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How to Budget Smarter

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Interior of a Dutch Shop Selling Gold and Silver by an Unknown Dutch MasterAbout a year ago, I posted Why a Family Budget Is “Woman’s Work.” It was one of my most popular posts. I still believe that a woman is in a unique position to manage her family’s finances. (I do make most of the family purchases, after all.) But I’ve recently discovered a better way to take care of our family’s resources.

When I wrote the original post, Mint was the best personal finance software I could find. I budgeted every month. Mint automatically imported my purchases.

With Mint, I always knew where my money was going. But it wasn’t always going where I wanted it to. Mint left me with a lot of difficult questions. Read the rest of this entry

I’m Back… and I’m Dropping “Twelve Months to a Better Woman”

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Elegant Lady Walking Her Greyhounds on the Beach by Edmond-Louis DupainLoyal readers may have noticed that I haven’t posted in a few weeks. You may also have noticed that my three posts a week have gradually dwindled over the past few months. I just wasn’t interested anymore.

I wasn’t interested because I’d lost sight of what this blog is supposed to be about.

When I started the project, I thought I could decide in advance what sorts of things would make me a better woman. That I could outline a course of twelve skills to learn or develop to improve myself.

But holding to a steady course isn’t what Experimental Wifery is about. Read the rest of this entry

Why Everyday Politeness Is One of the Best Gifts of All, Part One

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Allegory of Virtue by Simon Vouet
During the Month of Self-Giving, I’ve put a lot of thought into the gifts that really matter–the acts of sacrifice that really change us.

For example, when I give make my husband an elaborate brunch (one of his favorite treats), I often expect some relaxation time in return. Even though I’ve worked hard and given him something he really enjoys, I haven’t really made myself more generous spirited. How do I go from doing something generous to being a generous person, who makes sacrifices for others without thinking about them and without feeling self-righteous or resentful?

I want to strengthen the virtue of generosity within myself. Read the rest of this entry

How to Choose the Right Charity

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Charity, St. Stephan's Cathedral in the Background by August Heinrich MansfeldEvery year, Americans donate almost $350 billion to charities. But it is difficult to know where that money goes. Some charities are notorious for spending large percentages on donations on operating expenses. Some charities, no matter how well-meaning, simply don’t do much good. And, in the worst cases, some charities actually undermine the causes many of their donors mean to champion.

If we value giving to charity, how can we be sure our money is being well-spent on causes we support?


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How to Talk to a Loved One about Depression

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Spiritual Assistance by H. Grobe

When someone we love is suffering, we want to help. But when he or she is suffering from a mental illness, that help can be hard to give.

Depression alters a person’s sense of reality and makes other people’s perceptions difficult to believe. Read the rest of this entry

5 Things to Say Instead of I’m Sorry

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Mary Magdalen in Penitence by El Greco
This post is a follow-up from our Month of Self-Reflection.

I am a chronic apologizer.

Because I suffer from depression, I often apologize because I think I am genuinely at fault. I want to accept responsibility for all the bad things that happen.

But even I have to recognize that sometimes things aren’t my fault. And some things that are my fault just aren’t a big deal. Everyone makes little mistakes. Bad things just happen. Read the rest of this entry

The 5 Gifts He Actually Wants

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A Favor by Edmund LeightonSelf-sacrifice isn’t easy, especially because a giving attitude is only half the battle. It doesn’t matter how much we want to give if we can’t identify what to give and when to give it.

As part of my recovery from depression, Adam and I sat down and made of the sacrifices he would like me to make. (At my most depressed, I was making many unnecessary sacrifices for him because I thought my needs were unimportant.) We came up with a list of five real needs that I can meet by giving something up–whether it’s time, privacy, or control. That way a sacrifice is a selfless gesture oriented around his needs, instead of a self-centered gesture focused on my thoughts and feelings. Read the rest of this entry