Haven’t been writing much because Spring snuck up on me again. The garden is once again taking up a lot of my time and the kids are really restless to be outside a lot. So am I, actually. I despise being cooped up in the house.
I’m not planning a summer-long blogfast this year but I’ll prolly cut back on the posts.
God is at work…always.
Some simple Rules for not getting cleaned out when you go shopping at a big Super Store:
1. Stick to the list. This is crucial, especially when you begin to reform your spending. Stick To The List.
2. Have a ‘call your spouse’ rule. The ‘call your spouse rule’ is easy. You call your spouse for any purchase over a certain amount. It works because of our nature. We want things, sometimes we can’t afford them. Calling our spouse gives us time to think it through. If you want it bad enough that you are willing to lie about it to get it, you probably don’t need it. If you want it bad enough it falls under the criteria for the call your spouse rule, you’re going to think hard about it before you call them.
3. Make a list, as you shop, of other things you’d like to buy. This works because you are doing something about it. It works for me because I usually lose my grocery list once I get home–problem solved. You’re not just passing up a great bargain, you’re writing it down, you’re writing the price down, and you’re going to shop online. You’re going to research it and make a wise decision and finally decide, man I really don’t want this thing this bad. Recently I thought about getting a noise cancelling Bluetooth headset for talking while driving and washing dishes. I don’t spend a lot of time on the phone but if I do get a call, its going to be while I need my hands for something else. So I found a nice one at the aforementioned W retailer for $78. That’s a lot of headset. Later, I found the same thing at an online source with free shipping for $50. That’s thirty bucks I save if I buy it, but its really $80 because I didn’t buy it. I waited, I cooled down, and then I decided I could, in fact, live without it.
4. Cut coupons, comp ads, buy clearance items. This is the shopping equivalent of gouging in the trenches. (No I’m not talking about ‘Black Friday Sales’) Listen, this works, OK? Just wait a bit for some things, cut coupons for others, and always, always check the sale folders. It’s not that hard. Most stores with price-match guarantee’s probably appreciate you doing their research for them and if they don’t, they should.
5. Don’t fear the consignment shop. My wife and I make a run through consignment shops whenever we find them. Ok, my wife does. Thank God for DVD players in the van, right? Anyway, whoever is in charge of clothing should seriously consider this because it saves a ton. Here’s an example. Those little Osh-Kosh overalls are about forty bucks retail but you can find them on consignment for about seven. Do I need to say more?
6. A word to the men. Listen, to the ladies I just want to add an apology for rule six. It’s the unspoken rule, for the most part, and I don’t plan to speak of it again. It’s rule six. What that means for the men is this: support your wife if she really wants to do this and life will be easier, you’ll have more money in the bank. If you support her, encourage her, and make it easy for her to do this it will be good for you. Know what I mean? In the long run it will be good for YOU.
7. Know when to quit. I don’t have anything else to say about that so I’m going to call for rule seven.
Now, not only can you rescue your budget, but its biblical and right that you should do so…
So we’ve talked about some reasons to be frugal and we’ve discussed one way to do it. The grocery budget is the easiest thing to fix first because most of us spend way too much on food. Face it, Americans are, for the most part, fat. Eat less, exercise more and pocket the difference. That’s how to dig us out of our early obesity induced graves AND save the country from a recession.
I’m convinced that most of the money problems we face in this country come from an excess of instant gratification. This has been written about by many who are better equipped to deal with it right now but from what I can see, no one is really wanting to work for anything. Here’s what I mean. I was talking with a health care professional the other day about our health system and the same old complaints come up. “Look” they said “America has one of the best health care systems in the world because people pay for it. If we don’t pay for it, it goes down-hill.” And of course the case in point there is managed care. Am I saying I don’t care if single moms don’t have coverage for their kids? Nope. (At least in Oklahoma all kids are covered, that’s a whole ‘nuther topic though) What I am saying is that the money has to come from somewhere.
When we’re talking about our budget and not our health care system, find the fat. Cut the fat. Don’t allow the fat to creep back in because fat is sneaky. Say you cut going out but you suddenly have all this cash. SAVE IT. Here’s the deal: if you had a grand today you probably go blow it on a big screen HD LCD TV. You’d get all the bells and whistles you could afford and then a few more because, hey, I can pay that extra $500 off if I put it on my credit card.
One of the worst things that happened to us is that our local WalMart stopped taking checks. What I mean is, they quit just taking a check, they’ve turned a check in to a debit slip that you have to sign twice. If I find that repugnant, and I do—I don’t want anyone else messing with my checking account. Then I have to use plastic. Now that may seem ironic, but at least I get cash back on Discover and I pay the thing off every month come hell or high water. The credit card lesson is a tough one to learn but it has to be learned if you ever want to have any semblance of control over your own personal finances. My point, and I do have one, is that you have to make sure that what you buy is on your list before you go into to the store.
We go to wally world because it is, basically, the only game in town. No I’m not going to write about the destruction of the local retailer or the invasion of our markets with Chinese merchandise. Do I really have to? The problem I have is that they are just too good at selling things to me that I don’t need. I am continually blindsided by things I don’t have but I think I need so I buy them because, hey, there’s always room on the credit card right? Discipline is the key. If its not on the list, don’t buy it. Period.
Unless it’s on sale…if it’s on sale it requires judgment and a few simple rules to keep you on track…
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.–Romans 6:1-4
Between my bouts of finding podcasts and listening to them today I was reading Centuri0n’s blog. I can’t even link to it because I don’t think he wants people to–its not that sort of post. But its on top right now…don’t go read it unless you just really can’t help it. And his warning is for real. The link leads to a post thats bar room/locker room raw.
I’m still trying to figure out if the claims made by this fellow about the Bible are any different than the ones we make about it. I don’t think they are in that they’re based more on our experiences that upon what the Bible says. I lost a child so election can’t be right, I know a drunk so drinking must be evil, “Come on Joe les go blow up an abortion clinic”, etc. Whatever evil we want to hang on the Bible as our reason for doing it–it isn’t any different that what those people who beat up his Dad were thinking is it?
In the end its not the sin of the beaten or the blown up, its our own that causes this sort of thing. We WANT to beat the crap out of that person and insert your rationale here. If I was a good Baptist I’d suggest that perhaps ‘they weren’t saved’ but I think we’ve already established that I’m not that good a Baptist because I think thats a cop out. I think it goes deeper than that. I think its the same reason that the SBC was so opposed to Emancipation to begin with and why now we feel like we have to have someone to fight against ALL THE TIME. I think its the same reason as why we have to have fifty different discipleship programs all based on a some different formula of verses guaranteed to grow your church.
We’re not dead. Not yet. We’re still clinging, as a Convention to our life. We are not satisfied with the risen Christ and the Holy Word of God so we have to make more stuff up to go along with it.
Think about that one. Don’t blow it off, think.
This is the second part of our series on frugality. Last week I wrote about how we discovered that we were bleeding cash. Today we’re going to work on that theme some more with probably the best tip for saving some money right now. I don’t know anyone who’s not crunched for cash right now. Milk is about four dollars a gallon. Do you have any idea how much milk four kids can drink a week? It’s crazy. But it has to be bought unless we want to go buy some cows and frankly I’m not ready for that. Getting up at three a.m. to feed babies or change diapers is hard enough. Milking the cow everyday would be way over the top.
One of the ways we began to fix the holes in our grocery budget was to stop eating out. I left this hanging out there yesterday, but the secret is that you can get by without going out to eat at all. Let that one sink in for a moment. Three meals a week for the cost of twenty one is what we’re faced with here. The big question, if we go out, is what are we going to do about the other eighteen meals? Starve? Kill our own meat? Of course not, we’re going to pony up the other hundred or so dollars a week for groceries so we can cook those other eighteen meals. This effectively doubles our grocery budget for the year and let me tell you we can flat put away the groceries.
The solution to this for us was spending time together. That’s all it took. With a little time spent together with my spouse—which is nice, actually, and hard to come by otherwise—we manage to get by on about a hundred bucks a week in groceries. This time is spent doing menu planning, writing a grocery list with what we need to cook those meals, and finding coupons. We’re about to start ‘comping’ sale ads too. We sit down together each week with a pile of cookbooks and our recipes and the calendar—as awful as that is—and decide what we’re going to eat for that week and what we have time to cook. Usually we can get by with two or three recipes with leftovers plus whatever can scrounge up on the weekend. It really depends on the week. Either way, for the cost of three or four trips through the fast food line I can cook all week for my family of six: Healthy, good, hot meals that never sat under a heat lamp or languished in a deep fryer.
Next I’m going to discuss some things that torpedo my resolve when it comes to begin frugal and what I can do to help prevent it.
I’m not a member of the Mark Driscoll Fan Club any preacher talking like that in the pulpit around here would probably get tossed over hand out the back door. But thats here in the Bible belt.
But here’s a whole world away from Seattle Washington. If my home county was paved over and you stacked folks three deep over the surface the population might get as high as Seattle. And the inhabitants aren’t nearly as nice there as they are down here. They’re a rough crowd. But they need Jesus. How about this, rather than griping and fussing about how they do it up there, lets go on up there and start a ‘proper’ church with elders–if you can find any who are qualified–and the whole shebang and see how long it lasts.
I can see the other side of this to, so don’t get me wrong. The same issues apply. Is there any real disciple making going on? Have they, as the Hindus did, just imported Jesus into their ‘groove’? I’m not actually in a position to respond to these questions because I have never been to Seattle or preached there–which can only be a whole different experience than it is here in Oklahoma.
I like Tim Challies ‘trajectory’ comment. I think it fits and I think it reminds us to remove the logs before we pluck at the splinters.
I have to think of the demon possessed man that Jesus healed, then left behind. Do I know why he did that? Nope. But I’ll bet it was because he was the one who could minister to those folks best. You know, the pig raising Jews who were so upset over their lost profits that they asked him to leave. Face to face with Jesus…I can’t get a grip on that one. But the man who was healed could. Think about that one for a while then, rather than griping publicly, lets look around and see why we’re not reaching out to the folks where we live and why we’re not all about discipleship and planting churches and things.
I just read this and thought it applied.