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Benefits of a Tight Budget

My Friend Debbie      One of the benefits of having a large family is that we have been forced to reevaluate how we spend money many times through the years. There have been seasons in our marriage when our income has increased along with our family size, and we are thankful that God provided that way. There have been other times, however, when our family size and expenses increased, but our income did not. We have come to be thankful just the same. Why? Well, because God tells us to be thankful in all things; but more than that, because of all the creativity and perspective that has come as a result.

     When we evaluate our own careless spending, we are able to see more clearly what is really important in our lives and how much money is wasted all around us day-to-day. Is a couple any more "married" if they spend $20,000 on a wedding than if they spend $5,000? Does someone turn a year older when they have a big party with a theme and blow-up bouncy things and lots of presents, but not when they celebrate with just their family and one or two presents? Does getting your driver's license only count when it is accompanied by your own car? Are vacations only memorable if they involve theme parks, restaurants and hotels, but not picnics, tents and walks in the woods?

My Friend Debbie      These are the types of questions we have asked ourselves in order to make life fit within our budget. Living within our budget has brought such freedom, and made life simpler in many ways. For example, we only host birthday parties with friends or another family for our five and ten-year-old children. The rest of the birthdays involve cinnamon rolls for breakfast, a prayer of blessing from Daddy, and the birthday child's choice of dinner and dessert. One or two presents are opened along with lots of homemade cards from siblings. You may see a balloon or two. This eliminates extra time and effort for house-cleaning and food preparation as well as many added expenses for disposable party decorations and favors that accompany large parties. The day can still be special even without all of the "extras."

My Friend Debbie      Vacations are another area to simplify in order to save money. Tent camping started looking very appealing around the time when our family became too big for one hotel room. We visit with extended family for many vacations, but it's nice to get away at least once a year with just mom and dad and the children. A campsite is easily half to a quarter of the cost of a hotel. Bringing your own food along requires planning, but is much cheaper than eating out at restaurants. State campgrounds always seem to be roomier and more private than commercial campgrounds. Being out in nature also has the added benefit of creating an "exploring" mentality in our children as opposed to the, "entertain me, thrill me," mentality that tends to accompany commercial vacations. We all look forward to the change of pace that a vacation brings: no school, no regular chores, and extra time with Mom and Dad are all simple pleasures that don't cost a thing.

My Friend Debbie      So, let's say there is an event coming up in your life. Maybe it is a birthday, a retirement party, a coming-of-age ceremony for a daughter or son, a vacation or an anniversary. Whatever it is, start by asking yourself, "What is the most important thing about this event?" "What is the main idea behind the celebration?" "What is the most important sentiment I want to convey?" Then go from there. Too often the tendency is to start making a list of all the things we must have and must do and they aren't really "musts" at all.

     I daresay a tight budget has propelled us into enjoying the simpler things, and enjoying the big things in a simpler way. God really does work all things and circumstances together for the good of those who love God and who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). We are so thankful for that promise!

Copyright © 2008-2015 Heather Gwaltney

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