Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Money. I'm savin' it.

A few years ago, I was teaching Sunday School and we were singing a song with the kids that went like this:

A penny in my pocket
a dollar in my shoe
when I give them all to Jesus
Theres nothing he can't doooooo......

Picture a class of 2nd graders, clapping along.

Its a cute little song, but what really made me laugh was the version coming from my friend Randy who was sitting off to the side. Randy is very insightful, and very funny. I had to hold in my laughter as I hear him sing along to the same tune with a theologically more accurate version of this kid-song:

A penny in my pocket
A dollar in my shoe
when I give them all to Jesus
it doesn't really matter because they were all His in the first place.....


Lately, I've been singing Randy's version in my head. One of my big goals for 2009 is to be debt free - and I believe that starts with getting my mind right with the way God views money.

I'm a Dave Ramsey fan. He's a financial straight shooter. He doesn't mince words and he tells you like it is. I need that. He's sort of like a personal trainer for money.

Daves main rule: No debt; no credit cards. Eesh. Thats a tough one for me, but he has "baby steps" to get me to where I need to be. Joel and I have both listened to his "Total Money Makeover" audio books, and we agree this is the way for us to live life financially. Its common sense, and sometimes Dave yells it, and we like it. My goal for 2009? Debt free.

My other goal, which is actually more important, is to tithe regularly. This is me being totally transparent here. I got my statement from my church in the mail that showed last years giving and I was so sad. It was a minuscule amount. What does that say about me in relationship to how I trust God?

I wasn't embarrassed about it. I was saddened by it.

So there lies my motivation to change.

I've taken a look at our major spending: Mortgage, Utilities, etc. and got things squared away. Now I'm taking a look at all our daily spending. For example, I go to Starbucks each morning...and thats something I enjoy and would like to make room in my budget for. So now, I am doing it smarter! First off, I signed up for their Starbucks Gold card, which gets you 10% off each purchase. Thats a savings for me of about .38 cents a day. Granted, they have you pay a 1-year $25.00 membership fee to begin, but I know I'll make that back in spades. Plus, have you found out that Costco sells five $20.00 Starbucks Gift Cards for only $80.00? Just doing that once paid for my Starbucks Gold membership! I'm never paying retail again.

I also order things online quite often - just to save time. is my friend with their free super-shipper savings. And I'm learning that I can always Google promo codes before hitting "check out" to see if I can find discounts. Just yesterday, I ordered custom invitations for my friend Amy's bridal shower, and before I hit "check out" I googled the name of the website I was at and I found a promo code for "SAVE 10" - and I saved 10% off my order. So simple.

My next step: packing a lunch each day. I know I need to do this the night before, because I'll never do it in the morning. Not only is it healthier, but I'll save a ton of cash.

Joel and I decided last night to cut down on our cable bill...that thing is ridiculous. How (and WHY) are we paying so much each month for television? I feel foolish. But no more.

These are just a few of my "little ways" to save a penny - what are yours? (And yes, Mom, I know you read my blog and I'm just bracing myself for your essay in the comments section, you thrifty little thing. *wink)


Anonymous said...

With the gas price increase, I stopped driving a lot...consolidated trips, always go places on the way to or from work -- never just to run errands -- and it really has saved a huge amount of money...and spending that goes along with it!!

anne said...

Money...always a fun topic. :) Thanks for being so transparent with this topic. It's not easy!

I think automatic withdrawl is the greatest thing ever! It makes giving easier and so much more joyful. Each month, our bank automatically pays out to our designated charities and church. This way we're consistent and it's easier to be sure we're giving first. I would highly recommend this if it's possible.

As for saving money, I must say that I'm a big fan of The Grocery Game. Meal planning is another big saver (although I'm still not all that great with this one). Since I teach and only have 30 minutes to eat lunch, I must bring it with me each day. That's a huge saver too! Like you, I also check a few websites for codes and such to cut back on the cost of online/store purchases.

Once you start to really take ahold of your finances (and acknowledge that it's not really your money to begin with), I think it's kind of fun to see how much you can save/give. For me, it's almost become a game of sorts.

It's also fun to look forward to things like a once-a-week latte. :) You begin to find joy in things you origially just took for granted.

Jenelle said...

Great Job!! My husband and I have been putting Dave Ramsey's tips to work and we are excited to be able to say "We are Debt Free!!!" We have $200.00 left to pay after my husband get's payed this month!! We started with about $20,000.00! So good luck and keep your focus on God!! It can be done!!

Melody said...

Good for you! Money is such a tough thing. Here are a few things I do to stretch our budget:

-I do 95% of my shopping at Grocery Outlet.

-I only shop once a week. I don't run to the store if I run out of something. It just waits a few days. This keeps me from grabbing other things that I could do without as well.

-We buy most of our clothes for our whole family at thrift and consignment stores. I also shop the good clearance sales. I just bought sweatshirts for my son at Target for .70 each!

Anna said...

Thanks for the encouragement! Now that I have a mortgage, I had to become a penny pincher and I've found out that it is soooo much fun! I love to brag that I got an 80.00 dress for 1.78 at JCPennys. =) And now that we don't go out to eat nearly as often, it is more of a treat and more fun! Anyway, good job!!

Anna said...

Oh, and about tithing, there is a great book that totally changed my view. It is called, The Blessed Life by Robert Morris. Totally blew me away!

Robin said...

1.Day old bread $1.50x52wks/yr=$78
2.Two less new clothing items per month $100.00x12mos/yr=$1,200
3.Once less takeout per week $20x52wks/yr=$1,040
4.Remove 3 "want" items from my basket b4 checking out of WalMart, Target, Freddies $50xtwice-a-month= $100/12mos/yr=$1,200
5.Substitute restaurant/movie for video rent/take out twice monthly $200/12mos/yr=$2,400
UREEKA...we've just found $5,918 in our 2009 budget!

Kim said...

Great topic! We are in our early 30's and have been married for 14 years. After a few years of marriage we started on Larry Burkett's "How to Manage Your Money" program and have not looked back since (this was before Dave Ramsey was big). It is so freeing to be debt free. Since then we have added a little boy to our family and I am staying at home so we have tightened our purse strings even more, but it is worth it!

We plan out our meals and grocery shop in two week stretches (matches up with pay day) which helps. My new montra when I want to buy something is, "Is this really necessary right now?" (Usually it's not.)

I struggled with tithing that first year we were married. Funny enough I made it my New Year's Resolution that year and it has been the only one I've ever kept (13 years running)!

Good luck! It's well worth the sacrifices!

Lyndsay said...

We were using Blockbuster online to get movies, but I noticed we weren't watching them as fast as we needed to in order to get our monies worth. So I canceled and now we use the Redbox and it's only $1.09 each movie. I love it. We get movies when we have the time to watch them and only then. I actually haven't used it in a few months, but it ended up saving us about $15 a month. Not huge but it does add up when you factor in other things like clipping coupons, not eating out as much, buying the kids and your clothing at Value Village or garage sales. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Use the LIBRARY!! We check out tons of things every week--CD's,movies,books,magazines,books on tape,picture books with read-a-long tape....And go to the free storytimes,concerts and adult talks. Our rule is we have to LOVE the item before we buy. So many times we saw something that interested us at Costco, bought it and then it was just okay. Should have checked it out first at the library!

Sarah Taylor said...

Loving the ideas, Ladies! Lyndsay, I especially enjoy yours because Joel and I have a Netflix subscription, but on average only watch 2 or 3 movies a, thats like 5 bucks each! I'm switching to your suggestion. And Jenelle, you give me hope! Thank you!

Jessi said...

This is hands-down the best place to find coupon codes for online shopping.

Anonymous said...

I think that is wonderful you have a desire to get out of debt. So many people we know are on the road to living debt free. I think this has more to do with the Holy Spirit directing us all to a debt free life.
We have been debt free for over 3 years.
Like Kim, we did the Larry Burkett How to manage your money a few years ago. We are strictly on a cash budget, we use an envelope cash organizer, it hasn't failed us yet.
We also gave up TV almost 3 years ago, and don't miss it at all.
I wanted to mention to you a program that I was introduced to in my community. It's a program that "gleans" grocery stores (even starbucks) and shares the "goods" with members and the needy in the community. We get a lot of produce and bread
We have cut our grocery budget from $150 a week, down to about $50 a week.
It's called Evergreen Gleaning Association. You can google the name and check out the website.

Felton/Casey said...

I love the gleaning commet from below!!! I am also local and a part of Cascade Gleaning Assoc. and it saves us a bundle.

We too plan to be debt free this year. It has been our goal the last three years, but this year we are doing something about it.

First of all, tithe is key. God has done so much in the area of our finances since we started that. The first thing that I do after we get paid is tithe. Then the rest pays bills and such.
Second, we not only refuse to have cable at all, but I just down-graded my DSL to a slower speed and will save $120 a year. Also, thrift stores are great because I know that many times God has had exactly what I needed right there waiting for me in great condition. Lastly, I shop at Albertsons a lot because they accept all competitors coupons. I get a Sunday newspaper and it only takes 10 minutes really to clip the ones I want, and Albertsons honors them all. Actually this is the last thing. We are closing our credit card today actually. Cold Turkey! Online purchases will be made with paypal, or I will just have to pick up a phone and call in my order with a debit card. We will close our credit card and as many payments a month as we can, putting all of our extra money this year into being free. We would have a lot of money if we hadn't already spent it all huh?

Kat said...

congrats on your new goals Sarah. I think that's great!

Here's what we have done over the past couple of years to get out of debt.

We sold the vehicles we had that had loans against them and we bought 2 used vehicles, that were still in great condition, but that we could afford to purchase outright. We have no payment on them and we do not have to pay for full coverage insurance.

We cut up all credit cards and even got rid of our debit card. We began using cash for everything. It was a lot harder to make hasty spending decisions when we actually had to hand over the cash and watch it dwindle. Swiping our cards was so much easier. 2 years later, we ordered a debit card again (a few weeks ago) and we have it for online purchases only- and those much be discussed with one another and agreed upon before doing so.

We shop at Grocery Outlet first, before any other store. We eat fully organic, and the great thing is is that Grocery Outlet offers SO much organic foods, for less than non organic foods at any Safeway or Top Foods. Their stock changes weekly, so you'll never know what you'll find.

We are also a member of our local food co-op. We save 10% off the listed prices in the store and we buy mainly in the bulk bins there. We save SO much between those 2 stores. I only use Safeway for a few items that I can't get at either of the other 2 stores.

We get our movies and books from the library! They have just about everything we've ever searched for (I do it all online and just pick my items up when they are ready). It's free and you get plenty of time to watch them.

We use thrift stores, Goodwills, consignment shops, craigslist, freecycle, and garage sales for clothing, furniture, or anything else we need (or even want!). I couldn't keep up with all we've saved.

Another thing we did was cancel the cabel all together. My daughter was seeing commercials and behavior/words we weren't comfortable with and it was too easy to sit infront of it rather than doing things like reading, family walks, or true family bonding time. That saves a bundle and we have grown closer because of it.

Another thing we did was cancel the cellphones. We do have a prepaid phone with about 20 mins on it for emergencies, but we've never had to use it. And surprisingly, we don't really miss it. Life is so much more peaceful and simple that way.

Anyway I hope some of those things can help you. Good luck and keep us updated! I'm sure you are inspiring many through blog entrys like this.
Warmly, Kat

Serena said...

My savings this year has been using Cloth Diapers! A buddy of mine is also listing to Dave Ramsey and he helped me set up a spreadsheet on my savings, Its Mind Boggling how much spend in diapers each month! And i have To kiddos in Diapers, so the savings is Huge for me!! I also have cut back on Starbucks :( and I pack a lunch each day. I make just a little extra for dinner and save the leftovers for lunch! Great way to have a Nice healthy lunch. Way to go for Saving $$ in 2009!!!

Cliff and Dana said...

Yes, lattes can add up! We invested in a nice latte machine. (Saeco is a great brand) It grinds, it steams and it's wonderful! We paid a little more up front but it has paid for itself time and time again over the past 6 years. Plus, it's fun to be a barista at home for friends when they come to visit. :)

Christine said...

Okay, this is late, but still!
Yes to the library for movies, books, etc. And if your local library doesn't have it, you can usually place a hold on it from the surrounding libraries. Plus they have downloadable (from home) movies and audiobooks.
That's all we do, we don't pay cable. We make a lot of food at home and if we have to pick food up, we get it from the grocery store.
Not so much in the winter, but walking and biking wherever we can. We're blessed to live with in walking distance of most things, including dh's work.
We still have credit cards, because we love earning gift cards (free presents!) but we have it set up to pay the whole bill automatically every month, so we can't spend over what we can spend. :)
And budget budget budget! And we'd often come in over budget, but we thought we'd experient in January with a "month of want", only buying things we NEEDED (including groceries. Do we NEED the crackers? nope. Do we NEED the mangos? Yes :) ) Anyways, we didn't do perfect but ended up under budget for once! Which was exactly what we needed to make up for the biggest heating bill I've ever seen. So this month's challenge is to work on that.

Christine said...

Okay, and I had to add: Freecycle!
We needed bunkbeds for our kids and got some good sturdy ones for FREE!
Are they as nice as they'd be new? No. But they saved us a ton of money!
When our washer went out, we had to buy a new one and in the meantime got a older one for free on freecycle (we had to turn the dial between each part of the cycle - wash, rinse, etc, but we didn't have to go to the laundromat!