I’ve had the joy of knowing and loving three grandparents (seven, if you count mine and Fred’s). They all are/were wonderful. One grandmother still lives on this side of eternity and the other two are in heaven. The ones in heaven are my dad’s parents, Ralph and Helen. They were Granddaddy and Grammy to me. Man, I miss them. They lived in Nashville and I “vacationed” with them often. I use the term vacation, because when I was with my grandparents they made me feel like nothing else in the world mattered. When I first got my driver’s license my parents would meet them halfway and then I would ride back with my granddad. They did not think it was safe for me to drive on the interstate. I would hop in the front seat with my granddad and we wouldn’t get five minutes down the road and he would pull over for me to drive. He always claimed he was too sleepy to drive. I’m not sure who can sleep when a 16 year old, new licensed driver is behind the wheel, but the snores that came from his body indicated that he had no trouble. It’s a good thing my parents brought me halfway. I don’t think I could have made it that far by myself…without a sleeping, snoring granddaddy in the front seat with me. Thank goodness I didn’t need him for directions. I knew the way to their house by heart.
When I would visit, our routine would be that Grammy and I would shop, eat out, shop, and eat out some more. My grandparents always had a playful relationship. When Grammy and I would come in with packages, granddaddy would always say, “Well, what’d you buy?” She would grin and say, “It was all on sale, Ralph.” To which he would respond, “Of course it’s on sale. That’s why it’s in the store. Everything is on sale!” My grandparents, while they were kidding with each other, taught me a valuable lesson as I was growing up about finances. They never sat me down and had a money talk with me, but what my grandfather said stuck with me.
Fast forward several years down the road to when I started dating Fred. I really liked him and he really liked me. I think our conversation went something like this:
Fred: I think we should go out.
Fred: We will be on a weekly budget of $30 for dates. I hope that’s okay.
Me: Sure. Sounds awesome! (What he didn’t know at the time was that I liked him so much if he had told me we would just sit at home and stare at each other I probably would have been okay with it!!)
Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I honestly can’t remember a time when we weren’t on a budget. There have been times when I’ve been on board and times, early on, where I have been little more than a brat. (Sorry, I can’t think of a better word.) I put pressure on Fred that he was never intended to carry. I’ve asked for his forgiveness, and we’re all moving on…with our budget. So, back to my grandparents…They taught me a lot about money through their little conversation about things being on sale. If they were here I think they’d agree with me on these five practical ways to save money:
I know this sounds counterintuitive. After all, how do you save money by giving more away? The reality is, though, the way we handle our money really is a heart issue. There is nothing magical about tithing. God does not need our 10%. On the contrary, God wants 100% of who we are. When we tithe, as a spiritual act of worship, we are saying that all that we have belongs to Him. Matthew 6:21 tells us, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Our experience has been that, when we tithe, we pay closer attention to our finances as a whole. And that brings us to the second practical way to save money…
2. Get on a budget
At the beginning of every month, set realistic goals in different budget categories. For years we have followed the Dave Ramsey plan. This plan may not work for you, and that’s okay. Find something that works. Put a name to every dollar. If you have never been on a written budget, track your expenses for two months and see what you spend and where you spend it. Some people use a cash system for a budget. Handing over $100 bill has a little bit of pain involved. Some people prefer to track spending with a debit card. There are great programs out there to help track spending. We really like Clear Checkbook.
3. Eat at home
The tendency to eat out is very common in our culture. Now, I totally understand that, some days, eating out is just easier. Some day’s it’s almost a necessity, but it’s not a necessity every day. Having a menu plan and the necessary groceries in the house will really help when it comes to eating at home. When planning your menu, it is good to look at your calendar and keep in mind the activities that you’ll have that week. For example, if I know we have a ball practice on a Tuesday night, I might plan to put something in the crockpot on Tuesday morning that will be ready when we all walk in the door.
Now, if you need help developing a menu plan, you have come to the right place! Just click on the link to our latest menu plan on the right. Feel free to duplicate it, share it, copy and paste it, multiply it–whatever you need to do to get your brood fed for the week. If you do not know what you spend eating out, I challenge you to keep track of it for two months. Your jaw will drop when you see how much money is going through a drive thru window!
4. Don’t go shopping
Wait, what?!? Unless you need something and you have money in your hand for that item, don’t.go.shopping. Just because Target has it, it does not mean that everything has to come home with you. Stop and think before you purchase something. Aimlessly walking into a store is dangerous. Can you hear my granddaddy? “Of course it’s on sale. That’s why it’s in the store. Everything is on sale!”
For this very reason, I shop at Aldi or Kroger for groceries. There is just less to buy and less to be distracted by. I find I spend less at the grocery store when I can’t buy groceries, a bath mat, and new jeans all at the same store.
5. Set long term and short term financial goals
Do you know how runners stick with running when they’re first getting started? They sign up for a 5K. Setting a goal gives you momentum. It gives you something to work toward. It’s the same principle with our finances. Just living on a budget without a long term plan seems pointless, but when you have something you are working toward–paying off the house, getting out of debt, saving for your next vacation–it makes it all worth it.
So, there you have it. Please note that we are not financial geniuses, nor do we have it all together, financially speaking (or in any way for that matter!!). We don’t make the right decisions all the time. One of the great things about this blog is learning from each other. I’d love to hear from you. What are some of the ways you save money?
My friend, Melanie Redd wrote two great posts on practical tips on saving money. You can view them by clicking here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.