II Chronicles 7:14

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Justifying the fun...

Okay girls, this is about to drive me NUTS so I have to get it out. It seems like several of you focused on the COST of doing the fun stuff more than the real reason I was writing...which was to figure out how to deal with the ungratefulness in my kids. If you are creative, you can find ways to do activities that won't interfere with your budget.
All that "fun stuff" that I talked about that we do ALL the time with the kids--is FREE stuff! (or if not free, practically free)
For instance, we are a part of the Kids Bowl Free program at the bowling alley AND we all 4 have bowling shoes, so it literally doesn't cost us a single penny to take them bowling. The movie theater we go to is $.50/person, so that's a $1.50 total (we bring our own snacks. If you remember the post I did about that a while back--well, I made myself get over the guilt of it. I just canNOT afford to buy drinks/popcorn there.) Anytime we eat out, we do it for WAY cheap. I'm talking..WAY. I sign up for coupons constantly. If I have a free kids meal coupon, I'll get one of the kids to split the cheapest menu item with me (usually a burger or sandwhich) and then the other kid gets the kids meal. We can usually get out of there for about $8. Even doing that is a treat because we are on this INSANELY strict and limited Dave Ramsey budget. One of our "out to eat"activities is going to a local church who provides free lunch for children and their mothers. I don't know if it is intended for "low-income" or not..they didn't say...but I definitely take advantage of "free" anything.
We also go to the Library once a week where they have a FREE summer reading program and then enjoy the FREE splash pad right next door.
What I'm trying to say is...my budget for entertainment/activities is about $5 a week. I'm every bit as tight and restricted financially as the rest of you. Every time Matt or I says "we need a new XXX" the other one of us says "add it to The List" because we have this long on-going list hanging on our wall of all the items (big and small) that we can't afford to buy right now. Some of them are just wants and some of them are NEEDS (like new tires on my van because the ones on there are bald and have been deemed "unsafe" by the car dealer where I get my oil changed)...but who has an extra $500 just sitting around?
Anyway, I'm not trying to throw a pity party here...but I just felt misunderstood a bit--as though you guys thought I was going out spending boo-koo's of money doing all this stuff with the kids and it's just NOT like that.

And since we're talking about money here, let me just give an update on how this whole Dave Ramsey budget thing is going...
*We have 4 more payments to my parents for some money they loaned us and then we will be done paying off all our debts (other than the house).
*Our mortgage lady contacted us a couple of weeks ago to see if we might want to refinance the house. The interest rates have gone down significantly and she thought it might save us some money. Uh--YAH! Try $118,000.00. Yep, we ended up refinancing at 4.25% (instead of 6%) and were able to go down to a 15 yr mortgage instead of a 30 year, so now our payments went up by only about $60 but our house will be paid off when I'm 46 (or sooner, by the grace of God!)!! How exciting is that!?! Overall for the life of the loan, we will have saved 118 grand by paying it off in 15 yr instead of 30 yr!! **extra bonus...by doing this re-fi we got to find out what our credit score is. I've never known what our score was...but always wondered. I know we try to do our best with our finances. When she told us that our score was 832 on a scale of 300-850, we were elated! ALLLLL the glory goes to GOD because it is HIM who has provided the money for all of our needs/wants/bills all these years and enabled us to be so blessed! Tithing and giving is such a blessing!
*We have finally finished building up our emergency fund (just the bare minimum). I actually added the last $100 just this morning. I'm trying really hard not to touch it. really hard. really. :) (note to myself: Big Star jean shorts from The Buckle are NOT an emergency! :o)
*The envelope system, while we ARE still using it, is not really "working" for us just yet. I constantly "rob" one envelope to replenish another. I know this is wrong and not the way it is intended to be...but right now while we're still trying to pay off this last debt, we are stretched too thin. I just cannot buy all the groceries/toiletries and necessities we need for our family with only $400 a month...and that is all I had budgeted. So, every month I go ahead and put $15 in this envelope and $10 in that one...and every month I end up going through and taking it all back out to buy more groceries. It's kind of silly not to just quit putting it in there for now...but my goal is to be able to leave that money in those envelopes someday and if I just redirect the funds, I'll possibly forget, plus, I'd love to learn how to make that $400 a month be enough. At least this way, I'm reminded every time I take that money out of those envelopes.
*Our next big financial goal is to start saving up for a new vehicle. (new to us....not new) Since we refinanced our house, we will be getting a fairly large-ish ($1,700) escrow check back. That will be the big kick-start to our saving. Our hope prayer is that we will be able to save up enough to buy a vehicle with cash by next summer.

So there you have it. Through it all one thing is for certain...God always takes care of us. He never lets us struggle past what we can bear. With good stewardship, we are on the road to Financial Freedom! Even though we've had a lot less over the last year than usual (that whole 'living below your means' because we lived 'beyond our means' for so long thing)....I've become happier and less stressed than ever. God does work in mysterious ways! :o)


*Ashley Lou* said...

These are ALL great things, Jen!! Good job and stick with it! You won't regret it and neither will your kids!!! =)

Teresa said...

Oh I hate being misunderstood too!! I know what you mean! :)

I think I know you well enough by now that I knew you were not spending an arm and a leg on the fun activities :) but sometimes just doing too much (even if it is free) could play into the "sense of entitlement" or "ungratefulness"...that was my only point.

You ARE a great Mom Jen...I learn from you all the time as I'm sure do many other of your readers. Keep on keepin on girl!! :)

Rene' said...

good news on the financial front-yeah!!! :) check out the 918coupon queen regarding buying groceries for $400 a month. I've scanned lots of her articles and she seems to have had lots of success herself and in helping others. In fact Kamryn/Karson's mom attended one of her classes and said she learned tons. just an idea :) there was an article in the community spirit magazine recently about her and u can probably google her for more info.

KC said...

Girl, don't think for a minute that I thought you were out there blowing money left and right. I KNOW you better than that. I also know about your long term goals, and your debt reduction. I never for a moment thought that you were blowing money. I simply meant that "we" can't afford to do all of those fun things because around here we don't have all of that stuff for free or cheap. The only way we even got to go to six flags was because the boys each earned a free ticket and Stephen's parents bought our tickets and went with us...(God is good!!!) But because we can't afford to do those things (since they aren't Free around here), our kids don't get to do those types of fun things often, and therefore are very grateful when we do actually take them to do something fun like that...knowing it's a rare treat.

We also have $400 a month budget for groceries and $160 a month budget for household items (cleaning supplies, laundry detergent/fab softner, air freshners, soap, personal care items, vitamins, etc) It seems like it's never enough though, even with using coupons when I have them, and with buying everything generic. But somehow we stick to it. It will be worth it, once we get our debts paid off.

Congratulations on the Refi! I didn't know if you had gone through with it or not. That is AWESOME girl! GOD IS GOOD, ALL THE TIME!!!!!!

KC said...

Dont you wish our words could come across the way they sound in our heads? Depending on your tone, certain things can come across either really sweet, or not. LOL!
If anything I ever say, comes across wrong, it wasn't meant that way, I promise! You know me better than that anyway, but just wanted to clarify. :)
Maybe we should just do video blogs...to bad I rarely fix my hair or wear makeup in the summer. LOL!

jenelle said...

Keep going. You are doing great. Here are a couple of resources for the grocery thing that helps me a lot on saving money.