2. Take only what you need
Whether it is shopping or eating or picking up something from the free table at a homeschool co-op, our rule is that we take only what we need. When shopping, we don’t purchase anything just because it’s on sale. When eating, I serve myself a small portion knowing that I may be eating the children’s leftovers. Also, I eat only until my hunger is satiated, and I try to get up from the table before I feel full.
When receiving hand-me-downs from other homeschoolers, we take only what we need and pass on the rest to other families.
3. Conserve, conserve, conserve
Reduce, reuse, recycle. Run at least three errands when using a vehicle. Turn off lights when not in use. Hang dry clothes if possible. Use cloth grocery bags instead of plastic bags. Support local and organic farmers. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Take five minute showers, as this will save up to 1,000 gallons every month!
4. Never buy anything in a hurry
Buy what you need, but pray first before buying anything you want. If you really want to buy something, write your wish list on a small notebook. Allow our Lord to give it to you in His time. If it’s not His will for you to own it, remember that you don’t need to own something to love something.
5. Seek wisdom from Sacred Scripture
The book of Sirach says, “Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart” and “in everything you do, be moderate.” In the Second Book of Peter, he writes, “This is reason enough for you to make every effort to undergird your virtue with faith, your discernment with virtue, and self-control with discernment; this self-control, in turn, should lead to perseverance, and perseverance to piety, and piety to care for your brother, and care for your brother, to love.”
The book of Titus exhorts, “As for yourself, let your speech be consistent with sound doctrine. Tell the older men that they must be temperate, serious-minded, and self-controlled; likewise sound in the faith, loving and steadfast. Similarly, the older women must behave in ways that befit those who belong to God. They must not be slanderous gossips or slaves to drink. By their good example they must teach the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, chaste, busy at home, kindly, submissive to their husbands. Thus the word of God will not fall into disrepute. Tell the young men to keep themselves completely under control – nor may you yourself fail to set them good example.”
6. Seek inspiration from the Saints
One of my favorite quotes comes from Saint Theophilus of Antioch. He writes:
“Far be it from Christians to do such deeds… for temperance dwells with them, self-restraint is practiced, monogamy is observed, chastity is guarded, injustice is exterminated, sin is rooted out, righteousness is exercised, law is ministered, reverence is preserved, God is acknowledged: truth controls, grace guards, peace protects, the holy word guides, wisdom teaches, life directs, God reigns.”
7. Offer small sacrifices daily
In his book entitled The Seven Virtues, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen writes:
“Because our needs are limited, but our wants are unlimited, a virtue is necessary to restrain our inordinate appetites and desires—and that virtue is called temperance. It has for its objective the regulation of the sensible appetites by reason. If we want to save our soul for eternity, we must discipline our body in time. And we do this not with sadness but with gladness, after the example of Jesus ‘Who having joy set before Him endured the Cross.’ For those who wish to cultivate the virtue of temperance…each day practice at least three trivial mortifications, for example, holding back the sarcastic word or returning a kindly answer to a sneer. Second, the magnitude of the mortification is not as important as the love of God for which it is done…It is the motive that matters – do them out of love of God.”
A Lesson From Loafers
Simple living gives us numerous opportunities to practice moderate consumption and, in turn, benefit our souls by practicing the virtue of temperance. And as far as my teeny bopper story goes, I didn’t end up buying many pairs of shoes that day. I walked out of that store with one brand new pair of penny loafers and a profound secret.
And the secret is this: there is an indescribable joy and freedom knowing that one has the power to buy many material possessions but chooses not to for the sake of those who do not have enough. I finally understood what my father meant.
Although he couldn’t afford to give us everything our hearts desired, he made sure we received everything that mattered most.