Thursday, July 15, 2010

Living Simply

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Dan and I have never really been enamored with any of the material trappings around us. I think it's just the way we are wired. We both feel that all of our money is the Lord's and that we are simply stewards of what he has given us.

One thing that we are committed to is tithing 10% of all of our income. I do have to say that this often hurts. We live on one income. We don't have a lot of extras. We don't get to do big, fancy vacations. There are many things that our children do without. We could have more if we didn't tithe. Yet, we feel that this is something that God wants from his believers. Dan is ruthless and tithes on everything, even monetary gifts people give us as well as every extra job he gets (tutoring, weddings, funerals).

The money we give each month could definitely go a long way towards making things easier for us. It would probably cover our electric, oil, and telephone bill combined. We live in one of the most expensive counties in New York State. However, when we are faithful in doing what the Lord wants, He is also faithful to us. He always provides for us. We have never gone hungry. Our bills are paid each month. There always seems to be just what we need when we need it. It's amazing sometimes how that works.

Even though we know the Lord will provide all our needs and some of our wants we still try to live a very simple lifestyle. Now that there is an economic crunch going on we probably don't feel it the way others do because we have not been dependent on the frills.

Some ways that we live simply are....

► We live relatively debt free. We were totally debt free until we did buy a used mini-van because my children got too big to be crammed in the backseat of a little Honda Civic. However, we have no credit cards and don't buy on credit. It took us years to get out from under that yoke of slavery and we have no desire to get back into it.

► No television. We don't pay for cable and get no stations without it. We do have a DVD/VCR so we can watch movies.

► We get our movies for free from our inter-library loan system. We don't pay for them.

► We have internet on only one computer and pay for high speed internet service which for us is $14 per month. For those of you who think we live under a rock because we aren't glued to the t.v. set for news, we do read the news online. However, we aren't inundated with negativity from the media 24/7.

► Vacations are often spent doing local trips. We just don't have money for big vacations and refuse to go into debt to go on one. We try to find fun, inexpensive places to go.

► Magazines, newspapers, books we get free from the library.

► We live very frugally. I've done enough posts on how we do that so you should all get the idea.

► We try to combine trips. It's hard with Dan's job. In the past 7 years, we racked up 180,000 miles on our car and 90% of that was for church related business. We don't receive a car allowance from the church so we have to eat it. However, what we do try to do is combine errands with the trips. For example, if he is visiting someone in the next town over, Dan will often run to the post office or library so that we are not making an extra trip. If I know I have to take the children to a doctor's appointment, I'll try to combine a stop at the store in that town. It doesn't always work, but we try.

► God has blessed us with friends who do give us a lot of hand-me-downs. I've hardly had to buy Emily anything in eleven years.

► We follow the philosophy: use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. That goes a long way towards living a simple life.

► Trac phones. We don't have an expensive cell phone plan. We purchase minutes for our trac phones and use them for emergencies only. People survived without a cell phone for years and I figure it won't kill us to not have one now!

► Know your prices and get the best bang for your buck. I've done enough posts on shopping that I don't have to repeat this. I know my prices. I know which store has the rock bottom price and that's where I shop.

► Enjoy the simple things in life. I think this is the biggest key to living simply. Do you have to have the best? Do you have to go to fancy places to enjoy yourself? Can you enjoy and appreciate the simple things? Attitude goes a long, long way to being able to live this way.

I know there are probably a million other ways we live simply, but these are what came to mind right away. I would encourage you to see what you can do to trim costs. God wants us to care for the resources he has given us and the best way to do that is to spend wisely.