Incredibly money savvy, my parents became masters at pinching pennies.
Dad had a degree in book-keeping and meticulously tracked the checkbook.
Mom sewed our clothes, taught at the Christian school where I attended (in exchange for free tuition and insurance), and clipped coupons like a mad woman.
Daily, she listened to Larry Burkett’s radio show, “Money Saving Matters”.
I graduated from Bible college with a bachelor of arts degree in Bible and music debt free – thanks to their keen financial wisdom.
How did they do it on such a meager income? How can you raise a family without going up to your ears in debt?
1. Follow sound advice
(I have no affiliation with the links or resources I’m sharing today. You’re welcome.)
Research the internet – Crown Financial Ministries is an excellent resource to help you get started on debt consolidation or education on career help, investments, or building a business.
This article from Cbn.com lists “6 steps to becoming free from debt” by Larry Burkett.
Garner wisdom from books. Kindle carries one by Larry Burkett called, “How to Manage your Money” for $11.99.
Take a course on debt management or saving money. Dave Ramsey’s website offers “The online and on your time bundle” for just $109.00.
Find out if your church offers a class.
Seek advice from someone older and wiser who’s been around the block. This is kind of a no-brainer, but really, who to better glean from than mom or dad?
2. Decide who’s paying the bills
Early in our marriage, we lived 4 hours from home – two kids wet behind the ears, making our way in the world.
Jim paid the bills.
We took a trip home once a month, and just outside town, stopped at the 7-11 to buy gas and fill up our Big Gulp to share (does anyone remember the giant Big Gulp cup for 99 cents? Refills were $.25 ).
And purchased two chili-cheese dogs for dinner.
One Friday evening, Jim, having worked through lunch that day, bought 3 dogs while I waited in the car. On our way, he pulled a second hot dog out of the bag (after I consumed my one).
Being especially hungry myself, I cranked the stereo and didn’t talk to him the rest of the drive home.
If you’re going to buy something out of the ordinary, discuss it with your mate.
And yes, I was a grouch.
(You learn a lot about give-and-take within the first 6 months of marriage).
Communication is key in marital finances. Click To Tweet
As time wore on, I took over the bills and developed my own system.
But Jim and I were not on the same page about spending.
We waged the war for 15 years, when Jim finally decided I’d bounced one too many checks.
So he took over the bills and promptly bounced his own checks.
We finally arrived at the same page and began to turn the ship around.
Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship. ~Benjamin Franklin
3. Establish a system
I tried to follow my dad’s rule of thumb:
pay God (tithe)
pay bills (also groceries and any needs)
and pay yourself (put money in savings).
Except the kids came along and there never seemed to be any money left over to save.
I kept a legal pad with the bills written out for the 1st and the 15th of each month.
Also, the grocery budget.
And then, the line called, “extra” – which really meant everything else.
There are better ways to keep a budget these days.
Take advantage of online billing (going paperless), and other programs to keep you on track.
Develop a filing system.
Keep a safe box for annual taxes and important documents.
Discuss all finances with your mate and work together.
4. Live within your means
If your riches are yours, why don’t you take them with you to t’other world?
It doesn’t matter what kind of grill the Higgenbottoms have, or what type of granite backsplash your friend Marsha just installed in her kitchen.
What matters is what you can afford, and if you can’t afford it – don’t get it.
There are plenty of things you need, and plenty of things you want. Learn to tell the difference. Click To Tweet
Only you and your husband can determine what that looks like for your household.
But everyone’s budget looks different.
Avoid the hamster wheel – you don’t get anywhere that way.
And don’t be making side trips to the mall and sneaking merchandise in your closet before the husband gets home.
(Not that I’ve ever done that.)
5. Don’t get sucked into credit
You need a dining room table. Harry Housen’s Home furnishings has financing – 3 years same as cash.
Better yet, put it on that shiny new piece of plastic – after all, you’ve got $5,000 worth of credit on that puppy.
It’s only 20 bucks a month!
Yeah – for like 10 years.
Upon the birth of our first child, we decided we “needed” a couch. There wasn’t enough seating if all the grandparents paid a visit at once.
Did we already have a couch?
Was it paid for?
Did we not just receive our first credit card in the mail?
And it only cost us $30 a month.
It was a nice couch.
But that was the beginning of our credit card woes.
Because once you start, you justify other “needs”.
It began a downward spiral…
and took years to pay off our debt.
There’s a fine line between need and want – the outer edges become grey and blurry, especially if you don’t have a rule of thumb to follow.
But the number one rule of thumb when it comes to spending money is this:
Spend less than you earn.
Save your money. Don't spend unnecessarily. And stay off QVC. Click To Tweet
And if you’ve got kids, eat out very little, because by the time they’re in college, you’ll wish you had all that Olive Garden money back.
Deny your fleshly lusts
suck it up
and make dinner.
A little hard work goes a long way towards saving money.
Follow sound advice, decide your family bill paying system, communicate with your spouse, live within your means, and don’t abuse credit.
Suze Orman says, People first, then money, then things.
No matter how much money you have (or how little) there’s no replacement for time spent with the people you hold dear. Learn to do with less, so you can work less and spend more time with your family.
Because the money hat isn’t for wearing – it’s for saving.