Saturday, December 31, 2016

Dollah dollah billz

Howdy! I'm glad you're here.  
This post probably contains run-on sentences, sentence fragments, 
affiliate links, and unnecessary ellipses.  If none of that bothers you, let's be friends.

Interview question five:

"What are the most important tactics you use to save money when raising a large family? Are there things you do today that used to feel too difficult? Things you don't do anymore and think, 'I don't know how I did that?'"

This is really a tricky one because I think saving money is a lifestyle, a mind-set. It's not that the act of saving money is difficult in itself ("don't buy stuff!"), but finding the motivation to do it is where it gets hard.  A few days ago I talked about using a budgeting site and app called You Need a Budget, and I would say that starting there, or somewhere, and tracking every dollar you spend is really crucial. Even knowing that you're going to have to account for and categorize each thing you buy will decrease your spending. Once you establish what you can't easily adjust (say, your mortgage payment) and what you can (the amount you spend eating out, maybe), you can make a plan to save by cutting back where you actually CAN cut back.  Until you know what you're spending, you can't know how to change it.

When we did this, we determined that groceries were our number one flexible monthly expense. I mean, we already knew that, but now we were working with hard numbers, not vague ideas.  So instead of chipping away a few pennies here and there from a bunch of small categories, we decided to first tackle that one category to see what we could do.  And it actually ended up being really useful!  Now when I don't feel like driving all the way to Aldi, I can remind myself of how much we save every month by biting that bullet (waaaaaaaay more than the extra gas to go a few more miles) and it gives me the encouragement I need.

Speaking of encouragement, the other thing about YNAB is that you "give every dollar a job."  Random amounts of cash sitting in savings waiting for "something important someday" doesn't often motivate a person to save more of it, but if you make categories and name them things like "bathroom renovation" or "trip to Florida in February" and you move every saved or extra dollar into those categories, you feel like you're rewarding yourself as you watch that category grow.  So I guess my most important tactic is knowing what we're spending money on and planning for what we ought to be spending in the future.

As for doing something that used to feel too difficult, the major money saver for us is that I actually cook full dinners for nine people from scratch all by myself.  When I met my husband, I had literally never cracked an egg, so this is a big deal. I joke about not being a very good cook, but I actually am better than decent.  It's just not very interesting or funny to tell a story about how I made a normal dinner and nothing went wrong and everyone liked it, so no one ever hears about that.  But in reality I'm cooking for my family a lot and again, just like with the Aldi thing, when I'm tempted to just have Tommy drive through somewhere on his way home, I know the specific amount of money that it's going to cost us and I know I'm going to have to take that amount away from some other category in our budget.  Do I want to give up books or clothing just so I don't have to make dinner?  Sometimes the answer might be yes, but most of the time it's a definite no.

When we talk about things I don't do anymore, the first thing that comes to mind is living without a clothes dryer.  I think we did that for....was it something like three years? Gosh that was awful. I mean, we did it. No one died.  I even wrote about it on the blog at one point like "no big deal!' But in retrospect the amount of time spent hanging each article of clothing for our entire family every night was a lot.  When the weather was nice, we could hang it outside and that was pretty excellent, but frequently the weather is not great (below freezing or raining. That's a lotta months out of the year.) and we had to hang it on an indoor drying rack.  It dried so slowly on there that everything ended up with this sort of musty smell and there wasn't really anything we could do about it. AND the worst part about it was that it limited us to one load of laundry per day, max. One load! If you've ever had a house full of sick children, you know that sometimes that just does. not. cut it. Gross.

Well, I feel like I didn't say anything new in this entire post (did you know you could write 948 paragraphs of things you've already said before?) but I said I was gonna post for all 12 days of Christmas and dagblamit Imma do it. So voila, and please to be enjoying your Saaaaaahturday.

Posting for the 12 days of Christmas...
12 in 2016 (a photo year in review)
Stuff That Makes My Life Better
Where did all these children come from?!?!
Homeschooling High School
I Dream of Houses 

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  1. You say you didn't say anything new, but this is probably my favorite post of the days so far. As much as I love your humor, the reality of life is that sometimes things are hard. I like the way you acknowledge it, and then love your attitude in moving on. Thank you for sharing your life, and especially your faith. You encourage me.

  2. I love Aldi! We just got one a few months ago. The first time I went I was amazed at how full my cart was for $100.

    Oof. I can't imagine line drying all the clothes. Guess it helps that my 3yo broke our clothesline. Thanks for saving me some guilt for not using it, buddy! :)

  3. Great story about the dryer. My mom didn't even have a toilet when I was born and got an infection from the outhouse. She drove dirty diapers and clothes into town for 2 years before they got a washer. We lived (6 of us) in a camper for a summer while building on to our home. Those are the best memories. My step-mom comes from a family of 16 kids. Lots of stories from her also. Seems like people are so soft these days. Great post!!!

  4. I agree--best post so far! I love how you roll with the punches. -FarmAndAway

  5. Your posts on finances are some of my favs! Thank you!


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