Guest post from Julie of The Hallway Initiative
“Nothing stimulates creativity like a good crisis.”
I’m not sure who originally came up with the above quote, but it could sum up the first several years of my marriage.
Finances were almost always tight, so I researched how to save money and stretch dollars. I read books on personal finance, kept a detailed budget, and searched the internet for money-saving ideas. It was during this time that a friend referred me to MoneySavingMom.com, and I ate up every penny-pinching post Crystal produced.
Friends often commented on how good I was at managing money, but deep down, I knew that I only did it out of necessity, not because I was naturally gifted with saving money.
Sure enough, when my husband Jon’s income increased, so did our budget. Some increases were absolutely necessary, like replacing our completely dead dryer and catching up on repairs that we simply couldn’t afford before. But we also increased our eating out, and I stopped being nearly as careful with our grocery budget as I used to.
I knew I needed to rein in our spending (with my husband’s support and help), but it wasn’t until I read Crystal’s razor post that it hit me how much my mentality toward frugality had changed. If I’d lost my razor, I’d simply have run out to the grocery store to pay full-price for a new one without a second thought.
After that wakeup call, I began to think about how I could change my mindset back to my frugal days even though our income is no longer as strained as it once was. I’m now implementing four strategies to maintain my frugal mindset:
1. Think in terms of stewardship.
I often forget that everything I “own” is actually a gift on loan from God. When I remember that it’s all His, no matter how much or little He’s given me, it challenges me to be a better steward with His things. I want to be found as faithful with the plenty as much as with the lack.
Thinking in terms of stewardship also enables me to give generously to others who may be hurting financially. We have had untold numbers of people help us during our lean years, including family, friends, and strangers who who paid out of pocket for my diabetic spark plug’s insulin pump! Now is our opportunity to help others in need.
2. Continue keeping a budget.
I admit, I’ve always been a budget nerd. My dad always kept a family budget when I was growing up, and it was something that stuck with me. With few exceptions, I’ve kept a monthly budget since we got married over 12 years ago.
That said, It’s easy to fall off the budgeting bandwagon once finances aren’t so tight. But sticking to a budget is one of the best ways to maintain control of your spending.
It helps you keep track of your expenditures and reminds you to be wise with what you have. And, if finances permit, it’s perfectly okay to increase certain budget categories, such as giving, saving, and splurges! Just make sure you’re doing it deliberately rather than on a whim.
3. Keep up with penny-pinching resources
Even though I don’t absolutely need to pinch every possible penny at the moment, I still stay subscribed to my favorite money-saving blogs.
I also continually peruse quality financial books. Why? I’ve found that by keeping up with new frugal ideas and reminding myself of the financial advice I’ve already learned, it helps keep me focused on being a good steward of my money.
Some of my favorite resources include:
- The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn
- The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
- Master Your Money by Ron Blue
- Living Well Spending Less
- Money Saving Mom
4. Save for the next crunch
Just because your finances are freed up for the moment, doesn’t guarantee that you’ll never go through another financial crisis. Start saving today for the next squeeze.
Having extra reserves for the unexpected will go a long way toward mitigating the anxiety that naturally comes with a loss of income or unexpected bill.
Dave Ramsey and other financial giants recommend building up 3-6 month’s worth of living expenses. If you’ve never been able to do so before, do it now while you have money left over at the end of the month.
Chances are high that you’ll hit another financial rough patch, and having that savings in place will be completely worth the effort it takes to build up that much money!
I’ve not done a perfect job of thinking in terms of stewardship, continuing to keep a budget, keeping up with penny-pinching resources, and saving for the next financial crunch, but those are the four strategies that I’m working toward during this time of plenty.
I know that I’ll have no regrets for doing them, especially when the next financial famine hits!
Julie Moore is wife to Jon and mom to their four spark plugs, the oldest of whom has Type 1 Diabetes. When not helping Jon with his business or homeschooling the kids, she blogs at The Hallway Initiative, encouraging Christian women to praise the Lord in the midst of hardship.