that time is more important than material objects when raising our child(ren). Finances get tight for almost everyone, and I have to agree with Jean’s comment. I am lucky that I have so many different clients because if I lose one, I have another right behind them waiting for some time to work with me. It was super hard freelancing at first, but I decided that I wanted to be with my son more etc. I got so busy with freelance and my son really started motoring around so I hired a nanny to watch him while I worked from home. Still, I spent an incredible amount of time with him considering the workload I was having.

    People who come over to our house often comment on how you cant even tell a child lives there unless you go into his room, or see his personal bookcase in the living room. A lot of my friends here have huge toys everywhere, trampolines, playsets and even rollercoasters in the yard and their kid just wants to play with a cardboard box. Our son has tons of books, an easel with art supplies and animal figures that he plays with. We let him use his imagination with us and his friends and he is one of the happiest and well behaved kids (this is what people tell me ALL the time). And our friends that have houses overrun with huge and or expensive toys tell us that they are jealous of our clutter free home.

    We pride ourselves on not depending on material items for our happiness. We earn a pretty good living and dont have any credit card debt because we dont buy what we cant pay for right away. Sure I love nice things, and have them. I might only have one pair if jeans that I love and fit me perfectly, but you havent seen my extensive skirt and dress collection (awesome!).

    Maybe I should have put more government job ideas in there for Jenna to think about other than the DMV but that was the easiest one to think of. Paralegal was Joni’s idea I was just letting Jenna know what the salary was when she makes that big step towards her steady paralegal job. My grandmother worked for the IRS forever (she had 12 kids to support) and on her last day of work, tried to peel out of the parking lot as a joke but her car was in reverse and she drove through the building…she winks when she tells us that it was an accident and yes, she hated that job as well. Trust me, kids pick up on the fact that their parents are unhappy with with their jobs, government jobs or WHATEVER. Kids pick up on a lot. We arent going to lie to our son to make it seem like our jobs are easy, because they are not. We let him know that hard work pays off.

    Every parent feels worn down, especially when they are highly involved in their children’s lives, which every parent should be. I feel a great sense of pride that my son is watching his parents who are both artists working hard and working to help each other out with projects when one of them gets swamped. We are teaching and raising our son to be a decent, hard working, dream following person and we know that when he one day has children of his own he will do the same.

    I figure that my best resume I have ever had to show anyone, is how my family life blends with my work life, which by the way is totally awesome. We support our totally awesome family with our totally awesome work which we take a tremendous amount of pride in.

    Stepping away now. I actually have work to do, checks from clients to deposit and then a lunch date at restaurant with my adorable, well adjusted son.

  • brenda May 13, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Joni – have you ever looked at the photographs on this blog? Jenna finds a way to live life in an aesthetically beautiful and emotionally meaningful way. The food they cook, the design of their home, the way the kids and Jenna herself dress, the family activities they enjoy, the creativity they pour into their business, all prove Jenna’s extraordinary talent at living a life that is far from deprived. On top of that, she inspires people every day with this blog. Such generosity of spirit is rare, please don’t quash it.

  • Joni May 13, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Wow. It’s unbelievable people think it’s money vs. art, children vs. materialism, poverty vs. dreamless, vacant life. And apparently everyone has picked the right choice while other people have not. There’s a saying that everyone thinks they’re unique to themselves and their children while the rest of the world is conformist as hell. I guess it’s true.
    Jenna does live an envious life (based on her pictures.) But I would love to see a richer personal life where she can take that trip to Paris, buy a delicious cappuccino, go hunting to vintage clothes. When will she do this, when she’s 55??

  • Kathleen May 13, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Jenna – I know you’ve been getting a flood of comments on this one but I have to tell you…

    I’m quitting my job as a Senior Art Director at an Advertising agency that gives me 4 weeks vacation, pays 100% of my health insurance and offers me an abundance of job security, in order to go full-time freelance. Your blog has offered some very realistic insight and I appreciate it so so much.

    Thank you for being a huge inspiration.

  • tamera May 13, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    I, for one, and incredibly grateful for the lessons my very frugal parents gave me. I don’t buy new clothes, I always look nice; nothing is ever worn to a thread – I can pretty easily find brands like Habitual or Paper jeans at the thrift for around $7.

    Americans have a lot of ideas of what ‘stability’ means. Quite frankly, the level of entitlement this culture has around Stuff is destroying the planet. Being frugal often is the exact same thing as being ecologically conscious. The fact is, we MUST check our spending, our consuming, our reliance on petrol, etc etc. We always had a huge garden growing up, for financial reasons. But guess what? We ate healthier and smarter than most people.

    Being forced to think about your purchases and your impact on the planet is one of the best ways you can live, and some of the best lessons you can give your children.

    We are not designed to be in 9-5 office jobs, and 9-5 office jobs are not here to do us, as people, any favors. The bottom line for the company is profit, and you will be tossed if they need to toss you. There is no security. The concept that they provide security and should be relied on belies an ignorance of the system in general.

    You know what provides security? Confidence, being able to roll with the punches, being comfortable not spending, making the best with minimal resources, being able to grow food, do things yourself, and take care of yourself and your family without losing your mind in an office.

  • tamera May 13, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    oops, AM incredibly grateful. Also I put paragraph breaks in there for clarity, but I guess the blog doesn’t like them.

  • dave May 13, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Joni, you made your point… money is important… people should be responsible. What you are missing is what is right for some people is not right for others. Jenna’s choice to do the work she enjoys and is good at is ultimately better than some job that although may pay better would be soul sucking. The added bonus is she gets to spend more time with her children than someone working 8-5. Joni, We all now know your opinion… the thing is no one else agrees.

  • Jenna May 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    ok, ok, kids, boys and girls. comments are closed now. I’m glad this opened debate but when people are slinging not so nice things to each other, that’s where it crosses the line. thanks, love you, bye bye.