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Now that I’m officially unemployed, our family is having to make sacrifices. I’ve never not had a job, let alone been let go involuntarily. And for most of the lives of my six terrific kids, I’ve had not just any job, but terrific, well-paying jobs.

Now all of a sudden, certain luxuries are going away, and it’s tough. Even though we’ve were blessed to have received a great severance, there’s still a finite amount of money in the bank, and I’ll likely need every penny in starting up my new company.

Everybody is affected in different ways. We’re canceling cable (an unnecessary $100/month), which means no more football for my eldest. One son just came home with a straight-A report card, which we usually reward by going out and buying them the book of their choice… that quickly adds up to nearly $100 by the time everybody gets their books (they’re all terrific students). We just had a family council where we decided to simply read the books we’ve already got, and instead choose other ways to celebrate their accomplishments without spending money.

These kinds of sacrifices are in no way independently substantial, but in accumulation begin to carry some weight, and there’s already been tears shed.

As a father, it’s terrifically difficult to bear. I could easily just go spend the money. I don’t have any doubt I’ll soon be earning good income, without ever fully exhausting our reserves, but the opportunity to teach lessons of sacrifice, budgeting, and wisdom during hard times is too important.

I remember times in my childhood where we had no money. At one point, we had to live in a tent, and later a small RV trailer. We ate raw pancake batter that we scrounged up from somewhere, or crackers on hot dog buns with water, or squirrels, or craw-dads from the creek. There were lots of times like this, and I know my character grew because of those times.

But now, being (only slightly) on the other end, as the provider, I realize how difficult sacrifice is. Deliberately holding back from my kids (who were never spoiled in the first place) so that they can learn the lessons of sacrifice—it’s incredibly painful.

This experience has helped me to learn that sacrifice is hard, but character is forever.

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