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Simple Saving Savvy: Financially speaking...from the heart ~

Simple Saving Savvy

Practicing Wise Stewardship & Blessing Others Out of Our Abundance

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Financially speaking...from the heart ~



Here we are! On the precipice of another new year.

And of course, with the start of a new year brings many things to discuss and think about. The blogosphere is whirling...What end of the year sales are really worth it?  Looking back at your 2009, did you accomplish what you set out to accomplish? What are your financial goals for the New Year? What are your New Year's resolutions?

Sometimes as I check in with some of the blogs I follow, other money saving blogs written by very wise, grounded and intentional women, well...sometimes I start feeling a little inadequate...like maybe hubby and I are missing the boat. Or maybe we're on the wrong boat altogether.

I mean,  hubby and I don't  fit into any one group. You see, we aren't financially irresponsible nor are we  in the process of recovering from financial irresponsibility.  On the other hand, we aren't truly aggressive about our financial plan either. We have no set in stone, black & white budget. We don't set aside a certain amount for savings.  We don't track our savings. We don't even have savings goals. We don't have a retirement plan. Our grocery bill isn't getting smaller, yet it isn't getting larger either.

So there you have it...now you know! Does this mean we're not intentional?

Well, if I let myself compare our situation to the situations of others for too long, then I start feeling unintentional. Worry and doubt start to creep in. I might even start to drop little hints and nag my husband by bringing up conversations past. Conversations I promised I would let rest.

I start feeling like maybe I'm running in circles. Not really saving anything. Maybe I'm not even qualified to write this blog.

And that's exactly what happens when we compare ourselves to others. We stop trusting God for our well-being, we stop being content and we start looking for ways to make ourselves feel better by doing something instead of looking to the One who controls all things.

When I get to this point, the Holy Spirit has usually started that soft whispering in the back of my mind and if I'm compliant enough to listen, I can usually get a grip...I know He is reminding me to choose to look at the things we ARE doing, and the reasons behind WHY we do them instead of whether what we're doing looks like someone else's model.

First of all, hubby and I decided when we first married that he would handle the finances as he is much more gifted at doing so...believe it or not, he is the more frugal and disciplined one in this equation, not me. And although we do discuss big decisions,  I pretty much let him handle things the way he sees fit because I trust his integrity and self-discipline. But more importantly, I trust God to provide for our family through John, however that happens to work out.

So although I would personally like to have a black & white budget that I can see, touch, smell and taste...my husband doesn't do things this way. And although I would love to have a retirement plan started by now and estate planning in the works, hubby has decided to take care of some other things first like paying toward the principle on our house. So in submission to God and my husband, I lay down my arguments.

And when I lay down my opposition and rest in what God will do through my husband, things fall into place. Oh, maybe not in the conventional ways. And maybe not the way they fall into place for everyone else. But they fall into place nonetheless.

So back to my earlier question...does not following a popular model make us unintentional?

My answer: NO WAY!

We may not have a black and white budget with allotted expenditures but we also have NO DEBT! Well, we do have our house but other than that, we have no debt. Our vehicles are paid for in cash, we have no credit card debt. Our policy is, if we can't pay cash, we don't buy it. I cannot tell you, as a woman, how wonderful this feels...knowing that we aren't strapped to anything. That if something were to happen to John tomorrow, as a stay at home mom who has been out of the workforce for four years, I wouldn't be stuck wondering how I was going to make things work.

And every financial decision we make is weighed with much prayer and considering God's view of things. We don't watch what we spend to get more. We watch what we spend to glorify God and be excellent stewards of His resources. This means we live WAY UNDER our means. And while our needs are met and even some of our wants, we are able to give generously to others and teach our children, by example not to store up treasures for themselves here on earth.

And we do save, just not in planned amounts. I used to write checks for all my shopping because it was easier for hubby to keep track of my receipts. Recently he signed up for the keep the change program through our bank and asked me to start using the debit card for all my expenditures.  Let me tell you, the way I shop  --several transactions in the same store in the same week to roll my bucks of whatever kind-- the change adds up. We also pay for my prescriptions up front and then when the insurance company sends our 50% reimbursement check, it goes straight to savings.

As I said before, our grocery bill has been the same for over a year now. It doesn't go up or down. I spend the same each week. This doesn't mean we couldn't get by spending less, it just means that it leaves me plenty of room to increase my stock pile. This may seem unintentional to some but we have another perspective. See, this allows me to grasp the opportunities God gives me to meet the needs of others.

This month alone I was able to help a single mom with food, household products and personal care products. I was also able to send my  daughter (a college student) and her cousin (also a college student) back to Arizona with goody bags of personal care items and cosmetics. We sent my husband's brother (a bachelor) a Christmas care package and then of course, we regularly donate products to FaithWorks of the Innercity.

Am I saying that the writers of numerous, successful blogs are wrong? Am I suggesting that dyed in the wool financial plans don't work? Am I saying we can't learn from others? That we shouldn't learn from others?

Certainly not.

What I am saying is that it doesn't look the same for everyone. What works for us may not be a fit for your family or your circumstance. First and foremost we have to look to God for what He would have us do - for our purpose as a family in His ultimate purpose. And we definitely allow the stories of others to inspire, encourage and challenge us.  Then we consider our own personalities and the dynamics of our family. From there we take steps of faith. And that in itself is intentional living.

Note - This post is closure to a year's worth of lessons for me. For quite some time I struggled against my husband's financial planning, thinking I had a better way. As I compared, nagged, complained  and nagged some more, my husband's vision closed down. His ability to hear from God was hindered. God began to show me that I needed to rest in HIM for my well-being and to trust HIM to do mighty works in and through my husband, and as I began to let go, my husband was able to open up and see the bigger picture. While I will never be a doormat, I am learning that I can lovingly encourage and support my husband as head of our home and be a part of our decision making process without becoming a contentious women responsible for tearing down her house.

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2 Comments:

Blogger AJ King said...

Thanks for your post! I appreciate your perspective on why you do what you do. It was a good reminder to me that God is in control of everything, including our finances and that we are to glorify Him with what He has entrusted to us. Keep up the good work!

December 30, 2009 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger schraderfam said...

Amanda, I loved this post and your post about New Year's. God had taught me quite a bit this year about aligning myself to my husband and trusting God when I think we are headed in the direction I wouldn't choose. And I'm still learning!
I'm thankful for your humble and encouraging blog. I'm not a super-saver, once-a-month cooker or make-it-from-scratch gardener. Your blog never makes me feel like I'm less of a homemaker - thanks!
What I've also seen though is a change in my children's attitude toward spending, a peace from giving, and a new perspective in being "intentional" beyond finances - being intentional in my free time (not that that really exists), my energy, my priorities, etc...
God bless you in this new year

January 1, 2010 at 3:16 PM  

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