Friday, July 31, 2009

Pinching Pennies

I haven't been very diligent since I wrote the first two blogs- I would offer some excuses, but I'll save you the effort reading them.

The hardest part about writing (writing anything - thank you notes, condolences, get well, letters, etc) is knowing what to write! So I thought I'd write about saving money and share a few websites that help me.

It's almost back to school and there are great sales on school supplies. Buy enough supplies to last the whole year - not just enough to get started. This will be the first fall that I won't have a child in school in 25 years, but I still stocked up. There are always kids that need supplies or they can be donated them to a local school. A special ed teacher told me that they are always desperate for glue sticks. Wal-Mart honors the ads from other stores, so take all your ads from the Sunday paper and get the penny pencil sharpeners advertised by Office Max and the pens for a dime Walgreen's was offering.

My son alerted me to a good site - A young mom writes this daily blog alerting readers to good deals. She has the individual stores listed down the right side of the column and you can click on each one to see the deals. One of the best things about this site is that she often has a link to print out a coupon which will discount the item or make it free.

Another site I frequently check is Erin Chase, a young Christian mom, shows you how to make dinners (for 4 - two adults and two kids) costing $5 or less- usually the ingredients are simple and pretty easy. She also links you to sites where you can print out coupons.

I get tons of great tips to save money from Mary Hunt, who had over $100,000 in credit card debt and slowly worked her way out. Sign up at to receive her free daily email which shares money-saving ideas, advice, and wisdom.

I figure that every dollar I stretch a little further leaves more that can be used somewhere else!

Share any good websites or ways you've found to save money with the rest of us.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Saying "no" so you can say "yes"

In your busy life, what do you say "no" to so you can say "yes" to the things you want to do?

There are no easy answers and it looks different for different "seasons" of life. My youngest just graduated from college in May and my life now, on its busiest day, is 100 times quieter and less busy than when I had four little ones romping around. Somehow we have bought into the idea that we have to do it all - you know, "we can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and still never let you forget that you are a man cause I'm a woman - a W-0-M-A-N!" (for those of you too young to remember that commercial, sorry!)

But back to the question...

One thing that has helped me is that I have started saying, "Let me check my calendar (husband, etc) and get back to you." This gives me some time to actually think about and to check with my husband to see if this is a good idea. (It's just courteous to consider others in your family when you are making plans!) And a further note...if you have to refuse, you don't have to "defend" your answer or tell why. Just say, "I'm sorry, I can't do that right now."

Ask yourself, "Why am I doing this?" For those who are people pleasers (like myself), it is easy to take on too much. We hate to say no! We need to evaluate why we're doing what we're doing (for other's approval, praise, etc). "I want people to think well of me, so I guess I'll collect for the heart fund. I hate to disappoint Janie, so I guess I'll have a Pampered Chef party." Of course, most of the time, I never think - I just do it.

Ask yourself, "Are there others who could do this?" I have done plenty of things that were very stressful for me because I thought no one else would do it. Once I agreed to teach a high school math class when I can hardly balance the checkbook... what was I thinking? My husband used to say to me, "If no one else is willing, then maybe we really need to consider if we need this ministry." There may no one who will do it like you or even as well as you, but they may be willing to try if you say no.

Limit yourself. There will always be more things to do than time to do them. A church planter's wife can often make a list longer than her arm of things that genuinely NEED to be done. But you can't do it all. You will wear yourself out and you won't be good to anyone. It's better to pick what you enjoy (not that you ONLY get to do things you enjoy) and leave other things undone. Is it hard to know what to leave undone? Yes, but pray and ask God for guidance, then do what you can. Even when Jesus was on earth, He didn't heal or help every one. Sometimes "no" is the best word we can say.

Share with me ways that you've learned to limit your activities so you can do a better job on other things.