I was texting with a girlfriend about pumping breast milk a couple of months ago. She’s with her little one and running her businesses from home just like I am.
Neither of us have much of a need for a freezer stash of breast milk beyond enough to cover an emergency.
She’s barely ever pumped. I shared that I pump religiously, every single day, and that even if I only get one extra ounce of milk to add to my stash, I treasure it. I get so much satisfaction out of knowing that I have more than enough milk set aside for Penelope should I choose to or need to go somewhere. (At this point I have no plans of leaving P for any extended period of time, but I like to have the milk saved just in case.)
Until this particular text exchange, I hadn’t realized that amassing large quantities of frozen breast milk despite having no plans to be away from your child for more than a random overnight was unusual. I simply assumed all mamas did it.
As I texted her that I treasured every addition to my freezer stash, even if it was only an ounce, I had a high-wattage light bulb moment:
If I can get this excited about saving breast milk, I can transfer that mindset to money!
Historically I haven’t been much of a saver. I’ve been a great earner, a great spender, and pretty good about putting money toward retirement.
But when it comes to having cash sitting in the bank for a cushion (like 6-12 months of living expenses), I’ve always fallen short.
Any time an unexpected expense came along, I just made more money.
That’s the gift and trap of being an entrepreneur: you can always make more money, which can become an excuse for not taking great care of the money you already have.
Letting perfectly good cash simply sit in the bank always felt miserly and stagnant to me. I always wanted to be investing it in my business, investing it in retirement accounts, or spending it on something fun.
I always thought that having an “Emergency Fund” would manifest an emergency. (For the record, I still prefer to call it a “Cushion Fund” because no matter what happens in life, it’s good to have a soft place to land.)
I’ve never lived my life preparing for the worst. I like to prepare for and expect the best. So saving for the worst-case scenario always felt in conflict with my overall life philosophy.
But my relationship with my freezer stash of breast milk has been quite different.
My freezer stash is abundance. My freezer stash is freedom. They don’t call it “liquid gold” for nothing.
My freezer stash has taught me that saving can be for the best.
Here’s what having a whole bunch of extra breast milk on hand has done for me:
- It’s allowed me to donate my surplus milk to moms and babies who need it.
- It’s allowed me the freedom to take an overnight by myself somewhat spontaneously.
- It’s allowed me to be out longer than I’d planned and not worry if the baby will be hungry.
- It’s allowed me to not feel bad about splurging on things I cut out of my diet to help heal P’s eczema (my own version of “Pumping and Dumping” since I consume 1.75 alcoholic beverages per year, tops).
- It’s allowed me to be way more relaxed about milk usage and the inevitable times when it has to be thrown out for one reason or another.
- It’s allowed me to know, no matter what, that my baby girl will be nourished.
I have never been able to get myself to save money regularly beyond periodically socking chunks away for retirement…until now.
I get it now how having a sizable savings is freedom, too.
Yes, as entrepreneurs we can always make more money. But having unexpected expenses come up and then needing to make more money to cover them keeps us stuck in a cycle of reactivity instead of proactivity. It keeps us hustling instead of relaxing.
Now, just like I pump every single day, I’m looking at ways to save money every single day. In the past, this mindset would have felt like deprivation. But now I’m approaching it from a place of abundance.
And saving for unexpected events doesn’t mean preparing for the worst. I get that now.
Saving my breast milk allowed me to have a solo night at a fancy inn the other week. It was unexpected, and it was awesome.
Whether you’ve ever pumped an ounce of milk from your boobs or not, we can all make being smart with money feel good.
Just as I’ve accumulated milk for Penelope out of love, I’m starting to accumulate cash in case of the unexpected for our business and our family.
It feels abundant. It feels like freedom. I’m doing it out of love.
Being prepared for the unexpected doesn’t have to mean you’re expecting the worst.
Instead, it can mean being ready to make the best out of the unexpected.