Here are a few things we do not spend money on:
- A house payment - in our two years of renting we have spent less money on far more house (in fact, too much house at one point) then we ever spent on a house payment.
- property taxes
- home owners insurance (renter's insurance is literally a pittance in comparison)
- car payments - both of our cars are over 100,000 miles
- cable television
- landline phone
- smart phone - the Hunky does have a smart phone but that cost is offset by his business which gives us a monthly phone allowance.
- credit card debt
- furniture - we did an inventory of our home and determined that nothing in it is something we paid for. Each piece has either been given or purchased as a gift for us.
- regular restaurant dining - I won't say we never eat out. We seldom eat out, and we when we do it is more intentional, and generally with coupons or gift certificates.
We also have some tricks we have learned and are learning along the way to save money. Things like menu planning, energy conservation, water conservation, errand combining, and thrift store shopping have also reduced the amount of money leaving our bank account, and allowed me to stay home with our children at a time when it should be financial suicide to try such a lifestyle. We continue to declutter, prioritize our belongings and free ourselves of what doesn't matter. We generally choose to simply give items away as we feel so blessed to have received so much ourselves. This summer we had the opportunity to watch sixteen boxes of books we uncluttered and donated to a rummage sale turn into a water filter for peoples in Africa.
I would also be more than remiss (and perhaps should have ordered this blog in order of priority) if I didn't say this: Our God has been very abundantly gracious in blessing us through our church family, and through ways we never could have foreseen or planned for as we have been more and more financially obedient to Him. Our friends have given in ways that I can only graciously accept because it can never be repaid, and they also would say it is because they are being obedient to God. Learning simplicity with the Giver of all Good Things has been one of the great adventures of my life and everyday just gets better.
I debated whether to add this last paragraph, but I felt that I should share some of what we do with our "extra money." This isn't actually meant to brag on us in anyway, but only to point out how amazing God is with our little bit of extra:
- We support our home congregation, including building projects, local missions, and missionaries .
- We support 2.25 children (I share financial responsibility with a group for one child) through Compassion International. This support allows us to also support other children through Compassion's correspondance program. We currently support one other child in this way, and will add to that.
- We support Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, specifically Melonnie Kelly who is a missionary there and works in local brothels and prisons literally setting captives free.
- We support American Indian Christian Mission financially and with personal mission trips
- We are considering another ministry that is dear to our hearts, but waiting on God to smooth out a few details.
It never ceases to amaze me what God can do with very little. When I look around at all we have, all we own, all we have been given, it certainly seems to be no sacrifice. What I know is that none of this is possible without God working in us to free us from financial bondage and to teach how living simply is the key to having the freedom to be His hands and feet in our neighborhood and in the world.