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18 Aug 2010   ·   45
Money Saving Mom

Good Reads: Better Off by Eric Brende

Eric Brende and his brand-new wife decided to do something radical: they gave up their car, electric stove, refrigerator, running water and everything else motorized or electric and moved into a very primitive community as an 18-month experiment to see how technology affected their lives, negatively or positively.

Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology chronicles the Brendes experiences, hardships and victories in living a life without modern technology. You’ll groan along with them as they adjust to no air-conditioning in the blistering heat of summer harvest. You’ll cheer for them as they succeed in gardening, canning and living off their land.

Ultimately, this book will likely make you stop and consider your own use of technology and how it is impacting your life. The author’s conclusion is not that all technology is wrong, but that excessive technology may be robbing us of deep relationships, time and energy, invigorating work and the rich joys of a simple life. This book challenged me to think “outside the grid” and look for ways to make more things from scratch while not expending a lot of extra time and energy to do so.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Better Off and would highly recommend it for anyone interested in simple living. You should be able to find it at your local library.

Discovered any Good Reads recently? Tell me about them in the comments and I’ll consider adding them to my long and ever-growing book list!

16 Aug 2010   ·   79
Money Saving Mom

Should You Give Your Child an Allowance?

Guest post by Jenae from I Can Teach My Child

To give an allowance or not to give an allowance — that is the question!

Giving children an allowance has been an age-old debate. Critics of allowances say that children are members of a family and therefore should do chores around the house as their way of contributing to the good of the family. Proponents of allowances argue that it teaches children responsibility. What’s a parent to do?

This “problem,” like many problems, can be solved with just a little bit of compromise.

Yes, children need to understand that, as a member of the family, they are expected to pull their weight around the house. Each child should be given chores that are simply expectations — no monetary reward should be given. Even a child as young as 2 or 3 can help set the table and make his bed in the morning.

In addition to a child’s household chores, she can also be given extra jobs around the house for which she receives a small monetary reward.

There are many benefits to giving children an allowance, even as young as preschool-age:

  • An allowance instills in a child a sense of work-ethic. If a child completes her jobs to the expectations of her parents, she will receive her allowance. If she carelessly rushes through, however, she will not receive her allowance. These situations are powerful teachers to children and help them realize that they cannot give a half-hearted effort and expect to receive a full allowance in exchange.
  • An allowance allows children an opportunity to handle money responsibly. When children are given an allowance, they are in control of how that money is spent. Essentially, the money is theirs. If they choose to blow their money on ten packs of bubble gum, they will not have the money to purchase anything else. Over time, a child receiving an allowance will learn that money has value.
  • An allowance teaches delayed gratification. If a child works for his allowance and saves his money to purchase a special toy, he is learning to delay gratification. Once he has saved enough money to purchase that toy, he will have a sense of accomplishment and the toy will be that much more meaningful than if his parents were to just have bought it on their weekly trip to supermarket. Lessons like this one cannot be taught without real-life experience!
  • An allowance teaches a child to give. Prior to giving your child an allowance, a conversation regarding giving needs to take place. Children need to be told that God expects us to give back to Him. Everything belongs to God in the first place, so giving back to Him is just a small way we show our gratitude for the blessings He has given us. How much your child gives is a decision each individual family should make.

You can get started by creating a chart for chores that are family responsibilities and a chart for tasks for which a child receives an allowance.  Once your child has completed the tasks for the week, reward her with an allowance!

Jenae is a wife, mother of two boys, and former first-grade teacher.  She loves finding creative ways to save money, spending time with her family and sharing fun activities on her website I Can Teach My Child.

What do you think? Do you give your children an allowance? Why or why not?

photo by Tony Hall

15 Aug 2010   ·   39
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Sam’s Club and my discovery of Groupon!

We didn’t get a whole lot in the way of groceries this past week. But last Saturday, my husband stopped by Sam’s Club for their free entrance event and he picked up some yeast and organic greens.

Now, lest you wonder if we’ve really turned into salad-eating monsters due to P90X, let me reassure you that we did not consume all two tubs of salad ourselves. 🙂 We shared a lot of it with our extended family on our trip.

The tubs of organic salad were $3.98 each and the yeast was $2 per package. So our total at Sam’s Club was around $13 with tax.

All of us pitched in and brought food to Arkansas, so we only ate a few meals out while we were gone. We did buy a half gallon of milk, some cheese, a few veggies and juice, but that was it. So, we stayed under $40 in grocery spending this week — though we spent a little extra on eating out (which came from our vacation envelope).

When we came home late Friday evening, this package was awaiting us:

My first Groupon purchase of 3 pounds of dried cherries, cranberries and golden raisins! We’re going to use these in our Homemade Instant Oatmeal.

I mentioned on my Facebook page last week that I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to jump on the Groupon bandwagon. And I can’t! I’ve heard rave reviews about this website for so long, and I’ve even mentioned it here a few times. But I always thought it was the sort of thing where the deals and coupons wouldn’t really save us money, they’d just encourage us to spend more.

However, I went ahead and signed up — and I’ve been very pleasantly surprised. In fact, I did a little happy dance a few times this week when I received the Groupon deal email for the day and discovered it was a deep discount for something I was already planning on buying in the next month!

Now, you definitely could spend more by buying stuff from Groupon if you’re not on a strict budget and giving every dollar a name. But I’m pumped about how much we’re going to be able to maximize the mileage of our envelope money thanks to Groupon.

For instance, last week alone, I was able to buy a $25 gift certificate to a local thrift store for only $10 and a $40 gift certificate to a local salon for only $10! I need to purchase my children some clothes, so I might as well spend $10 to get $25 worth. And I was planning to get the girls’ hair cut this month, so I might as well spend $10 to pay for a voucher which will cover the costs of four hair cuts.

Do you see the beauty of this? You can watch the Groupon deals as they come into your inbox and then stretch your envelope dollars a lot farther by purchasing the deeply-discounted deals which will be for things you’re already going to be buying — only now you can get them 50% to 75% off or more!


Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

14 Aug 2010   ·   30
Money Saving Mom

Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: Working 60 to 70 hours per week is not something I’d recommend

If you’re new here, you’ll want to go back and read the first parts of the Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom series.

While I was trying my hand at blogging and building up our online bookstore, I was also forging relationships with some other family businesses and Christian homeschool companies. One of those relationships happened to be with a family who published a nationwide homeschooling magazine.

They mentioned they were looking for someone to join their team on a very part-time basis helping with some marketing responsibilities. I inquired further and discovered it was something I thought I might be able to do as it just involved researching companies to contact about promotions and cross-promotional opportunities and the contacting them and trying to work out cross-promotions.

I’d had a little bit of experience working with online companies because of my wedding business, online bookstore and blog, so they were willing to bring me on to work about two hours per day for them. It was tedious work, which often resulted in dead ends, but I was learning so much about creating pitches and marketing a product and — best of all! — I was getting paid for my time!

After a few months of working in this very part-time capacity for this homeschooling magazine, I guess they decided I had some potential, because they asked me to stay on in a more permanent position and gave me more responsibilities for heading up some of their larger promotions and brainstorming creative marketing ideas.

Before I knew it, I was officially their Marketing Manager and was also managing an ad sales team. Much of what I was doing, I had little experience in, but I found that I could learn so much just by reading great books on marketing, observing other companies and analyzing what was working for them and then being willing to experiment.

It was so rewarding to see hard work pay off, magazine sales increase, ad sales generated and new ideas blossoming. I was loving just about every minute of what I was doing. There was only one problem: between my responsibilities for the magazine and my own blog and business, I was often working 60 to 70 hours per week, in addition to being a wife, mom and homemaker.

I remember working well into the night — or even all night some nights — just to get everything done. And working so many hours definitely took its toll on me and I look at pictures of myself from that time period and realize how utterly sleep-deprived and exhausted I looked. I certainly wouldn’t recommend those long work hours to anyone else!

The good news was that between the various things I was doing from home and my husband’s part-time income, we were able to stay out of debt, I was able to stay home with our daughter and we actually had a little breathing room in our budget for the very first time since being married.

In addition, my blog and our online business had continued to grow. So when my husband finished his last week of law school, we felt it was time for me to quit working for the homeschool magazine and just focus on our home, family and my own business.

It was a big leap of faith to give up the regular monthly income from the homeschool magazine — especially since Jesse still had to study for the bar and pass the bar before he’d be able to get a full-time job — but we had made it through law school debt-free (by the grace of God!) and we were ready for me to work less and spend more time being a wife and mom.

…to be continued next Saturday

13 Aug 2010   ·   25
Money Saving Mom

We Paid Cash! :: White Picket Fence

We paid cash!

Testimonial from Tawra

We paid cash for my beloved picket fence!

My DreamWe paid cash for our picket fence.

Ever since we were married almost 16 years ago I have wanted a cute little house with a white picket fence. I know it sounds corny but gardening is my passion! I especially love cottage gardens so the fence was always a dream of mine.

When we first got married we weren’t able to do it right away because we couldn’t afford it.

In the first five years of our marriage, we paid off  $20,000 in debt and medical bills on $22,000 a year average income. In the years following, we endured a job loss, the selling of one house and the buying of a new one in the country.

We paid cash for our fenceHow We Did It

Finally, after working and saving for 13 years, my picket fence was going to be our first big “fun” purchase. We hadn’t been on vacations (except to visit family), didn’t eat out and were ultra frugal. I was excited!

In six months, we were able to save up enough cash to pay for it! And we paid $800 for fencing that should have been $1500.

Our store offered a coupon where when you bought $50 or more you would get $10 off. Each time you purchased something, the register would spit out another $10 off of $50 coupon.

It took us three hours to go to two stores for all of the supplies. In all, I made twenty transactions but saved $200 in coupons and another $500 because the fencing was on sale. $700 for three hours of work is a great savings in my book!

I kept telling people who would get in line behind us that we were going to be a while and they were all fine with it and found another line.

One lady decided to wait and I told her what I was doing. She said, “Cool, I’ll have to do that!” She had about $600 worth of stuff in her basket so she was glad for that tip!

We paid cash arborWe installed the fence ourselves, saving another $2000 and now I have my wonderful, long awaited  picket fence! You can see that the flowers already love it!

Tawra Kellam, along with her mom, runs and are the authors of Dining On A Dime Cookbook. In the three years since they’ve paid off their debt, Mike and Tawra have also paid cash for lots and lots of plants, a car, a baby, a riding mower, furniture for their new house, plus paid down 50K on their house.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

12 Aug 2010   ·   93
Money Saving Mom

A new approach to working smarter, not harder

We’re on our annual extended family vacation at a lake in Arkansas this week and I’ve been reading Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology
by Eric Brende. I’m really enjoying the book (expect a full review next week) and am very inspired to do a better job of making things from scratch and doing things myself. I’ve become a little lax in the last year as our income has increased and we’ve not been in such a position that we’ve needed to pinch pennies as hard.

However, this book has motivated me to think outside the box and to be more proactive in looking for ways we can save money and use fewer resources — without expending a great deal of extra energy ourselves in the process. I guess it’s a new approach to the working smarter, not harder philosophy I’ve always had.

So expect to see more do-it-yourself-type posts in the coming months as we experiment with new ideas. We’ve already written out a long list of things we’d like to try including making our own laundry soap (I know I said I’d never try again after my first attempt was such a total flop, but I’ve decided that maybe a new recipe might make a world of difference!).

Speaking of which, I loved Tammy’s post today on 10 Fabulous Foods You Can Make Yourself. I think I’m going to make that mouth-watering chocolate cake to celebrate the completion of the P90X program (I must stop looking at the cake pictures and tempting myself as I still have around 70 days to go!).

Do you have any other fabulous (and healthful!) make-it-from-scratch recipes you’d recommend or do-it-yourself ideas you’d love for me to try and blog about? Leave me a link or email me and I’ll definitely consider it!

photo by Peter Blanchard

9 Aug 2010   ·   62
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day: The Lazy Edition

So, I did a very short Freezer Cooking Day this past Saturday. Actually, I don’t think “day” really describes what it was – since it was more like “snatches of time” in the middle of a busy day.

To be completely honest, I got all lazy and didn’t really do it “right.” I guess you could say I’m adapting FlyLady’s slogan: “Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family.”

Getting past perfectionism and being satisfied with “good enough” has been one of the best lessons I’ve learned as a homemaker. Because seriously? No one lives in the perfect, catalog houses anyway.

I cooked up a TON of chicken (something like 16 meals’ worth!) and then just chopped the cooked chicken and sliced the marinated chicken. And then {gasp!} I dumped it into two big freezer bags and stuck them in the freezer. I know I should have probably frozen them in individual meal-sized bags, but I ran out of bags and time.

The same with the strawberries, bananas and peaches. I’d planned to make up these snazzy Fruit Smoothie Kits complete with yogurt frozen in ice cube trays and the like. But I was short on time since we were leaving the next morning to go out of town, so I decided it was better to get something done and to go to bed at a decent hour, than to do everything perfectly and stay up all night.

{Is it a sign that I’m getting old or that I’m getting smart when I choose sleep over perfectionism?}

Only time will tell if my lazy methods end up taking a lot of extra time. For now, I’m just happy to have a big bag of muffins, three big bags of frozen fruit for smoothies, 40 homemade oatmeal packets and about 16 meals’ worth of chicken in the freezer making meal preparation over the next few weeks much smoother.

And all told, I probably spent no more than two hours –broken up over the day – to pull it off, including clean up.

Sure, it’s not my most impressive Freezer Cooking Day spread, but it’s something. And that something will come in very handy during the busy weeks ahead.


Did you have a chance to do any baking or cooking this week? If so, post about it on your blog and leave your link below to your direct blo g post. I’d love it especially if you could share pictures and recipes so we can get ideas for our next Freezer Cooking Day! And I’m guessing many others would be inspired as well.

7 Aug 2010   ·   29
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Fresh fruits and veggies, four bags of chicken and more!

This is our second week of eating according to the P90X Nutritional Plan and I feel like I’m still feeling my way along. But let me tell you, the extra work is worth it because between eating better, exercising more, drinking more water and getting more rest, I’m feeling completely rejuvenated as a person.

Here’s what we bought at Aldi and Dillons this week — along with some farm-fresh eggs and produce we were given/bought:

All totaled, we spent around $42 on groceries this week. Our four gallons of milk from last week (two regular and two chocolate) ended up being enough to last us through this week, too, so I think it looks like we likely overbought there a little. 🙂


Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

7 Aug 2010   ·   41
Money Saving Mom

Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: My first feeble attempts at this thing called “blogging”

If you’re new here, you’ll want to go back and read the first parts of the Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom series.

After we shut down the wedding business, I threw my energies into being a mommy to my brand-new baby and continuing to try to find a way to earn enough from home so we could stay out of debt and I could stay home.

I wrote more ebooks, I expanded our online bookstore, I started an eBay store and I worked on building up our customer base and email list. Every day, I tried to come up with a new idea to implement. I wrote as many articles as I could for various online websites in order to get our name our there and garner free advertising (because I couldn’t afford to pay for advertising!). I joined a Yahoo group where WAHMs could connect and exchange small fliers to put in each other’s packages.

Slowly, ever so slowly, I was starting to see a little fruit for my labors. We were having repeat sales and the website was receiving around 150 to 200 visitors per day. Even though I didn’t know what a blog really was, I had heard it was a great way to help build up a website. So I decided to add one to my online bookstore website.

Let me tell you, folks, that first year of posting was pathetic. I still make plenty of mistakes these days, but way back then, it was awful.

Have you ever been to a blog which had paragraphs the size of chapters? Long, run-on, meandering sentences? Was very, very boring? Had poor grammar? My blog had all those and much more. In fact, a few years ago, I deleted almost a year’s worth of posts from that blog just because I couldn’t stand to so much as look at them — let alone read them.

But you know what is so crazy? People started coming to this atrociously-written blog of mine… and they kept coming back! I don’t know if it was out of pity or if it was because they just were bored out of their mind, but — for some odd reason — I started building up a blog readership.

It began with a dozen people (probably all related to me!) and then there were 50 daily readers. And then 100. Within two years, I was averaging 500-1000 visitors per day.

We had some lively discussion on all sorts of hot topics, I stuck my foot in my mouth a lot and I learned that, in the blogging world, you better be prepared to back up every statement you make. I also learned that you can never please everyone and, if you’re going to make bold statements, you need very thick skin.

I look back on those first few years of blogging and regret a lot of things I said: I was too bold, too opinionated and too ostracizing of those who didn’t believe exactly like I believed. At the same time, though, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to have my beliefs and writings challenged and picked apart by those who didn’t agree with me. It forced me to really examine why I believe what I believe and whether it was in line with God’s Word. It also helped me to become less critical and judgmental of those who believe or live differently than me.

While I think it is wonderful to have strong convictions and beliefs, I also now think these are only good when they are tempered with a lot of grace and love for others. I can’t possibly criticize someone else for the decisions they are making when I’ve not walked in their shoes or carried their burdens.

In addition to building up the online bookstore and starting a blog, I also landed a job working virtually as the marketing manager for a large homeschooling magazine. How that came to be was a rather interesting set of circumstances, but I’ll have to save that story for next time.

…To be continued next Saturday

6 Aug 2010   ·   53
Money Saving Mom

We Paid Cash! :: A new computer

We paid cash!
In 2009, my husband and I were becoming exhausted with our dreadfully slow desktop computer that we purchased in 2004. With that, we decided we wanted to purchase a laptop. We saved for weeks. We researched at Consumer Reports. We waited for the perfect computer for us. We faced a few temptations:

::We really wanted a Mac. A Mac would have been hundreds of dollars more than the Toshiba that we were going to purchase.

::We played around with financing a portion (if we did decide to purchase a Mac). We justified that financing a portion of the cost was worth it because a Mac was a better computer and, in the long run, would be worth it. Truth be told, we did not have (nor would we have) the remaining balance to pay off what we would finance. It would make much more sense to put that extra money toward other things.

My husband ultimately made the decision to purchase the Toshiba and pay in cash. To my shame, I sometimes struggle with following him as I enjoy having what everyone else seems to have.

By supporting him in this decision, however, we experienced the freedom of knowing that we didn’t owe one single penny on that computer. This especially helped when my 5 year old decided the computer needed a shower. Could you have imagined if we were still making payments on a useless computer? Funny thing is, we purchased the exact same Toshiba because we loved it so much.

A Toshiba that, if I may add, I talked down from $650 to $450!

We paid cash for our computer

We are David and Mandy King. We live in Lexington, Kentucky. We have five small children: 4 boys and, FINALLY, a girl! Noah (6), Sammy (5), Simon (3), Kaedmon (1), and Clara (3 months).

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

6 Aug 2010   ·   29
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking Day: My Master List (and come link up yours!)

I’m finally able to jump back on the Freezer Cooking Day bandwagon again. Oh, how I’ve missed having food at-the-ready in my freezer! If you’re new here, you can find out more what Freezer Cooking Day is all about by scrolling through previous posts here.

Since we’re on Phase 2 of the P90X Diet, my Freezer Cooking Day is going to look a little different this time around as we’re mostly eating fresh produce and lean proteins, so we make the bulk of our food fresh. But here’s what I came up with to make:

Spiced Blueberry Coconut Muffins (doubled)

Banana Crumb Muffins (doubled)

10 Homemade Smoothie Kits — I’m making up the recipe for these using some reduced bananas and strawberries I bought this week and some peaches my mom gave me. I’m planning to make some peach and strawberry/banana kits.

60 Homemade Oatmeal Packets — We’ve switched to eating oatmeal almost every morning for breakfast since it’s frugal, healthful and easy. (We’re trying to get away from eat boxed cereal most of the time and I want to become more creative with breakfasts, but everyone’s happy with oatmeal right now, so it’s working.) My husband had the idea for me to put together oatmeal packets so he and the girls could just make their own. So I’m making up my own recipe for these, but you can get quite a few different ideas here. I’ll post details on what I end up doing on Monday.

5 meal’s worth of chopped and cooked chicken breasts (for topping salads)

5 meal’s worth of marinated chicken cooked and sliced (for topping salads or eating plain)

I’ll post some of the recipes, some pictures and more about my Freezer Cooking Day on Monday, along with a link-up for you to post your accomplishments if you’re playing along.

Are you participating in the August Freezer Cooking Day Event? If so, post about your cooking plan on your blog and then come back here and leave your direct link below so we can all be inspired! Please note: links which do not link directly to your freezer cooking post or which do not contain your freezer cooking plan will be deleted.

6 Aug 2010   ·   53
Money Saving Mom

We Paid Cash! :: New Blender

We paid cash!Testimony from Tasha

I have started to write this several times, but wasn’t sure because the amount may not seem like much, but to us every dollar is hard to come by. Just a few years ago this would not have been a big deal to me, but now it is a big deal that we paid cash for a $100 blender!

The Background

I recently got hooked on green smoothies. Our old blender was doing an okay job, but with all the greens and fruits, I figured I would eventually need something much more powerful.

Our Story

I knew the only way to get this blender would be to start taking money out of our blow money category and save it. So I started taking out $30 dollars a week and within four weeks I had the cash to buy the blender — including shipping!

We Paid Cash for a blenderI bought a Kitchen Aid brand and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my new blender. It is a 5-speed with a Polycarbonate pitcher. The pitcher is wide all the way down allowing for a much better blending process. Now my green smoothies are silky smooth — yum!  And clean-up is a breeze! It felt good to know I saved the money to purchase it with cash.

Ways We Save

We started budgeting everything two years ago. Our first go at it was not good. I totally protested.But within a few months we tried it again.  I got it the second time!

We do a modified Dave Ramsey envelope system. We try to strictly stick to cash only except for monthly bills which I pay through the bank’s website. We rarely use our debit cards because it just doesn’t hurt as much as when cash leaves our hands.

Fast forward to today… I cannot imagine life any other way.  I know exactly where our money goes.

Our motto now is:  If we can’t buy it with cash, then we really do not need it. Or, we just must wait and save! Now I am saving for a new quilt for our bedroom!

Tasha is a stay-at-home mom with five year old twin boys.  She will begin homeschooling in September.  She is new to Money Saving Mom® and is excited to be seeing savings at the grocery store!

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

5 Aug 2010   ·   153
Money Saving Mom

“Give, and it shall be given unto you…”

Last week, I was excited to get a great deal on an item we needed. After I bought it, God strongly prompted me to give the item to a friend who is going through a difficult financial situation.

I struggled to follow the prompting as I knew this was an item we needed and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to find a good deal on it again for awhile. But I gave it to my friend, because I just knew in my heart that was what I was supposed to do.

There was so much joy in giving this item to my friend and I realized that I could always pay full-price if I had to because following what God called me to do was more important than saving money, anyway.

In the mean time, I knew we could live a little while without the item, so I figured I’d hold off as long as I could and see if another great deal came along.

Well, not two days later, someone emailed me out-of-the-blue and said they had a package they wanted to send to me and could I please email them my new address?

Can you guess what arrived in that package yesterday? The exact same item I’d given to my friend — only this was a bigger and better version.

Truly, you can’t out-give God!

4 Aug 2010   ·   121
Money Saving Mom

Credit Cards: They can hurt more than just your own personal finances

Guest post by Audrey

Credit CardCredit cards can hurt more than just your own personal finances.

Though my husband and I have been careful with our use of credit cards and have not amassed debt, we have begun to realize that our financial decisions impact many more people than just ourselves, and that realization has helped us curb our credit-card spending more than any other budgeting lesson.

Our Story

My family bought a rustic campground in New Hampshire in 2003. We spent countless hours updating and improving the entire facility, including its highway-front, country-style general store.

We met so many wonderful people in that store, chatting with them about their homes (some as far away as Europe or Asia), their spiritual journeys, their dreams and goals and desires. But it became increasingly difficult to smile and chat with customers who paid for their $1.50 cup of coffee with their credit card.

Credit Card MachingYou see, for each and every purchase, my family had to pay a surcharge to use the credit card system. That charge could be as high as $1 per purchase, on top of the 4% fee based on the purchase price.

When we added in the cost of the coffee itself, the cup, the sugar and the creamer, our store was actually losing money for those cups of coffee. And candy bars were worse.

Eventually, my father decided that we would change tactics. When someone made an extremely small purchase and offered a credit card for payment, we simply offered to give the customer that item for free. Our family lost money either way, and we hoped it would open these customers’ eyes to the true costs of using credit.

What We Learned

Maybe those customers learned a lesson; maybe they didn’t. All I know is that I definitely did. My husband and I, though still using our credit card on occasion, try to keep these things in mind:

  • Small businesses take a hard hit when we swipe a credit card.
  • Small purchases (candy, coffee, soda) cannot compensate for the credit card companies’ fees.
  • Credit hurts more than us, and it pleases the Lord when we strive to be aware of others’ needs.

Credit card lessons learned by AudreyAudrey is the proud wife of a handsome Marine and stay-at-home-mother of a beautiful 16-month-old girl (and she’s expecting again in November!). She teaches piano lessons occasionally and is recording her journey into the world of book publishing at

Photo credits: BigBeaks, Iain TaitLlore Photography