“Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23, NIV
When we think about things such as stewardship and living frugal as women, this verse may not be the first one that comes to mind on this particular topic, but today, I want you to understand that this is the foundation on which you need to build your desire as a good steward. You can’t find ways to keep your budget tame if your heart’s not in it. You can’t continue to work hard to pinch pennies, and work to innovate new saving and spending ideas if your heart’s not in it. You can’t continue to lower your grocery bill if your heart’s not in it. All of our actions ultimately are products of the desires of our hearts (Matthew 6:21). I feel, at times, as homemakers, we tend to put the cart before the horse so to speak. We know in our minds we should be doing our best to responsibly spend, save, and give the funds we have been given, but the thought stops there. It’s just something we probably need to be doing, not something we should be doing. We need to shift our focus on stewardship back to the heart.
So why live frugally? Some of us cannot survive without being thrifty. We have to coupon. We have to price match. We have to shop second hand. We can’t eat out. It’s just where we are in life. On the other hand, some of us have more money in the bank to work with, so we don’t do the things listed above because it’s not a necessity financially. We need to adjust our mindset of frugal living as Christian homemakers. This is not something that should be done only out of necessity; it should be done because it is a smart way to handle our provisions. Our focus as women is to care for our households and see their needs are met, serve them in the Lord, and show them how to serve the Lord. In everything.
The way I chose to accomplish this was through couponing. I want to encourage all of you to grab a local store ad and compare it to the things you purchase. For one month, choose to either price match, or pay sale price for your produce and meats. Plan your meals around what produce and meats are on sale. If you find meat for $.99 per pound or cheaper, buy double, or triple. This will be a bit time consuming, but I want you to see the full effect. Keep up with the difference and set it aside. If meat is $3.45 for five pounds and you pay $1.97, write down the difference, which is $9.85. Do this each week, even if the savings is only a nickel. At the end of the month, get a total amount of the savings. Use that amount to purchase more meat. Buy on sale what you need for the week, plus extra. Continue to keep track of the savings on your second month. At the end of your second month of price matching only meat and produce, total your saving again. Start clipping coupons for toothpaste, toothbrushes, all toiletry items, and laundry detergent. Using the money saved from your second month of shopping, find store sales that match up with your coupons. If you’re not saving at least 70% don’t make the purchase; another sale will come. Again, keep track of the money saved on your meat and produce by purchasing only sale items, as well as tracking your hygiene purchases. At the end of your third month, tally up the savings. Use those savings to continue to purchase toiletry items that are both on sale and you have a coupon for. You should have a shelf full of these items by now. When you reach the fourth month, start clipping cleaning supply coupons and paper/plastic goods. Use the money saved from your third month savings tally to purchase these items. During your fifth month, use savings again to purchase cleaning supplies, paper/plastic goods. If you commit yourself to this process in baby steps, by the time you reach the sixth month, you should have a three-month supply of all of your household toiletry and cleaning needs, a freezer full of meat, and a lot of money freed up from your grocery budget. Now that your supply is built up, only purchase items when they are on sale at least 70% off. See what happens? You take control and stop paying full price on things needed right away because you have a stockpile. You then have the freedom to purchase things on sale to keep yourself stocked up with three months’ worth of goods. Any great deals purchased in excess of three months’ supply you can donate to great causes! Once you get the hang of starting with the basics, you can stockpile pantry items such as flour, sugar, canned goods, condiments, etc, by only purchasing them on sale to build your supply.
In 2008, I began this exact process. We were struggling financially, and I did not want to work outside of the home. The first month, I saved $30.00, by the time the sixth month rolled around, my savings was at $300.00, and after a year of making better purchasing decisions, I took our household budget for food and home needs from $1,000.00 a month (had kids in diapers) to $400.00 a month! I freed up $600.00 from our budget. Instead of hitting the work force to make $600.00 a month, I chose to save $600.00 a month by being smarter with my money, and got to remain at home. My heart yearned to spend as much time at home as possible. I wanted to support my husband’s ministry, be available to him at a moment’s notice, and be available for my children as well? Getting a job would have been a quicker way to get $600.00 extra a month, but I know I personally would have been miserable working outside of the home, and my whole family would suffer.
How we view money, and what we spend our money on, save our money for, and reflect on the most, gives us a glimpse of the desires of our hearts. If we’re always worried about money because things are always so tight, the love of money is in our hearts, and we will do what’s necessary to quench it. If we aren’t worried about money, and spend without giving it an extra thought, again, our hearts are filled with the love of money, and we will do what’s necessary to quench it.
If we look at money as a provision that is to be used to care for our family, and support the needs of our neighbors, duty to serve the Giver will be in our hearts, and we will do what is necessary to quench it.
by Ashley Hudson
Ashley and her husband Jake serve with the Lewisville church of Christ in Lewisville, TX where Jake is the Youth and Family Minister. Ashley contributes regularly to Start2Finish.com with the feature “There’s an App for That”. She has also developed a bible curriculum for Start2Finish called “Grow.”