Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Art of Simplicity (Part 6)

Goal #4: Simplify by getting out of debt and learning to live with less. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:7, “Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.” God doesn’t want his people enslaved, so it’s crucial that debts get paid off. Here are some additional ideas to simplifying your life as well as save money so you can get out of debt:

:: PETS - Here are some statistics on how much our loving pets cost: small dogs cost on average 800.00 per year, medium dogs 1,115.00, large dogs 1,500, Cats are 640.00 per year, guinea pigs 645.00, rabbits are also 645.00 annually. So here are some cost saving tools: Give your pets their own shots, medicine; flea control can even be ordered online at a fraction of the cost that vets charge. Take advantage of the city’s cheap vaccination program – I think I paid 5.00 for a license and a rabies vaccine for our dog this past Spring (good for 3 years), through the Fort Worth vaccination program – they have them quarterly. Also, Keller Feed has a vaccination program they do each quarter on Sunday or Saturday which is fairly cheap. When I picked up our cat’s shots a few months back, the “shot” wasn’t even a shot, it was a dropper that you put in their eyes and nose.

:: SELL & De-clutter - Get rid of things you have not used in a year (craigslist is a great, free, place to sell all kinds of things, including cars). We recently sold some cloth diapers, our dining room set, baby bedding, tables, and our car! It is proven that those who live with lots of clutter also tend to be more depressed. So, get rid of unnecessary items and clean out the closets, God does not want us controlled by our things. In America our stuff has replaced the golden calf as “Idol worship.” We may not physically bow down to our possessions, but we sure invest tons of time cleaning, buying, paying interest and hoarding our stuff! Matthew 6:19 states, "Stop storing up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moths and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” I once heard that if your using and caring for your stuff it will not rust or mold! So, if you have things rusting and molding - get rid of them. In our home we have a 1 year rule - If we haven’t used it in a year, then we don’t need it (Doesn't pertain to the garage, that's John's space!). I have a permanent bag in the laundry room, which is our “charity” basket. I’m always looking for things to donate and let others use. Plus, keep track of those donation receipts! When claiming donations on your taxes, claim fair market value, so if I sent a pair of jeans in fairly good condition to the Goodwill, I’ll get to claim about 6.00 in charitable contributions. The donations will add up quickly! Each year we probably donate about 600-800 worth of un-needed stuff and get to claim every penny (just make sure to keep the donation receipt)!

:: CLOTHING & BOOKS - Shop for clothing and children’s books at the Goodwill (on Rufe Snow is the best one I’ve been to), that specific store gets the Southlake/N Richland Hills donations, so you can get children’s clothes (Gap, Gymboree) for 1.99 or 1.00 of half price days, it is quite a bargain. We love books and find them there at .50 (soft cover) 1.00 (hardback), I’ve even found new items that have never been opened. The best days to go are Tuesday – Friday’s at 10:00 am, look on movable racks first - that holds the clothes that haven’t been rifled through yet. I also use this as a training time for my kids, since they were little I would allow them to take home 1 toy (they are all marked between .25 cents -3 dollars) if they behave and stay where mommy can see them. It works great and it doesn’t cost a lot.

:: GIFTS - When purchasing for Birthday’s or Christmas check online sales and search for coupon codes. I purchased our kids Birthday and Christmas gifts off the Fisher-Price website just last week and used a 15% off coupon code I searched for it on, they show all the current coupon codes per website. In the end, my Fisher Price Online Shopping Trip was like getting free shipping, 15% savings, plus I knew the items were in stock and saved money on gas and time! Places like Gymboree and Children’s place discount all their inventory at the end of each season, living in Texas there really are only two seasons, so buying summer clothes in August/September means you can still wear them, or think ahead and buy bigger sizes for the following year. Also, sign up with JC Pennies or keep a look out for their fliers, they are always sending me 10.00 off 10.00 – that is like getting a 10.00 gift card in the mail (which is how I bought those shirts we priced earlier)! Remember to only spend 10.00, those stores are anticipating that you will spend more money while you’re there. Hit your neighbors up for their 10.00 JC Pennies or Kohl's cash if their not going to use them, my neighbors just slip them in my mailbox!

:: If you do a lot of shopping online, check out Ebates, they give you a % back if you link to a store through their site. I earn about 100.00 a year just for checking on their site to see if I can save some money. They also have special deals and coupons that aren't always posted online. They also give you a 10.00 gift card or 5.00 cash just for signing up. If you do sign up, use my e-mail address ( as a referral and I'll get an additional 5.00!

:: CONSOLIDATE - Check on the cost of phones, our friends recently combined their home and cell phones through Verizon and it saved them 50.00 per month. Call your cable company and see if there is a cheaper plan out there with the same services.

:: CRAFT IDEAS - If you end up making your own detergent, then the Borax you use will also help save money in the play dough/flubber area. I make my own flubber and play dough, which the kids love! It costs me about .25 cents a batch verses 1.00 or so for each play dough carton.

In summary, living a frugal life is a transformation of your mind. Remember that regardless of which side of the economic scale you are in, the most important place to be in safely where the Lord wants you - free from materialism but not addicted to saving money. You need to be able to find a middle and balanced lifestyle. As mom’s, it’s our job to be keepers of the home, so if hard economic times have come to your address, have fun experimenting with frugal ideas, involve your kids in the process, inspire your family to live on less and enjoy life more! Proverbs 17:1 says, “Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it, than a house full of feasting with strife.” So, let’s make out homes fun and free instead of slaves to money and possessions!

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