Tag Archives: budget

Budget Revelation

October 7, 2013

I have been posting at the end of each month aboutΒ  how our budget is going. Nothing has changed since we started it back in February, which is good (we have been living within our means) and bad (we are still in debt).

A couple of things that have changed in the past month:

  • my heart and, specifically,
  • my pride.

If you don’t remember, we have been using cash for the past 8 months. My husband cashes his pay check and brings it home. I get $250 for groceries for the two weeks & enough to fill my tank one time. He figures out how many times he will need to go to the city in the next two weeks & takes out what he will need. We also take out tithe. We deposit the rest and pay bills from our checking account. It has worked really well.

However, this is NOT because of us! Three years ago, we tried this exact same method to bring our spending under control (we weren’t in debt but we weren’t spending wisely) and we blew it HORRIBLY. What is different between three years ago and this year? Well…

  • we have 2 more kids
  • we make 1/2 as much money

certainly nothing you could point to and say ‘THIS is why it is working now!’

For these past 8 months, every time my husband got more work, I thought…’Okay, only ‘x number of months’ until we’re out of debt.’ or whenever a new bill came in and the Lord provided the means of paying it off, I would think, ‘Good thing we have been budgeting so we have the money to pay this but man, this money was going to go to paying off more credit card debt! How many more jobs does the hubby need for us to get out of debt by the end of the year?’

Did you notice, even though I am very thankful, never once have I been thankful to God for providing us with the money to pay our unexpected bills without using a credit card. Of course, if someone were to ask me if I was thankful to God, of course I would say yes. In reality though, I was proud of what we had accomplished. :\

I have been praying that the Lord would get us out of debt…while at the same time trying to figure out how to do it myself. It is similar to asking God to save you and then going about trying to save yourself. I realize it is not the same but I see similarities…me saying I have faith but at the same time, working so hard to do what I said I had faith in God to do.

All of this was revealed to me when I found out I was pregnant. We had been holding off pregnancy (something I am against doing for the most part) for a couple of reasons.

  • I wanted to nurse longer. The World Health Organization recommends up to 2 yrs and since I try to keep my children away from dairy other than my own, nursing this long is ideal for us.
  • The other reason we had been holding off was because we were in debt.

My husband was able to get a lot of work last year from his second job. So this year, we went in debt to expand his business. We thought we would have the debt paid off by March. Guess what? Life does not always go as planned. We were not able to pay off the debt by March…or by June…We took a risk and learned a lot. At the time I had a part-time job from home. I decided I was going to work more and pay off the debt by September. I was praying that God would get us out of debt occasionally but really, I was trying to pull us up from my bootstraps to the exclusion of all else, including the children, who got pushed aside for the time being.

Thankfully, this only went on for about a month and a half when I realized the money I was making, which was minimal, was NOT worth disregarding my children half of the day. I stopped working and reevaluated when we would be able to pay off our debt. Again, I was thinking, ‘If hubby can book x number of jobs, we’ll be out of debt by the end of the year.’

However, more bills kept coming in…unexpected ones…that were quite large. I was starting to become very discouraged that we would never have a baby again 😦 I never did like the ‘wait until you have everything together before getting pregnant’ plan. I saw too many friends and family do that and end up not being able to have babies because their bodies had been messed up so badly by all of those years of birth control pills.

The Lord put it on my heart before I got married to not try to control everything. The Lord controls when women get pregnant but I felt the Spirit’s leading to stop trying to control (the reason I am against holding off pregnancy for us)…obviously, I still struggle with control issues. Anyway, I was starting to feel quite despondent over never paying off debt and never having another baby 😦

Then I found out I was pregnant…I was worried because we had not paid off our debt yet and there was no way we would be able to pay for a baby and debt! At the same time, I was glad because God took the ‘decision’ away from me πŸ™‚ As I was praying, I said, ‘Okay God, I’m just going to pray that you pay off our debt. Nothing I do seems to be getting it done so I just pray that You will do it.’ Light bulb. Why had I not been praying this all along?

Some thoughts the Spirit imparted to me:

  • God can do anything. He made me. He made this baby. At this time.
  • Debt is unbiblical. I know He does not want us to stay in debt.
  • God’s timing is perfect, as He is perfect.

Just because we wanted debt to be paid off in 3 months, if it had, we would have never created and stuck with a budget for 8 months. We would have continued to use our credit card (we have not used a credit card since February). We have much to learn. For now, I have made the decision to stop trying to ‘figure things out’ and instead, whenever I get another bill or when my husband gets a job or whenever my mind won’t shut off (which is often), I am praying that God take care of our debt…in His time…and that we are patient and diligent while we wait.

I hate that I struggle with control issues but at the same time, I love the struggle. Sometimes when the Shepherd is so good and provides everythingΒ  we need, we (the sheep) start to think we can do it on our own. I love the struggle because I need to stop being so stupid and see what a wonderful Shepherd I have!

PS. I have not been writing much & will continue to take a break for probably at least another month as the first trimester takes everything out of me & then some. My garden looks beautiful but healthy food always makes me sick during this time so hopefully everything will stay yummy a little while longer so we can enjoy it πŸ™‚


Sticking to a Budget…6 Months and Counting…

July 31, 2013

I’m sticking to doing a BIG grocery trip right when my husband gets paid and then one or two little ones until the next paycheck. One pay period this month, I used ALL of the money budgeted for groceries…we had to get a lot of non-edibles (toilet paper, trash bags, etc.).

The other pay period, I had some leftover money (because we’re eating out of the garden). When I have extra money, I put it back into our ‘Garden’ fund to pay for chicken feed and more seeds to plant.

Next on the ‘Garden’ list was to buy paint for the coop but my neighbor offered some old paint he had – we mixed it up and it looks just fine πŸ™‚ (I would say ‘great’ but we painted it…and it’s just for the chickens…so it’s fine)

Our chickens are 21 weeks old so we are expecting eggs any day now. I expect to see a LARGE difference in our grocery bill after that! After buying seeds for the garden, I am planning on saving up for a riding lawn mower. It is not easy mowing this many acres with a push πŸ˜› Then again, we are covering it little by little with cardboard, newspaper, and mulch so maybe we won’t need a riding one afterall…we’ll see πŸ™‚

We’re trying to eat out of the garden, as always, to save on groceries. Right now, we’re eating corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, snaps, cucumbers, potatoes, and kale. Unfortunately, we ate through all of our carrot plantings (I’m continually planting more but they take quite a while to size up) and it is too hot for lettuce and a lot of kale so we are buying some of that from the store.

We are trying to keep it to a minimum and JUST eating out of the garden. It is not easy eating only what is in season when you always have the option of buying whatever you want at the store, but I think it is a wonderful practice in self control and a wonderful nature lesson as well πŸ™‚

Here are a couple of samples of what we eat. We eat simply – mainly raw, roasted, or steamed…saves on time and ingredients πŸ™‚

supper(Clockwise from the top: kale (from the garden) salad with apples and raisins, bean burger on homemade bread (WAY cheaper than store-bought AND much healthier), steamed snaps (garden), roasted potatoes (garden), oven fried squash (neighbor’s garden) – egg & breadcrumbs))

supper(clockwise from top: kale salad (garden – we’re in a lettuce loll, what can I say?), coleslaw (cabbage & carrots w/some mayo), baked beans made in crockpot w/maple syrup to sweeten), boiled corn (garden), steamed pole beans (garden))

In general, we don’t eat meat and limit our dairy intake so other than beans for a good protein kick, I try to load up their plates with lots of veggies! These are both my 5yo’s plate.

For the first dinner, I had to buy apples & raisins, which are already on the list as we eat a lot of fruit as well, and beans (I buy dried b/c it’s cheaper and healthier if I cook it at home).

For the second dinner, I had to buy apples, beans (dry), and cabbage. However, one cabbage goes a LONG way, since I make many batches and freeze them for future suppers. Hopefully, this will help some of you see how we can eat healthy AND not spend very much money on groceries.

Some meals, of course, are more expensive. For example, when we have stuffed shells or lasagna, I make a ricotta mix with tofu, which is not cheap…but still for that meal, I buy tofu, marinara sauce, and spaghetti squash (lasts us two meals). Not crazy expensive and hopefully, in the years to come, the marinara sauce and spaghetti squash will come out of my garden!

I always hate when people are really vague about how they save money, saying, ‘I cook everything at home’ or ‘I use coupons’ or ‘I eat from my garden’. I like specific examples. I hope this helps some of you to be able to visualize how your family can eat simply and healthily on the CHEAP. Please let me know if you would like more examples.

I’m sure I’ll hear about how your kids won’t eat anything other than nuggets or pizza or whatever. Kids aren’t going to go from eating fried, processed food to eating raw/steamed veggies overnight.

Many years ago, we began introducing our children to salads as a snack WITH Ranch dressing AND croutons! Next, we dropped the croutons. Then, a year ago, we dropped the dressing. We used to eat snaps by steaming and then putting butter in them. Now, we just steam them (no seasoning or anything). It is a process. Don’t expect things to change overnight. Work with your kids little-by-little. Get rid of all the bad food in the house. ALL.OF.IT. Be a good role-model.

By the way, we don’t eat healthy, healthy all the time. We eat pizza about twice a month. However, our pizza is with homemade, whole-wheat dough and they are veggie (kale, artichokes, cream cheese) or pineapple pizzas so again, not going crazy with money or health even when we splurge.

Another non-healthy meal we eat about twice a month is quesadillas…we eat these with guacamole (avocado, salsa, lime juice), rice (brown), salad, and refried beans (I make them from dry beans and only use a little coconut oil so they are VERY healthy but VERY tasty). We love the taste on our tongues of a splurge but their little bodies are so used to eating healthy that within 12 hours, their bodies have expelled all of the cheese they have eaten. It seems like a waste of $$ to me but, again, we enjoy it as it goes down!

Non-Food Savings

Another way we are saving on groceries each month is by not buying diapers (woo whoo!) or laundry detergent. Cloth diapering is really working out πŸ™‚

For new readers, I bought 13 cloth diapers off of craigslist back in April with the idea that if I could use them until July, I will have broken even (cost the same as buying diapers from April until July). If I could use them past July, I would be ‘making money’! Well, it’s July and I am definitely continuing! πŸ™‚

I bought 13 because that is how many the lady had for sale but I decided to look for more later. After 4 months of using cloth diapers, I don’t think I really need any more. We use all of them in about 2-3 days and after 2-3 days, it starts to smell so I have to wash anyway. If I had more, I would just want to wait longer and that’s just stinky πŸ˜›

I know cloth diapering is different with a newborn because the baby is changed a lot more and is different w/a toddler b/c poops are so much worse, but right now, with a one year old who still gets most of his nutrition breastfeeding, what we have is perfect πŸ™‚

Another thing I bought back in April was Soap Nuts. It is a sustainable product and VERY economical. All of the reviews I read on them were wonderful so I ordered a large bag. If you like your clothes to come out smelling lavendery or citrusy, I suggest using essential oils because using Soap Nuts, your clothes come out smelling…like nothing…which I’m fine with. πŸ™‚ They are incredibly easy to use and clean just as well as other laundry soaps (even on poop stains!).

I know this was a SUPER DUPER long post! If you made it to the end, Congratulations! πŸ™‚ If you missed out on planting a garden this year, all is not lost! Go buy kale, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, and carrot seeds! Depending on where you live, gardening year-round is VERY doable! You can save on your grocery bills even when it is cold and snowy πŸ™‚

End of June Budget Wrap-Up

July 4,2013

I never did a budget update for June. oops!

My husband gets paid every two weeks. This month, once the paycheck comes in, I have been doing a BIG grocery shopping trip – trying to buy everything needed for two weeks. Then, normally a day or two before he gets paid again, we need a few more things (like fruit). I was able to stick to the budget doing this and had a little extra for unforeseen costs (paying to get into a park and medicine).

I have already gone shopping for the first two weeks in July and I am hoping to have enough extra money to pay to spay the dog…Yes, I said it. We have gone back & forth on this dog thing for about a month now.

My husband wanted to retrain her after she killed a chicken and we were set to get her back a couple of weeks ago (my MIL has been keeping her for us, trying to find a home for her but has been unable to) but then we realized we had to get her spayed…and did not have the money to do so. We told his mother we would take her to the pound this weekend.

I was never really big on having her to keep the chickens safe anyway as our coop and chunnel are really safe on their own. However, as soon as the dog was no longer with us, I noticed bunnies in our garden…A LOT. I decided to put soap in the garden but with all the rain, it was not helping much. Then, the other day we picked some carrots. My son pulled a HUGE one and we saw it was halfway chewed on by a mole (or gopher or whatever).

eatenThis is when I talked to my husband about getting the dog back. Yesterday, there was a fox in the blueberry patch and the decision was made. Dog is coming back.

I was always against getting a dog and after the dog killed a chicken, I was even less thrilled. However, I am trying to all but eliminate the grocery bill by having chickens and a garden so if we can keep the dog away from the chickens and the dog can keep all the other critters away, AND we have a way to pay to get her spayed, I am all for a helpful member of the family πŸ™‚

So, how did I go grocery shopping for two weeks and only spend $120 for seven people (when I normally spend $250)? The garden! We have been getting all of our lettuce and carrot needs from garden this month. We have also been getting green beans (snaps) and blueberries galore from the garden all month and most of our kale has come from the garden.

In addition to all of this, we have signs of more produce: baby zucchini, tomatoes, bell pepper, corn, and cantaloupe (or spaghetti squash), and more kale, lettuce, carrots, and snaps – so I am hoping our grocery bill can stay low during the summer months and that money can go towards paying down debt (except for this month, in which that money will pay for the dog to be spayed)!

bell pepper baby zucchini baby tomatoWe have been on the cash system and have not used a credit card since February of this year. We have paid about 30% of our debt and have not incurred any more (that’s BIG for us).

We actually do not have a date for when we expect/want it to be paid off. From my husband’s part time job, we are able to pay our monthly expenses, by God’s grace. Anything else extra (from my part time job or from him booking weddings) goes straight towards paying down more debt. Because this extra income is so sporadic, we do not know when to expect this to happen. We are just trying to stay faithful not using credit cards and staying within or below our budget and we look forward to the day we will be debt free! πŸ˜€

How are your budgets going? Anything I can list specifically that may help you to keep a tighter grocery budget?

May Budget Review

June 1, 2013

May was pretty boring, budget-wise. I guess that is a good thing. We did really well sticking to our budget! The change from $112 to $125/week for groceries was needed, for sure. I did one BIG grocery trip every two weeks and then a small one towards the next pay period, just buying a few things. I went under most weeks and was able to put some of the money into the creation of the chunnel.

We are paying off our debt little by little. I am going to try to work more this next month (I have a work-from-home job where I set my own hours, which have been next to nothing because we have had so much going on lately) so we can pay off our debt bigger by bigger πŸ˜‰

I also expect to be harvesting from our garden more in June (lettuce, kale, snaps, maybe some blueberries and potatoes) so hopefully more of our grocery money can go to paying off debt.

How are you doing budgeting? How do summertime activities play into your budget?

Chickens for Hire – Creating a Chunnel

May 22, 2013

When we were originally discussing getting chickens, we talked about getting about six…then six turned to twelve. By the time all of them were ordered, we ended up with 22! What?! I guess that’s just how things go.

We built a coop for them and then moved on to building a tractor so they could eat greens but still be safe AND work for us, preparing the ground in our garden! The only problem is that our garden is about 50ft from the coop AND there is an asphalt driveway in between. Still, whenever my husband was home, we were able to move the chicks in the tractor. However, it is just too far and too awkward & heavy to move by myself. Plus, the 22 chicks that fit in there nicely are growing…fast…

So, until we could figure out what to do next, we decided to build a run. The chicks LOVE it! They fly out of the coop every morning. They love scratching in the big pile of leaves (the run is partially in the woods) and they are eating all of the baby snakes. The snakes are no longer attacking them – I guess because they’re bigger now.

However, one day we realized when we went to take them our kitchen scraps, they were running at us. They had already eaten all of the green out of the run and though there were plenty of bugs in the run, there was no more green. So, for the love of the chickens (and our wallets), we decided to let them free range. It started out just after supper, then after lunch, and pretty soon they were free ranging the whole day (with only one hawk incident so far).

Then, last week, when I was putting them up for the night, I couldn’t find one of them. We were very upset and decided we needed to figure out something so they would not get lost/eaten but were still able to eat lots of greens. The chicken did turn up (likely slept under the coop or in a tree that night) but we spent last Saturday working on building chunnels (chicken tunnels).

We do not have a ‘chicken’ section of the budget so we had to be very picky on what we would spend our money on. Of course, it would be ideal to be able to have movable chunnels but we could not spend money on wood and fencing so we decided to stake down most of our chunnels for the time being.

The holes in the fencing we bought (cheapest) also ended up being too large so we had to figure out what we had to cover the holes so the chickens could not escape. We ended up covering it with weed cloth (because it certainly does not keep the weeds away) and some cloth we cover the plants with when there is a freeze warning.

The chunnel runs along the edges of the garden soΒ  that once they eat & scratch everything down to just dirt, we will expand the garden and move the chunnels over. That is the plan, anyway.

Untitled_Panorama10-2(Panorama of the chunnel coming from the coop, across the yard and crossing in front of the driveway (at bottom of pic). There are two removable chunnel sections so the the kids can cross the yard.)

Untitled_Panorama10-6(Panorama of chunnel heading up the other side of the driveway, next to the mulched garden, and ending up at the tractor.)

They still would rather go in the run or free range but we are hoping they get used to the chunnel. Whenever we have the money, we’re going to replace the cloth with chicken wire but for right now, it works πŸ™‚ I will keep you updated to how it works out.