Saturday, March 14, 2009

Living Like No One Else

Today I had the chance to share with a few ladies at church about how we are really living like no one else right now. As in, we are clearly focused on eliminating our debts, committing our finances to following Christian principles, and living a frugal lifestyle. It's a whole shift in thinking and living, and it's honestly not for the faint at heart, or for someone trying to keep up with the Joneses.

So what does it mean to live as a member of the Ward family? It means:

1. Living off 90% of our income because our tithe check is written before all others.

2. Coupon clipping, sale shopping, and menu planning to squeeze every last penny we can from our grocery budget.

3. Participating in Angel Food Ministries to round out our grocery shopping.

4. Clothes are never bought at full price. I scour the clearance racks and buy ahead sizes when I see something I just can't pass up. Lauren already has a jacket for next winter because I found one for $7 on clearance at JcPenney. Bought now for $7 instead of the first snowfall for $50. Now that I think about it, all 3 of my kids have winter jackets ready to go for next winter! I've spent $17 on jackets: $10 Nathan, $7 Lauren, and Nick has Nathan's old jacket that was bought for $10 about 6 years ago.

5. I pack my lunch for work and bring that along with me daily. There are a lot of days where I have meetings that provide lunch, so that's always a bonus. When I get things like cookies or other snacks like that, I toss them in my purse and bring them home for Nathan to take in his lunch. I certainly don't need the cookies!

6. I cut my dryer sheets in half. I tried using a bunch of other things in my laundry and nothing worked to eliminate the static electricity. So, the best I can do is cut them in half and buy the Sam's Club brand ones.

7. We traded in my Toyota that had over $12,000 still owed on it and bought a much cheaper vehicle. Not only do I love my minivan, we can all sit very comfortably in it, something we could not do in the Toyota.

8. Economize on gas. Everytime we get in the car to go somewhere, we think about what else we can combine into the trip to save us a bit on gas. If we go into town for something, it is not a one store trip. In a few weeks, I am combining a trip for work into a visit with my family, and that is going to work out very well for us!

9. We don't go on vacations and instead find fun things to do around town. We live near a beautiful lake, so people come HERE to vacation, why would we leave? Eventually we'll go on a few family vacations I am sure, but not until we can pay for them 100% with cash.

10. Every dollar spent is intentional and maximized. If I am buying gas, I see if it's cheaper to go to Speedway since I build up Speedway rewards points. If I am buying something online, I go through MyPoints to earn points. At the end of the year, we cash in all of our points and use them towards gifts. This past Christmas we were able to get a $25 gift card to Omaha Steaks, 2 $10 gift cards to Panera Bread, a $10 gift card to Cracker Barrell, and a $25 gift card to Lowe's. We're already on track to pull a repeat performance this year at Christmas, I am pretty excited!

So anyways, that's just a tiny glimpse into the ways we've found to cut the budget bare bones and not rely on debt to sustain our family. It's not always glamorous, but we know that it will not be this way forever and we'll have some breathing room soon and that makes us even more determined to be debt free forever even sooner!