Monday, May 2, 2011

A little goes a long way

I heard on the radio today that the amount of new construction across the nation is still half what is considered "economically healthy." It was an insignificant statement made at the end of a news program. It might have been just a small blurb, but to me, it was significant. To me, it means my husband's chosen career field is not getting any more promising, and we are going to keep trudging through the same pattern of sporadic work we've had going on three years now. I don't say this to whine, in fact, I'm shocked to look back and see how long we've been able to hold on and make it. The only thing that can explain it is tithing. I know that there are real blessings from paying tithing. No, we didn't get any mysterious checks in the mail (doesn't mean I dream of that haha) or piles of money left on our door step. We have received odd jobs and deals that have made a big difference. It never fails that some work gets drummed up in the moment we need it.

Another blessing I've noticed is money management. Like I said, we are FAR from perfect, but we have come a llllooonnnnggg way from when we were first married and even when we were single.

One small thing that has made a huge difference is a budget. I know that sounds too simple and obvious, but it's easier said than done. I used to live by the idea that if money was in my account it was available. Not so when you don't know when your next paycheck is coming! Knowing that my bills are covered and there's still a roof over my head goes a long way in calming my anxiety over money. I've heard that couples argue about money most, well when our budget is on the fridge for both of us to see, it pretty much eliminates any need for blame... of course, that means we have to stick to it! I adapted my budget from this website and laminated it so I can write on it with a wet erase marker and reuse it every week (Joey gets paid weekly). Here's my template

Another small thing is meal planning. Joey will tell you I am a sucker for eating out. Not only is it unhealthy (and tasty hee hee), it's also so expensive! Nothing helps me with the "I don't know what to make for dinner" blues, like having a meal plan. I plan out two weeks worth of dinners. I also keep track of the prices of ingredients so that I can get an accurate picture of how much my grocery bill will be. This is still a work in progress, but it's already paying off. My meals aren't really gourmet, but it beats blowing $20 at McDonalds! I'm keeping my meal plans on my computer so I can just cycle through them when I can't come up with any new dinner ideas. Here's a template if you want to print a blank one.

Sometimes it's hard for me not to be able to contribute financially to our family, but there are little things that I can do to reduce the income I spend. We are also working on improving our garden this year, so hopefully that little extra savings will come in handy. We've even gone as far as putting those big, ugly, multicolored Christmas lights on our apple tree to keep our little blossoms from freezing to ensure apple sauce, pie filling and other goodies come fall. Yeah, it's white trash looking, but... when in Rome...or Dayton, I should say...


Taneil said...

Those are some really good ideas! One thing I do is limit myself to shopping once per week. This is probably easy for some people, but I had a bad habit of popping into the store 2-3x a week and doing a lot of impulse buying. It also saves gas money! I need to get more disciplined about meal planning. Maybe I will have to give your template a try.

I also try to have 3-4 days per week where we don't spend any money at all. The little purchases add up! You can save a lot of money by not spending!

Jim said...

Your mom and I are proud and impressed. I remember her coupon collecting days. I know grandma Blattman would be proud of you too.
Love Dad

jessica said...

I didn't know you could do that was Christmas lights. That's more genius than crazy, right?! Although I hear some genius rides the line;)

Matt N Karen said...

You are awesome Heather, love the templates thanks!! I really need to be more structured about meals, I hate grocery shopping!

Jen Johnson said...

Thank you soooooo much for those ideas Heather! You are fabulous! I continually get a stronger testimony from tithing as well. I really like those templates! Thanks!