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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

10 Cent Goldfish in a $50 tank: Why being flexible can be a good thing.

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I am a little obsessed with saving money. There, I said it.

This weekend was our annual county fair. A place where money can drain through your hands like trying to hold onto water. You have to pay attention and hold your fingers tight or it all drips away.

" The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get." -Proverbs 21:20 

The girls prepared in advance by making arts and crafts projects to enter in the contest. We budgeted enough money to get the coveted three day passes to ensure optimal use of the rides, shows and concessions. We all had plans of what we would eat of the fabulous junk food that you can only get once a year. We picked out clothes, shoes, and hairstyles that would make it easy to run, jump, and play all over the fair grounds.

We were prepared.

We got to the fair and my husband, Joel, took the girls on every ride they wanted to go on. The lines were pretty short being that it was only Friday and most people plan to go on Saturday.

Then Joel and Violet decided to go on the Ferris Wheel. I waited with the little girls (4, 2, and 10 months), close by with all of our gear. They were in line for at least 15 minutes. That isn't all that long when you are an adult, but when you are 7, 4 or is an eternity!

Thankfully, there was a cotton candy stand right next to us. Sugar to the rescue! They are really good at strategically placing those stands.

So the girls munched, and waited, and waited..........and waited some more.

Then Violet came up to me with a huge smile on her face, holding a little plastic bag, filled with water, and holding a lovely goldfish.

She saw the look of apprehension on my face and quickly explained that one of the kids in line had 3 and decided to give her one! "Isn't that exciting Mom??!"

Her large pleading eyes and months of asking for a fish prior to this had lead up to this moment in her little 7 year old life. What was a mom to do?

I was not prepared for this. I planned everything else out for the day, but not this.

I thought of the work it would take of daily feeding, and weekly tank cleaning. I would like to believe that I could have her be totally responsible for it, but the reality is I have to know I would be in charge of remembering to feed it etc.

Ok it is just a goldfish, but when you are responsible for the nutritional needs, clothing care, and general cleaning of six people, the education of four, the diaper changing/potty training of two, the care of two dogs, a cat, maintenance of a garden, and oh yeah did I mention the two gerbils?...even a goldfish sized responsibility seems a little overwhelming. It's just one more thing...

 I went through the cost in my head of how much fish food, a bowl, and those little plastic plants might be. This was not written in my budget. I know, I am frugal to a fault, but that is how we live debt free on one income. I make my own cleaners, I make food from scratch, I hang all of the laundry, I use cloth diapers, and I homeschool mostly for free. We technically had the money, but I didn't plan on getting a fish.

So I thought, do I stick hard and fast to what I had financially planned? Do I explain how much mommy already has to keep up with, crushing her little hopes for fish ownership? It is just a fish right? She would get over it, and probably not remember it....right?

Well, I caved and said she could keep it. :-)
Then they were finally able to get on the ride...

while we held the fish...

I did what I wouldn't have advised a parent to do, before I actually had children of my own. I was an awesome parent before I had kids. ;-)

It is hard to say no when you want so much to be the mom that once in a while says "yes".

So we take Mrs. Fish home...who now goes by the name Honey Suckle.

Upon arriving home, I go online and do a little research for a tank and things. My first attempt was to try getting one used on craigslist for free or cheap. No such luck. Next I tried our local Facebook pets group. Nothing.

So I had to order something online. Being in VT the closest Walmart or Petsmart in about and hour away by highway.

They had so many cute tanks for a reasonable price, but I did some research and it turns out goldfish need a tank that is at least 10-30 gallons! Also, did you know that with the right environment they can live for decades? I didn't.

I found the most reasonably priced 10 gallon tank I could.

Here it is just in case you ended up with a fish from the fair too. 

So, all in all, I am glad I gave in to her big brown eyes and little hope filled heart.

I also do plan on having her be responsible (with some help of course), for the care of Honey Suckle the Goldfish because, if she isn't, the natural consequences will be a good learning opportunity. She being the oldest is generally pretty responsible for her age, so I am hoping it will be a good experience.

Now that we are back to school I am the mom who has to make sure her math gets done, that she brushes her teeth well, and that she eats enough broccoli.  It was nice to have the opportunity to be the fun mom and say, "yes" to something that she didn't need.  It was a nice last hurrah of summer before the fall brings on the work of school and our garden harvest.

Of course God wants us to be thrifty and be good stewards of what He has provided.

" So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? " - Luke 16:11

It is easy to get caught up in your budget, and miss out on times when you can bend your own rules just a little.

Being frugal and thrifty is a great thing, but don't feel bad about spending a little on something extra if your bills are paid.

Life is certain to do at least one thing: throw us curve balls we don't expect. Sometimes we need to be flexible and see what comes from it. There may be a lesson to learn or a memory to be made.

Have you said yes in a situation that you would normally say no to, yet in the end you were blessed by it?

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  1. How sweet! I hope your daughter is enjoying her goldfish - it is a great learning experience to care for a pet, isn't it?

  2. Personally, I am pretty frugal too, and I think that its a wonderful thing! I'm not too big on fish and I cringe thinking about the day when my little one decides that he wants a fish. I've had several traumatic situations that involve fish. So, his name was Bob and he was the most beautiful beta fish ever until he disappeared. Seriously, I found a tail and that's it. I wish you all the best with your aquatic pal!

    -Lara @ Methodical Living

    1. Wow!! Just the tail?!? That is horrible!!