Rebecca over at Renaissance (her lovely blog is in my sidebar) has inspired me to link up to her Financial Fridays. The whole idea of writing, thinking, and being accountable with one's finances can be rather daunting. I mean...it's personal. Most of us don't like to be "out there" with our money for fear that people will either think we have too much or too little...they may judge how we use it or think that we are "holier than thou" because of extreme couponing or what have you. I never suffer from any of these worries...(no, just ALL of them and then some.)
Let me start at the beginning.
Zac and I use to be completely debt free. Neither of us think that people are "less than" or not wise with their money IF they are in debt - but we have always wanted to be even if that meant being really super duper uber frugal. We just wanted the freedom of not owing - of not losing money in interest on credit cards.
Then life happened...poverty happened...kids happened (DIAPERS)...medical bills happened...bed bugs happened...autism happened...moving happened. Lots happened - and we got into debt without a way to get out. I guess compared to the national average of debt we are at the bottom...or so they say - but it's still too much for my brain. I can't STAND making credit card payments - it makes me feel like I'm not doing what I could be doing...like sponsoring more children or giving my kids piano lessons or saving for a down payment on a house or supporting more missionaries. I just feel restrained by debt.
This year our goal is to pay of the last half of our credit card. We have no car payments at present, we are renting....so that just leaves the last bit on our card from moving cross country and paying for Tristan's evaluation last year. We have all or our medical bills paid of finally (knock on wood.)
In order to pay off our debt...this year we are going to try our best to tighten our belts and never lay down the Credit card - just use our debit cards. Along with this, we are going to try to not spend. When we do, we are going to attempt to get the best deal possible on whatever it is we need. We want to be thrifty buying gifts, enjoying eating out when we have a coupon or an excellent deal - but basically...no splurging.
For us, what use to be our way of life has now become a novelty. What?! Not use our card when we get such excellent rewards?!!!! Yes. This is why. Sometimes I buy things intending to pay them off with the next pay check, and it doesn't happen because unexpected things come up and we aren't able to pay the $40 bucks or the $100.00 bucks or whatever amount it is. If we can't pay for it, we shouldn't have it.
But Alyssa, you are just putting guilt on yourselves. There is nothing wrong with a little bit of debt. God understands that we live in a world of needing good credit and you can't have good credit if you don't have a credit score...and you need credit cards and loans to get a good credit score. God doesn't care about your money. Christians don't need to be THAT serious about the whole money issue...it's such a small issue.
Well, actually .... I'm not sure how many people are aware of this...but in the Bible there are 500 verses on prayer, 500 on faith, and....wait for it....
verses on money.
That tells me this is real...this is important...how we handle our money (no matter how little or how much we have) is important. Handling money WELL...is wise.
So, here's how we do finances on Fridays. Basically it's just a blog post of different ways we have saved during the week...goals...whatever we want to say but it's about us and our money and our habits.
You may wonder what the fruit pictures have to do with this. It's simply, my habit. My expensive habit - I'm a juicer. My first goal for the month of February is to cut our grocery bill by 20 dollars a week. This may seem small...but it's a good starting place for me. I already don't spend very much for a family of 6 - I could do a little better I think if I would start planning our all of my week's menu again - and if I would just stick with carrot/apples/kale for the juicer. I have gotten back into couponing but I'm not compromising my personal convictions on what it is that I want to feed my family. I could have bought 5 frozen pizzas for my family for under 10 bucks today with coupons...I didn't buy any. We are not going to eat crap. I would rather give up something else then to give up healthy foods.
So....with all that said...here we go: Our Finances on Friday (well...Thursday)
- I have been wanting to decorate the boys room FINALLY after living here for a year and a half. I found some cute stuff on etsy and was rather tempted to purchase some prints - but then realized that would be spending MONEY so I drew and painted the pictures myself with paper, pencils, paints, and a canvas I already had on hand. They aren't perfect and not what my perfectionist brain would LIKE to have in the boy's room...but they are cute and they work and they were basically free.
- found a green frame at Ikea for $2.50 .... that was the total cost out of pocket for 3 pieces of art.
- We have also been wanting to make Trin's room a little more "big girlish" - I just switched stuff around in the house to meet the need. I let her have my black and white pillow, our old white duvet, I painted her an aspen tree painting for her wall...and we bought a set of pillowcases with fairies on them at the thrift store for .79 . We are looking for a desk...I think I've been to every thrift store around, searched Craigslist and the clearance sections of ALL stores - no luck. We will keep looking - my budget for the desk is $20.00 so when I find it...I find it. When I don't, she goes without. No biggie.
- I printed and used at least $30.00 bucks in coupons this week (all of the coupons I used were for things on my list.)
- I did an online survey that I found on my grocery receipt and it entered me into a sweepstakes and I got extra fuel points credited to my rewards card
- bought two loaves of organic bread in the close out section
- free redbox rental
- made the kids snacks this week instead of buying boxed items
- had our kids eat what we were eating (a novelty idea for a family with sensory issues and autism but somehow it worked and there were no tears
- skipped the weekly trip to the dollar tree
- filed our tax return and was rather shocked how much less we get this year now that we don't have food stamps or any type of medicaid. Let me tell you, Zac makes more then he ever has but since we don't actually get any government assistance anymore and he pays union dues...the only difference in our standard of living is that we pay all of our bills with our own income. There isn't more "spending" money ...and we get less back in our tax return even though we pay more taxes. Hmmmm....one wonders....
I'm thankful for the help we had when we couldn't make ends meet...but I also am not a fan of the middle class being almost, ummmm, punished or something for paying more taxes.
- thankful we can pay our own bills
- found an awesome CLEAN and firm chair that SPINS (great for the boys sensory/stimulation needs) at the thrift store for 12 dollars (it was half off Saturday at goodwill)
- saved $50.00 this week in our savings account (every bit helps)
- gave to our sponsored children and pulled out ones to have in our car for the many homeless people
- went to target to get one last little gift for Zac's birthday and found two other cute items on clearance...put them back last minute realizing they weren't life and death.
- got my ingredients to make another batch of homemade laundry detergent
- drank the teas we had on hand instead of picking up a new flavor....shopped at one store instead of driving 10 miles to save .50 on something...made sesame tofu instead of ordering take out.
That's about it. I'm not sure if I feel relieved or dumb writing all of this out but either way...I'm linked up now so I gotta do it. Bear with me. :)
oops...forgot to add that we canceled Netflix since we found out with my Amazon prime account we can already access a TON of shows and movies through our Xbox