Category Archives: Relationships

Some simple Rules for not getting cleaned out when you go shopping at a big Super Store

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…

Save More

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.

Bleeding Cash

Like most of America we’ve been attempting to tighten things up around our house because with gas prices what they are its pretty tight right now. I think every checkbook in America is sucking wind except Exxon Mobile who made a jillion dollars off our high demand for gasoline. The money has got to come from somewhere. Coupons, comping at Wal-Mart, whatever: at this point I’m pretty well open to most anything legal that will trim some of the fat from our budget.

Short of setting up my own still in the back yard for brewing my own ETOH to burn in my car or converting my diesel engine to burn cooking oil, the first place I had to look was the grocery bill. Babies have got to eat and so do Mama’s and Daddies. But beans are cheaper than steak and probably more nutritious, etc. We didn’t have to look very hard to see that we were bleeding cash like a US war time defense spending bill.

Our main issue really amounts to a lack of motivation on Friday. We are, frankly, so conditioned to just going out that it’s difficult to break out the pots and pans on Friday afternoon and whip up even a quick meal. Burger, taco, and pizza joints are not only the ruin of your waistline they can wipe out your budget. Here’s an example. Four kids meals and two adult combos of our choice at the local burger joint that shall remain nameless runs $30-$35 of hard cold cash. You do the math on that one. We used to eat out at least twice a week and sometimes once on the weekend if we were feeling particularly unmotivated. That adds up to something like a thousand dollars a year or more for just three meals a week. Three meals a day, seven days a week is twenty one meals a week (plus the odd snack).

That’s the sort of ridiculousness we were faced with when we sat down and looked at what we were spending on food. I don’t know about you but I could use a thousand dollars. (I could use several actually but that’s beside the point.) Tomorrow I’ll discuss the first step we took that actually worked and what we did to torpedo it. Learning from your mistakes is tough but its just about the only way to do it.

They Think

I was sitting in a board room one day and the meeting was about to start. We were running behind because our corporate headquarters apparently had a clock that just spit out random numbers or something. We never started on time. It was going to be fifteen minutes either way so we’d either break in late (right on time) or sit and wait for thirty minutes for them to get their act together. And this was fine because the chairs were at least nice and there was a good view of downtown Dallas out one of the windows. I usually did payroll or something while we were waiting so it wasn’t a total waste of time. But it also, on occasion, gave me a chance to talk with some of my co-workers.

Now these were various varieties of managers, supervisors, and directors. Area managers, location managers, quadrant directors, cubical jockeys, et al. All kings of their little domains. All quite secure in their money and all quite happy to be, for the most part, childless. Most were boomers who had pursued their careers to the point that it was all they had. They had the six figures and the BMW. They had the downtown apartment and the house in the burbs. They had all they wanted an more.

But they were the sorriest, unhappiest bunch of people I had ever been around. They were always looking over their shoulder. They were always looking to ‘get’ someone else. This left them generally cranky and un-fun to be around.

So one of these late occasions I was having a discussion with one of these individuals. It was about the time my first child was born and I was just giddy. She was and is just an absolute delight, and even more so then because of {this}. “I don’t know” this fellow says to me one time. I said “Huh?” “About the whole kid thing, I don’t know. I mean, I would rather spend my money on myself.” I said, “You’re missing out. Kids are a blessing.” I got that ‘you’re a crazy Baptist aren’t you?’ look and I don’t know that he ever said anything to me ever again.

Now this isn’t something I had done a lot of research on, but I knew that God is the one who gives children. He is the one whom ‘forms’ them in the womb. He is the one who blesses us with them. But this was something that escaped most of my co-workers. Kids were a hindrance. They kept you home when you could be working or playing. They made you do other things besides take advantage of business opportunities. They were baggage. They were a drain on your assets. These folks were so focused on their money and their careers and their things that they were missing out on one of God’s most fundamental blessings. And I want you to know that I think this is what drives most of what I talked about at the end of last week. That’s the point of this post, actually: Abortions are, by and large, for the convenience of the mother or the mother’s parents. “She’s much too young to be saddled with a child” blah, blah, blah…because, for the most part, They Think God Doesn’t Know What He Is Doing.

Look for more on this soon.

The Product of Conception

If you’re reading this, you’re the product of conception. At some point, someone did something that caused you to come into being. You were conceived. You were carried in your mother’s womb for around nine months and you were born. At some point in your life you were a baby. All of us at least have that much in common. We are all the product of conception.
I just don’t think we’re thinking about the same thing.

It’s easy to reduce our existence down to biology and tissue, flesh and bone. We are that, at least. But we are also spiritual beings. There are religions in every culture of the earth. The athiests want us to believe that it’s an inherent weakness in the human race, the need for a crutch. I think they’re right, to a certain extent. We all feel our own mortality bearing down upon us. ‘Death and taxes’ are the only sure things some folks say. I know it’s a cliché but it’s one that reflects the way some people feel. We all hear that external call. We all see the marvels of nature, the stars in the sky, the sound of a musical note, the taste of fresh strawberries or the sweet smell of hay in the fall. Some of us just reach different conclusions about it than others. Some call it happenstance or random chance that led to the evolution of life on this planet. Some point to scientific evidence and have well convinced their self that no one could have created this. It’s too complex, too bizarre for any mind to conceive. And I agree with that too.

But here’s the thing I continue to come back to in my thoughts. If God is who the Bible says he is, then do we really expect to understand him or his creation? Could we really worship God if he was anything but so far outside our ability to understand that most of what he has done is beyond our comprehension? Of course not, I wouldn’t want it that way either. That would reduce him to an idol. We could truly capture his essence in a statue or painting if that were the case. We could contain that image–and control it.

Babies are wondrous. From conception to two, four, eight, sixteen, thirty-two cells. How can we even debate the idea that one cell that changes into billions is any less a child that the billion or more? The billion or however many countless cells wouldn’t exist without that one cell, nor would any of us. It’s about the possibility. It’s life, even if it’s less of a mess to ‘clean up’ which is what an abortion is an attempt to do: post-event damage control. Whatever the circumstances that led to IT, IT is still a child.

More to follow…

    More reading

Clone Wars Life is not a board game (see this also) POC POC2POC3

Prayer

I went here like I do nearly every day but I found this. Do yourself a favor, stop reading my mediocre blog and go read this article right now on the DG blog. Here’s a quote:

By prayer, I mean intentionally conveying a message to God.

It’s about time someone had a clear definition.

EDIT: Heres another good post on the subject that I’ve read in the past and I thought I’d post up a link to it as well.

Maintaining your sanity with kids in worship

Having your kids with you in worship can try your patience.

OK. It can really try your patience.

Sigh. Face it, the possibility exists that your patience may never be the same if you keep them in the worship service with you. It may need therapy, actually, if not physical intervention to keep it from doing itself harm. You patience may not be made for this sort of commitment.

But in the long run its not only your responsibility, it’s worthwhile. We talked about that yesterday. It’s the parents responsibility to make sure that their child is brought up in a way that they have every opportunity to know the Lord. For the Christian, this isn’t a debatable point.

Here’s a few tips to help keep you sane. The list is by no means exhaustive so feel free to add your own in the comments.

A good Sunday starts on Saturday Night
The first thing you must have is good planning and execution. If you arrive at Church on Sunday morning already at a high boil, your kids are likely to be in the same shape. For their own good, send them to children’s church or whatever. However, if you arrive at church in state of mind that allows you to calmly deal with their minor transgressions—there are going to be several, brace yourself—then you won’t have to threaten them with death and dismemberment to get them to be ‘relatively’ still.

Lay clothes out on Saturday night

Have a bible study and ‘pray up’ the night before

Get to bed on time or at least at a reasonable hour.

Sunday morning
Get up early enough to get yourself and your family ready. Men, this doesn’t mean getting up early to get yourself ready. This means getting up early enough to get yourself ready and handle the kids breakfast and at least putting their clothes on them. This will allow your wife to get ready and feel good enough about it that she won’t be ready to kill you when she sees you sitting on the couch waiting for everyone else.

Don’t overdose on coffee. I’m always jittery enough on Sunday morning as it is. The extra caffeine raises your blood pressure and drinking the cup takes time and attention away from what you should be doing.

Wives, go easy on the ribbons and bows.

Do what you can to keep the kids from overloading on sugar during Sunday School. Some teachers think they can’t teach the word of God without a tray of cupcakes.

We take a ‘goodie bag’ to the worship service with their bibles, notebooks, pencils so they can ‘take notes’. We don’t let them get anything out, though, until the singing is over and the preaching begins. It’s like their reward for being good and singing and praying. This generally lasts until the sermon is almost over.

If they’re bad, don’t freak out in the sanctuary unless you just can’t get around it. I try to let the kids know that there will be a time for retribution when we get home.

No one ever died from having to carry a screaming child from an auditorium. Don’t panic.

These are some of the things we try to do. How about you?