A while back a friend said, “David, now let’s talk money…how do you do your budget?”
As far as our income and expenses, I am a pastor and my wife works part time (2.5 days/week) as a public school teacher, we live in Southern California so you do the math. We live paycheck to paycheck.
Inspite of that, we give almost 20% of our income to charitable organizations. We believe God is pleased when we give. We don’t give out of plenty, or obligation, but out of a belief that God wants us to give to others.
How do we make ends meet?
– First, we feel God has already given us more than we need. We live in a mansion, our children all have their own room, our bedroom is bigger than most people’s homes, our house is worth a ton of $, we are in our mid/late 30’s, and are relatively healthy.
– Debt, we drive used cars that are both payed for. I pay for seminary out of our own pocket (big sacrifice and it means 10 year plan). We have credit card debt around $4k left from our remodel which we pay $300.00 on each month. No car debt, no clothes debt.
– Starbucks. We don’t eat out, we don’t get Starbucks. We brew our own Smart N Final coffee every day, and Rachelle makes dinner (even after working all day), 4x a week. I make dinner 1x/week.
– Baby sitting. We pay $700.00/month in baby sitting, but Lucy also helps us by cooking 1x/week and cleaning the bathrooms and vaccuum 1x/week.
– Lawn mow, oil change. I mow the lawn 2x/month or so, and change the oil every 3-4 months. That saves us about $100.00 every 2 months.
– We use coupons for groceries, and again we DON’T EAT OUT! Eating out is usually 20-30% of people’s expenses. We don’t do McDonalds’ for lunch, Chili’s for dinner, or Steak House on the weekends.
– Movies, DVD’s – we rent 2-3 movies per month, fun for us.
– We use Debit card not a credit card for monthly expenses so we are only spending what we have.
– We write Debit purchases in check register immediately.
– We shop with a list and only buy what we need. We go into a store with a plan and buy just that.
– We buy 20lbs of chicken when it’s on sale at $1.77/lb. Watch for any meat sales. This is the most expensive item.
– We save $100/month for car expenses, etc.
These choices allow us to do greater things. We do family vacations every year, this year we went to Oregon. We do marriage vacations once a year, this year it was Pasadena. We bought half the ticket for my mom to visit us this summer from Nicaragua ($700.00). We had so much fun together.
Our budget is tight, and like most, we’d love a 10% raise and I wish R’ didn’t work. But this is because of the choices we make each month to live in plenty in things that matter and live in little in things that don’t matter (like Starbucks brewing up new drink prices). And we get to own a home in Southern California, not a bad deal, although we sometimes feel like moving.
Basically, R’ works so we can have a babysitter and give to charity. If she didn’t work, we couldn’t give 20% away. Instead of her not working (which she is ready to do), we are giving half her income to charity. We can live off of my income alone, but we couldn’t give as generously, but we’d still give for sure!
In a year or two, R’ will stop working, and then either my salary will need to go up by 15% in the next two years (good luck!), or we downsize and rent out our upstairs room (which is basically an apartment for 2 single or married people.) For now, we’ve told the Lord Jesus that our upstairs room is for missionaries in our city that may need a place to stay. We have an extra empty room downstairs where R’ and I can sleep.
So my question to you is: How much do you give? I could ask you many other questions, and you may say you can’t give because you can’t afford it. But the reason we do a budget and keep to it is not so that we can have more for US, but so that we can give to OTHERS. This is our #1 budget conviction and we believe is the reason why we feel like millionaires.
Have a great day.
Into the future,