Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Money Habits

I have previously talked about what has driven us (mostly Leatha) to coupon madness. I will be doing a series of posts about our budget and general convictions related to money and possessions.

This will be pretty general, but it starts with some principles. I haven't read a lot of books on money (Leatha has), but I'm sure anything by Dave Ramsey, Randy Alcorn, Solomon, or Jesus would be a good place to start.

1. Give, Save, and Spend what's left

There's so much more to say on this. Later.

2. Drive old, used cars (that get good gas mileage).

We currently drive a '94 Honda Accord with 251,000 miles, and a '01 Honda Odyssey with 105,00 miles. To get the Odyssey, Leatha had no car for 7 months (with 3 children) because we couldn't afford to pay cash for the van we wanted. When we shut the door on the Honda Accord with three car seats in the back, you could see all the kids crunch together.

New cars are over rated. After all, old or new- they're just metal boxes.

3. Wait as long as possible to make a purchase...

...Because you generally realize you don't need it. Or, if you wait and still think it would be a good purchase, then it might just be a wise purchase. The bigger the item, the longer you should wait.

There's no use staring at a 10 cent sucker for an hour. Just wait 10 seconds and you'll realize it's a waste of your dime.

Don't walk into Best Buy to "just look around." That's like the teenager who decides his limits of physical intimacy with his girlfriend while laying on the couch watching a movie at 1 a.m. You just might come out with a child... or HD TV. Usually married couples give much thought and prayer to something as big as conceiving or adopting or giving foster care to a child. In time you may decide an HD TV would be a good use of your money. Just don't decide it on a whim in the store.

4. Use cash

When you use cash, you think more about your purchase than if you use plastic. I've noticed that when I use a credit card, it doesn't feel like I'm actually spending money. I don't think about the money, I just get what I want. The 1% reward points are not worth it for me. Just try it- pay cash at the gas station next time instead of swiping your card. It will make you feel even worse for unnecessary driving.

Leatha has been waiting to buy a vacuum for months. When she wants to use one, she has to use her mom's, which is a big hassle. We're waiting until we have the cash to buy one.

5. Don't overspend on gifts, vacations, and eating out.

Most people feel a sense of entitlement when it comes to these things.
Exhibit A: Christmas.
Exhibit B: Summer Vacations
Exhibit C: Birthdays for 1 year olds, who get $15 toys and play with the boxes.
Exhibit D: Mark, "Let's just go out tonight." Leatha: "Let's just find something at home."

"Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich." Proverbs 21:17

6. Our only debt has ever been our home mortgage

College students, beware of student loans. You will have to pay that money back.

7. Buy stuff that's on sale, and with coupons if possible

If you're going to Coldstone, print off a BOGO (buy one, get one) online.
Go straight to the sale rack at the store. Sometimes Goodwill is more expensive than Old Navy.

More to come...


Christy said...

thanks for sharing these thoughts, mark. we have been trying to firm up our budget now that we are on one income, and i think i need to get together with leatha sometime to learn about how i can catch "coupon madness." :)

The Pelhams said...

I too have received the coupon madness from reading Leatha's posts on the sites she checks regularly. I have those sites saved now and check them multiple times a day and have saved literally hundreds my groceries by using coupons!!
If you want a good vaccuum, consider a KIRBY, my dad can get them for a lot cheaper than what a salesman who comes to your door will pay. We splurged on ours, spent $450 on it 2 years ago, they are still the same price through my dad and are unbelievable. If you get a chance have a KIRBY salesman come and do demonstration for you! They poured a 20 oz. bottle of sand on my carpet and rubbed it in so you couldn't see it, took my Eureka and went over 150 times and asked how much it picked up. Took the Kirby over it 5 times and the entire bottle of sand was in the tube! Thank goodness my dad has always used Kirby's at our restaraunt and house, and can get great deals. If you are interested let me know and I can most likely get one for you for about $450 instead of $1300 that the salesman wants for it!

Anonymous said...

I have a coupon question for Leatha. OK, so I'm reading your blog and starting to use coupons--and still wanting to hear about "the Walgreens stash." : ) So tonight I used a coupon for a mid-priced shampoo where if you buy 2 products you got $1 off. It did not specify size so I got two travel sized bottles (99 cents each) and used my $1 off coupon. I thought I did such a good job by thinking to get the trial size, but then I realized: I just paid $1 for two trial sizes when a full-sized bottle of the cheapo Suave shampoo is about a dollar or so and could be poured into small containers for travel. So was this a foolish purchase and how do you decide whether or not to use a coupon and purchase an item when it's not something that you consistently buy anyway?

The Arants said...

I'm quite particular when I use coupons. I often buy things I don't need to get what I do. I just have a general rule that I will never spend money on an item (that I don't use) if I can't get it for free.

I wouldn't have bought the shampoo because it wasn't free --- unless I liked that shampoo and needed it. It probably would have been more economical to buy the larger bottles.

All the stuff I get whether it be at Walgreens, Walmart, Target or wherever that I sold at my garage sale I did not pay a penny for. I did pay tax, but I made sure that when I marked the price at my garage sale it more than covered the tax.

Honestly, I don't know how much longer I will do the coupon thing. It does require that I go to more than one store. It does require that I check certain blogs everyday. It requires that I compile all of my coupons with the current sales. Sometimes I think it takes up too much of my brain power and time that could have been spent in a better way. I'm still in process about how much I'm going to do in the future. Up to this point I'd say I've taken part in most of the deals available. It has helped us a lot financially. I try to spend less than $50/week on all grocery and household items. There are things that we do go without to stay under $50. Sorry for this lengthy response, but feel free to ask more questions.

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me how you only spend $50/week on food and household stuff? Sorry if this is too nosey, but I really need some concrete ideas on how to spend less. Could you post your grocery list for the week? And which website is the best to figure out the rules of couponing and how you actually get something for free? Thanks for putting up with all these questions!

The Arants said...

I don't think you're being nosey at all. The website I'd go to is and on the side there is a link that says Walgreens 101. I read that and it was very helpful. Also, is great because she lists the current deals at our local grocery stores.

Now you're going to think this is nerdy but a few ways I save money on household stuff include:using cloth diapers, making my own wipes, making my own laundry soap, using very economical/safe cleaners (Shaklee, baking soda, vinegar), and that's all I can think of for now.

In the area of groceries we have become quite frugal or pathetic, I'm not sure which. We eat a lot of whole grains (millet, oats, brown rice,quinona,wheat),vegetables,eggs, and beans. I pretty much make everything. I don't buy any bread, milk, cheese or processed foods. I buy a lot of the grains in bulk from my food co-op which makes them cheaper. I make a lot of soups. If we have meat it is almost always in something like a soup or casserole. Fruit is considered a luxury item. I would love to buy more but at this time it is one of the things we do without. We rarely eat out.

This week we're trying to just get buy because we're getting ready to go on vacation. All I remember buying was some vegetables and I figured I could just make something work with what I have around the house.

About a year ago we bought a cow and we still have a lot left. We love chicken but I only buy it when it goes on sale. We also like salmon but we haven't had any in a while.

I'm sure I forgot to answer a question so feel free to ask again. Gotta run.