Yes, I'm a pastor's wife, but I suspect not all of my readers are Christian. I won't hold back on my beliefs, but I also won't shove religion at you. I try not to accept things just because they're told to me but read and research in order to make up my own mind. You'll find a random mix of stuff here, depending on what interests me at the moment. I like to read others' opinions, whether they agree with me or not, which means I love comments on my posts!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Frugal Way - What Works for Me

I recently looked at our household budget again, editing the things that have changed. After that, I started looking at more frugal and money-saving blogs.

My husband is an associate pastor, and I work in a bakery. We don't have the expense of kids yet, but we do have my student loan, his current college tuition, and a house payment. Neither of us make much, but fortunately I don't feel that we really do without. God has truly blessed us. We also cut corners in many areas so that we can occasionally splurge in other areas, while paying off the debt at the same time.

After reading part of the Prudent Homemaker's website and blog with her Frugal Accomplishments for each week, I started thinking about where my husband and I actually are frugal and where we could work harder. Here are some of our more recent frugal accomplishments:

1. I'm learning to cook more than just pasta and scrambled eggs. Now, we go out to dinner about every other month. I'm still working on figuring out lunch, since my other half sometimes spends it at the hospital waiting for a church member to get out of surgery. How do you get around going to the cafeteria? Pictured above is vegetable soup and cornbread. The heart-shaped pan was a freebie from Bed, Bath, and Beyond for having a wedding registry with them.

2. We leave the windows open when the weather is nice in order to save on the power bill. It dropped almost $50 just by opening them for a few days out of the month!

3. We dropped our health insurance and switched to Medi-Share. Neither of us have health insurance through work and paying out of pocket, even for a HIGH deductible, was a crazy amount. We're saving almost $100 per month by going through Medi-Share, and the deductible is half of what it was with insurance. Fortunately, we haven't had to use Medi-Share yet, so I can't give a review of whether it's a smooth process to get payment for medical care.

4. When I wrecked my truck last winter, the insurance money would have bought a car, but not necessarily a reliable one. It was too old of a truck to get enough out of it. So we bought a used motorcycle for my husband, and I drive his truck. We were able to pay cash for the bike out of the insurance money and do some much needed work on his truck. We're also saving on gas since he drives the bike almost 45 minutes one-way in order to attend school.

5. We garden. Sometimes this works well, and sometimes it doesn't. Each year, there are certain crops that do great and some that fail. This year, okra has outdone itself, but the corn was a bust. We save by not going for all the bells and whistles that can make gardening expensive, like premade beds, plant starts instead of seeds, and exotic plants (they don't do well here anyways).

6. I shop when the price is right. I have a wishlist of things I'd eventually like for our home, and our budget is flexible enough to allow the purchase when I find them for the right price. I'm also part of reward programs to any store that I might possibly shop at, since the savings can unexpectedly add up. Most can use a phone number instead of a card, so there's nothing for me to keep up with. Thanks to this, Sears' Shop Your Way Rewards program sent me a code for a free $20 worth of points when I redeem $20+ in points. So that's no money out of my pocket, but I get more points to redeem later? Yes please! I think I can find something at Sears off of my wishlist or Christmas present list.

7. We enjoy free entertainment. We took the plunge and cancelled satellite TV. We were spending too much "quality" time watching it rather than actually talking, and the promotional rate expired. Full price didn't fit into our budget. Now, we occasionally watch movies or TV online or rent a Redbox movie, especially when they send a mobile code for a free movie. We sometimes borrow movies from friends. Mostly though, we changed our view of entertainment. Walks in the park and reading a library book together are 2 things we have been enjoying with the TV off.

8. We tithe 10% and give extra each month. Our budget prevents things like elaborate vacations or a brand new car, but I will always give. Acts 20:35 records Jesus as saying "It is more blessed to give than to receive." There's even scientific proof to back it up!

I'm always (especially now!) looking for more ways to save $$$. What works for you?

*Medi-Share is a referral link. If you register through here, I will get some much-appreciated credit for it.

This post is linked to Joyous Notions Homemaking Blog Hop and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

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