Welcome! This post is part of a series about “financialliteracy”, spending, and saving. You can find the first three posts, here, here, and here.
If you’re here for the first time because you clicked on my link over at Edie’s, thanks so much for visiting. I'm thrilled you stopped by!
I’ve had a lot to say about several of the big picture ideas and principles that in my experience (and based on the reading I’ve done…) need to guide our thoughts and eventually our practices in regards to money.
We definitely can’t leave off without talking about this biggie – budget.
For some of you, you cannot even fathom not having a budget. You know where every nano penny goes, you have your income spent on paper before a greenback leaves your wallet, and you might even use strictly cash for your consumable purchases as a further means of connecting you to the flow of money in and money out. A budget is your lifeline because you know exactly how much you have (or don’t).
I don’t really know because no matter how many times we go to budget school we end up as the class drop outs.
Now, before you go judging on us simple farmers, consider this.
Our income has been generated on a 100% commission basis for as long as I can remember. This means some months we’re rolling in it, and some months we have just enough to cover the pre tax commitments that are withdrawn from every paycheck, and then taxes. Yes, we've had months when we could have made a downpayment on a house with a single paycheck. Conversely, we've had months (catch that - it's plural) with zero income.
Obviously we've had to have some sort of budget in place in order to avoid debt and the lights being shut off! It doesn't fit neatly in an excel spreadsheet.
Everyone says you need to (should) budget. I don’t disagree. I just think that the “how” on this is highly personalized.
The budgeting process tends to root out all kinds of stuff – triumphs and trials. I don’t consider it an easy process. Perhaps simple, but challenging, for sure.
So, here’s my guideline:
Everybody needs to the best of their ability (and with increasing maturity), talk about the obvious tension between income and what gets saved and spent.
How you do this is very personal. You’ll discover all kinds of valuable insights about yourself, your spouse if you’re married, or maybe even for some of us our parents and family of origin as some of us may be in the sandwich years of caring for our offspring and our moms and dads.
Weekend Farmer Husband and I do this with varying degrees of success. Some of our best discoveries have been the contrasts between us and how that impacts the bottom line.
He’s impulsive and emotional.
I'm often a penny wise and a pound foolish.
I’m a tough negotiator and at least a ½ full.
He’s spontaneously generous and I’m consistently giving.
We love the same ministries and easily agree on which to support.
And, in the end, we share common goals, which even if we do not meet them, we persist in working together in gratitude and contentment toward them.
This next one’s personal. I mean to me.
My experience has been to be frugal, thrifty, and resourceful.
Oh how quickly that tips over into cheap.
When that happens I have to check myself for false worship. I puff up and become prideful about how money smart I am. And, as my head swells, my heart shrinks, and I quickly tumble down the rabbit hole of scarcity.
Seek to cultivate a practical but personal understanding of the difference between frugal and cheap.
For me it’s pretty simple.
Give. Save. Spend. In that order.
When I follow that pattern I find that I am properly aligned with the principles I posted about here and the daily implications of responsible stewardship.
If I could have one do-over in this big picture perspective, I’d ask Weekend Farmer Husband to at least annually if not more frequently have a sit down and develop and review a family financial manifesto. Not only would we benefit from the face to face communication regarding needs versus wants and check progress on our goals, but we’d have the opportunity to connect on what tools we need to maintain or acquire to keep on rolling.
It came to us late that we would want to identify and work towards equipping our household intentionally to further our gospel, family, church, and community work.
Let me make this a little more down to earth
The practice of intentional, authentic, heart changing hospitality has always been a shared commitment for my fine farmer and I. But, we rarely considered its impact on our food budget, the need to continually thrift for more dishes, investing in enough chairs, or sufficient drink ware, and more.
We have much greater clarity now on the true cost of hospitality, and we anticipate a full kitchen renovation this year (brown bag please, I’m hyperventilating…) as the farm kitchen that Libby offered when we bought her is quite literally rotting away.
We don’t argue or fuss about the capital outlay to realize the remodel. We talk about how the kitchen needs to function to serve the farm kids, the farm, and share the gospel in intentional and spontaneous hospitality.
Yes, we’ll lay down a wad of cash and we’ll labor long hours to realize this goal. But, we’ll also seek to be wise, resourceful, and committed to building the infrastructure that supports the philosophy and practices of Liberty Farm and our family.
And now, the last of my big ideas and important principles.
All this requires a commitment to incremental change.
None of us can do everything all the time.
We all have limited energy, opportunity, and resources to bring to any of these far reaching points.
And, if you’re already doing most if not all of these things well, I suspect you’ll want to do them better. So, little by little, you tweak, you nudge, you adjust, and you realize incrementally you've achieved greater success.
If you’re in an swirl of too much month at the end of the money, review these ideas and prayerfully consider which needs the most attention. Begin there. Slowly gather strength and press on to the next, and the next, and the next.
You can do it dear one.
And before long you’ll want to take it to the next level of developing specific habits.