A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned

It is Sunday evening, I have been writing this in my head for about a month and then I wrote a whole bunch down and couldn’t get it to flow with what I wanted to say so it is now really late and I do apologize. What I want you take from my message this week is that it is admirable to live within your means. Overspending at Christmas, vacation, birthdays and other festivities is a way to let the devil into your life because you are not using the fruit of self control. I do find it ironic that I am writing about self control because that is another fruit that I have yet to fully mature myself. With that said, I am not an over spender, we all have unique abilities and one of mine is to run a house on what we have.
My husband loves to tease me and one of his teases is when we go into any store I like the pricey items; I will admit that I do have expensive taste; but I did point out to him that I don’t buy it. I like everyone, have a list of wants taller than a house but I do not use money we don’t have to get those wants. We use our credit card for earning credit; which means paying it off as fast as possible, maybe not every month but we get it down and it has proven itself useful because we now have decent credit.
As we move into this holiday season I want to remind you that gifts are only good if they do not put you back the rest of the year. Our Lord does not want us in debt, and if we have a debt we should pay it back quickly. I hear on the news and in polls that most Americans suffer from massive debt and statistically more people are filing for bankruptcy than ever before. This is so distressing to me, and I guess it is because people I love had to do this a few years ago and I saw how much they suffered. I also saw where they made mistakes and have done my best not to repeat them. They loved to swipe the card, so I held off getting a credit card for as long as possible. When we got one I made sure my husband and I were on the same page when we got it. I also made sure that we started with a low amount so if we did go crazy it wouldn’t be $10,000 crazy. I can say with confidence today that getting that piece of plastic has been a good thing and not a destructive thing. My fear was we would abuse it and because we had that fear it kept us in check.
My wish is that you really think of your budget before going and spending this holiday season and look at the reality of your situation with clear eyes. Try to find ways to cut back on your current expenses. For my household we don’t have cable, I have a home phone and my husband has a prepaid cell phone, no internet (which means no Netflix ect), we don’t use our dryer, we use plug in heaters/fans, and no salon appointments and we thrive in spite of these accommodations. I also buy in bulk; the Pumpkin is going to need diapers for at least another year, the dog will always need to eat, we will continue to use trash bags, light bulbs, toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo/soap/conditioner, and we are still going to eat. These things and probably more I buy in the biggest quantities I can find. Next year, I may even get a Costco card. I won’t lie, to do this you will need extra cash; but you will rarely find yourself running out of these items. We just spent $200 and we will have diapers, wipes, dog food, light bulbs and toilet paper to last the rest of the year and this was in the middle of October. Money well spent if you ask me.
So what if you find yourself unable to save to buy in bulk and buy Christmas presents? I have made a list of homemade presents that I have used in the past that have gone over really well.
1) Coupon book of chores or activities for children or parents (free mowing or hour of painting ect)
2) Photo albums
3) Reasons I love you (gave this to my dad, he cried when he read it)
4) Scrapbooks with adventures you had that year
5) Journals
6) Memorizing Scripture, Someone’s favorite poem, piece of music
7) A hobby your good at (either lessons, or the art, if you painted give a picture you did)
8) Dressing up used things
9) Ornaments (clay is easy to make or cheap to buy)
10) Homemade cards (pinterest has awesome ideas for every occasion)
Please, also remember if you do this that it is only the first year and it is the toughest one; next year if you buy in bulk all year long it will be much smoother. Also, the excuse that you have no room for bulk items is used a lot but let me tell you my house is small every bedroom has a warm body in it and I make it work; just utilize the space and the equipment you already have. Buying more things to store more things is not the answer; you have things that can be switched around and used for another purpose.
I made it clear I want you thinking of next year’s budget while buying presents but I also want to pitch some ideas to think about for cutting back next year too. I already do these:
1) I make my own laundry soap (it is easy, cheap and quick)
2) I use probiotics on my children to keep their immune system in top shape
3) I buy products that have many uses like Hydrogen Peroxide (stain remover, sanitizer…)
4) I buy in bulk all the things that I will be using (toothbrushes, diapers, wipes, floss, toilet paper)
5) I save all my change (right now I have over $90 in change just from saving it all year)
6) I air dry my cloths (saves in cleaning, electricity, and for me time and hassle and guilt)
7) I reuse tissue paper
8) I buy my children cloths to big so they can be worn for more than one season
9) I check for sales and shop around since I am by many different stores
10) I buy used stuff over new stuff such as furniture, cloths, media
11) I pay off the credit card as soon as possible and try not to use it
12) I borrow from friends and family things I don’t need all the time (appliances, yard tools)
13) I tithe
14) I run errands in a circle to not waste gas and I run errands once a day
15) I buy clearance
16) I start Christmas shopping in like April (I didn’t pay full price for a single present this year)
17) I buy summer cloths in the winter and winter in the summer
18) I buy the expensive carpet cleaners (with tiny children a Shark will last over a Dirt Devil)
19) I am proactive in my finances trying to think ahead instead of being in the moment
20) I try to make as many things as possible instead of buying it (curtains, gifts, cards, costumes)
I think the most important thing on this list is buying items that are used in several ways. You can find lots of homeopathic remedies that have more than one use. It is expensive up front but it lasts a long time and I can attest that I and the children have not been sick, so if I worked I would not have missed any work; save and save. I know our society pushes going to the doctor for every cough, and please don’t mistake my words, if I felt I couldn’t cure my children or what I did made no difference; yes I would make an appointment or go to a hospital. I am only saying that I am confident in my abilities and what God has given us to cure ourselves; running to a doctor’s office where every other person there sick, with who knows what, for me isn’t my first response. For example, frankincense is a wonder skin remedy, it also calms nerves, can be used in my laundry soap, headaches, immune builder, allergies, and more. I bought I because it keeps wrinkles away and then found that it did so much more, it is $30 a bottle but has many more uses than if I bought six different things for what I listed, which probably would have cost more than $30 and more than likely wouldn’t work as well. Like I said save and save.
There is one more thing I would like to address, I do believe that we should know where a budget stands at any given point; but by no means do I condemn having a bit of spontaneous fun. It maybe a tight month but you haven’t eaten out in 6 months; by all means go. We are supposed to enjoy life, and it is easier to enjoy life when you’re not bound in every way, shape, and form to “the budget” in my opinion. My family has done this in a responsible way and we are better for it. But the key word there is responsible, it wasn’t every week and it wasn’t even every month, it was spontaneous. I was also aware we could bounce back, and it wouldn’t be hard to climb back up the latter once the bill week rolled around. I have the privilege of knowing where the money goes for the majority of it, and I do think that is a blessing for me, I enjoy knowing that all bills are taken care of. I will admit it is a pain sometimes but overall that pain is worth it to set aside time every month for the paying and the recording of the bills.
My main goal here is to help you to be mindful and not a victim, many times we create ourselves to be victims because no one has told us otherwise. Money is the root of all evil; and I believe that is because it affects each and every person regardless of circumstance. Whether you are poor or wealthy, money management is required to be a competent adult. I always tell my oldest son the Bean that my job is to make him a competent adult; responsible, trustworthy, diligent, valiant; these things do not appear unless they are taught. I have said before it is much easier to talk to a child then a teenager because they are listening. Just today I was astounded at how much he listened and retained what I have told him while he recounted to an acquaintance Bible stories in detail. I believe even if your parents were poor money managers, you do not have to live in their defeat. You have the ability to do better by educating yourself, asking people who have been there, and holding yourself accountable. One flaw I have is that we have not been good savers, next year I will talk early and challenge myself to start saving. Just recently I started doing the math on what it would take for us to retire with nothing changing and that math worked out to $209 every month until I am 60 years old; which is the minimum but doable for us. That means cutting back even more than we already are doing. I am not discouraged by that though; I believe that we will end up with more than enough come the end of our working careers because “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:8. I hope that you come away from this message with new hope in your finances; we all can improve in this feat. If you have any more suggestions for cutting back or homemade presents please put them in the comment section below; you may just help another person struggling. God Bless you in your finances. Jamie*

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