Friday, January 20, 2012

Resolve to be financially free

image by robin_india22

A guest post by Jaime at Like A Bubbling Brook

It's a new year and with it comes a fresh start, new goals, and clearer vision.

With ever-rising food and fuel costs, many families have resolved to live more simply and spend less.  We made that commitment several years ago, and it has allowed us to purchase a home and vehicles debt-free over the years, even during the "economic downturn" and a period of unemployment. It hasn't always went smoothly, and we've certainly had challenges along the the way, but God has blessed our efforts.  We are committed to re-assessing our spending each year and as life changes happen or expenses fluctuate.  Nothing ever seems to stay the same!

It's our prayer that we can give more generously by living more simply.

Here are five things to consider as you begin a new year:

1.  Pray for wisdom. I always try to remember that it's not my money, it's His, and He's letting me steward it.  How does He want me to spend it?  Pray for His direction and wisdom in this area.  Read what the Bible has to say about money.  There's so much encouragement in the Word!  Pray about what other books you should read or financial advice you should follow.  Pray for the little things, too, like help with stretching your grocery money.  He will begin to give you wisdom in this area if you ask!

2. Get on a budget, or tweak your existing one. Is your out-go more that your income?  Create a budget spreadsheet, use a pencil and paper, or use a well-reviewed software.  We've used Mvelopes for about five years now, but there are other programs available, too.  If you already have a budget in place, then take extra time and tweak what you have.   I've outlined our budget categories (how we spend our money) here.  Call about your insurance rates; can you find a better price somewhere else?  Can you get cheaper phone service now or opt-out of a landline?  Can you spend less on groceries?  Crystal at Money Saving Mom has a series called 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget that's full of helpful tips.

3.  Drink more water. This seems like a drop in the bucket, but those drops add up.  Soft drinks are expensive and unhealthy.  Research indicates that the average American drinks 53 gallons of soft drinks each year!  Cutting them out can save many families $30 or more per month, not to mention long-term health care costs related to diabetes or dental care.  Water is good for you and barely costs you anything.

4. Clear out clutter. Sell your extra stuff.  That waffle maker or espresso machine you haven't used in three years?  It needs to go.  The lamp you bought last year but doesn't really go with your decor?  Sell it.  You can save these items in bins marked "garage sale" for the Spring, or you can list them on Craigslist now.  Go through everything, even the children's rooms.  If you don't want to take the time to sell smaller items, load them in the back of your car and take them to Goodwill.

5.  Organize your paperwork. You'll find that staying organized will save you money.  Lost receipts, warranties, and contracts can slowly drain your bank account, especially when you are watching every penny.  I've outlined our filing system here; you're welcome to use it or come up with your own.  Remember to be diligent about using the filing system after you create it --- file important papers right away.  Looking at a growing stack of papers on your desk can quickly become overwhelming!

Did you make plans to live on less or live more simply this year?  Are you working towards being debt-free?  I'd love to hear about it!

Jaime, a pastor's wife and homeschool mom, shares about simple living, homemaking, and healthy cooking on her blog, Like a Bubbling Brook.   She is passionate about nurturing her family, living intentionally,  and being debt-free.   Join her conversations on Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter.



At January 20, 2012 at 11:57 AM , Blogger Meghan Carver said...

I love the "drink more water" suggestion. With six children, we go through a lot of juice! Juice is expensive! Thanks for the reminder.

At January 20, 2012 at 2:32 PM , Anonymous Jaime @ Like a Bubbling Brook said...

Glad it helped, Meghan! Sometimes we all need reminders :)

At January 20, 2012 at 6:41 PM , Blogger RebeccaL. said...

All of these suggestions are great, we do all of them, including coupons and other frugal things. We have found that by tithing and staying faithful to tithing first and foremost, we have never lacked for our needs and alot of times our wants as well. If we leave the Lord out, we will surely flounder in our strength.

At January 21, 2012 at 9:13 AM , Anonymous Jaime @ Like a Bubbling Brook said...

Rebecca, that is so true! Putting Him first -- including tithing --- is of utmost importance!

At January 23, 2012 at 8:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, drinking more water is quite the money saver. We are also on the same track. Although we haven't been able to pay cash for vehicles, we are definitely being more conscious of our expenses.


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