Thursday, May 5, 2011

Money Woes

Don't we all have them?
Remember when I said Pastor came to visit me in the hospital and I said the verse he read to me was absolutely perfect for my situation at the time:
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
Not just the hospital stay, but my (our) life right now.

After last year's expenditures (Jacob surgery, two emergency room visits, replacing the cellar entrance, car repairs....), we were thinking financially this would be an easier year.
We have had a leaky roof since we moved in, but in the last two winters, it has gotten a lot worse, so we knew we had to do something about it. It leaks on the north and south side of the house, around our dormer windows. We got a pretty sizeable tax return, so we called and arranged to get the roof fixed, figuring we'd still have a chunk left for those things that always come up. (They are in the middle of fixing it now, but I have no idea what the total will be.)
We had one random hot day in April where it got up to 90. We switched on the A/C to cool the house down before the boys took naps, and..... It didn't cool. We got it checked out, and it ends up we need to replace it. ($2500) We did discuss toughing it out, but summers in Kansas really need an air conditioner.
So when I had to go to the hospital, not only was I worrying about the diagnosis/possible surgery, but I was also laying in the bed wondering where the heck we were going to come up with the money to pay for the stay.

The verse above encouraged me, because I think maybe Satan was using our financial situation to get me down, to make me worry, and not rest in God. I saw that for what it was, and kicked Satan and his doubts out the window. I know God is going to provide for us. He always has.

I'm proud of the fact that we squirrel away money here and there. We don't do credit cards. (God always provides!) We've got the money to cover these projects, but it will completely deplete our savings accounts (including the money we had saved for a new car). We have been relying on those savings cushions to fall back on when our expenditures are more than our income (which has been a lot lately). I'll try my hardest to pay off the hospital as fast as possible, but you can't get blood from a turnip!

So we've been looking into ways to cut costs. We swore off fast food; we'd been spending way too much each month because I was too lazy to deal with a simple meal. Last month we only ate out once, and that was going to the deli at WalMart after church. As hard as it was, I even gave up Sunday morning stops.... The boys ate biscuits with peanut butter or homemade breakfast burritos (still in the car). We took the boys to McDonalds on pay day to celebrate the food victory - we all got a burger, shared a large order of fries, and drank water, then let the boys play on the slides. And I enjoyed it as much as if we'd all gotten Happy Meals, Meal Deals, and cokes.
I only used a half a tank of gas last month. We just stayed home.

We're putting the boys in the same room so we're not running two a/c units at naptime and bedtime (upstairs has no duct work, so they have to have window units). We're going to put Jacob's unit in our room so we don't have to pay to cool the whole house down to 72 at night so we can sleep. We can turn the house up to 80 at night, and still freeze ourselves out in our bedroom.

Paul is taking leftovers in his lunch. Not that he had anything against leftovers, but it was much easier to just take a slice of frozen pizza - when they got up to $7.50 each, he decided leftovers weren't that bad. He's also trying generic snacks (chips, crackers) - I'm proud of him for making that choice on his own. He was also doing 2-liters of Pepsi instead of cans (cheaper), but then we found a really good sale, so he's went back for now.

I'm still doing my once-a-month shopping, which I maintain is cheaper than once-a-week shopping. I don't do coupons, but that's because most things I buy are store brands and are still cheaper than name brand stuff with coupons. I need to buckle down on the "milk only" trips. Not "milk and Pepsi" trips (ahem, dear).

Netflix is the next thing in my scope. We like the movies, but I'm not sure how much we'd miss it if we didn't have it. Especially during the summer, we spend so much time outside that by the time we come in and get the kids to bed, it's too late to start a movie. And honestly, they're just not putting out any really good movies lately.
One big expenditure is our internet costs. The cheapest thing in our area is our providor, and it's $45 a month. We could go to dial-up, but I don't have the time to wait on dial-up (we've tried it before, and my time is even more precious now, with two kids). And honestly, it's a necessity to us.
So what are other ways we could cut costs? What are some ways you save money with your families?


Tiffany said...

Rachel...I've been couponing about about a year now and honestly I spend less if I do my couponing effienctly than I would buying generic brands only. Now this does make me shop every week...but if I price comp and use my coupons only when things are on sale...and do the walgreens things I save a lot of money. I don't pay hardly anything for shampoo condition, laundry detergent etc...I only buy cereal for around a dollar a box. Let me know if you'd ever be interested in learning more. A friend of mine is teaching a class next Tuesday night. Also when our air condition went out a couple of years ago we bought the unit for around $450 and Rocky installed it and had a fried who we paid $100 come do the coolant part.

Carrie Roer said...

The heat/air thing has been a big money-saver at our house. This winter people thought we were crazy when we said we kept our thermostat at 65 -- just put on a sweatshirt if you're cold! I wish I did better with coupons, even our store-brands will often put coupons right in their ad for generic products. Gas prices are killing us though, my husband works 35 miles away every day, and we are usually at church 3+ times a week...

~ April said...

You only used half a tank of gas in one month?! Oh my goodness! I use a tank a week!! Gas is KILLING us! But mostly because my husband has to drive an hour and a half each way to work. But seriously?! Half a tank ALL month?
To save money we got rid of our cable and only do the cheepest Netflix and we got rid of our home phone and bought an Ooma. It is a one time fee and it hooks into your internet and all your calls are free, local and long distance. Cost us $250 up front and that's it.
In the winter we keep our thermostat at 65 as well (62 at night) and just bundle up. Also for Christmas we asked for a Whole House Fan that brings in the cool air and we use that in the spring and fall to cool the house down.
Other than that... things are just tough. I hate money problems! :-(
Good for you that you have no Credit Cards... not something we have accomplished yet.

Doug or Janice Rhodes said...

"My God shall supply ALL your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

Invest in your family life and in the lives of those God brings your way.

Amassing of wealth is NOT a Biblical principle; saving is. But sometimes needs outweigh savings.

Focus on WHOM you trust.

Build more canning shelves in your cellar and can or freeze EVERYTHING you can. You can never have too much because someone somewhere will need it. Canned goods will keep 2 years in the cellar at least. When my kids were little I canned 100 quarts of beans minimum and NEVER bought veggies at the store.

You are doing a great not waste time crunching numbers... they will not change.

Savings accounts can disappear over night due to need or crashes. BUT God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
I personally believe hard times are coming and the only preparation is to solidify our faith in Almighty God.