I knew when I saw those 2 lines on that pregnancy test that it meant putting my career on hold. I always knew when I had children that I would stay home with them, I just didn't know that time would come so quickly. Fresh out of college, newly married, first full time job, and interviewing for dream jobs...and then BAM...BABY! Although the putting my career on hold was something I'm still dealing with, there were other things to think about. One of the worries circulating through my mind was how would we live off of one income. Or I should say, how would we live off of one ministry income?
Here are just a few things I have learned lately to stretch our money and still enjoy life.
1. Cook EVERY meal. Yes, easier said than done, but when we do stick to this-our budget is happy.
2. Along with that, cook in bulk. Kraft Foods and Campbells websites are great resources for affordable and easy recipes. Don't eat heaping servings, eat just enough to get full and save the leftovers for lunches and other dinners.
3. Borrow DVDs from friends for movie night instead of heading to Blockbuster. This is free. And they don't incur late fees. Usually.
4. Cloth Diapers. This is something that has saved us a ton. We don't ever buy disposables (unless we are traveling overnight somewhere.)
5. Enjoy the Public Library. Free books, music, movies, mags. What more could you want?
6. Decorate the house with what you already have. I get an itch to redecorate and rearrange every few months...err..weeks. I have learned that instead of hitting up Target and coming home with a $50 impulse buy that I always regret later, I just go to my linen closet and exchange a few things around the house. Move a candle here, place a stack of books there, switch out that bird-looking-thing for a pretty vase...and VIOLA! A new look. You'd be surprised what switching out a few throw pillows and accessories can do.
7. Aldi. Shopping here has changed my life! It has literally cut my grocery budget in half! 89 cents for a gallon of milk?!?! Where else can you get that?!
8. Hand me those down please! Hand-me-downs are the reason why my baby is wearing anything more than just a diaper on any given day. These have saved our lives! Everything from maternity clothes, baby clothes, swings, and toys! Don't turn these down if people offer! Baby stuff adds up fast.
9. Don't give into trends! Well, at least not all of them. Case and point: here. Remember last year when these kind of boots were in? No? That's because they weren't in for very long. I will probably never wear those boots again. Waste of money! On the other hand, the dress was a good purchase-not trendy at all, I even wore it for my maternity pics. Some trends are worth giving into, like skinny jeans. I bought my first pair the moment I saw Mischa Barton rocking them about 4 years ago. I still wear that very pair all the time!
10. Take advantage of events put on by organizations you are involved in. These are often free and often accompanied by free meals. Free meals = money saved!
11. Instead of going on a dinner date, go on a dessert date. Much cheaper and you still get to enjoy a date out.
12. Last but not least, learn to say no. Sometimes that spur of the moment lunch date with a friend just won't cut the budget. Saying no to things can be hard, but your friends will understand and respect your discipline.
Hopefully I will continue to learn more ways to save money. Being a good steward of what we are given is not only essential for us to get by, but it is also what we are called to do as Christians.