Family cents

On the blog today we are going to discuss the “F” word…..finances. As I was thinking about this subject it took me awhile to figure out the angle I wanted to take. Do we talk about finances on a global level or do I keep it real and candid? Do I touch the surface or go deep into what it looks like for me and my family? Do I lie or tell the truth? Just kidding….so in a moment of full disclosure I invite you into my world as a working mom of three managing our household finances (budget). Please note that I am sharing my experiences with money and how it has worked for us. My hope is that you will be able to take away some ideas to implement them into your household finances.

Budget

I know the dreaded “B” word. When I was single and ready to mingle I diligently did a monthly budget. I am a self-professed penny pinching, fiscally sound, hate to spend type of girl. I can honestly say that I get it honest from my dad. Which only make sense that I married someone who is the complete opposite. This isn’t to say that he spends excessively but our views of money early on in our marriage were very different. While I lived by a budget my husband spent his money as he saw fit. As you could imagine this caused many conversations about wants, needs and desires and of course we even disagreed on those items as well. Part of the reason why I was tight with money was because I feared not having enough. So I spent the bare minimum and just made due with what I had even though my budget allowed me some wiggle room to actually enjoy life. I didn’t have to watch a 20” tv in my living room, I can actually purchase another TV within my budget and not break the bank. It wasn’t until my husband and I actually sat down together, discussed our goals and laid out a plan that I was able to understand that a budget is a there to help not to hinder. After years of trying to figure out the best worksheet, app or plan we finally decided upon Every Dollar because it is user friendly, convenient and you can customize it to your personal goals. Being a family of five it is very important that we put a name to every dollar that is brought into the house. We should dictate where our earnings go versus the other way around. When we committed to doing a budget it helped us prioritize, plan ahead and even reevaluate if we were being good stewards of what we had received. Now do we do a budget every month…….no (life happens and they are three small kids) but the habit of discussing our funds and being transparent with one another has created a greater commitment to accomplishing our family financial goals. If you are looking to start a budget here are a few tips:

  1. Find a budget worksheet that works best for you.
  2. Use your bank statement to act as a guide for spending trends and to cross reference when projecting your monthly budget
  3. It gets easier the more often you do it. Budgeting is all about repetition and consistency
  4. If you skip a month pick up where you left off and don’t beat yourself up.

Bargain

As a family of five we are always looking for ways to save money. The biggest budget eaters are food and clothes. Our five year old, Matthew, eats like he has been working on the railroad for a 12-hour shift. His sister Madelyn can put it away as well, meanwhile their brother Ethan eats the same three things everyday. My husband on the other hand prefers a certain cut of chicken, Triscuits, name brand orange juice and grapes. Then their is me…..the good wife. I eat whatever the twins do not consume from MY plate. Just kidding….not really. After reviewing our budget and seeing how much money we were spending on groceries we decided to re-evaluate and come up with a solution to try and save a few/hundred dollars. Much to my displeasure that meant taking a trip to Sam’s. I loathe grocery shopping and Sam’s is the mother of all grocery stores. At first we would only purchase snacks and things for Matthew’s lunch but as our shopping journey continued I realized that I was only tapping the surface. Buying in bulk is where it’s at!! Large tubs of peanut butter, 5 lbs of chicken tenderloins, 3 pounds of grapes, 50 bags of lunch size chips, tubs of Greek yogurt……I had hit the lottery and my life will never be the same. Not only am I purchasing bulk sized items that my family enjoys but I’m doing so at a great price. In addition to saving money I have also gained time because I no longer have to shop weekly for items that we frequently use. Time and money….two things that are very valuable but not always valued. Sam’s Club thank you for adding value to my life.

Grocery shopping tips:

  1. Plan your meals. With the 5 pounds of chicken tenderloins I’m able to prepare five different dishes…stir fry, pizza, quesadillas, chicken pot pie and bbq chicken just to name a few.
  2. Cost compare. Although most items at bulk stores are cheaper will it cost you more in the end if those items go to waste.
  3. Check out your local farmers market. High quality, locally sourced and cheap produce. Save money and increase the quality of your life.

How do we manage clothes shopping for growing kids? The simple answer is consignment sales. Prior to having our first child we were introduced into the world of consignment mega sales for babies and children. Imagine a warehouse filled with clothes for children aged newborn – teenager. My husband and I lost our minds when we arrived at this particular consignment sale in north metro Atlanta and we were underprepared. I can say with pride that we are now consignment sale pros and every January (spring and summer clothing) and August (fall and winter clothing) we fill up our car with luggage bags so that we will be able to load up all of our goodies. Some might say I don’t want to wear someone clothes that belonged to someone else, well wash them in your laundry detergent when you get home. At this age my children have no concept of fashion, designer labels or hand me downs so I will take advantage of this for as long as I can. The money that I am able to save in clothing can be used towards Taekwondo, vacations, and exposure opportunities that will grow my children as adults.

Consignment sale tips:

  1. Go on the first day to get a gauge of the merchandise and oftentimes the best items will available for purchase.
  2. Consider going on the last day as most items are 50% items. That’s right 50% off items that are typically range from $2-8.
  3. Consider purchasing large items such winter coats, jackets, and even toys.

Side Hustle

Enough said…..everyone needs a side hustle. Why? It can be used to supplement your income, pay off debt, put towards a large item, fund your vacation account and the list goes on. Currently I am working as an athletic trainer covering different events to help increase our Christmas fund.   Not only do I have a side hustle but my husband does as well….he enjoys the finer things in life and they require money. In short do what you have to do to get to where you ultimately want to go.

Who is your source?

Lastly, in our household we realize that although we can do all of the things listed above at the end of the day our source is the Lord. Philippians 4:19 says “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.   I have not always fully trusted those words but as I get older and continue to see the Lord’s blessing and provision on our lives I know that they are true. Instead of fearing the future I smile because Proverbs 31:25 says “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. My confidence lies in Christ and I don’t have to worry or stress. My husband I purpose to be good stewards over what He is given us and we believe what He says in His word. What does being a good steward mean? For us it means giving, saving, budgeting and living beneath our means. God provides.

Say it with me family finance are fun!