Friday, July 16, 2010

a really long post on finances

Lately, Mark and I have taken an "interest" in finances. It's fun for us, we agree on our principles, and it's really quite interesting. Money is important. The Bible (God) mentions money 140 times, gold 417 times, and silver 320 times. So, clearly, God thinks it's important too!

It takes will-power to go against the grain of the American culture - that is: swipe the card and pay later! If you've ever seen Money 911 on the Today Show, you know that people call in all the time and discuss their extreme debt - sometimes $50-100+ thousands of dollars! But there is a better way to live - and it's biblical too! :)

First of all, God makes it clear in Haggai 2:8 that it's all His: The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty. Once you "realize" this (or accept it, really), it makes budgeting a lot easier. If God has blessed you with a job, then He has entrusted you with finances. Not to blow. Or spend lavishly on things you cannot afford - but, rather, there is a purpose for your finances. As Crown Financial teaches: each dollar has a home. Every single dollar.

Saving is biblical. There are multiple verses about not getting into debt:

Proverbs 22:7
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.

Proverbs 22:26-27
Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.

Romans 13:8
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

That last one just so happens to be my favorite. Saving means spending less than you earn - which requires self-control, one of the fruits of the Spirit. How easy is it to buy clothes, accessories, new cars, etc.? But how much more self-control does it take to set aside money for the "rainy day" so that when unexpected events occur (needing to replace a car engine, the loss of a job, a major illness, etc.) you will be prepared? One thing that "young" people struggle with is living below your means - which makes it very easy to save.

Our Little Money-Saving Tips:

1. Plan your meals: As you know, I pre-plan our meals. I mentally make note of which ingredients I need and write them on our grocery list. So, essentially, we only shop for groceries we need. Yes, we still buy snacks, but I write them on the list. It's amazing how quick our grocery shopping has become, because we stick to our list! When you go without a list, you end up buying what "looks good" and not what you need. Trust me - we spent months of doing just that! You can greatly reduce your grocery bill by purchasing items to prepare healthy, filling meals.

2. Take advantage of your Airman's Attic. This one is only for my Air Force friends. But, really, it's a gold mine in there. Kinda. It's absolutely free. And, if you go enough, you're bound to find little treasures. To date, we've gotten: a Baby Einstein exersaucer, a name brand Jumperoo, a Boppy vibrating pink seat, a Fisher Price rainforest bouncy, a baby bath tub, a Boppy, a tool box, and a huge cooler. And all of it looks WONDERFUL. The baby products are *barely* used. I'll clean them for sanitation purposes, but they look spotless. You can't beat free.

3. CraigsList. I love this website. People practically give things away. No, really. We actually got a brand new bumGenius 3.0 diaper for FREE. Just because someone didn't want it. People sell things for all sorts of reasons -- I've even seen quite a few people sell baby strollers because they wouldn't fit in their new car's trunk. Or they might sell a baby swing because "My baby hated the swing!" Why pay full price for something your child will only use for a short season of life? It's silly.

4. Cheap dates are still loads of fun! Do you have any idea how many "Buy one get one free" coupons there are for *nice* restaurants? Visit your favorite restaurants' websites and sign up for their e-mail club. You'll be shocked at the deals they give away. Nearly every restaurant does this - they also give birthday coupons and anniversary coupons. Now, we only go to the movies on occasion - not because of money, but because the movies aren't that good these days. But we take full-advantage of RedBox - where you can rent a movie for $1!

5. Spend less than you earn. Pay your bills, save a set amount, and live on the rest. To save, you must either bring in more money, cut back expenses, or do both. It's the only way.

However, as Christians, we do have God's provision. God knows our needs (a new BMW doesn't fall in this category), hears our prayers, and has promised to provide for us.

Matthew 6:31-32
Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But, at the same time, He also calls us to save, to give, and to plan for the future. It's extremely gratifying to choose to not rely on credit, to save, and to be smart with finances. We are so, so thankful that we discovered this so early (and young!) in our marriage. Money advisers often say that you only learn how to manage money by one of two ways: Either you get into so much debt and then learn to manage money, OR you watch others fall into debt and choose to not make those same mistakes.

I have no idea how to end this blog post. But I will say that budgeting is fun. You should give it a try :)

Note: I chose not to discuss tithing or giving in this post - I just wanted to focus on the budgeting aspect.


  1. Amazing post! You really are the one who inspired me to start saving and being wise with money! Thanks Shannon!

  2. Oh, Erin, you're so sweet and nice!! :) Thanks for your comment!

  3. I was wondering if you were going to go into tithing or not, but I saw your note at the bottom. I have to say, thats a great post! Matthew and I do a grocery list, I prepare our meals in advcance and write out a menu for dinner. I love the Airmans Attic, I can't wait til our open's back up to see what new things they have, and maybe get some things for our son. Wehave a budget on our computer and pay all our bills first then we have misc. accounts so we can sometimes go out and have fun. But we do it the cheap way as well. I love that you and Mark do a buget and so happy yall understand the true meaning of a dollar!! And to know what God says about it is even more better! I love this post and so glad you put it up!! :) :)

  4. oh thanks Mandy! I kind of thought people might think this post was "weird," so I'm glad you liked it :)

  5. Great post! I LOVE Craig's List! It's so amazing! Plus, another money-saving idea? Consignment shopping! :) There are so many clothes and pieces of furniture out there that are *barely* used or even new that people just give away. I used to be opposed to buying anything consignment because I thought I was "above" that. But, how wrong was I? I have found so many things for such a good price and have saved so much money! :)

  6. Oh man! How could I have forgotten!? Yes, and there are TONS of baby consignment clothes too!! And they've really BARELY been worn. You can even go to consignment shops and find baby clothes with the tags STILL ON because their baby grew so fast and they never got to wear it! You can find so many deals!! :)

  7. I absolutely agree! Budgetting is fun for me too, sticking to it is the challenge some days, so we have learned, don't go where we'll be tempted to spend money we don't have designated. :)

  8. Craig's List only works in certain areas of the country, from my experience. Try searching for things in Elizabethtown or BG or even Louisville - it's a desert. But maybe we'll move to some place that has a wonderful Craig's List community like you have! :)

    I reallllly like this post. And not because I agree 100% with everything you said (although I *do*) but because I enjoy budgeting. Maybe it's my Type-A personality shining through, but I literally have fun when I work on our excel spreadsheet of expenses and I feel...happy? when I'm done. Ha. It actually relaxes and calms me. I'm such a big weirdo.

    Well, anywho. I hope someone learned something from this post! Good job!

  9. Oh! Brittney! I totally know what you mean about CraigsList in certain areas. When I look at the Bowling Green area, there's hardly anything good, and a LOT of it is stuff around Nashville?? Like, that isn't close. That's like an hour drive. I don't know why it does that! But up in the Washington D.C. area, they have all the expensive baby items on their CraigsList (like Stokke and stuff!) because I guess that's popular in the area! We'd never drive to DC for a CraigsList item.. unless we were going up there to shop anyway. But anyway... :)

  10. I love this post! Me and my husband have been trying to get into the budgeting mindset for a while now! I am learning that even when I do have a list,I cannot take him to the grocery, we spend so much more when he is there!

  11. Yay!! SO proud of you for writing this post and encouraging others to be wise with their $$... You know we're Crown and FPU advocates all the way! = )

  12. Well put Shannon! Being a SAHM and a student, we are on one income with two children, so a budget is the key for our survival/success! It isn't always easy, but we have gotten "used" to living cheaper. We can't always do things that some of our single friends/married with no chilren do, but we are used to it. We have even come up with creative ways to have fun and not spend much money! We have even discussed that once I graduate and am a nurse we should still live like we are on one income(since we will be so used to it), and imagine what we'd be able to save.