We live quite frugally... and we have a large family... a family that eats A LOT. :) We also have 2 girls and 4 boys... and the boys tend to use up their clothes SO much faster than the girls do, which results in more expense to replace jeans with the knees worn out and other worn out clothing.
We do a lot of laundry here... we have traveled much for surgery for Son #2 several years ago... and he needed lots of medical supplies that the insurance didn't cover, and there have been many other financial drains. All that to let you know that I am being real when I say that we have made a tight budget work.
I have had many people ask me "HOW can you make it?" "What is your secret?". There are lots of little things I can, and do, tell them... things that have helped me save money, but those things ARE little things... they add up, but they aren't big. I have thought it through to try to figure out how we are able to save or not spend money and that is what I want to share in this series.
I have been asked, many times, to share how we do this, so I am starting a series on Saving Money and this is Part 1. I think sometimes when people ask me this question, they are wanting a quick 2-minute magical answer that will solve all of their money problems and allow them to buy whatever they want.
Saving money is important... my husband works hard and I do not want to squander what he makes and what God provides.
There are so many ways to save money... to make the money stretch further.... so many things that contribute to staying within our budget. Some of them are bigger than others... and some of them are very little by themselves, but all together... it works.
It's really not a magic thing... there are some methods to it, but nothing really big... and probably almost anyone can save some money with a few changes, unless they already live very frugally.
So.... the Number One way I save money is: I have decided....
To be content with what I have.
You may be thinking, "What?? I wanted practical tips... I don't want to change anything." Okay... I do understand... and I will be giving practical tips also.... but seriously... being content with what we have, really has saved us more money than ANYTHING else!
I told my husband I was writing this Saving Money Series and that this first post was to be about the #1 way I save money. I asked him what he thought number one was. He immediately said, "Going to garage sales." That certainly does save a lot... but when I told him my thought was that being content with what I have is the biggest help, he quickly agreed and was totally in favor of that as number one. I appreciated running it by him and having his approval on it in case I had missed something.
We usually have a garage sale about twice a year... and we get so many of the same people every year that we enjoy catching up a bit with them. :) They have watched our children grow up during those twice a year visits. We have tried to show Jesus to them... and God has ministered to us and to those who come. Some of our "regulars" have died, some new people have become "regulars".... but there is a sense of meeting our friends at our garage sale. :)
We had one lady who came to every garage sale... and she always bought a LOT... not such a huge dollar amount, but she bought lots of stuff. We LOVED seeing her come... and she was so friendly too... we enjoyed it. We always helped to load her car and we wondered why she bought so much... she never told us. The last time I saw her a few years ago, she also bought a lot of stuff, but she had my husband and sons help her to pack it into the trunk so her husband wouldn't find it. I encouraged her to not buy the stuff if he would disapprove, that we shouldn't try to deceive our husbands, but she laughed and said it would be fine.. he wouldn't see it right away. I felt so sad... and grieved over that. I know that many people find their happiness in things... and I suspect she is one of them. There is no real happiness in that and I suspect her marriage is in big trouble... if she is still even married... and I am sad for her and her family.
I have seen people pay WAY too much for a hoodie while with friends... because friends were putting on pressure... or the person wants to measure up to those friends I have seen people go into debt to be admired. I have seen people lose their homes and their families because of a love for things or something more than they have.
We are given many messages of looking out for ourselves..... getting what we want.... not being satisfied.
I have seen people who feel they will never be good enough because they can't afford the things other people have or go out to eat or do other entertainments. I have seen people who are perpetually disgruntled and think no one likes or respects them because they can't buy all of the latest things. What terrible lies we sometimes choose to believe!
There is something very freeing about not trying to "keep up with the Jones' " When we decide to accept what God gives us and be thankful, we can stop comparing... stop looking to see if my stuff is as good as "theirs".... we can relax and enjoy those blessings without always wanting more or better. We can stop feeling deprived.
Years ago, I started to pray about the things we needed ... and I kept a Garage Sale Prayer List . You can read it here if you like: My Garage Sale Prayer List I learned to wait... and God provided... or helped me to do without the item. :) I saw Him provide so many things that were just what I wanted or needed.... He still does that. I have also determined to wait for Him to provide... whether for free or cheap or after He allowed us to save enough money..... and I learned to be open to the idea that He might say "No" and would give me the grace to do without it.
We live in a middle class house and neighborhood... we drive vehicles that are 12-15 years old... we get
Lest this sound frivolous, we have had times years ago, where there was no money for groceries... and a bag of groceries given kept us from going hungry. Even then, the mac and cheese in the bag was made with only water... no milk or butter since we didn't have those at the time and no money either. We were thankful, although I would never choose to eat mac and cheese that way!!!
It means that I can make do with what I have... like the people who lived through the Depression, say....
Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.
I would add that we can be thankful while doing it.
So, anyway... are there areas where you could learn to be content with what you have? Maybe you already are and reading this makes you feel guilty for wanting a new stove or something you really need. By the way, my stove recently started having trouble... it has 4 burners, but the 2 large ones and 1 small one no longer work or they don't work correctly. With a large family, we are down to only 1 little burner!!! I would REALLY like to get a new stove and that is okay, especially since we also figured out that the oven isn't heating right either. Guess what is on my prayer list? :) We have used it this way for 2-3 weeks, but my husband has now said we can get a new one... we just need to find the time to shop for one. There are things that SHOULD be replaced. If you are interested, you can read about that on this post: Frugal? or Cheap?
We live in a land of plenty... and compared to most of the world, we are very rich in material things.... so why do we feel we need so much more? How many more new things would it take for us to be... happy? Those things will never make us happy.... since it always takes... a little more... and there is no real satisfaction in things. Things can be nice... and enjoyed... but they do need to be kept in perspective... we are to USE things, not LOVE them.
Food for thought... Are we thankful for what we have? Are we content?
Thank you for visiting my post today... and I will be sharing practical money saving tips in future posts. I hope you will visit again and I look forward to reading your comments. :)
Saving Money Series:
The Number One Way I Save Money!
Saving Money-Part 2-Grocery Shopping
Saving Money-Part 3-Buying Used
Intentional at Home Thursday
Wednesday Prayer Girls
Foodie Friday and Everything Else
Home Sweet Home
No Rules Weekend Party
Hearts For Home
Idea Box Thursday
Thriving On Thursday
Work In Progress Wednesday
Hump Day Happenings
Wake Up Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday-O My Heartsie Girls
Party Under the Big Top
Talented Tuesday Blog Party