A week after my husband’s college graduation we were married. We had a couple thousand dollars, and Emanuel worked on the weekends doing DJ gigs while searching fervently for a steady job. Not to mention, a baby on the way! We lived off of that saved money for an entire summer. When the reserves were almost dry, he got a sales job in the fall that paid terribly and sporadically, but it did pay! Despite this we did not just survive- we lived well. We were wise with our money, but ultimately it was not our doings that got us through, it was God’s doing. We made and lived on less then 20,000 a year that first and second year of marriage, with a baby and me as a stay-at-home mom.
Two months ago my husband got a new and better job that utilizes his degree! This was great news for us, but there was a challenge in the exchange. We would not see another paycheck for 6 full weeks due to switching pay periods too. There were no reserves, and yet, at the end of the six weeks we still had a couple dollars left in the bank. When the paycheck did arrive my younger sister said, “I bet you are soooo relieved!” I had to pause, because even though I was very thankful for the money in the bank, and all our bills paid without a hic-up, I had already surrendered to God. I couldn’t let the amount of money I had, or didn’t have, dictate my feelings or I would of been miserable for my whole marriage! My security does not come from a job, finances, or a bank, but in God’s plan and provision . This may seem impossible, but I assure, you nothing is impossible with God.
How I try to deal with financial crunches and tough spots in life:
- Cultivate thankfulness. How can you cultivate thankfulness? It means not taking anything for granted- your health, shelter, food, spouse, children, anything extra you have like a cell phone, television, books, or even a hot shower. Except God’s love for us and his eternal promise, nothing is guaranteed. Everything else is simply extra. If you still struggle with finding thankfulness, make a list of all the things you do have. The blessings that have been granted to you, the mercies that were often undeserved, but were still given. We can look at what we don’t have (money, a job or even a better job, connections, a house, a car) and in doing so we can create a spirit of dissatisfaction. This spirit drips a poison into our hearts to make us bitter and not open to what God can and has blessed us with. We say “I would be happy if I only had…” It’s not wrong to desire those things, but we need to not let our happiness rest on the wings of things or circumstances because they will never be able to carry the weight.
- Niecy Nash, The host of “Clean House”, my favorite reality television show says, “When your hand is open to give, it is open to receive.” This is a biblical principal that has permeated my life. We honor God with ten percent of our increase no matter the amount we have in the bank. God commands it, so we do it. “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” Malachi 3:10 This verse embodies how we have made it these past two years without using credit cards and loans. We rely not on a job, but on God for provision. He does use avenues to bless us like our job, but that is not his limitation for where and when he can bless us.
- Don’t spend more than you make. It sounds simple, but it can be hard when what you make can’t possibly cover living expenses. Right?… Well, it isn’t easy, but you have to start somewhere and where you start is a budget. Everyone cringes at the B word, but it is one of my favorite words, an old friend and a strong ally. When I evaluate my income then look at my expenses I can see what needs to happen, what I can have, what I can live with or without. If you are new to budgeting I can’t stress enough going to Dave Ramsey’s website and making a budget in the tools section , for free!!! His advice on dealing with debt, budgeting, and living well helped my parents, who are small business owners, be debt free, and pay off their home! You can be in control of your finances even if you feel trapped. Often, we put off the things that are hard, or heavy to deal with, but I hope today you decide to take charge in your finances. When you know what you need you can ask God for help and find wisdom to deal with the issue at hand. Money is something most everyone has to deal with, or it will deal with you.
- Cut living expenses (then cut again.) This looks different for everyone so all I can do is show you what my husband and I did:
- We have two babies, but we do not live in a two bedroom dwelling. We now can afford to live in one, but instead we live in a one bedroom condo with a loft that is being converted into my daughter’s room. (Will be finished next week!) We have plenty of room and to me it is pointless to make the move until we need to make the move. This saves us a ton of money
- One vehicle. This vehicle drives my husband to work, back home, Church on Sunday, and the occasional date. It doesn’t handle long trips or frequent trips in one day, but it still runs and I am so thankful for it!
- I grocery shop at Aldies. It is cheap and I can buy my groceries for two adults (one who is breastfeeding), and one toddler for an average of $65 a week. That includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
- Reusable diapers. These are the life savors to my budget. Disposable diapers are expensive and for more of my thoughts on those check out my post My Pros and Cons of Cloth Diapering
- We primarily dress our kids in used baby clothes. In the past two years, for special occasions, I have purchased 3 outfits for my toddler and 1 for my baby. Everything else has been given to us. Of my four sisters, three have children and between them accumulated enough clothes that I never need to buy baby clothes.
- I breastfeed. This saves money, but like I said, this is what we do. Everyone should make their own choices for how they want or can nourish their child. You can check out my thoughts and experience on breastfeeding here.
- We use a Britta pitcher for filtered water. Water bottles are an expense we can do without.
Those are my basic go-to’s for surviving financial crunches. Please comment below. I’d really love to hear your experiences, ideas, and tips in the area of finances!
Our awesome family photo was taken by Sweet Dreams Photography Thanks so much Tammy.