Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A budget

How is it that we have summer one week and winter the next? I think here in the northeast we have enjoyed ohh about two weeks of beautiful fall weather and yesterday....my car said 39 degrees....it was cold! The wind was blowing...hard! Those 150 foot poplar trees I told you about on Monday, that stand tall in my back yard....you know the ones I love so much for all the leaves they give us for some leaf jumping fun...well they were a swaying today! They looked like twizzler sticks bending back and forth. You can't watch them for long because your mind goes to "what if one of those trees just snaps??" Yehh...not a good place for my mind to go. The rain poured down and it was just down right cold and dreary.



My husband had to travel in to NYC for the evening for a dinner appointment...so the kids and I were flying solo for dinner last night. When my husband is away, dinner is usually either take out or breakfast: pancakes, cereal, french toast....I personally could east breakfast for every meal. Anyway, I had to take Luke to piano lessons and Ben chimed in and asked if on the way home, we could get take-out. (He knows the drill as well and likes to know what is coming next......ummm does he get that from me??)



As much as I didn't really want to make dinner last night....I had to tell Ben no. Trust me, my mind had already gone to take-out.....but we are turning a new corner around here. I told Ben, we weren't getting take out tonight because it is the end of the month and there isn't money. He looked at me with a confused face, as that response is not usually one he gets....can you see where I'm going here.



A household budget.......



For those of you who have household budgets that you are able to adhere to.....I am in awe of you and inspired by you. I have a lot to learn and God is dealing with me graciously.



Here's what has happened. We are all facing tighter times. Our oil prices this year have doubled. Last year I could pay $100 a month on the budget plan to fill our oil tank, to heat our house, this year that monthly payment is $200. The same goes for putting gas in our cars. We have a little reprieve right now, but not holding tightly that those gas prices will stick around for long. Food prices have gone up.....feeding 4 growing boys and a little girl tends to add up, not to mention clothing my crew. We are all feeling the same pinches......some of us more than others. I know many people being severely stretched financially right now with husbands being laid off, the self-employed struggling to find construction bids, family who is sick and unable to work etc... As the global financial markets have plummeted, people have lost thousands in the stock market. Times are tough financially. It seems like that one world economy isn't too far in the distant future....a cashless society.



That Satan is in the mix of it all really gets me. I know it is all leading up to our Jesus coming back and taking His church home. Trust me....I can't wait for that day....come, Lord Jesus...come. I can't wait to be worshipping God in heaven and holding my son again. But today...God is calling me to be a good steward of all that He has given. Today, I need to be responsible with what He has called me to. I need to be accountable to what I spend on food, on clothing, on the children...on running this house. It is no different than the manager who oversees a whole department and is in charge of the budget for that department. If you are in the red....you are losing money and not managing properly....over time....you are in big trouble.

Mind you, I am not a saver by nature....but I am always looking for a good bargain to save money. Barclay will chuckle at the fact that I won't shop at Linens N Things without a 20% coupon...and if I get to the store and forgot the coupon....well back home I go to get it (crazy...I know!). I don't usually buy anything full price....because I just can't justify the price tag knowing that at some point, it will be on sale. I shop consignment stores for the kids. I sell Faith's clothes on Ebay and then use that the money I make to buy her clothes for the next season. I love Marshall's and TJMaxx....always discounted! I am usually a practical spender and have to think through how much use each item will get and I will definitely shop around for the best price! Give me a coupon and you've got my business. But the trouble is....I do like to shop. A sale really doesn't matter if you don't need the item to begin with. That seems to be my trouble. Buying to bring some sort of satisfaction or fulfillment.....when I should only be buying what I need and no more. All of this stuff will some day fade away, get old, get broken, be out of style, get a hole in the knee......be gone. I desire to be content. It is a choice to be content.

"Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money if a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." 1 Timothy 6:6-10

Well, this weekend, Barclay and I sat down to do the budget. We have "done" the budget many times before....actually added up over the 14 years of our marriage....we've tried many different scenarios: I've done it myself. I become overwhelmed. I ask him to manage the money. His time is already spread thin. We try it together, but no one really oversees it regularly....and we end up spending more than we should. We fall away from any real budget and just try to stay in the "loosely" held amounts for each area. It is really the miscellaneous money I am talking about here....not the money that goes toward set bills.

About 2-3 years ago, we began moving away from credit cards completely and into a debit card only. I can't tell you how wonderful this move alone is. But the problem has been that if we overspend, we take the money from savings. Not really that wise. And sooner or later, the savings account isn't what it was in the beginning.

Did I mention I was a writing major in college......math and science are far from my area of wisdom and expertise. God is so working on me in this area right now. What it really comes down to for me...is discipline and obedience.

But back to the cashless society.......what a trick by Satan. I have found that when I don't actually watch the money leave my hand and have to place it in the cashier's hand.....when I don't see the amount of money decrease in my wallet......I overspend. That is the trick by Satan and lures us into credit cards. Spending what we can't actually see and don't really have. When I'm not using cash and not watching the money regularly, I forget that I spent "way too much" at Target. I forget that I spent more than I should have on groceries. I forget that at the beginning of the month I bought myself some new clothes. I forget that we already had take-out too many times that month. By the end of the month, I've overspent.

But when I use cold, hard cash and watch the money dwindle.....I stop spending....because when it is gone, it is gone. My younger sister, Tasha, has used this system for a long time and as much as I wanted it to work...and it did when I used it, but then I would fall into my old ways and whip out that debit card...and fall back into the same sin cycle of overspending. Indulging instead of restraining.



Well, God has been convicting my heart of our finances for awhile. It is an area that I haven't really wanted to address and an area that I have only half given him. Partial obedience is really disobedience. I have been disobedient in not being a good steward of His money. All that we have is God's. It is all a gift from Him. He is the ultimate provider. He has blessed my husband with a wonderful job, but my hope cannot be in my husband's job. My hope has to be in God alone because tomorrow, my husband's job could be gone. Jesus is my hope. I have to trust Him that He will give the manna we need for today. Just like the Israelites, I can't hoard the manna and store it for tomorrow because then it is in my own strength. Then I am not trusting Him and relying on Him fully. Tomorrow's manna will rot. God says:

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:34

"Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you. O you of little faith?" Matthew 6:30

And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?" Luke 12:42,43



So, beginning this Friday, we are embarking on a new household budgeting system. My husband and I prayed together this weekend about it. We are giving it to God. We are committed to spending only what we have and staying within the budget. We are using cash for all of our miscellaneous purchases. Kind of like a weekly allowance system. We have set up separate bank accounts for groceries only, bills only, savings and then cash for miscellaneous needs like clothing, birthday presents, take-out, etc....I pray that God will give me the discipline I need so desperately to be obedient. I pray that as we tend to our finances and give them all to God that He will do the work and He will be glorified.

"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Matthew 6:24

I pray that God also gets our first fruits. That we give to Him all that is due Him in our tithes and our offerings. It is built into the budget. Our finances, our money....it is all His. I am excited about the changes in our household. As with everything, I can't do it in my own strength, only through Him...but I must choose today whom I will serve. I must choose today to spend wisely, to save wisely and to be faithful with everything He has blessed us with.

I would love to hear from you if you have a budget and system that really works for your family. I believe this is such an area of our lives where we dishonor God and my heart cries out for that to change. That God would be honored in everything.


Change is always good.

In His hands, Stacy

20 comments:

Jill said...

Oh can't wait to see you Friday and hear how this is going to work in more detail.

We too have tried different budgeting things - but something always comes up - like one more mouth to feed, extra things needed and something breaking. Always something comes up. We joke - can't blame it on my shopping because I truly hate it! I went over budget this month just from buying all the kids warm clothes as winter is coming much quicker than expected.

I'm praying on this with you and will look forward to gleening any and all wisdom God has for me through your obedience!

I love you!
In His grace,
Jill

He And Me + 3 said...

Stacy,

We are following Dave Ramseys plan and doing very well. Your plan new sounds similiar to his. I am a shopper too, so I can totally relate. In these times, I do feel that being debt free is very important. We are trying very hard to get there as quickly as we can...
God will honor your efforts.
Mimi

Allyson said...

So you know the situation in our house - the accountant adheres to a strict budget and we have to turn in receipts! The excel spreadsheet is a regular feature of tracking, etc. This has been a lesson in yielding to me and the Lord has really convicted me of needs vs. wants. I used to be that shopper - just browsing TJMaxx and of course, I could always find something whether I needed it or not. Now it's almost a challenge to me to find things as reasonable as I can - like finding 2 pairs of brand new pjs for kids at the local consignment shop.

The Lord will carry you as you desire to be obedient in this area. It is a challenge, but He is faithful.

Debra said...

Stacy,

After years of my husband and I spending just like the scenario you described ~ practically identical ~ we began the Dave Ramsey plan this year.

I can't begin to tell you how this commitment has begun to press us but we know that the end result will be a great blessing.

We will catch bad habits of eating out and reign it in quickly .. we plan ahead .. I'm cooking more than I ever did (tee hee).

We actually signed up online to the Dave Ramsey financial money makeover ... we are doing the gazelle budget and loving it.

May the Lord bless your efforts to be a good steward. ((hugs)) to you & your family.

Kelly said...

Hi Stacy!

Praying with you on this subject!! Brett and I just recently started a financial course called "Financial Freedom". We have taken the Dave Ramsey course..though it's not completely 'biblical' through out the entire course..this new one we are using is 100% biblical, so we are really learning a LOT about God and His plan for our lives! Amazing! The course is by Jim Sammons...we actually found it on The Duggars Family website a while back when we learned that their family of like 20 is completely debt free!

We have watched a few of the sessions and the workbook and already KNOW that this is going to be wonderful for our family - though I must admit that it's difficult to drop your old habits! Ugh. We will be praying for you! Let us khnow if you come up with any great tools/ideas on this subject.

PS..thank you so much for your prayers and thoughts this week! I will write back tomorrow, hopefully during nap time! God bless!

X's and O's!
Kelly

Tricia said...

This is a great post and really hits home... our money has been much tighter lately and we are having to stick closer to our budget than we normally do also.

One thing we do that helps us track where our money goes is to put it all on an excel spreadsheet. We have each item in our budget listed as well as each month of the year, then we put all our receipts for anything and everything in a basket, when it gets full I put them on the computer. Excel also has this thing where you can add a comment, so you can put notes with items as to what the money was spent on.

This has been great for us to be able to look at to see where we can and need to cut.

It also has been wonderful to see how God is truly our ultimate Provider. There have been a couple of instances lately where God has just blessed my socks off in how He has provided so graciously for us!

You will be blessed by your obedience!

Blessings!

Named Alicia said...

Hey Stacy! You sound alot like me. I love to shop, but will not buy if it is not a bargain. And yes, I, too, am trying to watch what I spend. We are working towards a budget, but not there entirely. I pray it goes well for you guys. You will have to let us know. Take care, my friend!

Under the Florida Sun said...

Oh exciting and scary at the same time. I will be praying for you!

We have lived on a family budget for many years. God has also brought people into our lives that we have come alongside and helped create budgets.

We have always used Crown Ministries approach, but I here Dave Ramsey is very good.

But most of all, pray and God will lead you (as He already is). I've seen people start a budget then stop because they just didn't like giving up control. It is hard, but soon you will see the fruit of it and it will be very exciting!

What a testimony and example you will be starting for your children too.

Always remember, even when the numbers don't match up .. Jehovah Jireh! God provides!

Blessings..

Amy~Saved by Grace said...

seems like everytime I even get close to going to a budget We get hammered by satan financially. We spend 1000 on hurrican stuff in one month and 1600 on truck repairs this month. Whew

Mike said...

So true. I am much like you, a bargain shopper. Justifying myself that it was a "super deal" in order to buy it. The kids have way too many shirts this year. I cannot shut the draw. Do they really need all those shirts? They usually end up wearing the same ones. It is okay, I got them on clearance last season. I am convicted everytime I try and shut their drawer.
We have the loose plan like you. We use our credit card and pay it off completely each month. I went to pay it this month and WOW....I was convicted.
I am grateful in these times for Mike's job and our small little house with a small mortgage and ELECTRIC heat pump. Still God is teaching me daily about my wants vs. HIS wants for my life.

Mike said...

By the way...Mike is Adrianne. I set up the account in Mike's name.

Tonya said...

Hey there, Friend!

I came by to say THANKS for your encouraging words and for celebrating Brent's birthday with us. It was a TRUE BLESSING to know that he was remembered by so many.

As for budgeting, we need to do that ourselves. Just be better with our money, ya know? I've been listening to Dave Ramsey some this week. He's got some GREAT ways to work out debt. (I was gonna post his website but can't remember it at the moment.. I bet you can google him)

Anyway... I guess that's all I had. LOL! It's hard to concentrate.. our 11 year old won't stop talking to me. HA!!

Have a GREAT weekend!

LOVE,
Tonya

Lynnette Kraft said...

Hi Stacy,
Come on over to my blog and read about details to enter my book giveaway! I'd love to send you a book! :) Tell your friends about it too. Okay?
Lynnette

Grandparents Corner said...

Stacy,
The first time visiting your site and I'm enjoying it. And my first read is your blog on budgeting, the exact one I needed to hear. I've asked my husband to take over bill paying the beginning of the year and he has agreed, and to make us a budget. Right now we eat out whenever we please (just the two of us - kids are grown). I'm not much of a shopper though thankfully. But we just aren't saving like we should. So thank you for your posting today to get me thinking of what we need to do to be better stewards to God. We already tithe and give offerings, we're just not being held accountable to the other part. I've just gotten back into blogging after being ill for a long while. I pray this all works out for your family to God's glory, and I'd like to keep following to see how y'all are doing! Be blessed and I hope you will stop by too! ~ Bonnie

Cathy said...

Stacy, Just stopping by to say during this season of Jesus! I noticed you haven't posted lately and was wondering if you are doing ok. I do read all Annabel's post and appreciate your visits.

Rami*Reconciled said...

Hello! I'm new here, just happened across your blog. If I didn't know any better I'd say that I wrote that post haha. God has also been dealing with me on my spending habits and our budget. I've found the beauty in the thrift stores, especially for books and sometimes for clothing. This past week during my various trips to walmart I tried to go with Gods guidance... this might sound religious but it's helped me a lot. I simply asked, "Can I have this? Should I buy this?" Be prepared though, sometimes the answer is no! hahaha. I don't like the "no's" lol. But it has really shown me just how much I spend flippantly, without a second thought, on things I don't need or that I already have at home. I've saved so much already this week just by asking the simple question, "can i have it?" It also came to my attention that I'd been spending 10 dollars a week on soda, thats 40 dollars a month. That doesn't seem like a lot to most people but it's the little things that always add up. The little things are the tricky things. We notice when we drop 300 on a new outfit but when 3 or 5 dollars disappears daily we just don't stop to notice it. I've decided today to start shopping in bulk as well, yay sams club. I don't know what amount I'll save but I know that times are only going to get harder and now is the time to get everything in order before it gets far worse.

May you be blessed in your endevours!

Rami

sweet jenn said...

I admire women who manage a household with more than one child..lol. You have five and I am in awe of you! It scares me to think that if I have one more that maybe everything will begin to fall apart from my "perfect plan"...silly, right?

Anyway, I love your post about your budget. My husband and I decided that we would avoid debt at all costs. We didn't dig ourselves a hole at all, which I think is what causes newly married couples to get themselves into trouble for so long. We just use self control and pay cash for things (except for our house, of course, and my car). In my opinion we are doing pretty well...

Thanks for your honesty!

Sarah Dawn said...

Just found your blog, I'll be back. Thanks for being real and allowing your life to reflect Christ. Your words are reaching around the world.

Blessings from Costa Rica,
Sarah Dawn

Corie said...

I think of you often...and come over every know and then to see your cute family. Hope you are doing well.

Inner Fire Ministries said...

More than a year later--I'm wondering how it is going for you? I loved reading your article...it's where I'm at. Thanks!!