Most adoptions require a chunk of change, and even though foster-to-adopt was virtually free to finalize with the court, raising children costs some money as well. (That’s kinda obvious.) When A and H came into our lives, we were living off of two incomes plus the monthly stipend from the state for foster care. So we didn’t really put a lot of our focus or attention on budgeting our money. Between a 20 month-old and a 1 month-old, we were a little busy.
Even with a reduced income this fall with my move to teaching part-time, we didn’t get very serious about watching our dollars. Well, I say ‘we’ but it would probably be more accurate to say that I’m not the best budgeter. That all changed with the start of the new year- I read the book “7” by Jen Hatmaker. She wrote the book as she conducted an experiment in her own life- to “fight against the machine of excess” in 7 areas of her life. I was convicted and encouraged, and I wanted to get started right away.
Some things were easy to implement- like recycling. We’ve been recyclers for the past few years, but with the move this past summer, we haven’t been as consistent as we once were. So I found a trash can that would be short enough to store in the pantry and our recycling has probably tripled. Recycling is such an easy thing to do- and I honestly haven’t understood why ideas like “Going Green” and recycling have been scoffed at by many Christians. As people who believe that God created the world, why wouldn’t taking care of it be something we support?
Grocery shopping looks a little different now as well. I’ve joined Bountiful Baskets to support local farmers. Here are the fruits and veggies I received in my last basket. Since the items that come in each basket are a surprise, I still may purchase a few additional items of produce at the local grocery store. When I receive my basket every other Saturday, I go home and begin working on a menu that will incorporate the items I just received. We’re eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and getting to try new ones we’ve never had before.
Something else we’ve never done before? Make a budget and actually stick to it! We started the year off with a drastic change in how we spent our money by challenging ourselves to only spend money on groceries and gas. That meant that eating out would not be happening. Impromptu trips to Target would not be allowed. (Ouch!) And for D, taking his lunch to work would have to start becoming an everyday occurrence. No more ordering pizza or running through Chick fil-a. No more vanilla Cokes from Sonic. We stuck to that pretty well- with the exception of eating out for D’s Dad’s birthday and 1-2 other times I’m sure I’m forgetting. But even then, we used cash that D made from selling things on Craig’s List. I used coupons at the grocery store and saved $30 on things we actually use (no extreme couponing for me!). A and H helped me plant a vegetable garden in the backyard so we can eat off our own land this spring. They are so excited about the garden- A checks it multiple times a day from the window and is slowly learning that gardens require patience. 😉
So why are we doing this? Our first goal is to finish paying off D’s truck and then tackle the remainder of our student loans. When those things are accomplished, we hope to continue to build our savings and look for ways to give to those around us in need. With the creation of our budget, we want to focus on spending less on ourselves in order to be generous to others. For me, reading “7” was a wake-up call about the legacy I’m leaving. Sure, it would be nice for others to look at our possessions, our home, our cars and be impressed. But I don’t want to chase the Joneses anymore. I want to instill the values of good stewardship, generosity, compassion, hospitality- into A and H. We can talk to them about these until we’re blue in the face, but if they see us living these values out, we’re much more likely to make a difference. Much more likely to leave a legacy worth leaving.
What values are important to you to see in your children? What budgeting tips work for you? Do you consider yourself to be a financial whiz or a financial flunkie?