The following post contains affiliate links. I also received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. For my full disclosure, click here.
If I had to describe Erin Odom in one word, it would be gracious. I don’t do everything exactly the same way that she does, but I never feel demeaned by her writing. In the present climate of the internet, that can be a rare quality! When I discovered that Erin was writing a book, I knew I would enjoy reading it.
More Than Just Making It is part memoir and part practical tips for learning how to do more than just scrape by. Those who are struggling with their finances will be encouraged by the Odom family’s story of making it out of low income living. However, even those who are currently doing just fine financially will benefit from reading this book. Erin addresses common misconceptions about people who are low income and challenges the idea that “only bad or irresponsible people need assistance.”
As a result of reading this book, I learned several lessons about finances, and about living with grace.
Lesson #1: Buying a house might not make your dreams come true. Houses are not inherently bad things, but they are huge investments that should be considered carefully before making the plunge. We have the idea as a culture that renting is “throwing away money,” but it’s far better than being saddled with a mortgage that you can’t afford and a house you can’t sell. Ultimately, buying a house at the wrong time created a lot of heartache for the author’s family.
In retrospect, we should have rented longer and saved for a larger down payment, which would have prevented us from eventually being stuck with an underwater mortgage and a home we couldn’t sell during one of the worst economic crises of our nation’s history. – Erin Odom
Dave Ramsey has a great article about the right time to buy a house, which you can read here.
Lesson #2: We become more gracious when we are aware.
When describing a financial planning class that she took with her husband, Erin wrote, “And he was annoyed that the rest of the class looked at $50,000 a year as a ‘lower’ income while we were making it on less than half of that.”
Now, I live in the same state as the author and I was aware that we are poorly ranked in teacher pay, but I honestly didn’t know that it was quite THAT bad!
More Than Just Making It also discusses the issue of making assumptions about people. Many people don’t know that foster children get WIC benefits, even if the foster family they are currently staying with does not get WIC for themselves. Foster kids have been through a lot and need the help. However, this can lead to situations like the following…
You see a family with normal groceries in their cart. They have some cheese, peanut butter, and milk. But they also have a DVD. The woman pays for the food with WIC, and then buys the DVD out of pocket.
Those people! you think to yourself. Abusing the system! Welfare queens! Sucking up our tax dollars! Ugh!
But in reality…you can’t know everything about this family from one brief encounter in the checkout line. If the woman was a foster parent, she may have wanted to get the child a treat. There is really nothing wrong with that. You just. can’t. know.
Lesson #3: Money alone doesn’t solve all of life’s problems.
Money can buy many things, and we certainly do need it, but money can’t buy contentment. Without contentment, no amount of money will ever seem like enough.
More Than Just Making It encourages the reader to see the little things as “kisses from Jesus,” which is another way of saying blessings. Perhaps you found a really great deal on something your family desperately needed. Maybe someone brought you some dinner. These small things breathe encouragement into a weary soul. My fellow launch team members and I are using the hashtag #kissesfromJesus to share stories of those little gifts from God. Feel free to join us!
Lesson #4: You can spend time or you can spend money. Which is better depends on your situation.
Using coupons or cooking from scratch does save money. They cost time and effort. In the author’s situation, she was staying home with young children and had time to do things like cook from scratch, meal plan, and hunt for bargains at thrift stores. I wrote a post about things I cook from scratch and things that I still buy. Sometimes it’s worth it, and sometimes it’s not.
Buying used is another good way to save money. I love consignment sales. The key is to keep a list of what you need and your children’s sizes. You don’t want to buy something that you don’t need just because it’s a good deal. You can always save 100% by refusing to buy things that you don’t need. 😉 Hunting through consignment sales or thrift stores takes longer than shopping in a regular store, but if you have more time than money it’s worth it.
Lesson #5: Budgets need to be detailed. Very, very detailed.
Erin lists her family’s budget categories, which are detailed with incredible precision. It made me think about my own budget and tweaks that I’d like to make. Ideally, you should have a zero-sum budget in which every dollar is accounted for. There are several apps available that can help you track your finances more closely. We use Mint for our family.
Lesson #6: There is a way out if you are struggling with finances.
It might require a career change, making radical cuts to your budget, or having both spouses work for some period of time. The book goes into various income generating options and the pros and cons of each one. The author and her husband worked various side jobs for a while before they landed on the solution that was right for their family. Today, they have made it out of poverty and are even able to send their kids to Christian school.
More Than Just Making It will be released on September 5, 2017. If you’re reading this before then, check out the preorder bonuses at morethanjustmakingit.com. There are over $220 worth of bonuses – just for preordering!
More Than Just Making It will be available at Amazon, Target, Christian Book Distributors, Barnes & Noble, and Books a Million.