January 14, 2012

Living smart

It should be no surprise to you that the fiance and I are not millionaires. In preparation for our non-millionaire lifestyle, the fiance and I have talked through (and continue to talk through) and worked out some ways we can be smart with our money. We believe that these are habits that can profoundly impact the rest of our lives if we put our minds (and our wallets and bank accounts) to it!

Continue tithing. Not only because we believe in it, but also because we have been commanded to do so. John Piper once said: "When we release a tenth of our income and give it over to the ministry and mission of Christ in the world, we honor the Creator rights of God who owns everything, including all our income." We were brought up in households that valued the act of worship through tithing, and have learned from our parents the importance of glorifying God in everything we have. We have also personally witnessed the power of tithing and how it impacts people in how they live their life in daily submission to Christ. We recognize that money, while needed, is not the definition of who we are and how we live. We choose to put our trust in Him to provide for us, "For where [our] treasure is, there [our] heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).

Earn one, bank one. We got this idea through our pastor who led our pre-marital counseling sessions (shout out to pre-marital counseling!). This is by no means a challenging task, because it means that from our marriage on, we will be pretending we only have one income. Money + pretending we don't have much = hard. Let's be honest, who likes working hard only to enjoy half of what you earn in return? This is a revolutionary idea (at least I think so), and it challenges us to be more responsible with our money and how we spend it. This idea wonderfully matches our two varying views about money (spending what we can vs. saving what we have) into one; through this principle, we will have money put away to save for emergencies and big future plans, while also learning how to have fun with the money we set aside ahead of time.

Live below our means. What does this mean? It means we pick the 2 bedroom house instead of the 5 bedroom house. It means we pay for basic cable and not the 400 channels of HBO. It means we have weekly dinner dates with friends at our home instead of at a restaurant. It means we bring lunch to work. It means we get creative and DIY and go thrift shopping! It means we are constantly reminded that we have been greatly blessed and that we really don't need all those things we think we need.

Cash only? I've toyed with the idea of a cash-only budget system for our expenses (mainly groceries). Financial make-over superman Dave Ramsey suggests an envelop budget system, where cash is allotted to specific envelopes per month; once spent, that means you've done spent it all! I did this my first year of having a big-girl job...for the first few months. After the honeymoon period with my envelop system, I misplaced a few envelopes, "borrowed" some cash from one envelop and moved it to another, and spent too fast before the end of the month rolled around. However, what I remember working with this cash system was this: when I am holding cold hard cash, it's harder seeing the dollar bills flying out of my hand than it is swiping a card through a machine.

Make smart decisions. Don't go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.

There is still much to learn and much to figure out, but I'm excited to start this journey of finding a place for money in our lives. What about you? How do you save and spend your money?


  1. 1. Don't flush your toilet after just one pee
    2. Never use the dishwasher
    3. Costco
    4. Carpool
    5. If you don't smell, no need to buy new clothes or to wash them

  2. Financial Peace University. Highly, highly recommend it.

    1. Haven't done it, but I have heard very good things!