She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.Proverbs 31:14She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.Proverbs 31:16
She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.Proverbs 31:18
Being Intentional With Your Finances
Confession: I love to shop. During my Junior High School years, my mom would take me shopping many Saturdays. We would always try to hit up the sales and bargains and get some really nice things at discount prices. There were not many thrift stores and the Goodwill back was awful at the time. Obviously, those were not places we normally shopped. We watched and waited for items at the mall to become highly discounted. I am not really sure what happened in college, but you would think I would have continued this quest for a frugal life; but the truth is I didn’t. I think somewhere along the way I forgot how to manage money entirely. A large part of it was due to the success of my dad’s business. We traveled a lot during that time period and we also shopped a lot. You hear of folks becoming addicted to alcohol, drugs, and even food. Normally, though, you don’t hear of ladies confessing to shopping addictions. I am not sure I was addicted, but it was a very high priority for me. This shopping need continued well into my adult years, albeit the things I shopped for changed. My shopping priorities changed from shopping for myself or for my mom to shopping for my kids. When my oldest was a baby I had mountains of baby clothes that he would grow out of before he ever got to wear. Every time Gymboree got a new shipment in, I was there! As married life continued, the bank account grew slimmer due to a vacation that would have paid a down payment on a house and several other things we felt we couldn’t live life without. Baby number 2 came along and I tried keeping up with the Jones’ (i.e. myself when I had my oldest!) and ran out and bought all new stuff for this baby, not to mention the things I had already kept for my oldest. The bank account grew slimmer and it became a race of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Then comes baby number 3. Now, I will say that I did MUCH better with this baby. I mean really how could I justify buying too much for this baby considering I had already had two boys previously? I think my poor husband may have had a nervous breakdown if I suggested another nursery redo :).
However, my shopping binges just switched gears. During this time I was really into cloth diapers. I mean who wouldn’t be? They are so adorable! Look at those cute fluffy butts! I will argue, however, that cloth diapering is a wonderful way to save money. This is the argument in which I approached my husband. Once he saw that sense made dollars, we decided to cloth diaper full-time. There are many ways to save thousands cloth diapering, unless you are me. 🙂 I became addicted to all the cute names and high-end brands. I would shell out $26 at the drop of a hat for some cute little baby fluff. If you’re a cloth diapering Momma, before you start throwing tomatoes at me, there is nothing wrong with shelling out $26 for some cute baby fluff. I’m going somewhere with this, so hold your tomatoes 😉 As newlyweds, my husband and I had decided that anything over $50 would be discussed first. Well you all have read my early submission issues in previous posts; so, what does a girl do if they don’t want to submit? A girl finds a way around it. The way I found around the “$50 price tag conversation (a.k.a. submission)” was the fact that I never bought a diaper over $50 at one time. LOL. I figure since I’m confessing in this blog, I may as well lay all my ugly sins out before you. I really felt justified if I bought four diapers in a month because they were each bought separate so I never went over $50….sigh. When we moved to Texas when my youngest was 4 months old, I had about $200 in cloth diapers. Ladies, do NOT make my mistakes! Let me tell you something even more shameful. I am the one who initially came up with the idea of us never spending more than $50 without talking. Yes! SHAMEFUL!!!
My other addiction is books. I have always had a lot of books and I would do the same thing with the books I did with cloth diapers. Then add in books for home school…another way to justify spending money for me. After I had baby number three, I will admit that I did not shop for clothing for myself much. That was a lot due to the fact that I was really overweight and finding things was much harder, especially on clearance. So when I did shop I bought what I needed, on sale or not and wore it over and over again.
Soon after we moved to Texas, my husband left on his second deployment to Iraq. I would love to say that the extra money he earned went to savings, but it didn’t. However, I will say that right before we moved to TX and during this deployment that I really had an attitude adjustment on submission. When he came back I was in a much better place spiritually to be the wife God called me to be. I was still not perfect but I was trying hard. It was after this that I finally learned how to start getting some of my spending under control.
Here are some tips I have learned along the way and if you remember I posted about this resource here:
1. Coupons – I love coupons but they can be both a blessing and a curse. When I first began “couponing” I would buy everything that I had a coupon. While some do this and donate the items, I was really needing to do this to save money. So after much trial and error, here is what I do now. If I need an item I will use the coupon if I have it. I do have a small stockpile of things that I like to keep but it has to fit into the areas that I have. We are a military family and setting aside a room for stockpile is not an option. I have a regular sized pantry and I have some shelving in the garage. That is my limit.
2. Food – I try to watch sales at a few stores. I honestly do not have time to go to a thousand different stores, so I have a few I will go to and hit sales there. My main store as a military wife is the commissary. There I love to find sales and combine coupons to maximize savings. Watch for meat sales and stock up then. I have one full size freezer in the garage where I can store extra things. The freezer is honestly one of the best investments we have bought. If items we use a lot go on sale, I will stock up on them and store them in my freezer.
3. Canning – I grew up canning and it offers huge savings. I finally started canning again in our married life and not only is this an activity I truly love and enjoy, it is a huge savings! Also, there are so many more healthy benefits to home canned foods than from store-bought. Give it a try!
4. Homeschool – I love curriculum and books and have 13 bookshelves full. So how do you save money? Well for one this blog really helps with that. I try to blog for the books I personally get now, which has greatly lowered the amount of money that I spend on leisure books. I also blog for curriculum that we need or I would love to use but cannot justify the expense. Amazon is a great resource for getting kindle books and there are many free ones there for kids and adults alike. Also, Amazon has great deals on many things and I try to keep my eye out for books and other items our family will need. Another worthwhile investment is having Amazon Prime. I have saved literally hundreds of dollars in shipping alone using Amazon Prime. I also pay attention to companies that give home school discounts like JoAnns, Barnes & Noble and other companies.
Another thing that we have done for making sure we are not overspending on home school is setting a budget. I am glad to say that I am sticking to that budget! No strings attached…lol :). If there is a reason to go over the budget then it is discussed. Last year, for example, I was able to purchase a set of books that was VERY expensive. This was a set I had been drooling over for 3 years. The set was on sell for over half off and when we got our income tax returns I asked my husband and he gave his blessing:).
4. Clothing– After I lost 130 pounds, I really had to have an entire new wardrobe. We lived in Maryland at the time, right near DC, and I was so blessed that the mall right near our house was an outlet mall. I was able to purchase much of what I needed for very discounted prices. Many of the stores gave a military discount as well which further helped. I tried really hard to only buy when I could get a good price for items. There were a few times I did have to pay full value though. As my size shrank and we moved to the Northwest, I had the hardest time finding a good discount place to shop. Since I had such bad luck at goodwill before I hadn’t even thought of shopping there. I shopped ALOT online. Eventually I decided to stop at the Goodwill here and I am SO glad I did!!! It has really became one of my favorite places to shop! I rarely shop at the mall and, now that my size has mostly been steady for two years, I rarely pay full price for anything I buy. I am going to list a few of my favorite stores for you besides Goodwill:
- Deborah & Co– Caroline has very reasonable prices and often has sales and specials. She is a work at home mom and I love helping another family out! 🙂
- eShakti– I LOVE their dresses and what I love the most is that you can customize them in length, neckline, sleeves, etc., so they are as modest you like! 🙂
- Zulily– I find the best deals on skirts and shoes on Zulily! I love looking on there often and seeing what they have new. You can find very modest skirts there for very reasonable prices also!
- Amazon– believe it or not, Amazon is a good place to find clothing, shoes and other things at great prices!
5. Dining Out– My husband and I used to eat out ALL the time. It was so bad I literally craved it constantly. Well eating out all the time is not good for our bodies nor the bank account. We spent SO much money eating out that it was ridiculous. Over the last several years we have drastically cut down on this habit. We both still enjoy a good meal and good times had by eating out, but we really love a home cooked meal, memories made around the dinner table, and the savings and health benefits to staying home more.
6. Other things that have saved–
We limit Christmas gifts to three per child. Excessive? Maybe for some. However, we decided to teach our boys the true meaning behind Christmas, which is not the over commercialized sensation we have today. We elected the three gifts to symbolize the three gifts the wise men brought to Jesus.
We spend around $30 on birthday gifts. As an added bonus, we take each one out to eat as family time and a special day to celebrate their birthday.
Setting a budget. I know this is hard, believe me! But talking to each other and setting realistic goals will help you be accountable and reach your goals.
We do not take a vacation every year. I grew up going on vacation each year and my mom saved for this all year-long. I wanted the same for my kids; however, my kids have a different lifestyle. About every other year we move across country or to other parts of the country and we always allow a long time for travel, vacation, and adventure . We make this not only a move, but a wonderful memory as well. This has really saved us a lot through the years. We do take a mini vacation CLOSE to home about once a year though. This year we went over night about 2 hours away where we took in the science center and the Lego Kidfest. We had a great time and it was a wonderful getaway.
Save up for big ticket items or ask for big ticket items as a group gift (for example, your parents and your in-laws go in together to get you an expensive items not in your budget). This year, as my blog has grown, I really needed a professional camera. So I asked all our family to go in on this for Christmas and we did not have to sacrifice our budget to afford it. Last year I wanted an expensive pair of Ugg boots and while my husband told me that I could get them, our Anniversary was coming up. He does traditional gifts for me and this one was wool. So since they were wool lined boots, I requested them as my anniversary gift. (Ladies, side note….telling your husbands what you want or making a list saves a lot of stress and headache:))
Learn from your past mistakes. I shared mine above so you would know I am a real person (haha), but also to serve as an example of what not to do. I make the same mistakes as anyone else. However, it’s what we do with those mistakes that makes a difference. I could have stayed in the same pattern I was in but then it wouldn’t have led me to where I am. I am not at all justifying my actions and I am still a work in progress. I am still learning each day how to live more frugal and to make changes that is needed for our family. I am thankful for grace and mercy when we need it to dust us off and set us back on track.
This week my husband and I will be paying off some major debt. This is huge for us as just a few months ago we were also able to pay off our van. For the first time in a long while, I am beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I am so excited about that! Hopefully, by fall we will be entirely debt free when we pay off my husband’s truck. I really cannot wait for that day :). God has blessed us and we want to be good stewards to Him financially. I hope that my story and the tips have helped and encouraged you. May God bless you in your finances!
So what did I wear? I have 2 outfits that I would like to share with you this week. Both are casual but I would like to show how I wear leggings without long skirts.
Last week we had some snow and it is the only snow we have had this year. It just doesn’t snow much here at all. So we had our Valentine’s Day dinner at church and it was casual but it had an Irish theme. This was kinda close to green so I wore it.
I like to make sure if I wear something like this that it covers my hips and does come down like a tunic.
This the second outfit…..
We have all had a horrible virus this week and have been stuck in doors. Tonight I had to run out to the store and decided to take my youngest. (He and I had the virus first so we were mostly better and wanted to get out for just a bit).
This skirt to me is too short to wear without leggins and it is also too cold out!
It’s very comfortable and casual, yet feminine!
Outfit 1: Flexi Clip: Lilla Rose
Sweater dress: I am not sure brand but I got it on clearance at Macy’s last year
Leggins: basic black cotton leggins. I got them at the exchange store on post.
Black Sweater: Target
Boots: Aren’t they adorable! Leopard print rain boots…who can go wrong:). I got them at Wal-Mart…rain boots are a must have here in the Pacific North West!
Red Sweater: Old Navy for $5 🙂
White Shirt: NY & Co
Skirt: Old Navy on clearance plus military discount so it made it about $10
Leggins: Deborah & Co
Boots: Ugg (LOVE LOVE LOVE Ugg boots!)
What are some ways you save money? I would love to hear from you!