Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How we've been making our money stretch

After telling you that I had a money-saving tip published in the latest issue of All You, I wrote down some other ways that Q and I have been stretching our bucks.

Some of the things I will mention may not be new to you, but perhaps some may spark your interest and help you and your family with your finances.

First of all, I wanted to share a verse with you that helps me remember who is in control of everything we own, including our income. Philippians 4:19 says, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." This verse promises that God will give us all that we need, not necessarily all that we want. We know that our God is able to do "exceedingly and abundantly all that we ask or think." At times when we're down to the last bit of food or gas in the car, God works in wonderful ways to take care of us.

Now, here's our list, starting with the two most important things:

1. We give our tithe to the Lord. Ten percent of our income is given back to God. Before we do any spending, we place our tithe in an envelope and place it in the offering plate at church. As Christians, we are to do this unto the Lord.  Leviticus 27:30 says, "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's: it is holy unto the Lord." I love this next verse because it promises blessings if we follow God's command. Malachi 3:10 says, Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

2. We give offerings of time and money to ministries around the world. Above our ten percent, we give an additional percentage to world-wide missions. In some churches it is called, "faith promise." The money we give helps missionaries buy Bibles and other tools for evangelism. It's so encouraging to know that we are helping lost souls come to Christ. Our church also has a missions closet where we can donate items that missionaries can use. When they come to visit our church, they can go into the closet and choose things they need. Even though Q is a pastor, both he and I have spent extra time with people here in our town as well as on mission's trips. Time in evangelizing and encouraging others is also an eternal investment besides the money that we give. II Corinthians 9:7 says, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."

Some of you are probably wondering how we make it after giving our tithes and offerings. My basic answer is that God takes care of us when we're faithful to Him. And remember, He owns everything anyway, right? We are only stewards of the things we have on this earth. Our eternal home will not have these material things that will some day turn to dust. But, while on this earth, we can be wise with the money God gives us.

3. We use the envelope system. Each paycheck, my husband takes out the cash that we need for food, personal supplies, household supplies and gas. We don't have a budget for clothing or gifts, since we don't need it that often (plus I make cards and gifts a lot...more on that below). There's a certain amount that we put in for each category. What ever is in those envelopes is mine to use until the next pay check. If I run out of it, that's all I spend. So, no credit card or even debit card usage (except for emergencies!).

4. I use coupons for so many things. Since we don't get the newspaper, I get a lot of my coupons on-line. Our main grocery store, King Sooper's, also sends me coupons in the mail. For certain name-brand items that I can't part with (like my contact lens solution, Renu), I go directly to their website frequently to see if I can get a coupon. A couple of my favorite coupon sites are coupons.com and couponmom.com.

5. I'm learning about special deals and sales. I've so appreciated other bloggers who spend time scoping out deals for the rest of us. My favorites are moneysavingmom.com and thethriftymama.com. They give everyone the scoop on freebies and coupon deals. Another great site is mygrocerydeals.com. You just write in what you're top grocery stores are, and they look out for deals for you. They send you an e-mail telling you what's on sale at your favorite stores. Having been a teacher for a long time, I also learned to ask office supply and bookstores if they gave discounts. Some places give a teacher discount card to use; others require an i.d. badge.

6. I'm learning to use and reuse items I already have. I've stopped using paper towels and use rags instead. I wash plastic storage bags that were used with non-greasy foods. Sometimes I make substitutions when cooking. If I don't have a certain kind of cheese, it's okay to use what's already on hand. Why make an extra trip to the grocery store for one thing?

7. I've been making my own mixes and staples. This is the tip that I wrote in All You Magazine. I've been making my own bread, croutons, tortillas, taco seasoning mix, baking mix and sweetened condensed milk. Some of the recipes can be found on my blog and others can be found on momadvice.com.

8. We are benefiting from fresh produce from our garden. While we learn from experienced gardeners, we've been gaining fresh food to eat. We've already enjoyed rhubarb and radishes. I hope that the next place we move to will allow us to have a bigger space in which to grow our own vegetables. 

9. I sign up to get freebies almost every day. Everything from food samples to books and clothing, freebie sites are wonderful! I've been able to get things for us to use, as well as for friends and family. My favorite site is mysavings.com, but I've recently been checking out shop4freebies.com and freestuff4free.com. I've been a member of mypoints.com and have been able to get free gift cards just by checking retailer's sites. Almost every day, I get at least one e-mail from them asking me to check a certain store's site. Just for checking, I get a few points added to my total. Another way to get points is to purchase items within their list of retailers. Just for taking a few minutes to click on these e-mails, I've been able to accumulate points to get a few gift cards already.

10. We buy clothing and household items at thrift stores. I grew up doing this, so it wasn't a new thing for me to continue this when I got married. The deals can be incredible some times! We love Goodwill and Saver's, which both offer extra deals on holidays (50%). Our favorite though is Saver's 99 cent color day, which is every Monday. When you walk into the store, they'll have a certain color that will be on sale. Whatever item is that color, you pay just 99 cents!

11. I spend less for the thing I love to do. And that is--crafting! Did you know that you can get on mailing lists for Hobby Lobby, Michael's and Joann's and they'll send you coupons via snail mail or e-mail? This is how I get to enjoy making things, because craft supplies can be expensive. I make cards and gifts for family and friends, saving lots of money. I can make things personalized, too, which the receiver always loves.

12. We walk almost everywhere. One blessing that we have is that we live right across from our church and school, so we walk when the weather is nice. We've saved lots of gas money this way. My old car hasn't always been reliable lately, so I've found a shortcut to College Avenue, one of our main streets in town, so that I can go grocery shopping or to the thrift store. I also get in some extra exercise, which doesn't cost anything. 

13. We turn off the lights to save on electricity. Seriously, every little bit helps! We turn off the lights in rooms that we're not using. It's also good to not have the air conditioner running all the time (so hard during the summer though)!

14. We've been organizing our stuff. Before our decision to move, I'd already been working to get our place neat and clean. It's so important to organize so that you know where everything is. And, if we know where everything is, we won't waste time at the store buying that unnecessary item that you already have...somewhere.

15. We're learning how to generate extra income. Many people have loved getting to be a part of Etsy. I've thought a lot about it, but with our move right now, haven't plunged into this. But, I have found a couple places where I can turn our old stuff into cash. The sites are cash4books.com and ckybooks.com. All you do is type in the ISBN on the back of a book to see if they'll buy it from you. If they like it, then they pay the shipping for you to send the book and you get some cash! I've got a short stack ready to go with both of these companies. 

Hope this list is a help to you. Oh, and one more thing--Q and I ask each other a few questions before we want to buy something. We do this even at the thrift store, because although it may be a good deal, it may not be the best for us at the time.

Ask these questions before you buy:

1. Do I really need it?
2. Will it have a "home" after we purchase it?
3. Does it have high value for our lives right now?

Finally, remember that God is our Great Provider. Pray before you go shopping and ask Him to give you the best deal. Thank and praise Him for providing your needs. 

We have a great God, don't we?

1 comment:

Cheri said...

That's great to know about Saver's having a 99 cent day!