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Dear mom who is so tired of living on a tight budget…

Are you tired of living on a budget and feel hopeless? Read this for some encouragement!

Dear mom who is so tired of living on a tight budget:

I know that you want to give up.

You’re worn down from watching every penny you spend.

You’re exhausted from carefully calculating how you’re going to stretch your grocery dollars to feed all those mouths that seem to never stop eating.

You wish you didn’t have to wait for ever until that item you need goes on sale for the lowest price so you can make it work to purchase it on your beans and rice budget.

You are tired of re-wearing the same thing over and over again. Tired of praying every time you get in the car, hoping it will start. Tired of having to turn down yet another get-together with friends because there’s no way you can afford to pay for dinner out at a restaurant.

You just want to check out of your money-strapped life and go have a latte and a massage. Or maybe money is so tight right now that you would just love to have a few extra dollars to spend on something you want at a garage sale, instead of having to reserve every nickel and dime for only the basic necessities.

Can I encourage you? The difficult choices and hard sacrifices you are making will be worth it… and they could make a major impact on generations to come.

Not too long ago, I was being interviewed by a magazine writer about raising financially responsible kids. I shared with this interviewer some of the things we’ve done with our kids, such as: letting our children handle money from the time they were young, giving our children opportunities to earn money, and encouraging our children to become givers.

As the interviewer continued to ask questions, she became more and more excited about the things I was sharing. At the end of our conversation, she said, “It seems like you’ve done so many things right as parents. Do you ever make mistakes with money or have you failed as parents when it comes to teaching your kids about money?”

I was able to share candidly with her that, yes, we’ve failed in many ways (see yesterday’s post for an example!), but because of our parents’ and grandparents’ examples, we’ve made a lot fewer money mistakes as a couple.

The sacrifices they made to live on a budget and get out of debt paved a trail for us so that it wasn’t as difficult. In addition, their sacrifices inspired and motivated us to want to stand on their shoulders and do even better than they did. We, in turn, hope to inspire our own children and grandchildren to go even farther than we have or will.

In those moments when you want to throw in the towel, when you are discouraged about your budget, when you are tired of all the short-term sacrifices, when you just want to pull out that credit card to buy something you don’t have room in your budget for, remember this: your children are watching. The example you set before them will impact them in powerful ways — either good or bad.

So don’t throw in the towel. Don’t give up on your budget, even though it’s tough.

Your children and grandchildren will thank you one day for your wise money management… and that will make it all worth it.

Don’t quit! The best is yet to come!

Cheering for you,


photo credit

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  • JD says:

    Crystal, this is one of your best posts. We have not all arrived at your station of life and it is hard, difficult and at times discouraging to keep trudging onward. Thank you for remembering us that are still in the “weeds” so to speak.

  • Jennifer says:

    Crystal, I have goosebumps right now. I have a laundry list of “musts” right now, including getting our furnace cleaned, outfitting my son for winter, which arrived Sunday with a foot of snow. And I just got back from my mechanic who told me my car isn’t going to pass inspection.

    Do I have enough in savings to go buy another car this week? Not really.

    I’m 44 and because I believe in financial freedom, I’ve always paid cash for vehicles, never a payment.

    But I’ve gone back and forth in my head the past couple hours about whether I should just go sign away the next three to five years at a dealership and make payments.

    This post is going to help me look long and hard for something adequate I can pay for out of pocket before I go the car payment route.

    So I thank you and on behalf of my impressionable middle-school son, I thank you.



    • {Hugs!} I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this at once! I just prayed for you… and I also just emailed you about helping with your son’s clothes for winter.

    • Sasha says:

      I can tell you, one of my biggest regrets is getting into car payments when I was 21. Nothing made my financial crunch even crunchier than that extra monthly payment–especially during the winter when the mortgage, heat, and car payments alone were more than my monthly income. Added to the stress of no money was the worry that my car was going to be repo’d. It’s just not worth it if you’re barely making it financially! God-willing, I’ll never have a car payment again after my car is fully paid off next year.

      • Jennifer says:

        Excellent points Sasha. Right now, because we don’t have car payments, we’ve been able to save for retirement and somewhat for emergencies.
        We live in a really rural part of Maine, a really rural state (no public transportation) so it’s very difficult for my husband and I to share a vehicle–we work about 30 miles apart. But that’s what we’ll be doing for a while 🙂

  • May says:

    This post almost made me cry. Earlier today I had these same thoughts, in fact I even said “I am SO tired of having no money.” But I am so blessed compared to so many others in the world; I guess its all a matter of perspective!

  • heather says:

    This made me cry, because it has been rough for our family for such a long time now. We thought we would be able to get all of our debt paid off in the next couple paychecks, and both vehicles had to have major repairs at the same time this week, which just set us back so much more. We simply don’t have enough for a new car or car payment, and money has been so tight that I have been on edge for quite some time. I have been so discouraged, especially concerning the grocery budget. Thank you for this article.

  • Kelsey says:

    Thank you! Needed this tonight. 🙂

  • Gretchen Peck says:

    Your posts are always so fun, helpful, but most of all inspiring. To be so humble and honest to share with all of us that you once also felt this way and it wasn’t always easy, and there will still be times when things get tough is what gives people like me, the mom you described above today another glimmer of hope, one more reason to not give up. To continue keep clipping those coupons, stretching those last few pennies the best we can and not lose faith. You, your inspiring words and wisdom, and support are a blessing. This post is by far one of my favorite yet and I just wanted you to know you are appreciated and I am grateful. As I am sure many of your readers are! Thank you

  • Beth says:

    I hear you on a day when I really needed to. Winco is 40 miles away from me but I go once a month and shop for most everything because it’s less money. I have to take my children ( sometimes all four ) and my 70 year old mother because I can’t afford the gas myself. That day was today. Ugh. Wishing I could just go to safeway but thankful I can feed my fAmily. Now the trick is making it last all month!! You are a blessing to me Crystal . Thank you.

    • The 25 pound bag of oats at Winco for $14.75 should help! I hope you got one, or can get one next month, if you haven’t in the past.

      • Beth says:

        I do have the oats Brandy and I learned all about being frugAl from you! I simply adore you. I read every comment every Monday on your blog and it helps so much. You made my day. Thank you.

      • Quinn says:

        You can get 25lb bag of oatmeal at WinCo?

        • Beth says:

          In the bulk section on the bin of oats it shows the price for the 25 pound bag. You have to ask an employee to get it from the back. There is usually someone working in that section. Any of the bulk items you can get a larger quantity of if you ask. Hope this helps you! I love winco even if it is a pain right? Well worth it.

      • Quinn says:

        How do you store 25lb?

        • Winco sells food-grade buckets in the bulk section. They sell gamma lids, which I love for the ease of opening (they screw open and closed; no bucket opening tool required). I keep the oats in there (I do the same thing with rice, flour, and more).

        • I used Swagbucks to buy zip-top mylar bags on Amazon for bulk grains. I have also heard that you can check with bakeries to see if they have extra food grade buckets- I’ll be checking at my grocery store bakery when the bags run out!

      • Quinn says:

        Know any money saving ideas shopping at WinCo

        • The things I always buy at Winco are the oats, and the 10-pound bag of carrots. That size bag is $3.99, which is a great deal, and it will be good in your refrigerator for more than a month.

          The seasonal produce deals are what I like. When apples go really low, I’ll have the produce manager bring a box or two from the back for me, and I’ll buy the whole 40 pounds. Those will keep for months when bought in season in the fall (in a cool place, or in your fridge drawers). Last year I bought two boxes of onions on Christmas Eve when they were .20 a pound. I kept those cool for month and dried half of them to use later. That same day I bought several boxes of oranges for the same price. They lasted a couple of months in the fridge as well.

          Get to know your produce manager; they’re happy to help you out.

          Check out the “wall of savings” when you enter the store. I have found some great prices there, especially in November and December, on things that I buy.

  • Heidi says:

    We don’t have much money, but neither do we have any debt. After 30 yrs of marriage, I now get to watch my adult children making responsible financial choices. But more important than that, I see them with godly priorities. Isn’t that what it’s really all about? Seeing my kids loving their spouses and kids more than a bigger house or fancier “stuff” that they’d have to work x number of hours of overtime to get. Or choosing to give generously to others instead of going out to eat all the time. Living frugally pays off in much more than dollars.

  • Jen L. says:

    Thank you! What a sweet, gentle reminder for so many of us who are that mom tonight!

  • Heidi Cardoza says:

    This article spoke to me, as every situation applies to me. I am tired of struggling financially. I’m tired of worrying if my car will start, as there has been several times that it has not. Just once, I would like to go to the grocery store and not have to look at my bank account balance first. I would like to buy my children coats and shoes when they need them, without praying that I have enough available credit on my credit card. But as you said, keep going because my children are watching. They have watched us struggle for several years, as my husband and I are both full time college students and work part time. We will both graduate in the spring, and our children know that we are doing this for them. We never had the opportunity to go to college until we were in our 30’s, and we feel that although we struggle it was the best decision. We will be able to help our children succeed in life, and give them opportunities that we ourselves did not have. I just have to keep reminding myself that this is only temporary. Good things are coming and we are almost there.

    • Perhaps you can find some coats on Facebook garage sale pages for around
      $4 to $5 each. If there are none listed for sale, you can do an ISO (in Search Of) post. If you can’t find any there, try the thrift stores next.

    • cwaltz says:

      I’d like to help. If it’s possible email me @ dazed1821 @ and I’d like to pick up the cost of coats for the kiddos.

      • Gigi says:

        Amazing! I have been in need before and thanks to being debt free (besides our house that I am continually “throwing” money at to pay off) I am now able to bless others just like you! It is an awesome feeling 🙂

  • RachaelP says:

    This is so encouraging, thank you for writing it!

  • J L says:

    Hi Crystal! I’ve followed you and your blogging journey for many years – since you ran the “Biblical Womanhood” blog :). You taught me to coupon, play the drug-store game, and pinch pennies in general through the many years of “famine” we experienced when my husband transitioned from leaving corporate America to starting his own business from the ground up. Life has been good these past couple of years, we’ve been able to *breathe* financially – until a couple of months ago when the sales just stopped coming. There are bills piling up; and it is so, so hard for me to go back to our “broke” lifestyle after thinking we had finally risen above it. It’s hard to say “no – we don’t have the money” to simple things like ordering your son his contact lenses or renewing a magazine subscription for your daughter. I trust that this will just be a season and that God will provide as he always has, but it is hard to be in this position again, and I appreciated your words of encouragement tonight. Would you pray for us, and my husband’s business in particular?

    • Some magazines publish articles online. Perhaps your daughter’s favorite on does, too. We have had years of not being able to afford a children’s magazine for our children (it was $10 a year) and since we had internet (which we have because my husband works from home many hours each day) the children read the articles online.

    • Vickie says:

      Libraries In my area have many different magazines you can borrow. It would be worth it to check.

    • awmeme says: Offers free magazine subscription however it is random what offers you get. It says professionals but lets anyone order them.

    • My husband also owns a small business and everything was finally starting to go well around 2006- we even bought organic foods & a brand new car! Two years later we were back to scrimping and this year the paychecks became sporadic (employees 1st!) Fortunately, we made it a top priority to pay off debt & build an emergency fund the past couple of years.
      If there are grandparents that buy gifts, maybe suggest the magazine and other needs for Christmas- I make Amazon wish lists for my children and let family know.
      Praying for you!

  • Tammy says:

    I love the advice you shared! Sticking to a budget can take so much discipline.

  • Tammy says:

    This post was a blessing, thank you. I was struggling with thoughts as I tried to make my 1960’s stovetop a little more presentable. I scoured as best as I could but I can’t take rust off (which thankfully is mostly hidden anyhow), but I was reminding myself to be thankful for what we do have! God is so good, He supplies all our true needs…which is what He promises.

    • Amanda says:

      You know, if you have a stove old enough to be rusty, you’ve obviously taken good care of it. I think there’s a lot to be said for someone who’s resourceful enough to keep something working, rather than replacing it once it stops being new and shiny. I suppose it’s like being married, in a way.

    • Lana says:

      Oh, I know where you are with that. My stove is 35 years old and parts are not available for it anymore. Because of the way my kitchen is laid out we can only replace it with another JennAir for thousands of dollars and we will have to modify the cabinets to do it. It just will not come clean anymore. But, I have cooked on that stove for 21 years and it has provided meals for family and friends so I am thankful that it is still in working order. I am thinking that some new drip pans will be a frugal and helpful choice for mine. The top of mine is stainless steel but maybe you can get paint to touch up your surface from the local parts store. Ours has been very helpful in keeping our old relic going.

      • Tammy says:

        That’s funny, I bought new drip pans this week as part of my mission to get it looking nicer. 🙂 We’ve lived in our house for 9 years now, and when we moved in we were going to redo the kitchen at some point. That point has never arrived and doesn’t look promising in the foreseeable future. It can be disheartening, I spend a ton of time in my kitchen! But God is good and does supply all our needs! For that I’m thankful. The food tastes the same regardless! 🙂

        • Gigi says:

          I feel you, although I don’t have “big ticket items” I needed to replace our popcorn maker and toaster went out. I refuse to pay full price for anything and neither were at a price I was willing to pay. We popped popcorn on the stove top and used the broiler for toast. Every time I would be tempted to buy a new small appliance I just kept thinking “God cares about the details, the little things in our life, he will provide”. A few weeks later I went to work (at a church) and my boss said they were getting rid of some items and if anyone wanted them they were free… guess what was sitting in the pile? A popcorn maker! And a few weeks after that HEB had a huge sale and I picked up a $10 toaster for $3! Sometimes we make it harder for God to bless us (with free things) because we just rush out and buy them!

  • Jennifer T says:

    Thanks so much for this article on this day on this subject. It is exactly what I needed to hear. We are trying to beat the Pacific Northwest winter in finishing a shed we’ve only paid cash for…so far. The expenses keep adding up (as home projects do) and we are out of money. I’ve been toying with the idea of just using the credit cards for the last few things. This article has set me straight. We knew the project would probably go to next spring/summer to complete since we also just welcomed our 4th daughter and my husband only recently had a slow in his work traveling. We have set money aside for a few years for this shed but other things caused us to need to dip into that find (since it doubled as our general household improvements fund) No matter the “convenience” we need to wait. So what our bedroom is the old garage and therefore sharing with tools. We’ve already been living like that for a whole year how will one more winter hurt? Especially if when the shed is done and we finally move the tools out there it will be with peace knowing it is already paid for!! Your articles are truly a gift from God. Thanks so much for this obviously needed reminder.

  • Mary says:

    Thanks so much for this. I thought I was the “only one”. Sometimes I guess we do feel we are the only ones with empty cupboards, empty gas tanks, in need of something different to wear and the worry. But as I struggle each day I also pray and trust God for all my families needs. It is a challenge but it also feels good to know that God has never failed. Its comforting to know That we can TRUST HIM for all our needs. He never leaves us or forsakes us and He always supplies the need. At times I felt like I needed to ask for help from other areas but when I do, it seems I always hear a voice telling me “Trust me Child”. My children are seeing the hand of God in our lives and that makes me feel good that they know that they can Trust God for our needs. I can’t say that its easy to trust God, but I can say like David “I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken or His seed begging for bread.

  • LeahB says:

    Thanks! I needed this today. 🙂 There’s actually light at the end of the tunnel—my freelance business is starting to take off, but I’ll be taking a bunch of time off soon to have baby #3. 🙂 Which is awesome, but it’s hard to wait on what God has for us, and scary to think that I might lose momentum. Part of me wants to just buy the Christmas gifts I want to buy people, putting it on our credit card…but I know I’ll regret that!

    Thanks for your continuous encouragement to overwhelmed, tired moms. I appreciate it!

  • Karen says:

    Thanks so much for being a blessing to so many of us. Thank you also to the other’s who comment to help me know I am not alone in my feelings. Praising God for all of you!

  • Really, really, really needed to read this tonight.

    We are a family of six that does live on a tight budget and right now only have a single cab truck (which obviously doesn’t fit our entire family). Our landlords just raised our rent and it’s been a tight week.

    But that’s when we fell to our knees and in our prayer of desperation God provided a sale on our online soap business. He’s always right on time helping.

    Is our family van fixed? No. But do we have enough food to make it through the week now? Yes!!! He is so good and ever faithful.

    Thank you so much for your encouraging words, I think many will be uplifted by this tonight.

  • Danielle says:

    I’d rather not give too many details, but thank you for this. Definitely helps to take the long view.

  • I know it is worth it! We have struggled for the last several years, and this is the first year since 2007 we’ve started to be able to breathe again. Funny enough, our “breathing room” is what I heard Dave Ramsey tell a man a couple of weeks ago was unsustainable for the long run (the man had the same amount of income and the same size mortgage payment as ours). Yet to us, it is now a relief to have this much! We have made due with much less; we are now at 50% of what we made in 2006 instead of the 75% cut we had a few years ago. I’ve had money to go to more garage sales to get what we need, and it has been such a blessing to do so.

    At the same time, I see that our income is probably going to drop again next year.

    Because we’ve cut so much, and cut again and again, we’ve stayed in our house, and what a blessing that has been. It has been worth all of the struggles to have stayed, even when there was no money some months but what I could sell at a garage sale to pay the utilities.

    I know it’s worth teaching our children. A couple of weeks ago, my 12-year-old said to me that when she needed some new clothes, she would go to the thrift store next time, because she could get so many more clothes that way than by buying them new (we don’t generally buy new clothes, but we have compared prices). It made me happy that she had learned how to get the most for her money.

    • Beth says:

      My 19 year old is on her own now. Even though she protested to our budget and shed many a tear when she couldn’t have certain things, she is doing just fine with her own student budget. I’m so proud when she tells me of the sale she found or how she now drinks foldgers coffee instead of fancy coffeehouse drinks. Turns out she was paying attention after all and she is much better prepared than I ever was. Your children will do amazing Brandy. I’m sure if it!

  • Chelsea says:

    Thanks for this post! Tonight, In front of a group of friends, a family member felt the need to point out how tiny my and my husbands 525 square foot apartment was, especially in comparison to my sister and brother-in-law’s 900+ square foot apartment that “doesn’t feel tight at all.” I just sweetly smiled and said something like “God provides” but nobody even offered up as much as a reassuring smile, let alone an encouraging word. I was secretly wishing I could crawl in a hole and hide… it was so embarrassing to have the numbers thrown out and to be compared that way. I’m usually proud of our space- it might not be glamorous, but it is what God has blessed us with. Tonight, because I realized how others viewed our situation, I was feeling ashamed of where we are. But through reading your post, I realize my daughter is watching me and I have the honor of choosing joy instead. 🙂 God has us here for a reason.

    • Lyn says:

      I would not let anyone bring you down or make you feel ashamed. Their feelings are their issue, not yours. It’s a shame that they had to verbalize thoughts that would have been better left to themselves. I’m sure you have a lovely place, no matter how small. The external things in life do not really matter, and unfortunately too many people place value on material things in this world.

      My home is a mobile home. It is small, and needs a little bit of work right now, but I’m very grateful to have a home considering some circumstances in my life. Keep on choosing joy, because no one can take that from you. Continue to keep your head held high. I’m sure you are a great mom and your daughter will learn from you what is truly important in life. 🙂

    • Sheila says:

      I can see how that would make you sad. We have the comfort of knowing our house and vehicles are are paid off. The kitchen could stand a remodel in most peoples opinion but my 23 yr old appliances are still working. I’d so much rather spend my extra time and money on something I think I need or want VS what “the keep up with the Jonses” type folks seem to think I need. You know you are doing ok. Don’t let them upset you.

    • Jennifer says:

      I’m so sorry to hear this. It never ceases to amaze me how thoughtless people can be.
      I hope you realize that living in a small space is the “in thing” right now. Have you heard of the Tiny House project?
      We have a really small house, which is perfect for us because I don’t like cleaning and I have no interest in home decor. And we like to spend a lot of time outside.
      Stay strong!

    • Chelsea says:

      Great reminders. I feel silly for letting such a menial comment upset me as much as it did. God is constantly reminding me how abundantly blessed we are- blessings that go beyond a checkbook balance. Thank you for your encouraging words!

  • Jessica says:

    Thank you so much for this! I’d hoped to have our student loan debt paid off by August, but my husband went on 75% salary for half the year. At this point I’m hoping to have it paid off by late Spring. We’ve also been waiting to get a second vehicle until the debt is paid off. The waiting has been hard, and I’ve been very discouraged by our slow progress. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement!

  • Lyn says:

    It is not easy to have to struggle financially, especially long-term. I can relate to others who have shared. I have been challenged in this area most of my life. It’s not easy to have to keep persevering at times. I have been living on less for a while now more than any other time in my life, and amazingly I am still standing. I have had many moments of feeling low, afraid, and despaired (because I’m human) :), but I always try to remember my blessings and what I do have. God doesn’t always give us financial prosperity, even if we try our hardest. All we can do is our best, no matter what our circumstances are. For me, thankfulness goes a long way, even for the little things in my life. The older I get the more I realize how little I truly need. There are many things I would love to do/have and even some needs that would be nice to take care of. However, right now I’m so grateful to have food to eat, a house over my head, and a warm bed at night. Everything else is an extra blessing.

  • JP says:

    Fantastic. I too stand on the shoulders of those who cared for me. My parents gave me and my sisters a wonderful education. We traveled and went to museums.

    They also made mistakes. Retirement saving for example didn’t come as easily to them.

    My opportunity is to leverage their good example and build on top of it. I max out my 401k, save 15% for future expenses and keep a daily budget.

    I am grateful for what they provided. I am also confident how I can grow and improve.

    My future kids will benefit from it!

  • Meredith says:

    We used to be that family, too. It’s amazing, though, that even with money in the bank and extra each month, I still stress sometimes. Old habits die hard.
    Thanks for a great post! I also loved your post about being calmer with your kids.

  • Lana says:

    We lived that way for so many years. God always provided our needs and we never went without. It is all worth it when your adult children call you and thank you for being a good example to them because their friends are being so irresponsible with money that they are really seeing what you did for them. The funny thing is that now that we do have extra money is when we have figured out that we don’t need it to be happy.

  • Jennifer says:


    Thanks so much for this post! I really needed to hear this. We are going through a difficult time in our life. My husband was recently let go of his job, we lost our second car, and we have a 7 month old at home. So with only my income we are having to watch every single penny we spend. It’s exhausting to have to watch my money so hard but I know that we will learn from this time in our lives and it will make our future better. Your words of encouragement really mean a lot to me. This post has been once of your better posts. Keep up the hard work!

  • MaryBeth says:

    Thanks for this post. I too am so tired of living on such a strict budget and watching how we spend money, but I know the sacrifices are worth it. We made the decision to send our children to a private religious school, which is not cheap and prevents us from “keeping up with the Joneses,” but we believe our children’s faith and education is more important than having a giant flat screen TV or spending so much on a pair of boots that could feed my family for a month. Thanks for the encouragement to keep going.

  • Melissa says:

    I am a single mom of two wonderful boys….and reading this post was like “Bam Melissa, here ya go.” LoL – Talk about feeling like you were writing to me…what a comfort to know that I am not alone in these struggles. With Christmas approaching quickly, I have anxiety attacks about how I am going to pull this off. It is overwhelming…especially since my budget leaves little room for anything. Even the everyday expenses are difficult to cover, so Christmas really stresses me out. Thank you for writing to us….I hate other Mothers are struggling like this, but I find comfort and encouragement in knowing that I am not the only one and that we are all making it.

  • Marie says:

    I loved this post I’ve been coming to this website for about six months now and this is the first time I’ve ever posted anything. I always enjoy all the posts that are written and they are usually very encouraging but this one really touch my heart. I really needed this encouragement. This post is definately me I definately do alot of praying about my families finances, I don’t always keep my finances on a super tight leash but I do have to watch what I spend. Thanks so much for always having such encouraging post keep them coming.

  • Mary says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! 🙂 It’s nice to be reminded that hard work will pay off even if we think it never will.

    Your oatmeal that you make where it is crispy. How do you do it?

  • Jennifer says:

    As soon as I read this, I started crying. I felt that you were speaking directly to me. Times are very hard and are about to get even more so because I just got laid off. I am a firm believer, however, that everything happens for a reason and in the long run, everything will work out. Thanks for the encouragement.

  • Cate R. says:

    Thanks for this, Crystal. Part of what has been so hard for me about living on a tight budget is that I feel like there is no apparent purpose for it. I see other couples saying they are living in this tiny rental/ not ever going on vacation/ not going to the salon/ shopping thrift stores because they’re paying off debt or saving for a house. We’re doing all those things because we don’t have other options, and meanwhile the debt languishes unpaid and there’s no home ownership in sight. It’s especially hard seeing couples who are 10 or more years younger than us in a better place financially. The place we are in has more to do with a legacy of bad choices passed down to us, as well as our own. We realized it was time to stop being stupid but have a heap of consequences to live with.

    But you bring up a good point here. There is a purpose. Our children are learning better ways than we did and God willing, they will not only benefit from our careful management of our resources but also be in a better place than us with their finances and their mindset about it. Thank you for these thoughts today.

  • Michele says:

    Thank you. I’ve really fallen off the wagon lately, so-to-speak, when it comes to our budget. I was just fed up with it being so hard. Well, it’s harder now. lol In addition to my own crew with 6 kids, a family situation came up and we’re fostering 3 kids who have grown up in the system. Fighting the entitlement mentality has been so much harder than I thought it would be, but what an eye-opener at how important the budget and our way of living is! I was making out my menu for the week and was tempted to just go “shop” and not worry about the cost. It’s been over 10 years since I had put groceries on a credit card, and I was going to do it today. Thank you for your post. Back to menu planning for me…

  • Michelle Woo says:

    Thank you for cheering me on – even though you don’t even know me. I so appreciate the encouragement. I really want to break out my credit card and just go on a bender, but the hangover will be oh-so-not- worth it!!
    Thanks again. I can hear you from way over here in Houston!

    • Jennifer says:

      Love this, too funny comment “go on a bender.” That’s why I had to cut my cards up, I can’t trust myself.
      If you do end up on a bender, will you tell me what you got so I can live vicariously through you?? 🙂

  • Very inspiring words! Many of you are lucky that your parents and grandparents taught you the value of money and of saving. I did not get that lesson. It was feast, famine and zero planning. Anything related to money terrified me. I didn’t even want to think about it because it caused me so much anxiety. I have come to totally change my attitude about money, much of it though reading your inspiring blog and my faith. I’ve come to simply make saving and doing “without” — whatever it might be — a given in my life and nothing I stress over or wish away. Saving money and prioritizing have become an adventure. People, rather than things, are our sources of our joy.

  • Wendy says:


    I’ve never commented here before, but have read for several years. This post seems like it was written directly to me, as I have definitely been feeling this the last several weeks. I’m a single mom of 3 teenage boys, my oldest in college. I am financially better off than I have been since I divorced 10 years ago. However, I am scrimping, saving every penny, having to say no over and over again. I feel like I’ve been saying no for years and years. I am still learning, and have so much to be thankful for. My motivation has always been to provide for my kids. And for them to do better as adults than I have done. Your post helps to reaffirm that for me. I keep repeating to myself this is a season, that things always change. And that there are so many people who would love to be in my spot. Thanks for your encouragement.

  • Georgia says:

    So agreed, Crystal. A heritage of financial responsibility is the best gift we can pass on to our kids. They might not fully appreciate it until they’re grown up, but I can say now that I’m married that I appreciate so much the financial responsibility I learned from my parents: be content with what you have, live within your means, and give, give, give to God because He blesses far beyond measure in return! Such a blessing not to even be tempted to go into debt, not to even dream of carrying a credit card balance because it simply is not an option. That’s not the way I grew up, not the way I watched my parents live, and definitely not the way my husband and I even think.

    • Yes, I see someone I know post on FB that she is in hotels at dance competitions and buying gifts for her cats- then I see that she has no money for oil and was sitting in a cold house for days (her parents ended up helping.) We pray for people that make these mistakes- and we are grateful that we do not even consider living beyond our means.

  • brittney says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I had just got done praying not to stress about money so much! This touched me:)

  • Nicole says:

    Thank you for this article. I’m a single mom of 2 kids and staying on a very tight budget has been very difficult. One month I do great and have a couple of dollars left over then the next month I’m $200 short because I forgot I needed diapers, or that last minute thing at the store. You have given me hope that I can do this and get back on my feet again. I feel like my kids and I do without all the time, but when I think of the long term, I am teaching them to be grateful for the things we do have. We do have a roof over our heads, we do have a car in good shape to get us places, we do have food on the table.

    God has blessed me in ways I never thought possible, which has helped release a little of a financial burden upon me. For those that want to give up and throw in the towel, just keep on trudging through….you will have bigger rewards in the end.

  • Quinn says:

    Hmmmm…this has me thinking. How can I set my family up for success for generations by the choices I make today?
    Do you have any thoughts on that?

    • My advice: Think about what the most important things are that you want to pass onto your kids. How can you model that character for them, teach them those life lessons, give them experiences that will help shape them into the adults you hope they will become someday?

  • Melissa says:

    You posted this message at the right time for me and I thank you for your encouragement and the encouragement of your other readers as well. My husband and I have been discouraged especially this month with winter and Christmas coming. There always seem to be unexpected expenses that come up and even though both of us are working as much and as hard as we can, there doesn’t seem to ever be enough for the needs, let alone the “extra” expenses that come up. This post made me realize that yes, my children are watching, and I can leave a good legacy for them by persevering in my mission for frugal and provident living. There is a light at the end of the financial tunnel! Thanks so much for your post and all the work that you do to save my family money! Your encouragement has definitely lightened my load today!

  • Cate R. says:

    Also, Crystal, I want to say I really like that you are giving some credit where credit is due (to your family) and not just taking an opportunity to act like you have done it all on your own strength and smarts… and honestly, that is not easy or is it common to see that sense of humility. It’s neat to see your genuineness and growth and I think that is what is going to keep this website fresh and appealing to people.

    • I am so very, very grateful for the foundation that my parents and grandparents gave me in so many areas, especially in the area of finances. As I meet more and more people from all walks of life, I realize more and more the gift they have given me in their example and the real-life hands-on life lessons they taught me when I was growing up.

  • Sarah says:

    This is what I needed to hear today. I have been feeling sorry for myself lately, because there are things I wish we could afford, but our budget doesn’t allow it at this time.

    I remember how my mom and I started off. We had to escape a desperate situation and moved to this country with nothing but a change of clothes and lots of debt.

    My mother had to be strong for both of us, and I still remember us having to sleep in a walk-in closet at someone’s house; then we moved on to a friend’s living room, where we slept on an inflatable mattress for months. It took us almost a year to save enough for a small studio apartment. Forget a car, we had to walk everywhere, take the bus, or ask for a ride.

    Those were difficult times and when my mother got sick, I had to drop out of school and work full time. I’ve been able to overcome that stigma, and, although, I’m still working on my degree, I know I’ll get there.

    We are so blessed now with a small apartment, and a car that has been reliable, which has been great after dealing with lots of lemons. We can afford to buy food and now have to go on diets because we have such abundance. 🙂

    I need to remember our beginnings and give thanks daily for everything that God has provided for us. He has always been faithful, even when we are not.

  • Pam says:

    Thank you so much for this timely article. I’ve been feeling ashamed of our financial situation. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to decline invitations, not only for myself but also my daughter. Because my daughter is getting older, I worry that she will focus on how often I’ve had to put off many purchases and how we’ve put together some crazy meals at the end of the month and really live a day to day quite frugal life. She has holes in her tennis shoes and there is a strict shoe policy in place at her school so I’ve felt just terrible not being able to provide. Your post turned my attitude around this morning and I truly feel my goals can be accomplished . I just need to refocus on the baby steps and not look at the big picture so much. Thank you !!!

    • Kylee says:

      Hi Pam! I’m not sure what size shoe your daughter wears but I have a lot of tennis shoes that mine has outgrown. I know how it feels to be in a tight position but we are blessed with clothes & shoes.

  • Cheryl says:

    I feel like you wrote this just for me. The last 5 weeks have been such a struggle for us financially, thought it all started months ago. Things should start getting better (fingers crossed) on Friday, but if they don’t I’ll just keep plugging along until they do. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one sitting in the car praying it starts or praying it doesn’t break down somewhere leaving me stranded with a toddler.

  • Trish says:

    This is a great reminder that we are not only working hard to save money to cover current needs but to teach our kids about saving for the future. Kids today seem to miss the reality of finances when everyone around them use magical debit or credit cards.

  • Jen says:

    Thanks so much for this Crystal! I have really been struggling with feeling discouraged lately about our finances. It feels like whenever we think we’ll catch up, something breaks or an unexpected car expense comes up again. That emergency fund never seems to get fully funded, but has helped us get through so much. We just need to keep plugging away and not give up. I so appreciate the encouragement and I do pray that our kids figure all this our much younger than we did!

  • I just loved reading this post! So positive, encouraging, and uplifting. We faced these struggles the last couple of years. I remember crying and feeling like we were never going to get out of this slump. It was very hard, but eventually we were blessed and are now living with some financial freedom. The biggest lesson I learned during those hard times were teaching my children our mistakes. Teaching my children to look beyond the name brands, teaching them how to coupon, teaching them to cook from scratch, and so much more. I now see them trying to stretch their money. Figuring out ways to get the best deal. Our children are watching and learning.

    Thank you for this post 🙂

  • Love this!! We’ve been chugging along for a while now, and it does get old sometimes. Just a few days ago, I had a good friend say to me that she couldn’t believe some of the things that we don’t do because “she knows that we could afford it.” Yes, if we wanted to live in debt and above our means, we could “afford” a lot of things. But is that really being able to afford it? We don’t think so.

    I love your testimony of how your parents’ commitment in this area has inspired you and Jesse. It brought tears to my eyes thinking that we have the opportunity to give this kind of gift to our boys. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  • It may be the difficult road to choose when it comes to living on a tight budget and a frugal lifestyle, but it is definitely worth it to help future generations. My family and I do make sacrifices now to not only teach our children but to benefit them in the long-run. I will admit it is difficult going day to day and constantly thinking about money and worrying about spending money, but in the end it is worth it. Thanks for sharing how even though you have done great when it comes to money management, that you have also made mistakes. Many people compare themselves to others and think they ‘have it all,’ but this helps to show that everyone makes mistakes. As long as you can learn from those mistakes then you will be fine! Great post!

  • Melissa says:

    I was just thinking how it never ends. We have been trying to live a little more comfortable. Eating out a little more shopping for more items when they go on clearance and then I dropped my (it was cheap way back when) but still very pricey phone. Now I have sat here all day knowing I need to get a new one ( work files were on it I have to get a smart phone) but not having the time and ability to shop around as much. I know it will all be better one day that one day just seems to take awhile.

  • Anna says:

    This was an awesome, awesome post. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes and I just feel compelled to comment. I have followed you for years, and I love you and your blog, but I have to admit it gets discouraging when you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel…when you feel like your finances will always be tight and you will never have wiggle room. Thank you for the encouragement. This world is not our home…even if my situation never changes, it is okay…that’s not where my hope is supposed to be anyway, but reading posts like these help me to stay focused. Thank you.

    • Amanda says:

      This comment was just as encouraging as this article for me! I feel very much the same way when it comes to our finances. Discouraged, somewhat hopeless, and exhausted by it all. Your comment really put things in perspective. Our hope is found in Jesus, NOT earthly things. Thank you for the blessing!

  • Joye says:

    very much feeling this way lately, but I’m not a mother, so how does this apply to me? :/

    • {Hugs!} You can have an impact on those around you and inspire them to make wise choices… you never know how your sacrifices and commitment could inspire others for years and years to come!

  • Thank you so much for this. It’s only the two of us for now (three in December!) but money is tight and it feels like most of our conversations revolve around money. This post was very encouraging for me. 🙂

  • Debbie says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I started working full time again while my husband has been out of work for the past 4 months. Thankfully, he just started working again. We have two children and do not live extravagantly. I struggle with some health issues that my job contributes to so while working more is helping us make ends meet, at the same time it’s taking me away from my family when I am home due to the pain and fatigue. I continue to experience God moving on our behalf consistently. However, there have been a lot of days lately that I struggle with seemingly always being in a financial struggle and thinking we should have it more together by this point in our lives. Thank you for the encouragement to keep moving forward.

  • Teresa says:

    Thanks for writing this. We are supporting our children through college to give them an education and allow them to not be $$$$$ in debt when they graduate. Our oldest graduated in March from an out of state school debt free. we have been blessed that both sons received scholarships to the same school. My husband and I have struggled but it has been well worth it. I do coupons, we all drive old cars that we paid cash for. My Hubby’s car has been broke down for a couple of months. We are hopefully getting it fixed this week. We just live by faith in God, and that is what gets us through.

  • Liz says:

    I need to learn how to budget

    • Becca says:

      You can find Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover for cheap usually. Even better, borrow from the library. Get the workbook, it works wonders! Crystal hearts him too!!! He will turn your life around! Baby steps, just keep that in mind.

  • Crystal says:

    I feel like this was talking directly to me. I’m sitting in my car reading this after hoping my car will start up again. This is a particular hard day for me and I honestly don’t know why. The last thing you said was “cheering for you,
    Crystal” but I read it as “cheering for you, Crystal” lol thanks again!

  • mie says:

    Wow…this is great! !
    I am living exactly like the post.
    I was working part time but since my kids are home during the summer and we are no close to be able to afford summer camp.
    So I am staying. It’s been very very tight.
    My husband was going to laid off around April but the company gave him opportunity to go work in another state. And he took it to support our family.
    I will planning on going back to work after the summer.

    I want to buy few extra things at grocery store! I want to fill up my car. I have been just putting $20. Take my kids to places.
    And if I have extra I want to go Starbucks and buy me a latte!

    Feel like I am in deep deep hole and can’t get out……

    • Monique says:

      I know exactly how you feel. The little things add up..Gas has gone through the roof here in CA. Every day I think about moving my family but there’s no money to pack up and go. We are trudging along day by day and it truly gets frustrating.

  • Shelly Dalton says:

    I feel so helpless. I’ve been feeling like this for years. Caring for a disabled husband and 4 children . Trying to support, feed, and cloth my family, working 10-12 hour days. When does it get better? When do we get to the point that we don’t have to fear going to the grocery store because we simply do not have enough?

    • Lyn says:

      Hi Shelly,
      Just want to give you a hug. I am sure it’s frustrating and very difficult at times to do what you are doing. I am living on a minuscule budget myself and have for a very long time now. It can be very discouraging at times. My heart goes out to you and everyone who is doing the best that they can.

      It would be great if all that we needed to do was to work hard and to persevere and all our dreams would come true. But that doesn’t happen for everyone in this life. We all can only do the best that we can, but that doesn’t always guarantee financial success. It’s hard to plan ahead for tomorrow, next year, or years from now when there is not always enough to just get through now and today.

      Is there any type of assistance you can receive for now? Sometimes people need a little help, and there should not be any shame in seeking it.

      My good thoughts and prayers are with you. I hope it helps to know you are not alone. I truly wish you and everyone else here that is struggling better days ahead.

    • Kariena says:

      Shelly, it will get better!! 10 years ago it was tough, here…new town, new babies, new home…and we were poor poor.. We struggled daily to pay our bills, and to live within our means , it was SO hard to have nothing left at the end of the week, no matter how much I tried to budget…those were Dark Times for me …
      But, every year things got slightly better. After five years of it, life started to get easier and easier. Maybe I had learned how to budget better? Cook better? Find better deals on things?
      Flash forward ten years..we have our home mortgage paid off, own a second home and have enough saved to send our oldest off to college in the fall..
      Without those dark days, I would not have had the opportunity to learn how to manage money , would have not been been able to teach my children how to manage money.
      It WIll get better, it isn’t easy…nothing worth while comes without a fight.
      Chin up !! Fight the fight! It WILL be worth it! Xoxoxoxo

  • Karen says:

    The two adults (only) here live on one income. Even when both of us worked outside the home, we lived mostly that way. It is much easier to live below one’s means than to run up debt, especially for toss-away consumer goods.

  • Kenda Wathen says:

    Thank you for this post. I really needed it. Recently our already tight budget had gotten tighter with car repairs. Your post today and God working through a woman at the grocery store last week who handed me money saying she remembered those days have encouraged my heart that God knows and cares. I was even able to talk to my children about how God supplies for our needs and wants when she gave us the extra money. The little she gave us was enough to let the children each pick an extra item at the grocery store. I was also able to see this play out with my oldest just last week when she agreed to go thrift store shopping for a messenger bag she wanted instead of buying a new one and she saved us $6 in the process.

  • Pam says:

    I needed to hear this encouragement today! I sometimes don’t feel like I am doing anything right with the kids, but reading your article made me think I am! Thank you!

  • Nicole says:

    Thank you! I needed to read this today. Just… thank you!

  • T. says:

    Crying here. I didn’t know this is what I was coming to read…the hot link just said Rice and Beans…but the Lord knew. Thank you for this glimmer of hope, but more importantly, thank you for understanding. For having been through this too.
    I just so badly need to know I am not alone, as I watch every one of our friends and family do so much better than us.
    I am not alone. So, two years later, thank you <3

  • We spent so many years this way. We wore Walmart shoes to get the kiddos the good shoes that all the other kids wore at school. Now we are empty nesters and the kiddos do remember the sacrifices we made for them. So worth it. We still live on a tight budget but we don’t mind it. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right? Hang in there guys. It is worth it.

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