“Unless you control your money,
Making more won’t help.
You’ll just have bigger payments.”
Four years ago our family added four more children. It was wonderful. Until reality hit home and we suddenly had four times the amount of food to buy, four times the amount of laundry and even laundry detergent, and well…four times the amount of EVERYTHING! But we knew our adoption was heaven sent, therefore God would provide.
We believe that God wants us to use wisdom with our finances. Therefore, Walter and I started a journey that has lasted several years. And we are still walking this out. But our goal is to become as debt free as possible. Now trust me, he and I are not shoppers nor big spenders. But we soon realized that we needed to tighten the purse strings, pay off some credit cards, and live on a much tighter budget if we were going to ever enjoy a family vacation again.
“You can’t get our of debt while keeping
the same lifestyle that got you there.”
Read how our family was blessed with a free vacation! Overwhelmed With Gratitude - Dare To Be | Raising Our Tribe
We have embarked on a New Year. Many of you have made the resolution to gain financial freedom. I do not have all the answers. Nor have we followed anything exactly. But, since many of you have questioned us in regard to our finances and how we can feed “so many kids,” I thought I would share what has worked for us over the past few years.
1. Use cash. Instead of charging things to credit cards or debit cards, use cash for non-bill spending such as eating out, gas, groceries. Spending cash makes the spending more real, and there is an added advantage of knowing when you’re out of cash, instead of spending more than you have.
2. Stay home. Going out makes you more likely to spend unnecessarily. You eat at restaurants, go to the mall, stop at the gas station for snacks. It’s hard to avoid spending when you’re on the road. Instead, stay home, and find free entertainment. It’s also a great way to bond with your family.
3. Cook at home. I know, it seems more difficult than eating out. But it doesn’t have to be hard. Throw together a quick stir-fry with frozen veggies and either boneless chicken. Make home-made pizza with a ready-made crust, some sauce, cheese and veggies. Put some spices on something and throw it in the oven while you cook some brown rice. Not only is this much cheaper than eating out, but it’s healthier.
4. Talk with your spouse weekly. It’s important that you and your significant other be on the same page. You should have the same financial goals, and from there you should agree on a general spending plan. Make sure you both know what bills have been paid, what your balances are, etc. A weekly meeting of just 20 minutes accomplishes that. Communication is key.
5. Pay savings and debt first. When you sit down to pay your bills (I do them all online), make the first bills you pay be your savings transfer and your debt payments. If not, if you pay them last … you’ll often end up shortchanging them. But if you pay them first, you’ll make sure you still pay your rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries and gas … so you’ll just cut back on other spending.
6. Declutter. By getting rid of all the excess stuff in your home, you not only make your life much simpler and more peaceful, but you make it harder to buy stuff that will just clutter things up again. Once you’ve simplified your home, you won’t want to go back.
7. Lend and borrow. Give books and clothes and toys you don’t need anymore to your friends and family. If you need something, send out an email asking if anyone has it. Chances are, they’ll give it to you for free if they don’t use it anymore.
8. Barter. It’s a lost art, but lots of people will take your services or goods instead of money, especially if you’re friends or at least know each other. Get into the habit of offering to barter, and you’ll find yourself saving a lot of money.
9. Try frugal gift-giving. Giving people gifts is one of the most wonderful traditions, as it shows generosity and caring. Until it becomes commercialized. Then it’s just really really expensive. Instead, try giving the gift of spending time with someone. Try re-gifting or buying used items. Try giving them something you baked or made yourself. Try giving them services they’d appreciate. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to be generous.
10. Cut down on groceries. Most people-after they do a budget-are shocked at the amount of money they spend on food. Never just run into the store. Spend time meal planning, looking through cabinets to see what items you already have, and buy items that are on sale.
11. Track your spending! We write a monthly budget, pay all bills, and write down any other expenses. You will be surprised how much you waste on Starbucks and McDonald’s.
12. One of the best money saving tips is simply pack your lunch. We were shocked at how much money we wasted going through the drive thru and picking up lunch.
13. Air dry your clothes. I know it sounds crazy. But when the weather permits this will save money on your electric bill.
14. Let’s talk electric bills….turn off lights, unplug things, and reduce heat/air conditioning. Switch to LED bulbs too. We have cut our electric in half! And never waste a hot oven. I plan ahead and use the oven while hot and avoided the oven during the summer as not to heat the house.
15. As the Duggar family says, “Buy used and save the difference.” This is a must! We have always tried to yard sale, shop at consignment shops, Goodwill or auctions. Now, with social media, buying used is so easy. But remember, separate your wants verses your needs.
16. Have children? Try breastfeeding, purchase used clothing, and use the library for free books and movies. Love the free stuff!
17. Don’t waste gas (or time!). Our family learned to carpool with each other, run errands when going to town only, and group together trips so we would not waste gas.
18. Cut out cable. I’ll admit that we tried. But when Covid hit we needed some entertainment.
19. Reusable Items. I cut down buying so many paper towels (we still buy them) and instead use kitchen towels and hand towels…you know, the stuff your Grandma did. (remember how she wore an apron and wiped her hands on it?)
20. Eat less meat. This is not easy in our home of meat and potato men. But I started cutting back the portion size (they hardly noticed). I only bought meat that was on sale (no premade grocery wish list for me) and learned to use lots of bean and egg recipes. Not only cheaper, but healthier!
21. Buy from the farmer! We have the ability to raise and butcher our own hogs and chickens. But we have also bought a half a cow from a local farmer. Support your local farmers at the Farmer’s Market or simply grow your own garden.
22. Buy bulk for non-perishable items. We shop at a local bargain grocery store that sells dented canned items and discounted groceries. We go monthly and fill the cabinets for a fraction of the cost. I can purchase such things as salad dressing for 75 cents per bottle! Ketchup (and the name brand kind) for about 99 cents for the super large bottles. I stock up on vegetables, rice, and frozen items. I’ve learned to make meals with whatever is in the cabinets. You will learn to be creative!
23. Buy store brand items. It’s a huge misconception that store brand items taste worse than name brand items. Learn to compare prices. You might be shocked how much you save. Remember, every little dollar will add up to your paying off debt.
24. Don’t buy items just because they are on sale. This is huge! Keep to your goal and only buy items necessary. Don’t worry. It will eventually go on sale again…when you have the cash to purchase it.
25. Calculate spending in hours. Let me explain: If you make $20 an hour and see a pair of shoes you want for $60, ask yourself if those shoes are worth 3 hours of hard work. Thinking about how many hours it will take you to pay for something will make you think twice before making the purchase. Impulse shopping will go out the window!
26. Buy used vehicles. We have always done this. I would never advise purchasing a new vehicle as they depreciate in value as soon as you drive off the lot. If possible, pay cash. All of our children have been able to purchase, with cash, their first vehicle.
27. Separate your bananas. This keeps them yellow longer. It really works!
28. Make veggies last longer by putting them in a zip lock bag. If you want lettuce to stay fresh just add a moist paper towel.
29. Use less. We told our kids to use half the amount of soap, shampoo, toothpaste and detergent. Trust me…you won’t even know the difference.
30. Take care of your shoes. It sounds silly, but this was a big deal with 10 kids! Each had a “play” pair of shoes and a “church” pair of shoes. And I was not a nice mama if they wore their good shoes out to feed the chickens! Go barefoot in the summer or wear dollar store flip flops.
31. Cook in bulk or double it up. Make more of your favorite recipe and store it in the freezer. When you need a quick meal, just heat one up. This really saved us money, and time, during the busy soccer season.
32. Go dark. I know I mentioned it earlier but turn off your lights!
33. Wash hands. I know it’s all the rage now during Covid season, but seriously, we have always done this. No, I am not a germ phobia mom. But by simply washing hands we cut down on all kinds of viruses…saving money on doctor bills.
34. Make your own coffee! Think of all the money you waste at Starbucks.
35. Just quit. For my readers who smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol give up these expensive habits. Not only does it damage your health, but it damages your wallet.
36. No more gym. Try virtual classes or stream classes. How about taking a walk around the neighborhood? And it’s FREE!
37. Cheap date nights only. Try going to the matinee or eat an earlier bird special…which is always cheaper. And don’t be afraid to smuggle in your own snacks to avoid the over-priced popcorn and candy.
38. Stop wasting food. I have learned some creative ways to use left overs and I have been a stickler on closing chip bags and putting lids on things properly.
39. Try home remedies. I have really learned this over the past year (it will be a blog all in itself). If your feeling a little under the weather try such things as honey for a cough or ginger for nausea. It will avoid the costly visit to the doctor.
40. Save your loose change. Toss it in a jar and use it the next time you want to splurge on that pumpkin latte.
All you need to do is realize that you can survive and be happy with less stuff and that you should be less wasteful with the things you have.
We highly recommend taking Dave Ramsey financial classes.
Ideas to save money...
Fishing is a fun, and cheap, family activity.
Camping is cheap family fun! Camping Life Lessons (raisingourtribe.org)
Learn to fix things yourself. We YouTube everything!
Read how we use life skills within our homeschool: The Top 15 Essential Life Skills to Teach Your Kids (raisingourtribe.org)
4H is a great social outlet, you learn lots, and it allows for so many free fun activities.
Read all about our 4H Farm Fair Adventure: Lessons Learned at the 4-H Farm Fair | Raising Our Tribe
Victoria works at the barn in exchange for free riding lessons.
We have learned our own vet care. So much cheaper!
If you can't pay cash, you can't afford it.
Dream Again: The Great Resolution (raisingourtribe.org)
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