Monday, April 27, 2015

The Frugal Housewife

Sounds like a great title for a new blog doesn't it? But, nope, no plans to go in that direction any time soon. Its just that I've been working hard the past few weeks to find ways to trim our household budget and guess what? It's paying off!

Life is becoming decidedly different with my husband now working for someone as opposed to being self employed. For one thing, it's a whole different mind-set. He knows all about BUYING construction materials and he is very skilled at turning those materials into beautiful abodes but now he's on the other side of the counter, selling! It's different and challenging and stretching him every day but he is enjoying it. The work environment is a pleasant one, even while fast paced and demanding. All in all he is slowly but surely finding his niche and settling in.

The other very different part is something we've never really had in all the years we've been together: regular paychecks! There is something to be said for knowing exactly how much you will receive every 2 weeks. I can actually build a budget that works! In self employment it was always a roller coaster cash flow. Some months we had just enough, some months there was more than enough. But more often than not, the months were much too lean to support us in a healthy way. It's a huge blessing and large burden lifted to be living a life that has a more of a flat surface as opposed to the roller coaster ride!

As I laid out our budget however, I could see that there were things that needed to be adjusted. No more getting by on 'a wing and a prayer' (although to be clear, prayer will never depart from our life) Now with income clearly defined we could see our overhead needed to be lowered. So, I got busy and started doing my homework.... What could we do without? What could we change?

I began with researching cell phone providers. While totally satisfied with the service we have had for many years, I just wanted to see if I could find another plan that would help trim the budget. After several false leads and one attempt to 'jump ship' I learned my lesson: Cheap does not equal quality. But asking for something can bring positive results. My cell provider made an adjustment on our monthly service plan that lowers our bill by $40 a month. Same excellent service, same excellent cell phone plan.

It pays to ask!

Next, I shopped insurance. I have learned it always saves to bundle home and auto and while I thought that 15 minutes could save me more, I learned that's not always true. I found auto insurance that not only offers me a better coverage package, it's costing me about 40% less! That's another $40 in my pocket. Yeehaw!

It pays to ask!

Feeling encouraged and brave, I decided to tackle our home internet. We seriously considered whether we could live without internet (it was a scary thought, honestly!) but communication via email, and other online services has become so deeply integrated in our lives, it makes it difficult to not have it. Living in a rural area can also limit the services available so it didn't seem there was much of a choice here but after a tip from my neighbor, I called our internet provider.

We've always had internet through our phone line and we had to have a land line in order to have internet. I learned this wasn't true anymore for our area and made the decision to cut the land line out! That's a little scary too because it's good to have a land line in case your cell service goes bonkers but since I've never had any interruption in my cell coverage here at home in all the years we've had it, it seemed a safe risk. So... bye-bye land line.... and hello internet adjustment. Bazinga! I just lowered my internet with a monthly savings of about $25 a month!

It pays to ask!

I already shop bargain foods and thrift/consignment store clothing. We rarely eat out, movies are whatever we can rent from the local library. We heat with wood and we carpool when ever possible.

 I gave up coloring my hair because I just could not afford it and discovered that the frumpy gray strands were looking much more like silver, which, by golly, I think I like!

 I don't know that I can trim much more off the budget but I am thankful for what I've been able to do so far.

When Bruce decided to take this job we talked about the pros and cons of leaving self employment and going to work for someone else. And despite the pros of that steady paycheck, the con was that it does pay less than what he earns when he is self employed. But we knew without a doubt that God had orchestrated this job. And God knows our needs. He knew what the job paid and what our budget said we needed. We had to move forward in faith, believing that God was either going to fill in the gaps or show us ways to get by on less. He's done both in the last several weeks.

We asked God to show us the way and He has. Yes, oh yes indeed, it pays to ask! 

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