I thought I would start dedicating Thursdays to talking about ways to be thrifty. I'm sure you've all noticed but prices are going up, up, up and incomes are staying the same or decreasing. It's hard to make ends meet but it is possible. So each Thursday I'll dedicate a post to how to be frugal in this economy.
Now I'm going to share some personal information but I think it's necessary because I know that the things that have helped me most in this area is being able to see how someone else saves but also realizing what their exact resources are to do this with. Otherwise I keep thinking that they must have more money or something that makes their circumstances different. I know some will be in a better financial position than we are and others may be worse, but at least this will give you a starting point to look at.
I don't work outside the home so my income is a big fat ZERO! I do sell aprons and such but that is so sporadic and averages maybe $40-$60 per month if I'm lucky.
One thing that works in our favor is that we don't pay any utilities or mortgage because we live in the church parsonage and they pick that up. One thing that is a disadvantage is that we live in one of the most expensive counties in the U.S. Things cost an arm and a leg here compared to other parts of the country.
Dan's take home pay between his two jobs after taxes are taken out and we pay our tithe is $1,600.
► Our monthly bills come to $500 (includes tax bill we are paying off from last year, dental bill, car payment, car insurance, internet bill, and a few other minor bills).
► Gas has been averaging $500 per month for two cars because we have to drive so far to get anywhere. Then on top of that Stephen started a job which requires us driving him 20 miles one way 5 times per week.
► My food bill (includes toiletries, household items, paper goods) averages about $600 per month.
So that leaves me with ZERO extra for clothing, vacations, entertainment, college funds, etc.
So what do we do?
FLIP OUT? WORRY? COMPLAIN? WRING OUR HANDS?
We have learned over the years that the Lord has been faithful in meeting all of our needs as we are faithful in serving Him. It seems every time we need something it is provided before we even ask. We've had bags of clothing given to us. I get fresh eggs every week from a couple in our church. Recently a friend gave us 70 lbs. of fresh ground whole wheat flour. Another friend sent me a book out of the blue that she thought I'd like. Dan has gotten asked to do funerals for the town on a regular basis which provides us with extra income. I've sold aprons, bread, etc. that seems to provide us with just enough for a few extras here and there.
It all seems to work out. The Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills so if you are trusting Him and doing your best to be frugal, do you really think He won't provide?
I think the first key is being faithful in giving back to Him what is rightfully His. If we are faithful in tithing, then He will be faithful in meeting our needs. It's sad to me though that people can get so tightfisted with money that the Lord provided in the first place! We really can be like spoiled children at times, can't we?
"It's mine!" "I worked hard for it!" "I don't want to share!" LOL!!!!!
Yet, if everything we own has been provided by the Lord shouldn't we be willing to open up our fist and let Him use it as He sees fit?
So my first tip this week is to be generous! Don't let financial concerns make you become stingy, miserly people. Practice generosity to the Lord and others and He will be generous to you!
The second tip is to see where you can cut costs. Do you get a daily newspaper? Perhaps you could change it to just the Sunday paper and get your news elsewhere. Purchase magazines? Get the from the library for free. Spend a lot for cable television? Cut back on the amount of channels or GASP! Get rid of the television. ;-) Go to the movies regularly (1-2 times per month)? Cut back and go less or wait and get the movie at the library when it comes out on DVD. Spend a ton on books? Check them out at the library. Gas prices making you crazy? Ride a bike or carpool or combine trips to use less gas.
There are so many things that we can cut back on that we take for granted. My budget is EXTREMELY tight as you can see, but I do know that I can work harder at cutting back on the food items. A few of our bills will be finished this year which will free up some extra money. Also, when Dan does get a gift or a funeral, we try to throw it in the savings so that we have some money when an emergency comes up.
There are so many more things I could talk about but I don't want to write a book in one post! Let's work hard to be thrifty and save money where we can.