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Joy is based on what we know to be true.  Joy is to be considered though it may not be perceived.

So I’m going to be real honest here.  Put myself out there.  All on the line.  Ok, here goes:

My family lives on less than $2000 a month. 

Whaat? Is that even possible?

And get this; sometimes I buy iced coffee at Dunkin Donuts.  But most of the time I just make it at home. Did you catch that? That was practically “tip #1”.

So I’m not super-creative, super-thrifty, super-anything.  I almost despise superlative titles (I’d be a little hypocrytical if I completely despised them, right?) I am a very “go-with-the-flow”, “what will be, will be”, “it is what it is”, “whatever you think” kind of girl.

That being said, I’d say my lifestyle is very attainable, budget and all.  For most people.  There are actually a lot of things I’ve attempted (or written down to attempt) that just didn’t work for me.  Like using washcloths instead of disposable baby wipes.  Yeah, that lasted 4 days.  Maybe.

I really think what you deem as priority and where you obtain your joy are the keys.  And balance and compromise.  Shopping is very comforting, and I don’t have to tell any woman how wonderful it feels to put on a new shirt or buy a pair of shoes.   But these happy occasions are only temporary “fixes”.  It’s fine to enjoy the good things in life; God gave us this world to enjoy!  But to solely find your happiness in the things of this life?  You’re missing the point.

{I Timothy 6:6-19}

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.  Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time–he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

This isn’t advice, or an instruction manual, or a “how-to”.  I just simply want to give you a glimpse into this part of my life.

{what we do}

  • First of all, we are blessed with no debt.  I know this obviously isn’t attainable for everyone, but not having student loans or minimum payments to make every month is one of the key reasons we are able to live so frugally.
  • We do not use our credit cards for anything other than vacation and emergencies.  This way, we spend less than what we make.
  • Not included in our monthly bills, is a car payment.  Our car has been paid off for about 3 years.  But it’s 11 years old.  Compromise.
  • We have a TV, but no service.  We rent movies from Redbox (more often than I’d like to admit) and I buy Sesame Street DVDs when I find them for $5.  When you have an 18-month-old, you don’t need new programming.  If you do, there’s always the library; which I am very proud to say we have been making use of the past few weeks!
  • Our food menu is pretty much the same every week.  They say that if you want to lose weight, you should eat similar foods every day.  The same can pretty much be said for your budget.  (An exception here would be if you are one of those “extreme couponers” and get like $200 worth of food for 80 cents and can make meals out of your bargains.)
  • We do not eat a lot of meat in our diet.  Our protein intake comes mostly from eggs.  I buy either chicken or ground turkey once a week and get about 2-1/2 meals from it.  Here’s a sample of my weekly grocery list:  almond milk, bananas, strawberries, apples, grapes, yogurt, bread, coffee, coffee creamer.  Every other week: cereal, eggs, juice, 2 lb chicken -or- 1 lb ground turkey, frozen or canned veggies.  Once a month: lunch meat, peanut butter, block cheese or slices, snack foods (like crackers or goldfish).
  • No gym membership.  When we moved into our house, we cut this expense.  It saved us about $30 a month (diaper money).  We do have other ways to stay fit and active:  2-story house; hello stair-climber!  Yard work, walks to the park or my brother’s house (within 1/2 mile), an 18-month old (seriously, Google “working out with your baby)…you just have to look around and spend some time online and find something that works for you.  I’ve seen workouts you do during commercial breaks!  If you are motivated to get in shape, a lack of a gym membership should not hinder you.
  • Give away your stuff.  Or sell it.  Or both.  The less stuff you have cluttering your life and the looser the grip you allow money to have on you; the happier you will be and the less inclined you will be to replace it with more stuff.  I guarantee it.  We had a garage sale last summer, and if it hadn’t been the worst 3 days of my life, I’d do it again.  That said, I’ve made several runs to our local Salvation Army and a Pregnancy Crisis Center since then.  I just put stuff in boxes in my garage and after a couple weeks, I don’t even know what’s in them anymore.  You really think I need that stuff? Nope.
  • I wish we did, but we do not eat out very often.  Like ever.  My husband and I could really use more date nights, but our budget is happier when we just stay home.  Here’s what we do instead:  Redbox.  Hello, movie night!  Homemade iced coffee.  Just put any leftover coffee from the morning in a container in the fridge.  It stays good in there for a while (this is what we did at the gourmet coffee shop I used to work at).  When you’re in the mood for some DnD or Starbucks, just pull out your chilled java, add cream and sugar, stir, top with ice and a bendy straw.  Voila.  Or put some in a blender with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.  Light a candle after you put baby to bed.  Or when you’re reading.  Or doing dishes.  Instant mood enhancer/calm inducer.  I’m not sure why, but it took me reading an article and some writer telling me to light my candles before I actually did it.  That’s what they’re there for!
  • I don’t think I’ve bought a gift bag in years.  Or tissue paper.  Save them.  It’s worth it.
  • I only use coupons for things that I actually use.  And I buy basics when they’re on sale, even if I’m already stocked up.  If you’re spending less money on something you don’t use anyway, you’re spending more money than you would otherwise.  Ooh, 10 things of toilet bowl cleaner for $5.  Or $5 for razors because I found a $1 off coupon for the brand I actually use.  Which is the better deal?
  • Be low-maintenance in your priorities.  If anyone wants to treat me to a pedicure…that would be amazing.  I’ve had 2 in my life.

{what I’ve attempted}

  • Wash cloths instead of disposable baby wipes.  Lasted 4 days.
  • No-poo (shampoo free).  I used a mixture of baking soda and water for shampoo and lemon juice and water for conditioner.  I think this would have worked better with my pixie-cut hairstyle than my current long hair.  Lasted 6 days.  My husband loved it, though.
  • Drying racks instead of using the dryer.  Lasted 3 weeks.

{what I’d like to do}

  • Start a garden.  We are halfway there and have actually started a compost pile!
  • Line-dry my clothes.  I’m definitely willing to give this another go.  I stopped last time because it was just so impractical with a newborn.  And then with a roller.  Then a crawler.  Then walker.  Now toddler.  And in a short time, throw in a newborn again.  When I have 2 kids who can help hang clothes (or occupy each other while I do it); then.
  • Make my own laundry detergent.
  • Make even more use of our public library.
  • Walk more.

{what I splurge on}

  • Whole bean coffee.
  • A thermostat set at 77.  I am 9 months pregnant (justification).
  • Ice cream (see above).
  • The dollar section at Target.  (Although this saves me money too:  I buy packs of blank note cards whenever I find them,)
  • Dinner and dessert when we have guests.  It’s called “hospitality” and you shouldn’t put a price on it.
  • Giving away cash that I happen to have on me, to whomever the Lord leads me to give it.  Don’t even think twice.

I cannot end this post without emphasizing that you cannot and should not live this life alone.  God has used our church family to meet our needs many times…from buying us diapers, to clothes for Jovie, maternity clothes for me, grocery store gift cards, etc.  I must take these into account and give credit where credit is due: to God who feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field.  He alone sustains and will continue to sustain us.

Blessed is He Who remains faithful when we are faithless, because He cannot deny Himself.

 

Were any of these things helpful to you?  What do you do to save money?  Are you more likely to try something if it will benefit your health or the environment as well as save you money?  Have you thought about making budget decisions in light of God’s command of stewardship and warning against being a “lover of money”?

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