Sunday, September 14, 2014

Husbands, Submission and Budgets

My husband and I have taken turns handling the finances throughout our marriage.  I've been handling them for the past 10 plus years. I began handling the finances when he started having health issues. It was one way I could help take the pressure off of him.

"Dragon Tales" by the driveway in my front yard

I've learned a lot about my own heart since I've been handling our finances. One challenge is to remember that it's not 'my' budget BUT 'our' budget. My husband does not want to be involved in most of the budget making or decision but I acknowledge that I am acting on his behalf as his helpmate.  Budget making and keeping is only one of many ways I can fulfill my God ordained role as his helper.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”   Genesis 2:18  ESV

Here is where I have to watch my heart: A few years ago he said it would be nice to have a cup of Earl Grey tea or some coffee in the morning. He didn't demand it or insist. He just made a comment. Sadly, my first response to myself was, 'Doesn't he realize how hard it is to stay within my budget and yet he wants me to add one more thing?!'  But, I wanted to meet his needs (and even wishes) so I set out to find the best prices.

Thankfully, the Lord does not leave me in the muck and mire of my own selfishness and begins His gentle process of revealing the truth of what is going on in my heart. Eventually, it was brought to my remembrance that I spend money on food items that are not essential. How many times do I pick up a a small bag of nuts at the check out counter? Or grab an item off the dollar menu for lunch while shopping? Or even spend money on low carb treats? My husband never holds me accountable for these small expenditures. He gives me more grace than I give him at times. So now...

The Lord is helping me to see my husband's requests (and even his wishes) as an opportunity to bless him. Now, I find myself looking forward to the joy it brings him.

Spaghetti squash and baking pumpkin from our garden
One night around 10:30 pm he said, "I'm craving a frosty from Wendy's". My first response (to myself) was that we shouldn't be spending the money and secondly we shouldn't be eating that much sugar. But, thankfully the Lord gave me grace and the words that came out of my mouth were... LET'S GO! And you know what? We had so much fun and made a special memory that night. It was so 'out of the ordinary' that it filled us both with joy looking at all the other 'crazies' who were out late at night. We chatted on the drive over to Wendy's and thoroughly enjoyed our time together.

And guess what? We made it through the month without going in the hole financially! Imagine!

How often has God given me something I've longed for... something unnecessary... something other than the norm? And how much joy did it bring to my heart? And oh how I rejoiced knowing He cared enough to bless me! I've shared  many of those blessings with you over these past years. I'm allowed this same privilege and joy when I look for opportunities to bless my husband and those I love.

What joy is found in bringing joy to others!

  ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.' Acts 20:35

 *Note* I don't want you to think I'm ALWAYS so self-controlled because there have been times I have voiced my concerns to him. I don't think it's always wrong to do so. Much depends on our motives. Sometimes, it can even be wise to speak up because possibly our husbands have missed seeing a consequence that we can see clearly. But, I'm talking here about a very small expense that would bring him some joy and comfort to his heart in the mornings.

Click here to see A TYPICAL FRUGAL DAY

1. I can save the most money by finding ways to stretch my grocery money. I keep praying for God's help and trying new things. I went back to using a designated 'leftover shelf' in my fridge. That way I have one place to look and see what needs to be used up before it goes bad. I continue to throw many of my leftovers into the freezer,too. 

I put snail bait around my lettuce and chicken wire over the top so the animals stay out.

2. I'm trying a new homemade laundry detergent recipe that is dry instead of liquid. I've been making liquid detergent for more than 8 years and I always dread making it. I don't know why because it doesn't take long once I actually do it. But, the dry recipe was so simple and I like the fact that I don't have to heat anything on the stove. So far it seems to work as well as The Duggar's laundry soap recipe. I have found this recipe in quite a few places on the web:

You will need:
5 gallon bucket with a tight lid
1 box of Borax (4 lb. 12 oz)
1  3.7 lb. box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 4lb. box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda  (Now I'm wondering if I used this???? )
2 bars Fells Naptha Soap (grated)
1 3lb. container Oxiclean Versatile Stain Remover (I only used a 1 lb. container)

Use gloves and a mask and stir together and put into 5 gallon bucket. I use 1 tablespoon for average loads and 2 tablespoons for extra dirty loads.

3. Grocery prices continue to rise and I am looking for more ways to cut back. I had freezer bags on my shopping list but as I started to throw them in my cart I decided this was one area I could cut back. I have a drawer full of washed storage bags so I'm going to use those instead. They are not as convenient because I have to use a twist tie and you can't see through them but I've found if I use permanent marker on masking tape to mark the package then they work fine. A penny saved...

Lots of Habanero peppers that will end up in soups this winter!

4.  I got a notice in the mail that our electric bill would be increasing by 10% which will mean a $10- $15 dollar increase. I'm always working on keeping my electric bill low but I want my husband to be comfortable so he controls the window air conditioners or heaters. But, I can work on the water usage to save some money. I've written about how I save the first of the water from the faucet while I'm waiting for it to turn hot. I started filling up gallon jugs with the cold water and then placed them next to the lettuce on my back porch step so I wouldn't have to water them with the hose. I'm also using the jugs to water the new vegetable seedlings.

5. I needed Cajun seasoning for a new fish recipe but I didn't want to spend money on buying a new spice. I checked one of my favorite recipe sites ALL RECIPES and found this one:

Simple Cajun Seasoning
2 1/2 TBSP. salt
1 TBSP. dried oregano
1 TBSP. paprika
1 TBSP. cayenne pepper
1 TBSP. black pepper 

6. Shopping once a week (and sometimes every other week) works best to stay within my grocery budget. I know once a month shopping works great for so many people but I just can't seem to make it work for my budget. This month I bought one large package of meat each week and all of them were under $2 a pound except the hamburger which was $3 a pound. I found that spreading the purchase of the meat over the month helped me not overspend weekly. I'm also using less hamburger since it's more expensive than chicken and pork.

A few 'winter' veggies of broccoli and cauliflower are going in the ground.

7. I bought some hot dogs for .50 a package. I know they are not the healthiest meat out there but .50 a pound is too tempting to pass up. I made a recipe I loved as a child. Mother used to put it over rice but I skipped the rice it since I'm low carbing. I don't have a name for it.

4-6 hot dogs or 1 can of Spam or 8 oz. of baloney
2 tbsp. oil
4 lrg carrots (I used only 2 to keep carbs down)
2-3 stalks of celery
1 onion (I used 1/2 an onion)
Garlic powder, salt and pepper
Cooked rice (I omitted)

Heat oil. Add veggies and stir fry for 5 minutes. Cut hot dogs in nice size chunks. Add to skillet and saute until brown. Add 2-3 tbsp. water to skillet and stir quickly. 4 servings.

You can also add 2-3 cups of finely sliced cabbage instead of rice.

Winter veggie seedlings

8.  If I'm not 'praying as I shop' then I'm often tempted to toss items into my cart that are not on my shopping list.  So, I've tried to make it a habit to stop and review what is in my cart before I get to the check out counter. I ask myself if I can get by without any of the items in my cart. More times than not I'm able to pull one or two items from the cart. This practice gives me a little time between wanting of the item (lust of the flesh) and being able to think objectively about it. 

9. My 'Snoopy' cat loves to sleep on the top of my couch and look out the front window. He watches the other cats in the neighborhood. We call it his 'kitty tv'. :-) His hair gets on the curtain and normally I will use a 'tape brush' to clean off the hair. But, I noticed the curtain was looking dirty. The curtains have to be dry cleaned, which is expensive, so I tried to spot clean it instead.  I had some upholstery and fabric spray cleaner that I used by gently rubbing it into the curtains with a wet rag. It worked great and saved me a lot of money.

Snoopy keeping an eye on the neighborhood!

10.  Occasionally, I will purchase a product my husband and I don't care for. A lot of times I can use a small amount of the product mixed in with a another product we do like and it's not noticeable. That way I don't waste money by throwing it away. I have some cinnamon coffee that my husband doesn't like so I use 1 tablespoon mixed in with 2 tablespoons of his regular coffee.

Items I didn't throw away:
- Low carb tortilla bag with zipper (washed and reused as a storage bag)
- tea bags (saved in a container in the fridge. 3 bags are reused for 1 cup of tea)
- candy bags (washed and reused as baggies)
- toilet paper rolls (torn up into small pieces and put into compost)
- Outdated paperwork (torn and put into compost)
- cotton from vitamin jar (used to remove nail polish)
- plastic grocery bags (lining for kitchen garbage can)
- tin can tops from dog food (I put these in a small bucket in the garden with water. Then use the rust
  water to fertilize my grapes or roses).

Well, that's it for this week! Be sure to check out 'A Frugal Day' at the beginning of this list for my daily frugal routine.

What are you ladies doing in your homes this week? I love learning from  you!

Blessed to be home!