Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Ways I Avoid Excessive Spending

Thankfully Jonathan and I are 100% on the same page when it comes to our priorities and the areas we want to invest in.  We are very clear on what we want for our life & spend time seeking the Lord for vision and praying about direction.  We believe that any money we earn is God-given through us being a good steward of our time, talent, and resources, so we wan to be mindful of how we steward his resources. We have to prove we can be trusted with little before he will give us more.
So for example, because health is such a priority for us, food + quality supplements rank in the top. Because giving is a priority, we manage our money in a way that allows us to give beyond our tithes.  (We made it a habit years ago to write our tithe check immediately when we get paid for several reasons, and this is what we will teach our boys to do also.) We both prefer experiences over things & prefer family time over hobbies. It’s important to me to drive a safe car since it’s carrying our most precious cargo and people are more distracted than ever.  I also want to have as “non-toxic” of a home as possible, so things like our water filter, air purifier, and personal care products are something I don’t mind splurging on (thankfully some of the biggies are a one time purchase). I do still try to avoid paying full price by stocking up during major sales, buying from Costco & Thrive Market, pre-loading coupons for Kroger, etc., but we agree these are important areas & somewhere we’re not willing to go the cheap route. Of course we aren’t perfect and there is always room for improvement, and I know everyone has different priorities. Not everyone has the same long term goals, same circumstances, etc., so obviously this is going to be unique to each person. (And yes, I’m well aware that putting yourself out there as much as I do welcomes criticism, but my goal is always to share what works with us so it may encourage or help someone else.) SO, here are a few of the ways we avoid excess spending.
- Decide what are priorities for you and your family, & if it’s not something getting you closer to the person you want to be or the lifestyle you want to be living in five years, cut it. I know there is a balance of enjoying life & planning wisely for the future, & I think that’s sometimes an area we forget to seek the Lord in. There are lots of things we’ve been able to cut that weren’t really adding any value to our lives when we stopped to think about it.
- Plan your meals/snacks for the week (or month), create a grocery list, then stick to it as closely as possible. We spend a good bit of money on groceries since we eat at home most of the time and mostly eat organic, so planning in advance helps me not to be wasteful. There is nothing worse than throwing away an unopened box of $6 organic baby spinach that has expired…again. (By the way, we started making smoothies again every day during our Daniel Fast this year, so we have started using all greens! I’ll share my fave smoothie recipe in the next post.)
- Cut cable. It saved us over $1200/year by cutting cable. Honestly, most of what’s on tv is garbage anyway. Even the few decent things have ridiculous commercials, and even if you can fast forward through them, I found that I wasn’t nearly as productive when I wasted time watching tv. I know I’m probably what most would consider extreme or ultra conservative when it comes to entertainment choices (we don’t even let the boys watch lots of Disney movies that contain false gods/witchcraft/disobeying parents), but I believe what you allow into your home & head matters. People probably make fun of me for some of the ways we’re pretty hard core, but I believe Galatians 1:10 & Phil 4:8 & fortunately I’ve developed a pretty thick skin when it comes to things like this. If everybody else is doing it,most likely I don’t want to be! (I wish I would have adopted this mentality as a teenager and college student. Sure would have saved me some time, struggles, & money!) I will never forget a few years ago watching a Friends rerun. It had become mine & Jonathan’s “thing” when we were living in the rental house. We’d watch an episode late at night while laying in bed after all the boys were asleep, and one day I was super convicted about it. Would I want my boys behaving in the way they were? Sleeping around, having multiple partners outside of marriage, etc.? When the answer was a big fat NO, I realized that I had no business letting that in my home. Again, I know that might sound extreme, but if you run it through the filter “God, am I honoring you in watching this? Would I be excited or embarrassed if Jesus came back right now? Would I feel comfortable watching this if the Lord himself were sitting on the couch with me?” My goal is constantly be moving more towards righteousness and less like the world in every area, and entertainment was the first place I started.
-Buy quality when you can: it lasts forever. Make up brushes, shoes, classic clothing items, purses/wallets…I try to buy quality when it comes to things like that. The workout pants I wore today? I got them for Christmas when I was 20. (I’m 33 now.) They’re still cute (I mean, maybe not as cute as the skin tight nude leggings some people are wearing, but that’s a whole notha post)& they still work just fine, so why would I buy more? (Clearly I have several pairs, but they have lasted so well. Tip: Don’t dry them in the dryer!) My best friend bought me a designer purse for my birthday several years ago (I know, jackpot) because she said she knew it was something I wouldn’t buy for myself, and it’s still the purse I carry today. Jonathan bought me a nice wallet years and years ago, and that’s my wallet. Yep- one purse. One wallet. Since I’ve taken care of them both, I don’t feel the need for something new & I don’t really care if it matches everything or not (although it usually does). I was given a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses , but before that I just wore cheap sunglasses that didn’t squeeze my head (y’all know what I’m talking about). They’re all still classy & timeless. I may not be totally cutting edge, but I’m okay with that. I also don’t have any real jewelry other than my engagement ring & wedding band. Designer/name brand stuff is not that important to me (anymore). I’m not saying there is anything wrong with it, but remember the whole goal of the post is ways to avoid excessive spending. Not about condemnation, (because there was a time when I did NOT do all of these things & was pretty much the opposite), so it’s just tips that have helped me. I’m sure as I’ve aged my priorities have changed too…I guess that’s “adulting” (AKA: maturity). By the way…The last two tops I bought were at Costco & Super Kroger (bwhahha, yes I’m serious, and yes I know my fashion friends are rolling their eyes), but they’re cute & you’d never know they came from a grocery store.
- I quit getting my nails done. I honestly stopped because I learned how toxic so much of what they use and the polish is, but I realized that I’ve actually saved a GOOD bit of money my simply doing them myself. (I have some non-toxic fingernail polish recommendations if you’re interested!) I’m not saying I won’t ever get them done again….I still will for special occasions, but it definitely isn’t a monthly deal like it used to be.
-Don’t wash your hair every day. Hahhaa!!! (But for real. If you’ve known me for a while, you knew this was coming.) Saves money on hair care products…am I right? At least I’m not skipping the biggies like brushing my teeth & wearing deodorant! (And P.S. You can totally still shower without washing yo hair!)I’m actually a very clean/hygienic person, but I will not wash my hair every day. I think the people who do are unicorns or something!
-Use the public library. We are book junkies up in here. This is one of those “priority areas” for me, so I don’t mind investing money in books. We have a LOT of books in our household! Some on Audible, but most are paperback. Still, I personally feel like the library is such an underutilized FREE resource, so lots of times I’ll check out books, & if it’s something I have to have (so I can highlight, re-read, etc.), I’ll buy my own copy. Side note: it drives me nuts when someone refers to personal growth books as “self help.” NOT the same thing. And I cannot get why anyone would not want to invest in their personal growth to become a better version of themselves?
-Don’t go shopping unless you have a specific need. Am I winning an award for the biggest party pooper yet? I know, I know…And trust me, I love Sephora, Target, HomeGoods, & Hobby Lobby as much as the next gal. But guess what…if I go in, I come out with things I don’t need. I suddenly have a desire for things that never even crossed my mind before walking into the store. Suddenly I feel like I need a makeover, a new wardrobe, and complete home renovation…like, where did that even come from? It’s marketing at its finest, right? I’m not saying I NEVER go shopping, but I try to shop with intentionality.  Jonathan too. If he sees something he wants/needs, he checks to see if he can find it cheaper online. I’m not much of a “browser",” & that includes online shopping. They make it SO easy to click & buy, that I’m mindful to shop from a list so I don’t impulse buy. I have learned that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (Notice I didn’t say complacency there! BIG difference!) You may not have this issue, but for me, I have found it’s better to just not spend lots of extra time shopping because it makes me want more things I don’t need and spend excessively when what I already have is plenty. I honestly think this is one of the areas where I save our family the most money in terms of excess spending. (I’m sure it also helps that I have 3 boys. Boys clothes aren’t as expensive as girls clothes I’m sure, and I can just pass it down.) Fun fact: I’ve never even been in Lululemon!
- Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. Buy something when you actually need it. If it’s something you know you’ll use, that makes sense. But just buying something because it’s on sale? That’s wasteful. I’ve heard women talk about how much money they’re saving by shopping sales. Maybe if they’re things you were absolutely going to buy anyway, then yes. But otherwise, it doesn’t make sense to “spend to save.” It’s still spending.
- Choose your hobbies wisely. For both of us, working out is our stress relief/hobby/the thing we do for ourselves. It’s a priority for both of us and the benefits are off the charts…improved health, confidence, endorphins, stress relief, social time, etc. Thankfully it’s something we both enjoy and look forward to, so it’s pretty much our hobby. Don’t get me wrong. There are other things we both like doing. Jon likes playing golf. I like shopping & spa trips. But we decided a few years ago we wanted to “live like no one else now so we could live like no one else later” and temporarily gave those things up. It has just kind of “stuck,” but it has saved us thousands and thousands of dollars. I do think we’ll pick them back up when the kiddos are older, but there’s a big difference between self-care and selfish. I’m not saying a hobby is selfish, but I do think there is a tendency for hobbies to become a greater priority than they should be, and that can be an issue when it leads to excessive spending.
- Choose vacations wisely. I did mention we’d rather have experiences than things, so rather than buying the kids lots of toys throughout the year, we save that money and invest it into traveling. It’s amazing how quickly buying something here and there every time you go to the store adds up, and then the kids become expectant and less grateful. (We don’t even really do birthday gifts since we do parties, & we don’t do a whole lot at Christmas outside of the need, a read, a few wants and a wear. My mom really likes to buy clothes, so she buys lots of the clothes. Jon’s dad and sister usually do the bigger gifts for the boys. We are so grateful for people who love on our kiddos!)
- Beware of those little things that add up. Starbuck’s, stopping at the gas station, pulling through somewhere, forgetting to take the RedBox back (#oops), ordering a drink when eating out…it’s amazing how quickly all those little things add up. I try to plan ahead as often as possible, bring our own drinks & snacks when we’re out, & avoid spontaneous spending.
- Don’t buy music. If there is an artist I’m passionate about supporting that’s one thing, because I get that it’s their livelihood…but music is free? I’m old school & pretty much just listen to the free Pandora app all day. Chain Breaker radio is my jam & station of choice.
- Become a wholesale shopper IF you can avoid buying things you don’t need. Diapers, toilet paper, electric toothbrush heads, olive oil…all coming from Costco! They are cheaper per unit than at the grocery store & even on Amazon. If I can get something at Dollar General or Wal-Mart, I totally will. Most of my pantry staples and snacks come from Thrive Market because it’s hands down the cheapest for lots of my favorite things. I make LISTS so I stick to them & don’t come home with new bath towels, chocolate covered acai berries, a shredder, and a 2 night supply of Boom Chicka Pop (cuz y’all know even that giant bag is so addicting!). Again, we don’t really skimp on food or supplements, because investing in your health is one of the greatest investments you can make outside of eternal investments.
-Don’t drink. Alcohol is expensive. It can be costly in more ways than one. We honestly have just as much (if not more fun) without it. And most alcohol is not very good for you anyway, despite the marketing trying to falsely advertise that they are. Highly pesticide sprayed wheat/grapes? No thanks, I’d rather not drink Round Up. There are other ways to load up on adaptogens and antioxidants. But if nothing else, it saves money.
-Invest inwardly. There was a time when I struggled majorly with insecurity about my physical appearance. People commented about my body specifically, & I spent a lot of time and money trying to undo some negative thinking I had from hurtful comments others had made. It’s not their fault…it was mine for not being rooted in my identity so it didn’t matter what they said. I am so thankful the Lord shifted my focus, & now I am very much a minimalist when it comes to physical appearance. It is only because of the Lord working on my heart, but I feel like I am way more inwardly focused now. Phew, y’all, there is such freedom in that! It was exhausting. It’s amazing that I do less and yet am way more content than I’ve ever been. I know I always joke about not fixing my hair & having a 5 minute makeup routine, but really, it was never fun to me when it took me an hour to get ready. Don’t get me wrong. I still take care of myself and try to look presentable (most days anyway), but I want others to see something that radiates from within. God looks at the heart, & I want my heart to be beautiful. That takes work…but it’s FREE work! Hahah!!
I think we are both naturally more frugal in the day to day things, but that’s because we want to be able to say YES to the bigger things. FCA needs Bibles? We want to be able to write a check. A friend’s kid is going on a mission trip? Where can I donate? Come across the perfect investment property? We’ll take it! Saying “no” to things that don’t really matter allows you to put your “yes” on the table for the things that do. When I reread that list, I was thinking “Wow, I kind of sound like a boring prude,”but the reality is we live a beautiful, fulfilled, exciting life! And it just keeps getting better. And again, I totally get everyone has different priorities than us. That’s what makes the world go round, right? I know not everyone has the same big picture goals, but I recently read something that said “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” So that’s kind of my goal here. Be a mentor from a distance for someone with similar goals, vision, priorities, and values. So this is what works for us.


Kelley said...

Thank you for this post. Before I got married 2 years ago, I started doing a budget for myself. Then I implemented it into our lives since we were sharing a bank account. I can't think of the amount of money we have saved by doing so. I base mine off of Dave Ramsey's $0 budget which is where you add your projected income for the month and spend every dollar of it in your categories. There is just two of us, so I spend $50 each week at the grocery store. We didn't have TV/Internet for the first 8 months of marriage, and now we just have Internet/Netflix. I try to buy clothing that I can wear multiple ways. So I wear a lot of solids. I got a Coach purse for my birthday, that I will use over and over again. I'm a curly haired girl, so I avoid washing my hair as much. The company I work for sends us on a weekend off-site each year, so that counts as our vacation for the year. We raise cattle so we couldn't vacation as much as if we wanted to.

I know I rambled a lot, but I feel like I am on the same page as you. I think a lot of people these days want the best and will just spend to get it without saving up for it. That is when it is the most rewarding is when you have earned it.

Susie said...

Please share your nontoxic nail polish recommendations.