Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Trying to Live Frugally

Doesn't living frugally sound awful? I always thought so.  Isn't making money about spending money? And, if I earned it, can't I spend it on what I want?

About a year and a half ago, my husband and I took part in a church small group centered around Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover.  I've never been a fan of 12-step programs and the like, but my husband and I realized we shouldn't be living paycheck to paycheck.

While we didn't do everything Ramsey's book suggested, it did change our outlook on money.  We hadn't been budgeting for a while, and the book (with a friend's help) got us on track with a budget.  Plus, we started trying to pay off our debt rather than accumulating more.

Here are some steps we took:

1. We made a budget.  More specifically, an excel spreadsheet listing how much money we make and what we spend it on.  We included stuff like groceries, gas, car repairs, hair cuts, clothing money--pretty much anything we could think of.

2. We focused our energy, first, on building up $1000 of emergency savings money.

3. Then, we focused our energy on paying off our smallest debt first.  Then moving to the next, and the next. This is what Ramsey calls the "debt snowball."

4. We made sure to tithe--faithfully.  I can't even describe how important this is.  If you are a believer in Christ, then this may be the most essential step.  By tithing you are showing God that you trust Him and that the money you bring in is ultimately from Him.

5. We rethought what we spend money on.  Our weakness: eating out! While we still eat out too much, we have tried to curb our spending here. We do things like share an entree and an appetizer instead of each of us ordering our own--we like a lot of the same foods, so it isn't that hard.

We still have a long road ahead until we are debt free.  In the process we are learning a lot about money and contentment.  As Hebrews 13:5 says: "Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have."

Our mindset has shifted from seeing what our immediate needs are to what our needs will be in the future. By getting out of debt we are opening ourselves up to save so that things like car repairs and vacations won't be burdensome. And, we are starting to see how we can escape being slaves to money and instead have our money work for us. If we aren't encumbered by bills, bills, bills we will have more money to work with and will be able to do, do, do more (especially when we have kids).

Here are some helpful sites about managing your finances at Christian Personal Finance and Get Rich Slowly.

What are some of your budgeting stories and strategies?


  1. We love Dave Ramsey! His ideas have changed our finances too and we're no longer living paycheck to paycheck either.

  2. We love DR as well! We have seasons when we aren't frugally living and usually I go back to the cash budget system for our groceries and "extra" stuff until we get a grip on it again. Currently we're back to cash budgeting until we finish paying off some medical bills.

  3. I am going to revamp the budget soon--with new jobs and all. I'm still toying with the cash system idea. Its annoying, but it does work!