Yesterday I shared with you the first half of 5 Ways to S-t-r-e-t-c-h a Budget. If you haven’t read the first half, I encourage you to do so as it contains the foundation of our frugal living. In these tough economic times, it’s hard to find ways to make a small budget work, especially if you have a large family and are living on a single income. These tips should help.
And now, for part 2:
3. Pray for Your Needs and 4. Buy Gently Used
(these two overlap quite a bit)
Appliances – Finding good deals on appliances is admittedly harder than saving money on other items, but it can be done! Our first action is to pray about it. Remember, the Lord promises to provide for our needs. Our favorite money-saving techniques when buying gently used appliances are to look at garage sales, ask friends and family to be on the lookout for us, check craigslist, buy scratch and dent, and so forth.
Vehicles – We have never had a car payment, ever. When we realize that it’s time for a new (to us) vehicle, we start praying! Sensing a theme yet? 🙂 We know we cannot afford a car payment while attempting to pay down student loans, so we ask God to send us a vehicle that will meet our needs as well as our budget. Praise the Lord, He has always provided the vehicles we needed, sometimes even at no cost to us, including the necessary switch to a minivan before the birth of our twins! Then, we are often able to pass on the blessing by giving our old vehicle to someone else in need.
For necessary car repairs, we also pray. My husband does whatever he can himself, but if it’s a major repair, we usually have to ask for help. We’ve been blessed with some mechanics in the family, but when they are busy we have also turned to church family or friends. If you know someone mechanically minded, you could even trade services – offer to babysit, make a meal, or some other skill you or your husband have!
Furniture – In our home, you will not find new furniture. It’s a luxury we cannot afford, although I’ll admit I’ve been tempted at times! The majority of our furniture has come from garage sales, hand-me-downs, Goodwill, Craigslist, and so forth. We often pray for furniture needs as well, especially when we moved last year and our twins needed to graduate to full-sized beds and dressers of their own.
God provided a set of bunkbeds, a loft bed, a few dressers, a desk, and more – most of which came from one garage sale. We had looked at loft beds online for our daughter’s room since it was going to be quite small, but they were very pricey. We prayed about it and just didn’t feel peaceful about spending that much money on a want. That very weekend, God provided via the garage sale where we found a white loft bed with matching shelves and dresser – all for $50! They wanted to get rid of it so badly, they even threw in an extra desk. Praise the Lord! If we had not been willing to wait, we would have unnecessarily spent well over $400.
Baby Items – We have pretty much outgrown the baby years here, but when we found out we were pregnant with twins over four years ago, I learned a lot about trusting God to provide for needs in this area. He provided a second crib, clothing, a second exersaucer (which wasn’t even a need, really), and so forth from generous friends and even neighbors. We even found car seats we really liked on clearance in one of those moments when you know God is just blessing you for the fun of it! 🙂
I also shopped a lot of garage sales, but my favorite place to shop was the nearest second-hand baby store, called Once Upon a Child. Not only are the gently used items half the price of a new item, but also outgrown baby clothing and items can be traded in for cash or store credit. If you don’t have one in your area, check for another baby thrift store. E-bay was another source of gently used items that I utilized. Last but not least, I often swapped items with ladies at church. For more ideas on how to save in the baby area, read 9 Ways to Save on Kids’ Clothes.
Vacations – We do splurge a little in this area (at least what we call splurging). God has always provided a way for us to vacation when needed.
Now that my husband ministers full-time, vacations are becoming much more of an actual need than a want, and as the saver in the family, I’m learning to see them that way. 🙂 However, the funding isn’t always available, even for a “cheap” vacation like camping. In this case, we have vacationed at relatives’ homes, we have swapped houses, and we have even found some ministries for pastor’s families who help provide lodging. If you are a family in full-time ministry in desperate need of rejuvenation, please visit this site: http://www.lawrencewilson.com/free-retreats-vacations-pastors/ .
Utilities – You can only stretch this budget so far since heat and electricity are necessities (in this country anyway). However, setting the thermostat at 66 or 67 in the winter months and 75 or 76 in the summer months saves quite a bit of money. If you can’t go that far, even a couple of degrees can make a difference.
Consider rewarding your children for turning off unnecessary lights or appliances in the home to motivate them to keep utility costs to a minimum. Additionally, we utilize the budget-billing program to keep our monthly costs even, which is easier to budget for. Consider investing in energy efficient appliances, but only if you have the finances to. Again, if your budget is lacking, pray about it.
5. Do It Yourself Whenever Possible
Haircuts, Home improvements, Home decorating, Lanscaping, Gardening, Sewing, Homemade cleaning products – whatever you can do on your own rather than paying someone else to do is like money in the bank! A $25 pair of clippers lasts a long time – just sayin’. (See this tutorial to learn how to cut boy hair at home and my pinterest board for lots of other DIY tutorials.) Learn how to re-purpose everyday items such as baby wipes. And with the invention of Pinterest and the DIY blogs readily available, we really have little excuse to avoid learning some new skills, right? 🙂
If you have already tried to d-i-y and it just isn’t working, why not trade services to save money on the things you need help with? A few years ago, I promised my husband I would never again ask him to lay laminate wood flooring after we sold our previous home. He was miserable doing it and encountered much difficulty, even with the help of my brother-in-law! But we can barter with friends next time we need new flooring.
So that’s how we live frugally to achieve our financial goals. After 14 years of marriage, my husband has learned to appreciate my frugal nature, and I have learned to allow him to balance it out. Sometimes it’s nice to have the freedom to buy something new, or something that is a want rather than a need. I’m thankful for God’s wisdom in the mate He chose for me!
I’m sure I missed something, but I hope these ideas have helped you find areas in which you can stretch your budget, too! Even if you currently have a budget with a little room to spare, why not consider cutting back in just one area so that you can support global missions or feed a hungry child? When looking around our home, I can see there are things that we could live without even today, so I’m challenging myself here, too. Remember that as with any changes in life, learning to live more frugally is a work in progress. Even small steps can lead to success!
Have a great budget-stretching tip? Share with us in the comments!
If you enjoyed this post, you might suggest these practical suggestions for making things last:
or this post with additional ideas for savings in order to live on one income:
or these postw detailing how to save on kids’ clothes:
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