“She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” Proverbs 31:18
After reading my devotional this morning, I was Facebooking around and saw this picture:
I found that amusing, especially in light of the focus of the verse from Proverbs 31. Speaking less about our government now, and more about the average American family, we like our credit cards too much. Our (my husband and myself) biggest financial “problem” now is frivolous spending. Thank God, we have money to pay all our bills, and a house to live in with a little extra. The little extra is where we tend to get carried away. Now, don’t misunderstand me, we aren’t spending addicts by any means, and our finances are good. I simply feel that we indulge our wants too much; we’re a little spoiled, if you will. And there’s always room for improvement as far as I’m concerned.
God calls us to be good stewards of our resources. And at this point in my life, I’m really evaluating where I would like to end up in the next 5 years, the next 10 years, the next 30 years, and so on…
14″Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16
What am I going to do with my “long life”? How am I going to impact the kingdom of God? Well, I’m starting with this blog… When I started writing it, only my mom and sister were reading it. (Thanks guys, btw for your love and support) And as person by person reads and follows this blog, I’m blown away by my chance to witness to complete strangers about the power of living life not just for today (which is the existential and popular thing to do today), but for eternity in Christ. Anyway, as I was saying, at this point in my supposedly long life, I’m at a really beautiful place where I can look around me and honestly say that my basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter are being met. But at some point in the future, (not near future, mom) I would like to have children and a family of my own. The sheer weight of that level of responsibility scares me silly at age 21. I figure when kids stop seeming scary and start seeming exciting, then I’ll know I’m ready to be a mom. Until that point, it’s my responsibility and my husband’s responsibility to make sure that we build a financial, marital and spiritual environment in our home that would be conducive to supporting and raising a family.
That being said, my goal for the month of February and March (and so on and so forth, but I’m starting small and working my way forward) is to balance our family budget and to also drastically decrease the “frivolous” spending that goes on.
My quick 5 part plan for doing so is as follows:
- Coupon Shopping. For all of you who already do, I would love some pointers! For those of you who do not yet, I would like to extend to you this website: www.couponsthingsbydede.com/ (Thank you, Miss Jaymie. 🙂 ) It’s a wonderful starting point for finding coupons and it’s super easy to navigate her site. You can search certain products, or print whole sheets of coupons! And of course there’s always the Sunday news paper as well.
- Menu Planning. I highly recommend it. It makes your life so much easier when you don’t have to frantically figure out what you’re going to make for dinner each night, and it definitely helps you to only buy what you need for each recipe, which brings me to my next point…
- List Making. Alright, rookies, and people who think it takes too long; Keep a post-it or note pad and pen by the fridge or somewhere in your kitchen. Every time you find you’re running low on something, write it down. This eliminates hours of going through cabinets and the fridge. It’s like being a good student; don’t try to cram it all in to a 20 minute mega study session. Do a little each day and try to keep at it and you’ll stay much more organized in the long run and way less stressed out. ONLY BUY WHAT’S ON THE LIST! that’s the key.
- Shop Strategically. This may be one of my biggest trip-ups. If you know you are going to be grocery shopping, eat a meal before you go. This really helps curb the temptation to pick up every frozen pizza, or chocolate bar you see in the store. Also, try to plan ahead enough to not go to the store right on pay-day (for most military families I know, it’s the 15th and the 30th.) Try going the day before or the day after to avoid crowds, or if possible go during the week as opposed to the weekends. Avoiding large crowds will help you retain your sanity, patience, and keep your stress levels and blood pressure low. 🙂
- Conserve Trips. This is where having a progressive list that you add to consistently comes in handy. If you are able to get all you need in one outing or trip, then you are also saving money on gas. I know a lot of moms who go run their errands while their kids are at school so that they can kill two birds with one stone, so to speak; they can focus on their shopping because they don’t have children to corral, and they are already out and about so they don’t have to make multiple trips, making things more efficient.
Those were just 5 quick tips to slimming your budget. I look forward to hearing about your money-saving tips, as well as discovering and sharing more of my own. Happy Budget Slashing, everyone.