It looks like this outside my window...
and inside it is a jumble of empty water glasses, antibiotics and kleenex as we have strep throat in the house. So, if you are wondering where my day 3 and 4 went, I was playing nurse! : )
Another thing I've been doing, though, is thinking about things that I want to work on in my life and character over the next year and one of those things is how I handle money. I was talking about it with a group of online friends awhile back and bemoaning the fact that when we worked at a Bible College and had three young children at home I handled money much more carefully than I do now. It seems that my wants and wishes grew as our paycheck increased, and that when the many years of homeschooling ended I suddenly felt like I was entitled to spend more money on me. Our main grocery store is still half an hour away, but there are other stores closer - Walmart and Walgreens to name a few - that make it easy to "grab a few things" when I run orders to the post office. I noticed, too, that when I was homeschooling I had a set purpose in my mind, but when homeschooling ended my purpose became muddled. I was a homemaker, a stamper, the manager of GraceWorks, a wife, a mom, a piano teacher... but what were my priorities? That's going to be one of the questions that I look at in detail this year, and my first step is going to be to take a money challenge. My sweet husband is going to be my accountability partner through this and we are going to take it 3 months at a time starting next week. Here are a few of the things I am going to work on...
1. I am going to list needs and wishes specifically as they arise - not generally. For example, I will write "Warm Navy Skirt" or "Black Tights - 3 pair", rather than "winter clothes". The reason is, if I go to the store to buy a navy skirt I know I can check it off my list when I bring it home in my shopping bag. It is done. But if I have listed "winter clothes", how do I know when I am done? Maybe I need "just one more" sweater, or skirt, or pair of gloves, or, ...or, ....or! And the item never gets checked off because I might still "need" (or see!) one more thing.
2. When I put an item on my list I will ask the following questions:
- When is the next sale?
- Is there something that you are currently saving for that is more important?
- Is there something that you are currently saving for that is less important?
- Can this wait until your birthday? Until Christmas?
- What do you already have that you could use/do instead?
This last question is especially aimed at craft supplies and the sudden urges that I get to go shopping. I have so much that isn't being used. What could I do or use instead of shopping for more??
3. I will assign each item a timeframe and start a savings sheet, or add it to my birthday or Christmas wish lists. I made a savings sheet for myself that I thought I'd share with you, in case any of you need help in this area as well. Blogger won't let me upload a PDF file, so if you would like this page to print out for yourself, just drop me an email at email@example.com and I will send you the file for free during the month of December. I'll put it in the store, too, in case you'd like to have it printed for you! : )
5. Except in rare cases, an item must be on my sheet for a least a week before I shop for it, online or in store. Hopefully this will keep me from impulse purchases.
6. I will start to deposit money in the Christmas Club again, and I will make a list of Christmas gift ideas throughout the year and shop in October and November when the Christmas Club money comes available. When my children were small I would shop all year round, picking up bargains as I saw them. This worked because I only saw a mall or large store every few months when we traveled to the nearest "big city". Also, we had no internet at home. Now, when everything is my your fingertips, it is too easy for me to overspend my budget on things that I can easily get later.
The last thing that we have decided to do is to give me a monthly "paycheck" to take care of our home. The money will be used for clothing, groceries, household supplies (paper products, new towels, a new pan, etc..), as well as birthday gifts, chiropractor visits and fun money. I'm really excited about this for a few different reasons. First, it will force me to be more mindful of my spending because I would hate to have to ask for a loan from our joint account!! Second, it will give my mind a concrete reminder that my home and husband come first - even over GraceWorks! And, third, if I plan carefully, I will have some discretionary money that I can use to save for the things on my savings sheets! : )
Please don't go away thinking that I am only working on my home for money. I hope this isn't a case of my not loving my home or my husband, or being unhappy where God has graciously settled me. It is more a tool to retrain my mind and refocus my attention so I can rest and enjoy my home, rather than always feeling a pull between it and GraceWorks and the crafts that I enjoy spending time on. I can tell myself - "You are getting paid to keep your home, so it needs to be done first before you go to the office (aka the basement)." I'm hoping it will also help me make well thought out purchases. Where before I might save money for a new stamp set and buy it, and then realize I needed a new pan and buy it as well, even though I didn't really have extra money, I am hoping that the challenge will help me to think ahead and make better choices. "I can buy either the pan or the stamp set. Hmmm. The old pan has no coating left, so I need a new pan. I can put the stamp set on my birthday list, I don't need it, I just want it. I will buy the pan right now, and not buy the stamp set."
Here is the monthly budget sheet that I made myself. It will be in the store, soon as well.
Sorry it is so blurry! The top gives me a place to write down extra expense for the month - maybe I will be going out with a friend for coffee, or I need to get a picture framed. Then a place for wants and wishes, and a place to make a plan... what will and won't come out of that month's budget. The right side will help me to keep track of the money I have available and I can use the back as well, if I run out of room. I am going to work on making it a habit to fill in any spending each evening before I go to bed.
I am so excited to get started on this. I pray the Lord will use it in my life to polish rough edges and make me more grateful for His daily provision for me. I would truly like to say that "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." and not have to add "most of the time..." to the end.
Don't forget to email me if you would like to be able to print out the savings sheet, and watch for the other pages to be in the store in a couple of days... once my webmaster gets back on her feet after strep! We'll send out a newsletter when they are in the store, so you don't forget. : )