This whole 7 month experiment/challenge is about simplifying our lives so that I can stop being distracted by it all and just belong to Jesus.
There’s other benefits too, when you begin to simplify, you may begin to notice that the relationships with people you love get deeper, and more personal. I think that’s because there’s not all the boring distracting small talk to go through first. For example, if I have a complicated wardrobe, a complicated hairstyle, a complicated dinner plan, a complicated financial plan, and an over crowded home, no matter what all of that is going on in your brain (even if you feel relaxed, it’s back there somewhere in the dark recesses of your brain!) and often when we talk to one another, we have to get some of that stuff out first, before we get to the deep stuff. Once all of the extra is gone, you can cut right to what’s important.
I think clarity of mind is really important as well. When there’s a million things on your mind, or a million things in your life, taking up mental space, it’s easy to get distracted, depressed, lost, or even just cluttered in your life. When the excess is gone, Jesus can be top priority, and you can allow Him to put everything else in place.
Now, because I’ve been thinking about all of this, an awful lot, I’ve decided to clean up our finances. Believe me, there’s no excess there, but there’s sure a lot of work that can be done!!!
It’s been proven that double income families often don’t actually live on any more than single income families do. We hear the myth, “you can’t survive on one income!” all the time, but the truth is it’s just not true! When you add up all the extra costs of sending another person to work, the results are staggering.
- Commuting costs for one, is steep enough (we spend anywhere from $600-800 a month on gas!) let alone for two people. If the couple was able to commute together (highly unlikely) then this may work out, but more often than not the couple will be going in opposite directions to work.
- Convenience costs. Let me explain. When one person in a couple works and the other stays home, there’s someone to “bring home the bacon” and someone to cook it. The home is paid for because one person is working, and the home is peaceful, clean, and usable, because one person stays home to do that work instead, it’s a beautiful system. When both people in a couple work full-time, the duties at home need to be split (generally 50/50) but what normally happens is that when people get home from work they’re exhausted, just want to throw a frozen pizza in the oven, and watch TV. I don’t blame them, work is hard, but if they added up how much the frozen pizzas, Starbucks coffees, and Tim Horton lunches cost, I bet they’d be surprised! (I was!) It’s not just food either. When your house isn’t clean, it’s more convenient to go out, and we all know that’s expensive. Also, when you’re exhausted, who wants to walk anywhere? I know these situations to be true. When we were both working, I used to spend money like CRAZY on convenience, because I felt I deserved (because of the work I was doing). I’d buy a Starbucks latte in the morning ($5) possibly a breakfast sandwich when I got to work ($3) go out for sushi for lunch ($7), grab another coffee in the afternoon ($5), then maybe grab dinner at Taco Del Mar on the way home ($6), then put some gas in the car ($10). Ahem, my day cost me $36! If I had stayed home I could have saved… ALL OF THOSE COSTS!
- If you have children, there’s daycare! I’ve read that daycare can range anywhere from $375 – $1567/month! Lets average that out and say you pay $971 for day care a month (for one child!). Then, lets say you work a decent job that pays $20/hour. You work 40 hours a week, so before taxes you’re looking at about $3200/month. Before taxes you make about $38,400/year. Your day care costs $11,652/year. Now I’m no mathematician, but I’d say that’s a fair chunk of your income (30%!). This is of course if you’ve only got one child in day care, the percentage would be higher if there were more.
Alright, well the main point of this post is to share a bit of honesty, and then a few tips I’ve acquired from my very thrifty mother! To be honest, Tal and I totally believe in the one person work, one person home method of a marriage. We love it. Tal’s a natural breadwinner, and I’m a natural homemaker. The problem is, we’re spending money like we both work. We’re still buying the convenience items, even though there’s homemade soup and bread in the fridge! We’re treating ourselves with money we don’t have. I think to be honest, if we added up how much money we spend on entertainment alone, it would show the bulk of our money ALL TOGETHER. We think nothing of buying coffees out, nothing of going to lunch with a friend, nothing of going out to dinner with friends, nothing of driving into the city for a day. We just don’t think.
The horrible part though, is near the end of the month when you’re forced to think about it. You’ve got hardly any money left until pay-day and you have to make ends meet. I hate this feeling. This is what keeps me from mental clarity and focus on God. I feel cloudy, foggy, bogged in. I feel insecure, and poor.
So, the goal is to tidy this system up, and get God back in the center of my brain and heart.
We’ve just started the envelope system, and I’ve got to say, just knowing that there’s a system in place has made things so much more peaceful! Just knowing that all of the money is allotted to something different means that money can’t be spent on Starbucks before it’s crucially needed on a car repair (how many times does an emergency come up and I wish I hadn’t spent so much the week before!!!). Needless to say, I think we’re going to do well with this system. We hope to get out of our debt (about $2600) and begin to save for a down payment!
Yes, we, a one income home will be just fine. Here’s how (well not entirely, but here’s some ways we’re planning on saving money).
- This has got to be one of my favourite tips. MAKE YOUR OWN BREAD. Homemade bread costs about (drum roll….) .63 cents a loaf!!! SIXTY-THREE cents!!!! When can you ever get anything for sixty-three cents! A good loaf of bread at the bakery can cost about $5! I make a hearty seed loaf, that would cost $4.50 at Cobs Bakery and I save $3.87!
- This relates to the last tip, but buy yeast at Costco! It costs me about $4 for a teeny-tiny jar of yeast at the grocery store, but it costs about $4 for a huge vacuumed pack bag of it at Costco! I think it’s a 1 pound bag. I’m guessing it’s about 8 times the amount of yeast as the small jar. It’s very cheap.
- Pack your own lunches. Sometimes I do sandwiches for Tal, and sometimes I just do leftovers, but every time I pack a lunch for him, I know we’re saving anywhere from $5- (who am I kidding it’s probably more like…) $10 that day. Plus, food made at home is automatically healthier (if it’s homemade and not just from the freezer aisle!) no MSG, no artificial colours etc.
- If it’s a 5 minute drive, why not walk or ride your bike? I’ve been trying to do this more often, because gas is so expensive, and I really think the exercise would probably do me good. If you have great gas mileage maybe this isn’t such a huge deal for you, but for us, it really makes a difference if we walk to church instead of drive.
- Make your own laundry detergent. I made 5 litres of liquid laundry detergent for about .50 cents! It worked just as well as Tide, or any other brand, it lasted longer, and I know exactly what’s in it (no chemicals!). The upfront cost of ingredients is about $10, but you only use some of the ingredients for each batch. Make your own from this recipe.
- I haven’t tried this one yet, but a friend does, and I’m thinking of giving it a go.. it’s called the “no-poo” method. Before you freak out, realize I’m talking about sham-poo not poo-poo (I’ll talk about poo later, just you wait!). The no-poo method is simply washing your scalp with baking soda and water, and then giving it a rinse with apple cider vinegar diluted in a spray bottle. Check out this no-poo recipe. Seeing as the natural shampoo and conditioner I currently use cost me about $15/month, I’d figure this provides major savings!
- Okay, this one sort of freaks me out too, but… I was cleaning the bathroom when I noticed that we were almost out of toilet paper again. I can’t ethically buy toilet paper from the grocery store for under $9 for a large package. Sure there are other brands for cheaper, but I want toilet paper that is from recycled paper. So then I thought of this novel idea. We’re totally cool with wiping a baby’s bum with cloth wipes instead of disposable, in fact a lot of moms are switching from disposable to reusable, so why not our own? Now, before you freak out and never want to come over again, I promise I’ll always have toilet paper in my home, but what if Tal and I had… an alternative? What if we cut up flannel cloths, kept them in a container in the bathroom, and then just washed them like you’d wash cloth diapers? It’s funny a lot of people are fine with cloths and cloth napkins… but toilet paper? Toilet paper is actually relatively new in the course of history, in fact it wasn’t until 1935 that toilet paper was marketed as “splinter-free” and the first packaged toilet paper product was created only shortly before in 1857! Is this is as gross as we think it is? I don’t know, I have to think about it. I already live without kleenex and paper towel, could I save the $9 and go without toilet paper too?
- Here’s another one I haven’t tried. This would save you money in the long run, but there’s a small amount up front. It’s feminine hygiene, so be warned. The diva cup. Just google it. I think it would save me about $180/year. Plus it would save a lot from going to the landfills!
- Alright, a lighter topic. Free dates! I’ve noticed that while it’s sometimes nice to spend a lot of money on a date, I often have more fun on free dates. We talk more, laugh more, and enjoy ourselves more, when we’re not sitting across from each other at a fancy restaurant! Make some hot chocolate in travel mugs and go for a walk together after dinner. Go for a hike together on a Saturday. Make a special dinner and then watch a favourite movie. Read together on the couch. Read the same book out loud to each other. Spend $5 (not free but cheap!) and go get coffee together. This may sound silly, but Tal and I really enjoy showing each other the funny Youtube videos we’ve encountered over the week! We can easily spend an hour doing that, and it’s hilarious! (sometimes we get distracted and sing duets with my ukulele to Toto songs… you know…). There’s so much more to being together than money! We love to laugh together, and however we can do that is fine. I personally just love seeing him smile, and that, doesn’t cost anything.
- Never go anywhere without a water bottle and snack. I know this may sound like it wouldn’t save you a lot of money, but it totally does. If you’re out with friends shopping, or doing anything for that matter, and everyone decides to go out for coffee, you can easily go along and not order anything, because you have your water and snack! If you’ve been out all day and you need to stop and eat, just open your purse! So many times I’ve wished I’ve done this, and end up spending $5 because I’m hungry or thirsty and I’m away from home. It wouldn’t take much to make up a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies, or granola bars, and just put one in your purse, and water is so good for you anyways!
There’s SO many more ways to save money, that will really simplify and clarify your life, I could go on for hours, but my darling is snoring beside me and I should probably go to sleep!
All in all, we’re quite excited about finally getting on track financially!