Thursday, June 11, 2009

Seriously! I haven't shared the money story???

One thing I know for sure - going natural is a whole-encompassing process. you think you're just changing your eating habits to be healthier. Then you realize that how you clean affects your health. Then you realize how you sleep (what you sleep on) affects your health - sometimes critically. I would like to propose that how we use and view money and material possessions is just as critical to living a natural life.

In the Dr. Pepper years, my husband and I enjoyed the fruits of our careers. We spent money, borrowed money and lived highly off of "cream of something" casseroles and eating out. In one year of marriage, we created close to $70,000 in debt (plus a house purchase). Oh yeah, we had school loans, borrowed a down payment from parents and of course, we accidentally bought a timeshare.

Seven years later (yup, doing the math - we've been married eight years) we are debt free! It was not easy. We sold our house and now we rent (which we really love renting). We were both working for the first part of the journey so everything I made (after giving to the church) went against the debts. Later, when we went into the ministry, we were still not out of debt, but we kept saving what little we could to put toward the debt. Our main resource was Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey. We highly recommend!

Our pursuit of natural living fits so well with a traditional view of money. I like the depression-era saying of "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." Every time we "repurpose" something we already have, or find something cool on freecycle, or discover a treasure at the Salvation Army - we are living that natural life. Our great-grandparents made butter, wore all cotton clothing, used cash to buy things. That is beautiful picture of where I want to be.

So here's a little bit of practical to go along with the inspiration. We use cash for most catagories that "get out of hand. As much as possible goes on auto billpay and the debit card is hardly used except for gas (safer to pay at the pump with kids in the car). Each of us "manages" certain envelopes for the areas we use the most.

My envelopes: groceries (our CSA prefers cash anyway :-), home furnishings (aka Salvation Army & craigslist), children's clothing, Hair/ grooming (I manage three heads of hair), supplements, gifts (I am the primary shopper, but I just hand Pete the money we had budgetted when my birthday, Christmas or Mother's Day comes up) and my personal money which goes for my clothes and whatever I would like (magazines, coffee, etc).

Pete's envelopes: Home maintenance (we rent, but there are always "projects"), car maintenence, technology (in our house there has to be a technology budget ;-), dating (pays for babysitting and eating out), activities/trips (we go visit family 3+ hours away fairly frequently), vacation, and his personal money which is the same as me - clothes and the occasional indulgence.

We like each having oversight for the envelopes. If we make an online purchase or accidentally forget our cash and we use the debit card, we have to put the cash into an "Oops" envelope. That cash is then recycled to the next pay period when we refill the envelopes. Just starting out, it took a while (months) to work out the system to function and make sure we had the right amounts in the envelopes. We're still tweaking things and as "seasons change" so do our budget lines and amounts. Happy natural finances!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is so encouraging! Thanks for sharing so freely from your lives. I'd love to hear more day-to-day money-saving tips at staff conference! We looove Dave Ramsey and are always taking thrify advice :)