What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Way I See It...

I told you a day or two ago that one main focus of change for this year is in the area of finances, specifically-SAVING some.

Today I am going to write about my gameplan, the HOW's of making this happen. Or, at least, what I know of so far. :-)

I am the spender of the family. I am the bill payer, budget maker, gift shopper, household manager, pantry filler and money stresser.
These things were written in my job description when Matt was working so hard when we were first married, and making so measley a paycheck that I thought he would have a stroke if he had to pay bills. He might have to-doing so back then very nearly killed ME! Our situation is not the same as it was back then (Praise the LORD!) but I still like to handle it so that Matt isn't burdened, because in truth-it is still VERY stressful at times, making ends meet.

We are not of the mindset that finances are man's work or that I am 'wearing the pants' of the family or any such thing. :-) Some men head up the finance department and that is great. Othertimes, it works better for the woman to do it, as with us. There is not one un-submissive or un-feminine thing about heading up finances. It is NOT a result of feminism. It is a result of a woman, loving her husband enough to lift the heavy burden of money off his shoulders. And that's that.

Of course, Matt is not in the dark about our finances. I talk to him about it all the time. He is the overseer, I am the doer. He knows, better than anyone, my weaknesses and shortcomings in this area and he acts graciously. He sees our successes and progress being made, and he thanks me for my hard work. All in all, it works out smashingly well. I say this now, here, as a qualifier-since this budget and money talk is on MY blog and not his. :-)

I have been thinking about it for weeks and have already begun implementing these strategies with great success-so I am very optimistic about the progress that 2008 will hold.

The way I see it, saving money involved addressing three different areas of money.

1)Reduced Spending
2) Money Set Apart
3) Credit /Debt

First: Reduced Spending

* Walmart is no longer my grocery of choice. One huge eye-opener was saving receipts for several weeks. I realized I was spending (gosh I am embarrassed to say this!) over $100.00 EACH WEEK at Walmart. I was a HUGE Walmart fan. What could be better than everything all in one place? A lot, frankly. Having everything all in one place is more dangerous than good. I was going to get groceries and was leaving with things we didn't need! Also-the vast SELECTION of food at Walmart makes things complicated. You can potentially say 'no' to buying a bag of chips if you have enough willpower. It is MUCH more difficult to pass by and ENTIRE AISLE of every possible chip imaginable. Not only must you say no MANY more times but you also have access to about four of your FAVORITE varieties. I have begun buying groceries at discount stores like Save A lot (we don't have Aldi's down here...) and my grocery bill is a FRACTION of what it was. About a quarter of it, to be precise! I will make it to Walmart once a month (or every two months) but I can proudly say, I am a Save-A-Lot Mama now and I won't be turning back!

* I was introduced to the JOYS of couponing at CVS. I have four packs of diapers and four of wipes stacked nicely in the changing table; I have bought six packs of batteries, detergent, shampoo, razors, soda fridgepacks, toothpaste, toothbrushes, coffee, cough drops, and medicine and since opening up my CVS card, I have not spend more than $15.00. Yes-you read that right. Thrifty Florida Mama and Money Saving Moms are my inspiration and have created in me a MONSTER. They walk you RIGHT through your purchases, link you to VALUABLE printable coupons and give you all sorts of tips. I love them. LOVE them. Couponing is a pain-it is hard work and requires time and organization...but there is NOTHING like having a cartful of items and only paying $2.-3. for it all. There is no greater satisfaction for my hardwork! I have only been couponing for three weeks, but it has saved me SO much money-in diapers alone! More money is staying in my wallet, where it needs to be in order to save.

* I will also add here that Matt's Christmas bonus was giftcards to a gas station. This has nothing to do with me, nothing that required work for me, but it will be saving us from spending out-of-pocket money on gas for awhile!

* Eating out is SUCH a nice reprieve from cooking (and more so- cleaning up afterwards!) and I was enjoying that luxury more than 'every now and again' for a while there. A big goal is to stop eating out, or ordering out pizza ( my weakness.) Just a few weeks ago, I created the ULTIMATE garlic pizza. I have been craving it ever since and have made it several times. Whenever my resolve weakens, perhaps that wonderfully tasty pizza will be the catalyst to bring me back! To spend SO MUCH MONEY on food-something that you can't even keep (apart from your body, that is) seems so foolish when you look at all the tangible things you could have spent that money on.

Second: Money Set Apart

* I created another savings account. We now have three accounts. Two savings and One checking. Both previous accounts (one savings and checking) have money being taken out each month. Insurance, rent, car, utilities, telephone, etc. I wanted an account that wouldn't have money taken from it. I started it with $200.00 spare dollars and from now on, I will add what I can to it each paycheck. There are only two rules for me: 1. Add SOMETHING to it with each paycheck, even if it is just a $20.00 and 2. ABSOLUTELY NO withdrawing-which is easy because there is no card! :-)

* I am using cash. I haven't quite resorted to the envelope system yet, but I think it may be something I initiate this year. Right now, I just withdraw the amount of cash I have budgeted and stick with it. If I go into Save-A-Lot with $35.00 to spend and nothing else, I use my calculator and don't have a choice but to stay within those limits. It has worked wonderfully well with groceries, so I may adopt this for other areas of spending as well.

Third: Credit/Debit

* The object of the game is to only buy things you can afford. I don't own a credit card-so I am not tempted like some are. My husband has a credit card but He is the wisest and frugal spender I have ever met. If you can't afford it but REALLY REALLY want it-save up for it! Anticipate it going on sale in the future, and start saving NOW so that when it DOES go on sale, you don't rationalize "Well, it's on sale so I NEED to buy it now even though I don't have any money for it!" Start saving now and when it becomes a deal you would be stupid to miss out on-you can ACT!

*With my debit card, admittedly, I have had many struggles with overdraft fees. I have been charged SO MUCH with overdraft fees this year. Much of it comes from having landlords who stockpile rent and utility checks and then withdraw them all at the same time...but hey. It has been happening and it has been costing us money. One overdraft fee (of $37.00) is added to EACH transaction made if there isn't money in the account. So you could potentially spend $40.00 on a cup of coffee. (Not that I EVER charge coffee. I don't even LIKE coffee. I am sure you get my point, though.) And if you unknowingly make several transactions-you could be $100.00 short by the end of the day! To combat this, I am again, withdrawing cash from our paychecks to use instead of the card and also, I am going to try not using the debit card for any purchases under $40.00.

* For those of us with credit debt-first priority is getting that ugly monster out of your life. I don't know how to do that other than sock money away and avoid adding to the debt problem, so I am not one to ask. Only-get it done! Several people have suggested books, seminars and websites, recently. If you know of any-leave a comment for others to learn about. The interest rates are RIDICULOUS-so ridiculous that much of your payment just goes to INTEREST alone! Free yourself from that, however small or large, and you'll walk so much lighter and with a greater spring in your step. Even if it means living REALLY tight for awhile. Once it is down-pay off that credit card EVERY month. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH A CREDIT CARD. I repeat: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH USING CREDIT CARDS. There IS something wrong with using them unwisely, or using them knowing that you can't be paying them off.

SO. Those are the strategies I have implemented to succeed in my financial goals for 2008.

I would like to share with you our budget categories. Though I won't share the amount set aside for each, perhaps seeing some of the categories might help you plan a budget. Of course, the numbers and percentages will vary from salary to family size.

Weekly Expenses:

Clothing/Sales, etc. (Christmas gifts, craft supplies, clothing needs)

Monthly Expenses:

Car payment
Children's Life Insurance
Life Insurance (this is a January goal for Matt and I-we still don't have any)
Netflix (we don't have television capabilities)

Per paycheck we add to:

Both savings accounts
Pay off creditcard
Tithe~ 10%
Retirement (this is also a goal for the coming months-we don't have anything set up for retirement yet either.)
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Elizabeth Joy said...

One thing we do that might help someone is to use our credit card like a debit card. We have set that up with the bank. This gives us the security of the credit card. How it works: At the end of the month, we have the bank take out whatever amount is on the credit card, and pay the credit card. This way, we never go in debt over the credit card. We just have to know what we are putting on that credit card, just like a debit card.

Mrs. Hurzeler said...

I am impressed. We spend about 100$ a week or more just for the two of us, and I always thought that was relatively modest, but you have shown me the light. LOL. Alot of people I know swear by Costco but when you have to buy so much sometimes 300$ is only for 4 items. That isn't practical unless you are planning on stockpiling for the next nuclear war! In our town so far Walmart is cheapest for us, so we are going there but there is a place called Food city and I really don't know much about the prices there. I should check it out. But one thing about Food City is they make these sugar cinnamon fried tortillas called Doritos (not the bagged stuff) and they make the tortillas fresh everyday! The Doritos are always warm to the touch, sugar, cinnamon, warm, melty, alright, you kinda get my picture. My letter is still not quite done, I took a little break from it, and I will get it out soon.God Bless.

Michelle said...

We also use our credit card as a debit card. The money comes right out of our bank account, so we see it immediately.

If paying off credit cards or whatever debt, try always to pay more than the minumum payment. Min. payments lull you into thinking you're paying it off when in reality the companies are tacking on even more interest and you end up paying way more than you borrowed.

On life insurance... I would debate whether or not child life insurance is needed. It is certainly a personal choice and I don't want to step on any toes, but insurance is for protection of the wage earners (husband and wife). It is to replace (in some way, not totally of course!) what would be lost (money/services) should the wage earners die. Child life insurance is a nice thought, but nowhere near necessary.

Whew. Finances is a subject near and dear to our hearts, as you can see. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm making some new financial goals too, mainly reducing our spending on groceries. I found the envelope system to be useful, that is when we discipline ourselves to follow it :P

Good luck!

Mrs. Bowen

Rebecca said...

Thanks for the input everyone!

Michelle~I signed the children up for Life Insurance from Gerber Life Insurance because it is actually saving money for them. I end up paying like $10.00 a month for both of them...and when they turn 18 the value appreciates to double the coverage: I think $20,000 each that they can borrow on. College loans, starting a business, marriage. Whatever reason, that money is their's to do with what they please. That is the real reason I signed them up for it-a good way to set aside money for them. That's all. And I did it when they were/are babies because the rates are cheapest the younger they are signed up-and they never go up. So that's why I chose to do it for us! :-)

Morning said...

All great ideas Rebecca. I also use our credit card like a debit card, with the advantage that I earn points for each purchase -- these can be used to firstly pay off the credit card fee (making it in effect free) and then for petrol or grocery vouchers. We don't have coupons in Australia (can you believe it?) -- I imagine it can be a hassle but also kinda fun!

Terri said...


I've never posted before but I really enjoy your blog and your beautiful pictures. Loved the frugal tips! We are a family of 5 (2 teenage boys) and spend about $100 a week on groceries. I usually will hit Aldi before I go anywhere and you are right, places like Cosco and Sam's Club are not necessarily cheaper.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how much I've enjoyed your blog site.


Dan & Terri said...

Oops, I don't know what happened. The comment was there and then it wasn't!

I've never posted before but I really enjoy your blog and your beautiful pictures. Loved the frugal tips! We are a family of 5 (2 teenage boys) and spend about $100 a week on groceries. I usually will hit Aldi before I go anywhere and you are right, places like Cosco and Sam's Club are not necessarily cheaper.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how much I've enjoyed your blog site.


Terri said...

Ugh! Sorry about the double post.

LBP said...

Rebecca, it sounds like you have a very sound plan. I plan my menus around what is on sale at the local supermarket and stock up on the sale items.

Our eating out had gotten out of hand as well. We now only go once a month as opposed to once a week. Huge savings there!

We also only buy what we can afford to pay cash for. No exceptions!

Good Luck!


Rebecca said...

Morning~ I knew you had to be somewhere far off because you said Petrol instead of gas! lol When you said Australia, of course, my memory rekindled! :-)

Terri~ Sorry that happened to you. Thanks for being so determined that you took the time to type it twice. I am glad to meet you and hope to get to know you better. Thanks for the compliments to my blog! I just love it when I find out about a new visitor coming out of lurkdom! :-)

lbp~ Planning a menu each week around the ads not only saves you money by purchasing on sale foods, but it also allows you organization and a plan-which also saves you money. You aren't tempted to go out to eat, that is, if there is already a plan for tonights dinner. I should think about doing that as well! Thanks for the advice!

Anonymous said...

As a Dave Ramsey fan, I disagree with you on a couple points. I believe you and your husband must work together on your finances. You're a team. Share the burden. Your marriage will be blessed.

With all due respect, there is something wrong with credit cards. If you play with snakes, you will be bitten. So many people say "oh I'll pay it off every month" Life happens, the bill doesn't get paid. This is how we found ourselves nearly $10K in debt.

I would highly recommend reading The Total Money Makeover. When we started doing smart things with money, God entrusted us with more. We're debt free, money in the bank and saw our income go up 20%. This is in just 18 months.

Rebecca said...

Dear anonymous~I usually don't acknowledge no-namer comments but you are respectful and kind and so I will.

I didn't mean to imply that Matt doesn't take part in the finances. We both agreed on a budget, we both adhere to our financial 'rules', we both purchase things and talk to one another before we purchase things. It is just I am the one that licks the stamps to the bill companies. That's all. We both work toward our financial goals and WITH one another-but he is the money maker and I am the distributor.

I can see your point about credit cards but they, in and of themselves are not evil. They are a small piece of plastic. That is like saying the computer is evil because it has the POTENTIAL to show something bad or tempt you into sin (whether it be pornography or idleness). If a person has no self-discipline with it...it is the fault of the PERSON not the plastic. If someone says "I'll pay this off" then they need to have a plan to do so. Otherwise, they are lying to themselves. If a person knows they CAN'T pay it off at the end of the month, then they should not buy said thing. I know life happens. We were so SO poor with Matt's previous job that we charged GAS for our car. Food for our table. Heat for our house. Bare necessities of life-and we raked up some debt from it. HOWEVER, then Matt got a better job and in the two years that he has worked it has STILL been very tight because all the excess money went toward paying it off. That credit card allowed my children to be semi-warm in winter and semi-filled. It was necessary at that time and if I hadn't had that creditcard, then who knows what we might have done.

Thanks for your input, I appreciate your thoughts on the subject. I will certainly look into that book-sounds like a winner and I would love to become more educated on the subject. Thanks for the referal. Finally-I must congratulate you! That is an amazing accomplishment for you and one that you undoubtedly had to work very hard on! You should be very proud. You are certainly right-when we handle our finances well and return a portion of it back to Him, God rewards us. Kudos!

Mom2fur said...

Good for you! I need to get back to putting money in my savings account. I was doing this for a while: whatever I'd save at the grocery via sales or coupons, I'd round that number up and transfer it into savings. I also try to put a percentage of each paycheck I get in there. I've been spending this money on Christmas, but now that the holidays are over...I'm ready to start saving again!

Anastasia-Jane said...

I appreciate so much that you take care of the finances and have a good attitude about it. I read about so many people that have their husband do everything, which might be fine for them, but not for me. I do all the finances and have my DH's greates respect in doing so. It takes a great burden off of his shoulders and he knows that everything is paid, on time, etc... It's what works for us!
I am happy to see that I am not the only one that looks at it in that way! Great post!

Christine said...

This was such an insightful post; thank you for sharing so much with us! You are to be commended for taking care of the finances like that! What a thoughtful way to help your husband out! Your plan sounds wonderful and very sound.I am very interested in getting involved in the whole CVS thing. It sounds so interesting, fun, and addictive. Blessings to you!

KaReN EiLeeN said...

Something we don't like to think of..... I am so much like you. I too, handle the stamp licking in my family and paying the bills, and then my hubby reminds me of the account balance. Somehow I manage to spend almost as much at Target if I go there. I love to garden, and money spent on flowers isn't really money... is it? I'm sure it was very reinforcing for you to write out your game plan for all of us to see.. I, for one, commend you and wish you good luck with your planning. Like they say, " Failing to plan is planning to fail."

I'll be back to visit and chat again,
Warm Regards,
Karen Eileen

abigail said...

I pay the bills. Stamp-lickers, unite!