By Grace Alone

The real life struggles of a Christian mom

Adventures in Couponing July 11, 2009

Several months ago, my husband started expressing his desire for us to start spending less and saving more.  (This may or may not have coincided with a certain Democrat being elected president and vowing to “reform” health care.  But that is another story for another blog.)  He has repeated this preposterous suggestion many, many times.  And every time, my flesh (sinful nature) has done a good job of ignoring it.  After all, his job is pretty secure, he’s not making less money than he did a year ago–why should we cut back?  Shouldn’t I be doing my part to stimulate the economy and support my local retailers?  (I really want Gymboree to survive this economic turmoil.)  It seemed crazy for my husband to ask me to make sacrifices, and not even so I could use the saved money for something fabulous, like an iPhone or a cleaning lady.  Just for the sake of spending less and saving more.  He must be nuts, right?

After some conversations with my wonderful friends (if you don’t have godly, truth-speaking friends in your life, may I suggest you get some immediately?), I realized that this was a huge area of disobedience in my life.  My husband is asking me to do something.  He is not asking me to sin.  In fact, the thing he is asking me to do is perfectly reasonable, probably a good idea, and (gulp) would be glorifying God by thinking less about my own selfish desires.  I knew it was time for the S-word:  submission.  I couldn’t bring myself to submit right away, so I started by praying that God would convict me and enable to submit and obey.  And then I turned to my local expert on honoring your husband by spending less money:  my friend Lynette.

I’ve been giving Lynette my coupons out of the Sunday paper for months.  I had no idea what she was doing with them, but I knew I needed to find out.  I broke the sad news to her that she would no longer be getting my coupons and asked her to share her secrets with me.  Thankfully, she is very supportive of my saving money AND my submitting to my husband!  She taught me a few key strategies:

1.  Stop being married to specific brands.  I was shocked when I compared the shampoo I usually buy with some much cheaper alternatives.  I’ve been having shampoo tunnel vision for months, and my hair doesn’t even look that great.

2.  Track the cost of items that you buy on a regular basis.  When they go on sale, stock up.

3.  Keep your coupons from the Sunday paper, and then use blogs such as Common Sense With Money, Money Saving Mom and NWA Deals to find out how to maximize your savings by combining coupons with low sale prices.

4.  Don’t be afraid to shop at Aldi.  (I haven’t conquered this one yet.  Maybe when the kids go back to school in the fall, and I don’t have to take three kids with me everywhere I go.)

This concept of combining sales and coupons is amazing!  It is definitely worth spending some time on.  In my first week, check out what I got . . . serious bargain-hunting bloggers always take a photo:

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Pringles for 49 cents, family-size boxes of Special K for $2.50 each, Edy’s ice cream for $1.33 each, and deodorant for 38 cents!  I also got a pint of Starbucks ice cream for 50 cents, but I gave that to my sister-in-law, because seriously, how much ice cream does a girl need when she has baby weight to lose?!?

Back when I was just dipping my toe into the pool of obedience but not ready to jump in, I read on a stay-at-home mom’s blog that she thinks that her job is to save her family as much money as possible.  I thought, “Poor thing.  My job is much more enjoyable–spending our family’s money and having fun doing it.  Oh, wait . . . hmm, maybe that isn’t supposed to be my job . . . oh bummer, this woman is right!”  Now I have a new view on my job description, though sometimes I miss my old job.   I can’t wait to see what my new strategies will accomplish when it comes to lowering our spending, and (more importantly) pleasing my husband and letting him know that what’s important to him is important to me.  I want to honor my husband with my spending, following the example given to us as women in Proverbs 31:

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.

Proverbs 31:10-11

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Proverbs, Part 2 August 27, 2008

I’ve been reading Proverbs this summer and finally finished.  It was excellent!  (Of course.)  Here are some of my favorite encouraging and convicting verses from the second half of the book:

Proverbs 14:29:  Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. Very convicting–the last thing we need around here is more folly!

Proverbs 15:28:  The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. I really stink at pondering how to answer.  I prefer to pour out whatever comes to mind.  I want to ponder like the righteous!

Proverbs 23:12:  Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge. This one is for me and for my kids.  I’ve been praying for a verse for our part-time homeschooling next year, and I think this may be it.

Proverbs 27:14:  Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! I stink at waiting even more than I stink at pondering how to answer.

Proverbs 29:17:  Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. What a fabulous promise!  Did you see that, moms?!?  He said REST!!

Proverbs 30:5:  Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. What great truth and comfort.

Proverbs 31:11, 26-27:  The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.  She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.  She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

I’ve been inspired by the Proverbs 31 Woman for a long time.  This month, verse 11 stood out to me with regard to my spending habits.  The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. Can my husband completely trust the way I handle our money and run our household?  Am I doing all I can to make sure he has “no lack of gain”?  Or am I adding to his stress as he works to keep up with my spending?  (Answers:  No, No, and Yes.)  What can I do differently to be more worthy of his trust and add to his gain?