Faith & Finance

In the season of life I am in, there are MANY lessons I learn every single day. One that comes up in almost every area of life is money. Money is tight for so many people right now, definitely including newlyweds that are full-time students, but we try to implement money-saving practices! I thought I would share a few of our favorites with you!

Pay cash! With the exception of my beautiful (and as I remind D, always reliable!) car and student loans, we don’t accumulate any debt. We don’t have credit cards nor do we use payment plans. We pay straight cash for things, literally. When our paycheck(s) come in, we have already budgeted every single cent that needs to be spent until the next check then pull out exact cash for the things that accept those payments i.e. grocery, personal spending funds (or allowance…I just hate the word), tithe, the inevitable Target runs that I’m addicted to, etc. We pay cash for two reasons: 1. To avoid debt and unnecessary spending. For some, it’s no problem, but for us, we choose to only purchase what we have in our wallets. 2. It’s much easier to see how much money you’re spending when it’s physically disappearing from my wallet rather than swiping our debit card. Paying cash keeps us accountable.

Personal Spending Funds. Also known to many 10 year olds as… allowance. This is my least favorite money-saving tool, and Dillon’s most favorite, probably because he’s so much better at it than me! Depending on our budget for that week, we each get the same amount of cash to do whatever with. If Dillon forgets his lunch at home and needs to buy it, that comes from his PSF. If I really want a great new shade of red lipstick or a pumpkin spice latte, it comes from my PSF. This helps each of us prioritize our own spending and discourages random spending on things that aren’t very important, using the money that is set aside for other things in our budget. Like I said, I’m a work in progress in regards to this. In fact, this week, I’m hiding mine from myself so I can save it and buy a cute shirt next week! See, I’m learning.

Make it yourself. As much as possible, I try to make stuff that is more expensive to purchase. For example, we love chocolate milk but will never spend our precious grocery money on it. However, I make a great chocolate syrup that is so much cheaper than anything at the store. If I can make the ingredient, you absolutely bet I’m going to instead of purchasing it. The biggest savings from this tool is smoothies &coffee. We love both, anytime, anywhere. We love the green smoothies from Whole Foods with the kale, spinach, apples, and every other fruit ever created. We also love Vietnamese iced coffee or a hot cup of joe. BUT! we make both of these at home. Rarely am I at a Starbucks or Whole Foods. Skip the quick trip to your favorite coffee shop and just make it at home. If you do it enough, you’ll learn ways to make it better than the over-priced stores.

Meal Plans. Every week, I look at the weekly ad, our budget, and coupons, and the  best resource: my own kitchen. I take all those components and create a plan of every meal we will eat that week from breakfast to dessert after dinner. It sounds hard, but really isn’t with the help of Pinterest and Google! If you want my exact plan of action on this, just ask! I have it down to a (very easy) science. I write down the groceries we need for that week then, we go to the store and take…guess…CASH! Whatever we’ve budgeted for that week, we only take that much. This discourages “aisle binging” or rather, grabbing everything that looks so good! We literally only buy what we will eat that week (and staples such as flour, sugar, blah blah blah). This way, nothing will go bad before we have to use it, which would be a waste of money and food. Meal Plans take a bit of time but the pay-off is huge.

1. Give 2. Save 3. Live. I received this advice years ago but applied white-out to the first two. When Dillon and I got engaged, we knew that had to change. So, we try our hardest to live by this principal. Give what God asks of us, save more than 50% of our paycheck, and live off the rest. Sometimes, God asks more “giving” than “living” which is an extremely hard lesson for this instant gratification gal and budget minded guy. Life can get uncomfortable when you really want to put money you’ve set aside for others back into your pocket or when you want to pull money out of savings for a date night or when living equates to overdrafting. But, this has been the most valuable financial advice we have ever and will ever receive. I can only speak for myself, but I know that my faith is growing immensely in this. I’m learning that God’s provision isn’t about reimbursing my tithe or sending a larger paycheck than expected. God’s provision is the love, comfort, grace, peace, rest in Him even when the money isn’t there, when security isn’t there. God is our security and He has provided above and beyond. His love is just…SO great in our lives, even in hard seasons. I cannot even tell you. Give, Save, Live.

I hope some of these money saving tools can work for you in your life. If you’d like to know a more detailed description of how we do things in regards to money, please ask! We’re not perfect but we’re blessed. If you have any tools you’d like to share, please do in the comment section!

Be blessed, feel love, and experience Christ.

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2 thoughts on “Faith & Finance

    • Sure!

      I typically go grocery shopping on Tuesdays, and begin my “prep” on Sunday. That way I give myself enough time to slack off and REALLY do it on Monday. I found that if I kept putting it off until an hour before I intend to go, we just eat out that night and keep doing so until I get the motivation to go. Having consistency actually helps and saves us money!

      The budget should be done way ahead of time. We get paid every 2 weeks so we budget how much money to spend on groceries each week, take out cash, put week 1 in the wallet and put week 2 in our financial binder. This ensures I don’t go to the store and end up using next weeks money on this weeks food.

      On Sunday, I’ll look at three things. 1) What I already have in my kitchen that I can use for meals 2) the weekly ad and 3) any coupons I have. I first try to combine #2 and #3 to make a meal and if not, use what’s on sale.

      I get certain things that can be used in many ways. For example: eggs. Omelets, egg sandwiches, egg salad, or hard boiled eggs for a snack. If we can afford it, we like to buy ground beef and chicken but always do at least one fresh meat. With our chickens, we buy whatever is cheapest but tend to buy frozen. With chicken, I throw it in the crockpot then keep some in the fridge and use it for salad, chicken salad sandwiches, homemade pizza, Cajun pasta, BBQ chicken sandwiches…it’s worth the extra money. Point is, buy ingredients that will stretch into multiple meals.

      When I make my list, I organize it by category ie: produce, bread, meat, dairy, canned, etc. This keeps me super focused so I don’t wander around the store or aisle binge.

      When I go to the store, I go through my list and weigh all produce and keep a running total for each category. I used to keep a running total of the entire tip but found I couldn’t tell where most of my $ is going, and didn’t know where to scale back. As good practice, always round up to the nearest dollar. This way, you’ll over estimate and be under budget or spot on.

      Other helpful hints are to buy store brand on most things. I can’t with cheese and meats, I’m a bit of a diva, but everything else, I don’t care. Also, with the exception of staple items such as coffee, flour, sugar etc, never “over buy” unless its a GREAT sale and/or frozen. This prevents throwing food away that goes bad.

      Last week, I got all three meals, snacks, and desserts for the whole week for $31. You get what you put in! Let me know if you have questions!

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