Thursday, April 4, 2013

Stewardship from the Standpoint of a Stay-at-Home Mom

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Why be a wise steward of possessions, money? When we are wise stewards of what God has given us, we honor Christ. It is a sign of respect first and foremost to Christ (the Ultimate Provider), and secondly to your husband (the earthly provider).
I Timothy 6:17-19
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Try to eliminate all debt possible. I have student loans we are trying to pay off, and we have found that paying them off one at a time has been the best plan. We have also refinanced several loans so that we will be paying less in the long run. As I entered college and began my music education degree, student loans were inevitable, but they were also a burden. We are trying are best to pay them off quickly. With all of that being said, I can’t emphasize enough the following verse - “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Prov.22:7). Debt will hold you captive - make it a priority to pay it off!

Toys and Clothing for Kids
1. Thrift Store:
We typically make a thrift store trip at least once each week if not more. We have found one thrift store in the area that is our favorite for finding deals. Find one in your area, and check for discounted items. Many items in our particular thrift store are overpriced tremendously, but they typically sell toys for dirt cheap, and their children’s clothing is either cheap or tagged as the weekly $0.99 sale.

2. Children’s Consignment Sales:
There are 3 major consignments in the area – Children’s Market (FUMC Jackonville, AL), Sweet Repeats (Oxford, AL), Paisley Peacock (Pell City, AL). These are semi-annual consignment sales that carry items for pregnancy through the teen years. With the sales being only twice a year, you find a lot of items at one time, so mark your calendars early for these events and set aside some money in the months prior to the sales.
3. Rotate Toys:
I don’t know about your kids, but mine seem to get tired of the same toys quickly. Instead of going to the store to buy new ones, I simply rotate big buckets of toys, and it works beautifully.

I am by no means a great couponer, but I have created a coupon notebook (3” binder) using a free printable that is both cute and very practical – Anytime I go into a store, this binder accompanies me. I use card display sheets (clear card protectors) that go into binders. I mainly use online coupons, but I only print out coupons that I know will make the final price cheaper than the generic. That is part of being a money-stretching mom. You sacrifice just a little taste or convenience for the generic, but it is well worth it. Check out my blog on "Couponing Resources."

 Creativity and Resourcefulness
1. Sewing:
Don’t know how to sew? No worries – it’s really not that complicated if you have a little bit of time and patience. Start with simple projects and build from there. Go to Pinterest to find plenty of blogs with practical steps on how to begin to sew. Sewing has proven to be extremely practical for me and my family. I have sewn drapes (almost every drape in the house), linens (fleece blankets, pillow cases, customized patterns), tailored clothing (changing maternity tops into normal tops – only if you are done having children, changing maternity jeans into normal sized jeans, changing jeans into lower sizes as I lose baby weight, sew on buttons, sew up rips and tears, sew on patches for play-jeans). Sewing saves LOTS of money. I haven’t bought a new pair of jeans or shirts in over 2 years! I’m simply tailoring mine down to my pre-pregnancy size as I lose weight (YAY!!!).

2. Homemade Laundry Detergent:
This is the recipe to homemade powder that is hypoallergenic and is able to be used on high efficiency machines. You only use 1 Tbsp. of powder per load, and 1 batch lasts me 6 or more months. It breaks down to $0.05 a load! It cleans even better than Tide, and it leaves our clothes smelling fresh.

3. Haircuts:
I cut the boys hair (including my “big boy” – a.k.a. the hubby) – there are plenty of online tutorials if you search for them on how to properly cut hair. A child’s hair cut is at least $8 plus tip, and an adult hair cut is at least $12 plus tip.

Food & Groceries
1. Meals:
Toddler lunch ideas – Just a few ideas are frozen cooked chicken nuggets, organic turkey dogs, cheese sticks, bananas, apple sauce, grilled cheese, and grilled ham and cheese. Also find cheap and simple dinner ideas. In general, we do lots of meals using frozen chicken breasts (various marinades), canned chicken (Velveeta Skillets), canned tuna (Cheesy Tuna Helper), and ground beef (Hamburger Helper, Velveeta Skillets, taco soup, spaghetti, taco salad).

2. Leftovers:
We always have leftovers, but we make sure we always finish them off – don’t let them go to waste. A few suggestions to make it easier to rid the fridge of those leftovers:
1. Have leftover dinner nights (every other night)
2. Use leftovers for toddler or children’s summer lunches
Remember to label leftovers with the date so you know when to dispose of it.
3. Eating Out:
Learn to say “no” to eating out (except for date nights or special
4. Grocery Budget:
Sam’s Club Membership: We were able to get our membership during a rare deal – The membership was $45, we received a $20 gift card and $20 worth of food vouchers = $5 for a year membership and one happy momma! ;) We have only had it for a month, and it has already been worth it. Note that if you are in the area, the closest Sam’s Club is in Birmingham – we make a trip once a month for a doctor’s appointment, so we make our Sam’s grocery trip after our visit. We spend 3/4ths of our grocery budget on this one trip, and it helps us stay in budget better than anything we’ve tried (including couponing).

When you grocery shop, be sure to “lock away” basic prices in your
head - when you see them “on sale” at another store, you need to know if they are ripping you off or if it is truly a good deal. Also note the volume of the item…be sure you are getting a deal for the amount of product.

We use off-brands/generics. They may not be quite as good as the brand name, but no one will notice when it’s cooked with a meal. It’s worth the savings.

Buy clearance candy, d├ęcor, and seasonal clothing after major holidays like Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Independence Day, etc. I buy candy for 75-90% off and store it in our pantry until we need it.

Come up with a budget and stick to it! Leave wiggle room, and make sure some of your monthly budget gets deposited into savings (if at all possible). Keep it updated and able for you and hubby to view easily.

Lastly, we always leave room in our budget for tithing 10% of our income, as we are commanded to tithe at least 10%. It’s God’s money in the first place – it is a gift. Why would we not want to give just 10% of it back through tithing? God promises us over and over in His word that when we give with the right attitude (a joyful heart), He will give back to you beyond what you gave. I cannot tell you how many times the Lord has blessed this house with meeting financial and physical needs because we gave to Him. He will bless you for it. Please trust Him and give.

Malachi 3:10 (NIV)
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

I will end with this – I have found from personal experience that the closer I am in Christ, the more content I am in what I have materially, the more I want to be resourceful with what we are given, and the less I want to spend. If you find yourself wanting to spend more than you usually do, check your heart. More times than not, those are the times when our hearts aren’t content in Christ… “For where your heart is, there your treasure will be also” (Matt. 6:21).

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