Money Matters

I wasn’t sure how to start this post off. Nobody really likes to talk about their personal money or how they spend it…or steward it. Money, salaries, spending habits, etc. are considered personal discussions to be had with only close friends and family. So, I’m going to be brave and dive right in. OK?

Since Louis and I got married 5 years ago, we have taken a SERIOUS look at our spending plan or our budget, depending on your school of thought. We did this for a number of reasons – because we wanted to be better stewards of our money and because we knew that the day would come when my job at the bank would end, which it did nearly 3 years ago. We were working toward making it on just Louis’ salary, and we all know pastors don’t get paid what they deserve, especially when you break it down to an hourly wage. But, I won’t go there…because like most teachers, pastors don’t become pastors because it’s a great paying gig.  It’s a true calling, well….hopefully, anyway.

We have slashed our expenses significantly. Here are some things we did…

  • We received new bids for car and home insurance (which saved us a TON of money! and should have been done LONG time ago.)
  • We refinanced the house (at no cost to us!!! YES!!! Thanks, Wells Fargo!).
  • We (or I should say LOUIS!!!) negotiated deals with cable/internet. We have VERY limited channels.  (every 6 months, Louis tackles this one because this process makes me want to hit someone…hard.)
  • We watch a lot more Netflix (or nothing at all).
  • We cut off the home phone (because who needs it anyway, right????).
  • We changed our home security system.
  • We buy a lot less stuff and plan our buying better. You will see me in the same clothes…. a lot. Just replacing the basics. (I did manage to replace my favorite black sweater since it had several holes in the elbow.)
  • We sold stuff on Craig’s List. Have done ok here.
  • We (with A LOT of help from the neighborhood youth!!!) had a yard sale to help fund the community stuff we do with the kids. (It didn’t generate a lot of cash, but we met some really great neighbors, so we consider it a HUGE success!)
  • We followed Dave Ramsey’s plan almost maniacally…using an app currently called EEBA  (name is changing soon) which acts as the envelope system that Dave talks about.
  • We use our credit card for EVERYTHING (which Dave Ramsey would kill us for!!!) we possibly can, because we pay it off each month AND the bank gives us a lot of cash back when our rewards add up!
  • We make it a game. You won’t see us on Extreme Couponing or anything like that, mainly because what we buy doesn’t usually have coupons. But we love to find great deals to cover our fun time. Louis usually wins.
  • I told Louis I would give up a lot of things, but hair color would NOT be one of them. At 50, I’m nearly 100% grey (not 50 shades of grey…just grey and white) and I’m not ready to see that in the mirror every day. So, I have grown my hair out…only getting it cut every 3-4 months to help offset the cost of my color.
  • Using the Dave Ramsey plan, over the next 6 months, we will pay ourselves back (to the emergency fund) for the car repairs.
  • Louis has replaced the brakes, spark plugs and other minor maintenance car repairs at home.
  • Terence has noticed we no longer keep a big tub of cookie dough or sodas in the fridge and totally understands, but appreciates the big thing of lemonade we keep in the cabinet.  🙂

So, this is where we are for the month. This has not been a good month for us! Here we are, 2/3rds the way through the month…with 10 days to go…and we are already at our spending limit! Ouch! Even though we planned for an extra car repair expense and a trip to New Orleans, we didn’t account for gifts (although I was tempted to re-gift – I did not succumb to that temptation), and I overspent on groceries today. Yikes! We also intentionally went over last month, thinking we could cover it this month and pay ourselves back.  So, as long as I can go the next 10 days without buying anything, we will be OK. I am confident that we will make it!

gas priceHere’s our no spending plan….

Louis will be laid up having surgery, so I will have to keep him away from amazon and other internet sites while he’s on the painkillers. I am grateful that we have a cupboard and fridge full of food and a car full of gas (some of which we got at 89cents/gallon thanks to my mom’s savvy fuel perks savings!).  And I am grateful for the little coupons from St Mary’s that will cover a couple of meals while I am at the hospital (and a super generous friend who’s going to bring me something DE-lish to eat for dinner on Monday – although I would be MORE than willing to share one of my St Mary’s cafeteria coupons!  LOL) And…for some of you who know of our obsession…we are stocked with ‘Booty’… aka Pirate’s Booty, which is our go-to snack of choice. So, we are more than good to go!

Quick interesting story…I was in a class not too long ago with a group of non-profit leaders.  I started to share our cost cutting and budgeting/spending initiatives with them over lunch, and they were totally psyched! To the point that they started taking notes, and downloading apps! They suggested that I teach a class.  LOL  But, I don’t see that happening.  We are still learning! So, I am interested in knowing what YOU do.  How do you save money? When things get tight, where do you cut? What have we missed? Where else should we look?

Side note: I would be remiss if I didn’t include this! Louis and I are also appreciative for the many gifts and acts of kindness from friends and family! Gift Cards to our favorite restaurants, movie theatres, etc. that we received earlier this year when life really shifted. Surprises in the mail and at our doorstep, which literally made us cry…. you know who you are! Meals and visits when Louis and I were hospitalized earlier this year. Folks who helped out around the house while Louis was laid up – hung cabinets, cut grass, whacked weeds, attic adventures, and so much more. Timely phone calls, emails, texts. Shoulders to cry on when things got really stressful. Ears I could vent to without judgment. I love our generous group of friends, family, and community. Thank you.

With all this cheeky humor aside, we are the most blessed people ever.  God’s provisions have been nothing short of AH-mazing, unexplainable, abundant, and rich.

We are so grateful.

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3 Comments on “Money Matters”

  1. Beautiful :).

    I don’t know how well it would translate into someone else’s life, but my fiance and I live very frugally. One HUGE money-saving change I’m making is that I am selling my car tomorrow: in one fell swoop my monthly living expenses will go down by $440 (and that does NOT include what I spent on gas, property taxes, or upkeep). My fiance and I are fortunate in that we are both able-bodied and physically capable of biking many miles each day. We are also fortunate to live in a city where we can walk or take the bus most places if we want or need to.

    We don’t own a TV so we don’t pay for cable or anything TV-related. We have no home phone, he doesn’t have a cell phone, and I have service through Ting (www.ting.com) that usually costs me about $14/mo (never been more than $20) and I got a refurbished android phone that cost me $30. We shop almost exclusively at thrift stores and we rarely purchase things; he and I both value minimalism and do not value material possession, which makes the not buying things very simple. We eat a plant-based vegan diet, so most of our grocery money goes toward organic vegetables, rice/couscous, and breads; lentils are extraordinarily cheap and my fiance makes a delicious curried lentil soup in his pressure cooker (plus rice in the rice cooker) that makes several days’ worth of food for about $4 worth of ingredients.

    Because of our pretty low cost of living and my fiance’s high earning potential, we are generally comfortable financially. He only works about 15 hours a week and that more than covers his meager expenses (he has been working a bit more to help carry some of my weight while I have been job hunting). Once I sell my car, my monthly expenses of rent, student loan payment, cell phone, and a well-padded food budget add up to $620/mo, which I could cover working just under 30-hours a week at a minimum-wage job. However, when we do find ourselves wanting to spend less money, the easiest thing to change is our eating out habits: we both enjoy paying for delicious prepared vegan food and supporting the local businesses and workers, but we could cut that way back if things ever get tight.

    I think it’s fabulous that you are ignoring the taboo and talking about these things. Most everyone I know uses money to live and many, many people are struggling financially — I’m a big fan of pooling our knowledge and wisdom rather than hiding it away because our culture tells us we should! Thank you for starting the discussion :).

    • Thanks for joining the convo! We aren’t at the point of selling cars – but have talked about it. But, we offer our 2nd car as a car share with some friends when we aren’t using both. Would love the recipe, but don’t have a pressure cooker. 😦

      • Car shares are great! I’m not certain, but I think he got his pressure cooker for something like $30. If you can budget for one, it’s well worth it! You can make a decent amount of food at once (great for leftovers) and it cooks in very little time :).