A lot of people in America are tightening their belts this year. With taxes going up, health insurance premiums increasing, and the cost of basic necessities skyrocketing, families are pinching their pennies and stretching their dollars.
My family is one of them, as a recent conversation with my 8 year old son shows:
“Mommmmm! We’re out of raisins. Put raisins on your list and buy two boxes this week. One box doesn’t last us the whole week!” “I’m sorry Ben, but I’m only buying one box of raisins each week for you to snack on,” I replied. “But one box isn’t enough!” “I’ve been telling you that your servings are too big and you would run out. You have to make different choices if you want the raisins to last all week.”
Now a $1.50 for a box of raisins might not seem like much. Really, it isn’t. I can afford the extra $1.50, until you consider that over a month I’m spending an extra $6. Which still doesn’t seem like much until you consider that over a year I’m spending an extra $78, which is nearly an entire week’s worth of groceries for my family.
Now you’re talking about a chunk of change! For what? So my son can eat two handfuls of raisins every day instead of one handful? I don’t think so. There are cheaper and more nutritious snacks we can purchase for him. As a bonus, he will learn the skill of delayed gratification and meeting his wants in smaller portions.
You might think I’m a little fanatical about our finances. Compared to how most American households manage their spending, you’re probably right.
But, unlike most American households we have a goal to live debt free and to give our money to worthy causes. We also have a goal to buy a bigger house. Now that’s very American!
So this year, we are getting “gazelle intense” about controlling our spending and increasing our savings.
Why the focus on savings?
Because our 3 bedroom home doesn’t have a room large enough for my 4 sons to share. Starting in May my 6 year old daughter will share her room with our newborn son. Three years from now I think my then tween-aged daughter will need to NOT share a bedroom with a then preschool aged brother.
A house big enough for my 5 children and with land for my 4 sons to run will cost us about $300,000. A 20% down payment will be $60,000. That means we need to save $20,000 a year for the next 3 years.
Who has that kind of money?!
Not us! I don’t mind telling you that we went over our budget with a fine toothed comb. We reduced lots of line items like vacations, field trips, and extra curricular activities. We plan to spend a third of the money on eating out that we spent last year.
With every budget line item considered and our financial belt tightened we might be able to save $6,000 this year. At that rate it’ll take us 10 years to save the money. In 10 years my 2 oldest children will be in college and we won’t need a bigger house.
What are we going to do?
We set a goal to save $20,000 this year and we’re living with that goal in mind.
- We’re asking ourselves “Do I REALLY need this?” before making a purchase.
- We’re also praying and asking God to provide. Not because he’s a genie in a lamp to fulfill our wishes, but because everything belongs to him and he has proven himself faithful to provide for us in the past.
- We are also considering ways to increase our income. As a homeschooling mom with a newborn, getting a job outside our home isn’t possible for me. My hope is that writing and blogging will produce an income. We’ll see!
Why am I telling you all of this personal information?
I want to invite you to join our journey as we pinch pennies and save dollars in 2013. I will share our real world stories of frugality and delayed gratification. I also plan to tell you about the financial lessons and tips we learn.
As we saw with the cost of my son’s box of raisins, pennies can add up to dollars in a hurry!
Is your family spending less and saving more this year? Please share your favorite resources and tips!!