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Stop saying things are easy when they’re not!

In our current headline-driven, Pinterest-y culture, I see many promises of “easy”.

fruit salad

  • Five Easy Ways to Meal Prep
  • Easy Workout Plans for Busy Moms
  • Easy DIY Furniture Plans
  • Budgeting Made Easy

I understand the intent behind these headlines, but I think they end up doing people a disservice.

If these things were truly easy, why would we even need posts about them? Wouldn’t we already be doing all these “easy” things?

And if we tell people that something is easy, then when they try it and discover it’s not easy, they’re going to be discouraged.

I think it’s much more fair to set people’s expectations realistically.

I know no one would advise a headline like this, but I’d kind of like to see an article titled,

Cooking Dinner Every Night Is Really, Really Hard And You Will Feel Like Giving Up Pretty Much Every Week But This Article Has Some Tips To Help You Carry On


There Is No Easy Way To Workout So Here Are Some Sweat-Inducing Moves That Will Make You Miserable But Also Healthier


Budgeting is Way More Time-Consuming Than Just Spending Mindlessly: A Guide To Doing What Is Hard, Which is Why Most People Aren’t Doing It Already

I feel like this level of honesty would be refreshing.

A related story that has nothing to do with frugality:

When I was pregnant with Joshua, a friend who already had a baby said, “Breastfeeding is really hard at first. You’ll feel like quitting because of the pain, but it will get better if you can hang in there.”

She was not wrong on any counts.

Joshua and me in 1999

And I was glad she told me that, because then when I experienced the pain inherent with first-time breastfeeding, I didn’t think, “NOOO SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG AND I SHOULD QUIT.”

I knew that it was going to hurt, but that if I kept at it, things would improve.

It did hurt, I hung in there, and things got way better.

But what if someone had told me, “Oh, breastfeeding is super easy! You’ll love it from the start, and it definitely won’t hurt.”

I’d certainly have been tempted to panic and/or quit when things got hard and painful.

Valuable, important things are often hard.

And conversely, things that are unimportant and meaningless are usually easy.

So, a life spent in pursuit of valuable things is going to be challenging. There is nothing wrong with you if you try to do something important and valuable and you find it to be hard.

In fact, it’s probably a sign that you are indeed doing something valuable.

And despite what the headlines make you think, you are not alone in finding things hard.

We are all out here in an uphill battle together, trying to

  • cook at home
  • live within our means
  • leave a smaller environmental footprint
  • get out of debt
  • insert any number of other valuable pursuits

Hard things can get a little easier

I’m not here to tell you that budgeting, cooking, DIY-ing, or any number of other frugal pursuits are easy.

But I can tell you this: often, hard things do get a little easier over time.

When you get better at cooking, it’s not as challenging.

When you get into a budgeting routine, budgeting does get easier.

When you practice repurposing leftovers, your newly gained skills make it easier.


The tl; dr (Too Long, Didn’t Read) summary of this post is:

  1. Important, valuable things in life are usually hard.
  2. Avoid discouragement/giving up by setting your expectations at a realistic level.
  3. Do not believe all those “easy” headlines. Other people find this stuff hard too.
  4. The hard things WILL get a little easier over time, so hang in there.

What’s the worst “this is easy!” promise you’ve ever come across?

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Wednesday 20th of November 2019

Oh, my goodness, YES! I think the worst "this is easy!" promise I've come across was when building an Ana White set of 2 console tables. Relative to building lots of other wood-working projects, it probably WAS easy, especially with a pneumatic nail gun, an accurate table saw, and childcare or a single napping child. I had 2 kids, no outdoor workshop (I built it in living room and painted it in the driveway), no table saw (had to do all the cuts either with a handsaw or have HD cut the wood where I could), and a hammer and cordless drill. I also had no protected outdoor space to do the painting, so I was constantly paranoid about the weather, and I couldn't get my kids to nap at the same time, so I gave up on sanding between coats (didn't want them in all that dust).

The tables turned out ok, but it definitely wasn't "easy"!

And that one of the reasons things get easier is just because you've done them 100 times and you've worked out some shortcuts, or at least know the end point and can recognize problems before they become PROBLEMS. Like why I keep timing how long it takes me to do the dishes - it always sounds/looks like a humongous job, but if I time myself, it really doesn't take longer than 20 minutes most nights to completely clean my kitchen. 30 minutes if I had an especially dish-producing recipe.

I think this goes for a lot of things in life - I've seen folks think marriage is going to be "easy" get really discouraged and quick to quit when they hit their first rough patch. I've seen it in my kids when trying to learn a new skill they've seen me or my husband do flawlessly, not at all appreciating the fact that we have literally decades of practice on them!


Wednesday 20th of November 2019

I opened a new browser window after reading your comment, and the first thing that met my eyes was an article titled, "Learning to code is easy!"


Learning a new language, whether is French or a computer coding language is just flat-out not easy.

Robyn S

Wednesday 20th of November 2019

Love this article. The headlines I detest are the ones that say “You have been doing (fill in the blank) all wrong.” I see these types of headlines all the time. It’s usually something simple and mindless like chopping vegetables. So now, we’re supposed to put brain energy on trying to “improve” even simple, every day tasks that we have been doing for years, - and we didn’t know we were doing them “wrong”!? Ughhh!


Tuesday 19th of November 2019

Favorite. Article. Ever.


Tuesday 19th of November 2019

Life in general is hard, but worth living. Coming from a 75 year old.

Jennifer Bouknight

Tuesday 19th of November 2019

Reminds me of the John Wooden quote: "If it's easy, it isn't worth a darn". Well, he didn't use darn, but same difference. I say master something, then make it easier anyway you can.

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