There is something to be said for living within our means. Or better yet… below our means. Since Andrew and I have been married, we have been in school debt, and we have just added on to our school debt since Andrew is now officially a student at Life University!
So in a way, maybe my posting on this topic is a bit hypocritical. But because Andrew and I are living outside our means, I recognize how stressful and taxing it can be. We discuss money often, I have to pray against worrying about our finances, and every now and again, Andrew and I argue about our finances. Because I see what being in debt can do to relationships (our relationships with our spouses, with our families, and with God), I realize how important it is to live below our means. Otherwise, obsessing over money (whether or not there is enough in our checking accounts, worrying over it, arguing over it) leaves a foothold for Satan in our lives. It distracts our focus from Christ, from things of eternal value.
Though we do have school debt, we do try to budget and live within our means in every other area. And nowadays, there are so many WONDERFUL resources to help us do that. The most well-known is probably Dave Ramsey’s material. In addition to the tools available online, you may want to look in to Financial Peace classes at local churches.
America’s Cheapest Family is a great book that I highly recommend. Though some of the ideas may seem a bit extreme, they are still such good ideas and tips on grocery savings and coupons, teaching kids to manage money, budgeting for a big (or small) family. Lots of step-by-step instructions!
Blissful and Domestic is one of my favorite blogs. She gives tips on how to grocery shop on a tight budget, how to utilize the library as a way to save money on essentials like magazines, DVDs, CDs, etc.), how to homeschool on a budget, decorate on a budget.
Here are some of my favorites of her posts:
- How she lives on $14,000 a year
- Cutting your grocery bill in half
- Produce on a budget
- Save money on magazines
And here are some other helpful budgeting tips:
- Cut your spending by $400 a month
- Here is a list of couponing sites, and some tips if you are new to the couponing game!
- 50 Tips to Being Frugal
Here are some things we have done in our own home:
- We tried grocery shopping only once per month, but it did not work for us simply because we did not have the space to keep a month’s worth of groceries. It worked okay in our old house, but when we moved into the rental we sacrificed our wonderful kitchen! Now it is more like once a week. But we do use cash so that we do not go over budget.
- We go to thrift stores often. The trick is to shop a lot without buying a lot. In order to snag the good finds, we have to go Goodwilling often, and many times we walk away empty-handed, but when we hit the jackpot and find something we truly need, it makes it so worth it! We got a great microwave from Goodwill, and we found our bread machine there too.
- We cancelled our cable. We literally get zero TV channels. Instead, we opted for Netflix. And what we cannot find on Netflix, we are usually able to watch for free on Hulu. We still pay for internet. With Andrew being in school, and with my now working from home, it is essential.
- This makes such a tiny difference that it almost doesn’t matter, but I unplug EVERY SINGLE appliance in the house if we are not using it. And when possible, I keep only one light in the house on at a time. If Andrew and I are home together, we sometimes have two lights on.
- UTILIZE THE LIBRARY! It is such a fun place with so many FREE resources!!!
- As far as groceries are concerned, we match our coupons with weekly sales ads. I am by no means a coupon expert, but I sure try and I sure am learning!
Having our finances in order goes hand in hand with having our spiritual lives in order.