Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Overspending and my grocery budget

Our family has gone through one of the hardest losses we could have imagined these past few months so I must be honest in admitting that keeping on budget was not in the forefront of my thinking. It's not an excuse, it's just the facts.
Actually, when I went back and averaged my grocery budget over the past year I discovered that I've been spending an average of $130 extra each month instead of the allotted $200.  Yikes! I'm so thankful for my Quick Books program that helps me track expenses.

My habit has been to set aside the grocery money in envelopes. Sometimes I'll put enough grocery money in my wallet for 2 weeks. Other times, I pull it out of the envelopes when I run to the store. I think I'm getting myself into trouble when I make an unplanned stop with no money in my wallet. Instead of cash I use my debit card.

 Right now I have the extra money to cover a larger food budget but when/if we buy our own home I can't fall back on that extra buffer. So, I'm going to try and pull in the reins and see if I can realistically live on $200 a month by keeping track of my receipts. If not, then I'll have to do some shuffling in other areas so I can bump up my monthly grocery allowance. Food prices are rising. Maybe it's unrealistic to think that my husband and I can live on $200 a month. I buy very few 'extras' but my 2 freezers are full so that's an inclination that I'm buying more than we need each month.

So as always, in this game of budgeting,  I'll be praying for God's wisdom and guidance, evaluating my habits (and lack of self-control) and seeking new ways to be a faithful steward of the money God has entrusted me.

How do you handle this problem? I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Oh give me a home ... where the mortgage is low....

Quite a few years ago I owned a used homeschool curriculum bookstore which I ran for nearly 10 years. I often had mother's come for curriculum counseling because they were overwhelmed with all of the choices. Should they do unit studies or The Principle Approach or a more traditional textbook? It could drive a mother to distraction. I'd always bring them back to this question, "What has your husband allowed you to spend?" That was our starting point. It was a great 'narrower', as I used to call it, because it helped to narrow their choices.

Many of you know that we sold our home(s) 2 years ago when my husband became disabled. We lived in my aunt's barn studio the first year and then took a job as caregivers in the home of a 91 year old lady this past year so we could be closer to family.  My husband's Medicare will kick in April 1st and as a result we will be able to cut our $1,000 a month medical insurance payment to less than half. This will allow us to buy a small inexpensive home. There is no way we can afford rent  prices which are twice as much as a mortgage these days.

The types and areas of homes we can afford on a disability income are not familiar to us. To be honest, five years ago we would have avoided these areas like the plague. This has been the catalyst for a lot of soul searching and honestly I haven't been pleased with what I've seen. I believe I have taken on society's mindset when it comes to choosing a home more than God's. Sins like 'fear of man' and 'pride' are leading the pack.

Now, back to the point of my first paragraph. God has narrowed our income substantially over the past 5 years.  As a result it has limited us to certain areas where we can buy. They are not areas we would have pursued.. if given the choice... but God has narrowed our choices by our circumstances and funds. .. just as He did with my homeschool families..  He has spoken clearly through His provision.

There is a bigger part of me that gets excited thinking about where God might be moving us. Who will my neighbors be? Will there be some souls that I can point towards Christ? Will there be some that I can minister to or disciple? Will I have opportunities to serve?

 I am confident that He is working out His plan in our lives through the narrowing of our home choices. YAY!

 It will be small. It will be old. It will be perfect!