Friday, October 30, 2009

Appliances pt 2

I'm learning more and more about saving money on all sorts of things. Here are some tips we've picked up over the last few years about getting good deals on larger purchases. For part one of getting great deals on major purchases, click here.

First of all, do your research. Know what you want and why you want it. Pick out your model and get familiar with the costs associated with each of the features. Know about the models above and below that one, and which features you're willing to let go of to get a different model at a bargain price.

I think everyone knows about price comparing. Visit different retailers- in person and online. Check out the major stores, as well as the discount stores. Sometimes there will be a special in store that they're not running online, or vice versa. Get an idea of how much your item is selling for and which places have the best prices. What kinds of sales do they have? Are there any other promotions you can take advantage of?

Consider purchasing second hand. Sites like e-bay and craigslist are the favorites in our home. Make sure you really know what you're getting before you make any bids or phone calls. This is where knowing how much it costs new can really help you out. Generally, you should be able to find something used for at 10% off, but could get it for as low as 50% off depending on the product and the demand for that item.

Most of my second-hand purchases are for kids' items. Garage sales, consignment sales, and thrift stores are great places to find baragains. Sales like Neat Repeatz and Take 2 here in Lincoln are where I get most of my shopping done for the year. I haven't been brave enough to take all my kids to a garage sale in quite a while, but I believe that's where some of the best deals can be found, and you can have fun bargaining, as well!

Recently, I was looking for an infant swing. New, they're anywhere in the $60-$200 price range. I figured out which brands should get me a $20 swing and kept my eye on craigslist for several weeks. Nothing was coming to my price point, and I began considering the need to spend more than that. But wait! Here comes Take 2, and not only did they have a swing for $20, but there were two to choose from!

Look for the clearance, returns, scratches, and overstocks. These are usually found in a back corner somewhere. If the store is big enough, there will be an outlet store or something like it "nearby." Last summer, we needed a new dishwasher. We just happened to get a $75 rebate off our particular brand because of some problem with a feature we didn't even use. Within the time frame of using that coupon, ours actually broke- it's a lot nicer to run a dishwasher if the dishes get cleaned and the water stays inside! So, we went to a store that was doing some appliance promotional, as well. We found our dishwasher on clearance because the new year's model came out the week before! I can't remember what we spent, but after clearance price, sale, and rebate, we paid less than half the original cost of the dishwasher. At that point, even the most basic model they had would have cost us more money!

Have a budget and stick to it. This is a lot easier if you're planning to pay with cash. It's amazing what will happen when you say something like, "we'll just write a check" when they go into their store credit card speech. It makes me wonder how much time they spend on those that just get turned down. We were at a furniture overstock-like store to purchase some couches. They were a "special buy" and with the 10% off weekend, we thought we were getting a great deal. I was wandering around again while Greg waited for a salesman. I found a beautiful dining room table. Originally priced around $1800, it was marked under $300! The salesman even went to see if it would qualify for the 10% off! Anyways, he was moving kind of slowly with our purchases until we said we'd write a check. Boy, did he move fast then! The same thing happens on the car lot. They don't seem to know what to do with you if you pull out a checkbook! Dave Ramsey says to bring cash in, but we haven't tried that, yet.

Buying in multiples. This is the way stores like Sam's Club operate, but it can work on other things, as well. We love the Slumberland clearance section and often use part of a date night to wander around in there. One time we found three of the chairs for our dining room in the return section. Of course, we asked for a deal if we bought all three. Of course, we got it!

Be willing to walk away. This is especially important when shopping for something that you will actually bargain for- cars, furniture, etc. We were looking trade our car in for a van and had a certain amount of money to spend above that- and it wasn't very much. We didn't need the van, yet, so were able to walk away when the dealership wasn't willing to come down on the model we were looking at or show us anything in our price range. Just two days later, the dealership called and offered us the van for what we had! We got an exceptional deal because we knew our budget before going in and were willing to walk away. This is a lot easier to do this if you're paying in cash and the item isn't an urgent need.

Have we missed out on other deal opportunities? How do you get the best bang for you buck when you make a larger purchase? I'd love to hear some of your ideas for getting a great deal. We'll try them out when we make our next large purchase!

If you're looking for other ways to save some money, check out some other links at Frugal Fridays.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How Cheap Can You Be?

I've recently entered the world of couponing. A few weeks ago I posted about my first "deal trip" and I thought it was amazing. Last week I had another trip, that I thought was pretty great, too. But this is absolutely amazing! She feeds a family of six for $4 a week! The principles that she uses are the same ones that I've started applying. Maybe I'll get there, too! If only we had the room to store all of our deals...

I love the chicksdigdeals website. Here in Nebraska, they compile a list of all the coupons in the Sunday paper and match them each week with store sales. I started visiting their site last spring, just for the convenience of checking all the store ads in one location. Now I'm hooked on couponing!

You may notice that there's a link on their site to get the Lincoln paper- Sun and Wed for $1/week. That's a great way to get coupons and the store flyers, especially if you decide to do some price matching. Here are some other website for coupon printing that I've found. So far, I've been able to get all of my deals solely from online and in-store coupons.

Most grocery stores have a few coupons on their websites. And of course, check out the manufacturer websites for coupons, as well. Some people find it helpful to set up another e-mail account just for all their coupons and newsletters.

What's the best way to get a great deal? Match a coupon with a store sale. Even better is to put a store coupon on top of that! And if another store has that prouduct on sale, price match! For example, last week the Keebler cookies were on sale 2/$4 at one store. But I had a $1 off 2 store coupon at another store. Plus a manufacturer's coupon for $1.50 off 2. So, if I took my ad to that second store and used both my coupons I could get two packages of Keebler cookies for $1.50. It turns out that the second store had dropped their in-store price to match the competitor, so I didn't need to price match, but I was going to!

And because I can't contain myself any longer, here's the picture from my trip last week. I spent $6.80 on all the food you see in the photo! 2 boxes Kashi cereal, 2 boxes of whole wheat pasta, 2 packages Keebler cookies, 6 jars of Ragu sauce, 1 box Fiber one pastries, and 2 pounds of bananas. I used somewhere around $13 in coupons. I think I need to start framing my receipts!

My goal for the month of November is to buy only deals. That may not work perfectly- I'm out of potatoes, but I'm going to try!

What kinds of deals can you find? How cheap can you be?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Appliances pt 1

"In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." Psalm 50:3

Much of my time and energy is spent in getting great deals on the things that we need for daily life- food, diapers, toilet paper... But everyone needs to make a larger purchase at some time or another. Whether it's a necessity or something more fun, there are lots of ways to get great deals on those larger purchases. Not the least of which, is asking the Lord for a great deal- pray for those appliances

I'm not kidding. God has given you a responsibility over the money you have. Of course, He wants you to get a good deal. Every major item in our home was purchased at an incredible deal (and most minor things, too). We have a budget in mind when we walk into the store and ask God to give us something great. This is the same God who fed 5000 people from what basically amounted to one boy's lunch box.

The first time I experienced was when we purchased our home. We were now in need of some appliances. We thought we could hold off on the washer and dryer, but a refrigerator was necessary. In order to save money, we first looked at second hand appliance stores. Any of you who have done this may know that they are not the best options. We decided that this was a purchase that would be worth the cost of buying new. So, we headed off to do some comparison shopping.

When we got to one particular store, I was tired and slightly frustrated. Even the most basic models were out of the price range we had thought to spend. So, as we walk across the parking lot, I say, "Dear God, please give us a good refrigerator for under $500. In Jesus' name, Amen." It was a simple prayer, and not said very reverently, but it was one that the Lord decided to answer! We found one we like that was $550. We were pretty excited! It wasn't quite as low as we had hoped, but better than anything else we had seen. As Greg waited for a salesman, I was wandering around. Back in the corner, I found what looked like the same one, for over $100 less. It was marked as a return and it turned out that the only thing wrong was a scuff mark on the side- that would be covered by the counters in our new house! With taxes and all, our total was $505. Go God!

I have story after story of other large purchases that we have made- cars, dishwashers, cameras, and more. Do you have any tips that have helped you walk away with great deals?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How Do You Do It?

I have four children- 6, 5, 3, and 16 mos. Oh yeah, there's a new one coming in December, too! I often get comments about my children- how many we have, how close they are together, the fact that we homeschool. The comment I hear most often is "how do you do it?" Usually followed by "I wouldn't have the patience." Well, quite honestly, I don't have the patience, either!

What I do have is a loving Lord who grants the strength I need each and every day- usually each and every moment! I have my days of yelling at the kids and not discipling them with the proper mind-frame. I also have the grace that comes from the Lord to know that I can ask Him and my kids for forgiveness and we can all move on. I know that I am not the one who determines how my kids turn out. It is in the Lord's hands. I have to do my part, but how they turn out is not in my control.

So, how do I do it? Time with the Lord. Time with Him at His feet listening to his heartbeat. He loves me. He loves my kids. When I listen to the Lord's heartbeat, I know exactly where my focus should be each day- teaching my kids about our awesome God, and training them in Godly character, molding their hearts to love the Lord. The dishes, the worksheets, the laundry, all are put in their proper perspective when I'm listening to the Lord's heartbeat for my family.

When I'm not listening to the Lord's heart, everyone around me can tell. I'm frantic, racing from one project to another, not paying attention to my kids's spiritual growth. I'm focused on a clean house, gourmet meals, and how many worksheets we've done. All of these things need to be done, but within the framework of loving and training my children.

I'm not perfect. I spend way to much time on the latter than the former. It's hard to find time with the Lord when there are all these kids always around me. But quite honestly, it doesn't need to take that much time. Some worship music while making breakfast, a read through a psalm or two during a school break, some prayer time while folding laundry. I've even found that the children's Bibles are a great resource for speaking to me, while reading to them!

So, here's my question to you. Whether you have one child or twenty, it's draining to be responsible for them 24/7. How do you do it? What gives you strength and encouragement in your day? How do you carry on? I can't wait to hear from you!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Having been sick for several weeks, it takes a lot out of me to plan a meal and cook it. I'm so thankful for a system in which I plan my menu for the week and for having stocked up on sale items so I don't need to hit the grocery store this week. Another great idea for a sick mommy is children who are capable of preparing a simple meal. Mine help out often enough, but only once has my oldest made dinner mostly by himself. I think it's time to make sure they can measure things for themselves, and read a recipe properly! Next time I'm sick, I'll make sure we're stocked up with the ingredients for some basic meals, and have them do it all!

Breakfasts- oatmeal, muffins, fruit, milk ($4)
Lunches- PB&J, pretzels/popcorn, fruit, milk ($3)
Monday- Venison steaks, rice and broccoli, Peach Cobbler ($2)
Tuesday- (Date Night) kids- bean and cheese burritos, juice ($1)
Wednesday- red beans and rice ($2)
Thursday- Lasagna ($2)
Friday- Pizza Night ($2-3)
Saturday- Chili and Cornbread ($3-4)
Sunday- eat what you want night (leftovers)

For more great ideas to help you plan your menu, visit Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I typically write my menu out for one month at a time. Typically, it's about this time of the month that I look at the calendar and wonder why I wrote those meals down. I'm not a slave to my calendar, though, and I re-wrote the meals for this week! Most of these items are in my pantry already, too, having been purchased at a discount from regular store prices. If you haven't seen my previous post about learning about coupons, check it out here!

Breakfasts: Muffins, Cereal, Bagels, Milk (appx $3)
Lunches: PB&J Sandwiches, Apples, Pretzels/Popcorn, Milk (appx $3)
Monday- Hot Dogs
Hot dogs, Buns, Fried Potatoes ($2)
Tuesday- Breakfast Night
Waffles or Panacakes ($1-2)
Wednesday- Taco Casserole
Taco Meat, Refried Beans, Tortillas, Salsa, Sour Cream ($2-3)
Thursday- Chicken Bake
Chicken Breasts, Brown Rice, Broccoli ($3)
Friday- Pizza Night
Frozen pizza ($3)
Saturday- Grilled Cheese
Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese ($2-3)
Sunday- Eat what you want night
i.e. leftovers

My estimated cost for these meals is $20-25. That should feed two adults and four kids. That's my plan for the week! Check out with others are planning this week at Organized Junkie.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Good Deal vs Great Deal

Last week, we had one of the ladies from the "Chicks Dig Deals" blog speak at our MOPS group. It was great to hear from a "couponing" mom who's been doing it for awhile. Being good stewards of the money the Lord has given us is a great motivation for getting the best deals. It's kind of fun, too! I've been following their blog for several months. It was nice to see where the best deals on different products was at, so I could choose which store to shop at each week. But I think it's time to go ahead and start the process of clipping coupons and not just getting a good deal, but getting a great deal.

This week, for the first time, I took the plunge and went to the store with the express purpose of getting some deals. Last night I spent some time going through each store's ad (made vastly easier by the fact that the "Chicks" had already done so!) to figure out which store had the best deals on the things that I wanted to buy and had coupons for.

So, here's my haul!
1 Betty Crocker potatoes pouch (Reg .99, Sale .69, -.40 MQ)
2 pkgs Keebler chocolate chip cookies (Reg 3.89 each, Sale 2/$4, -1.50 MQ)
9 pack of Charmin big rolls (Reg 5.75, Sale 4.39, -1.00 MQ)
4.3 lbs Braeburn apples (Reg 7.69, Sale 2.92, -.30 sticky coupon)
16 oz Bird's Eye frozen broccoli (Reg 1.99, Sale .77, -.35 MQ)
2 Coffee-Mate flavored creamers (Reg 2.58 each, Sale 2/$3, -1.50 MQ)
My total was $11.03
My savings from sales $13.61
My savings from coupons $5.05
My total savings was $18.66

I thought I was getting great deals before, but this is amazing! Granted, the cookies and the creamer wouldn't have been on my list without them being such a great deal. But come on, they were a great deal! Actually, that reminds me of one of the points she made last week. "The goal is not to "save" money. The goal is to spend less." (I think I'm going to write this on my coupon folder!) If I'm spending money on items I wouldn't have bought because I'm "saving" money, it's not helpful to me or my budget. Some things are nice to have on hand, though, and it's okay to spend the money on instant mashed potatoes for that night that I don't want to cook because then I won't be spending it in the drive-thru!

So, if you've seen any of my weekly meal plans and accompanying cost estimates, you may have wondered how I can feed my family of six for under $30 every week. One reason is because I tend to buy things I use a lot when they're on sale rather than waiting until I need them and paying full price. I'm excited to learn more about coupons and seeing how little I can spend!

You can see how others live frugally over at Life As Mom.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Will You Be Satisfied?

"I am not saying this because I have need for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." ~Phil. 4:11

It was a couple of years after Greg had been laid off. He had a job, just not in his field, not making as much. I was done. Ready to be over this trial. Ready for the Lord to say we had learned what we needed to and we could now move on. So, of course, I was crying. Sobbing, more like it. I was tired of skimping and saving. I was tired of waiting. I had a picture in my head of what our life should look like, and this was not it!

My wise husband challenged me with these words, "What if this is it? Will you be satisfied if this is all that God ever gives us?" Initially, that just made me cry harder! But, of course, he was asking me the right questions. Would I be content with what the Lord gave to me, or would I sit around and be miserable waiting for something that I perceived as "better?"

I was able to look at our life and see that God was providing for us. All of our needs were being met. We were even paying down debt and had a little "fun" money, too. I could learn, like Paul, to be content in my circumstances. I realized that if I couldn't be content with what I have now, I would never be content with what I was given more in the future. I could choose to be satisfied with the life the Lord had given and to be thankful and full of praise.

After all, Paul was in chains and imprisoned and shipwrecked and lots of other bad stuff. He had found a way to put his hope in the Lord no matter his circumstances. I had a warm house, plenty to eat, a loving family- I could find a way, too. I would choose to be satisfied and content.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Free" Money

Search & Win

I think I'm in love with a search engine. The more I use it, the more I love it. It's not that it's that much different or better than others- it actually uses the power of google to run the searches. What's great is that they pay me to use their site!

Well, they pay me with "swagbucks." These can be translated into prizes, gift cards, and even a payment to my pay pal account. Now, I don't earn every time I search. But I do earn a couple "bucks" a day. There are other ways to earn, too- turning in old electronics, searching for special promo codes, entering a lottery system. All I've done is search. And last week, I made my husband get an account through my referral link. :) I've been signed up for five weeks or so and have just cashed in for my first prize! I will be getting a $5 Amazon gift card. Just for changing my search engine! How cool is that?

Check out Swagbucks and see what you think! Use my referral link!

My Faves- Internet Resources

I love the internet. There's a plethora of information and resources out there. Sometimes I get sucked in and spend WAY to much time in front of the computer. When used wisely, the internet offers a great place to get recipes, coupons, tips, and ideas. Here are some of my favorites. I check each of these websites at least weekly, and all too often, daily! As moms we're in charge of both how much we spend on food and what goes into our families bodies. A great resource to help you with both! Deals, recipes, and other ideas for cutting your expenses. A great blog with lots of helpful hints and tips for getting great deals and making your money work for you. She has a couple of other sites that I think you'll like, too. Check out the sidebar. An awesome website for here in Lincoln and Omaha. They go through the store ads and match the sales up with coupons. They even have a list of all the current coupons that come out of the paper! Takes a lot of work out of getting the best deals for my family. I just log in before shopping, print my coupons and go! A great website that offers truly frugal meal ideas! Includes recipes and approximate cost per meal. A web site that offers coupons and ways trade coupons with other moms. I just signed up for this site and look forward to learning how to use all the resources it offers. Feel good about all those unused coupons when you donate them to overseas military families!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I picked up some great grocery deals in the last two weeks and stocked up on some items. Mostly meat. My freezer is pretty full and my weekly grocery lists for the rest of the month are going to be pretty minimal. Just some dairy and produce each week! This week, we have one free meal (yay!) because of hunting and gardening. And one or more of these meals may get switched if I can figure out what to do with the two ice cream pails full of green roma tomatoes I was able to pull before the snow (yes, snow) this weekend. If you have any green tomato recipes, share them now!

Breakfasts- oatmeal or eggs, bananas or apples, milk ($2-3)
Lunches- PB&J, pretzels or popcorn, apples or grapes or carrots, milk ($5)
Monday- Venison roast, potatoes, squash (free!)
Roast and potatoes in the crockpot with onions and garlic
Bake squash and serve with butter and brown sugar
Tuesday- Chicken potpie casserole ($2-3)
NEW Chicken, cream soup, mixed veggies, biscuit dough
Wednesday- Fried rice ($1-2)
Leftover venison, rice, mixed veggies, soy sauce, spices
Thursday- Quesadillas ($1-2)
Tortillas, cheese, salsa, sour cream
Friday- Birthday dinner out (budgeted separately from groceries)
Saturday- Pizza night ($2-3)
Pizza dough, tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, sausage
Sunday- lunch with (10 or so) friends- Tomato Soup, Grilled Cheese, Apple Crisp ($5-6)
Tomato sauce, chicken broth, spices
Bread, cheese, butter
Apples, oatmeal, flour, cinnamon
dinner- Eat what you want night (leftovers!)

The cost for our meals this week is in the $20 range. For two adults and four kiddos.
That's our plan! For more menu ideas, check out the Organizing Junkie's website.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Healthy Eating on a Budget, pt 2

It's hard to eat healthy and serve the family healthy meals. Especially on a budget. When I'm standing in the grocery store and I have a choice between a cheap store brand or a healthy, whole grain, organic option that costs three to four times as much, guess which one I choose? I'm on a budget! Of course I go for cheap! But at what expense to my family's health? Let's continue our discussion of healthy choices while maintaining the budget...

So, what about whole grains? Store brand bread is so cheap, but we all know that whole grains is what we're supposed to be eating. In Lincoln, I have found a bread store that carries good wholesome breads and other baked goods. I go once a month (because it's on the other side of town) and purchase the reduced bread and stick it in my freezer. I also get bagels, english muffins, and other things as I find them on the reduced shelf. In this way I can get 100% whole grain items for $1/package. That's much better than the $3 the same product will be in the store! I haven't priced the cost of making a loaf of bread in a while, but if you're home and have the time to keep on eye on rising bread dough, that's definetly another option to look into. Especially if you need to use specialty flours to avoid gluten.

I know there are many folks out there who are going organic. In our area, organic is still more costly than "regular" products. I think that the same principles of couponing and waiting for sales to stock up will apply, but the cost probably isn't going to get quite as low as with the non-organic items. I've also wondered if the produce is going to be peeled before being eaten if it's making a difference anyways. Does anyone out there know?

And meat...there's something you can't find a coupon for! I always check for the "manager's special" stickers. This means that it has a sell by date of usually today or tomorrow. I'm just going to take it home and stick it in my freezer, anyways! I recently grabbed up several 1 lb rolls of ground turkey and a couple of pork sausage for less than $1 each this way. This is also how I get roasts, pork chops, and chicken breasts. Of course, stretch your meat farther by cutting it into casseroles or stir fry rather than cooking a roast or steak. It's a lot easier to control portion sizes this way. I'm also lucky in that my husband hunts and fishes. One deer (even a small one) can almost provide a meal a week for our family for a whole year. Needless to say, I don't buy beef, anymore!

And I would tend to think that the special diet items would have a similar concept. Scour the websites and papers for coupons and hold onto them until a sale for the maximum savings. Because there's only one or two brands to choose from, it may take longer for a great deal to come your way, but be ready for them!

I had to go dairy-free when I was nursing the baby and in some ways I saved money- less ice cream and cheese. But there were other products with hidden dairy that I had to avoid- most seasoning mixes and even my non-dairy creamer! For our family, having more stir fry and fewer casseroles with creamed soups was both cheaper and healthier.

If you're looking for more frugal ideas, head over to Life as Mom for Frugal Fridays and read lots more tips!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Healthy Eating on a Budget pt 1

It's fall again. That time of year when cider and hot chocolate make my day just that much better. I don't like being cold, and it sure is windy in Nebraska, so it's not typically my favorite season. Add to that the rising prices of produce, and I'll take summer back, thank you!

We all know that if we want to eat healthy and we have a limited budget to stay away from processed foods. The Hamburger Helper, the chips, the cookies, etc. The problem is that if you're into couponing, these are the items that you can pick up for pennies if you know how to work the system. And what about special diets? Sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free? All of these items are still more costly than their counterparts.

It's fine to pick prepared boxed items up when they're good deals. There's always a time when you just don't want to or don't have the time to cook. Grabbing a boxed mix that you paid little to nothing for cannot be much worse than pulling through your favorite fast food restaurant, and much cheaper, too! These are also great to have on hand for those times when you would like to donate an item to a food pantry or canned food drive.

What's a mom on a budget to do when produce is so expensive? I know that I should feed my kids a variety of fruits and vegetables. I know that eating fresh is better for them. But when I walk into the produce aisle, I cringe at the prices. I often end up with the frozen variety, which is almost as good. I just have a hard time thinking of ways to use frozen fruit in a way that's not a smoothie or a dessert cobbler!

Stocking up in the summer and freezing things myself is another option for having produce all year long. Sometimes a store will have a coupon for something like bananas or raspberries at a great deal. It's tough finding a sale or coupon on produce, but they can be found. Mostly, I'm thinking that it's a matter of good food storage practices. Take a look at my previous post on storing summer produce. The same methods apply whether you've grown the produce yourself, or purchased them cheaply at the grocery store.

Check back tomorrow for more deal-finding tips on healthy food items. We'll talk about whole-grains, going organic, and more!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

God Owns Everything

"For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills." ~Psalm 50:10

There are Powerball billboards all over Lincoln. Whenever I see one I think, "Man, what I could do with $50 million. Surely God would bless the lottery ticket if I purchase one." Then one day it hit me- God owns all the cattle on a thousand hills. I tried to picture the immensity of that amount of land and investment. If God owns all of that, and I have a need, I think that He has the resources to provide for me!

I have several stories that illustrate God's provision in my own life. People showing up with hand me down clothes for my children, or extra produce from their garden. There was one time when I had a desire to go to a conference. My husband had been laid off for over a year, was working a temp job, and had no paid vacation time. There was no way we could afford to go to the conference, especially given that he wouldn't be paid for the time. I said, "If God gives us the money for the conference can we go?" And my husband agreed that he wouldn't argue with God!

Just a few days later he came home from helping a friend work on his car. This family had offered to pay for our registration costs so we could go to the conference! I could hardly believe it! Now, we just had to work things out so we wouldn't be hit so hard with a week of no pay. But who was I kidding- God is in control and He owns everything. Also during that week, two other friends approached my husband with odd jobs that they needed someone to take care of. The combined about for their jobs covered the week's worth of pay he would miss by going to the conference! God is incredible and truly has the resources to provide for everything we need, and even some things that are just nice to have.

But what about the boxes of kids' clothes in the closet? And the piles of unused craft supplies in boxes? And the closet full of stuff we can't even remember what we put in there? Getting rid of things that you're holding on to for "someday" is another way of showing trust in the Lord for His provision. By getting rid of the things that you're not using, you're telling God that you trust Him to provide for your needs when they occur. There's no need to horde things you may never use "just in case."

Don't get me wrong- my boys are eighteen months apart and my girls are 24 months apart. I hold on to clothes for future use. My rule is if I know I'll use it in the next year, or even two, to go ahead and keep it, otherwise we pass it on to someone who can actually use it. We'll trust that the Lord will provide for our needs as they come along. And we'll give Him the opportunity to show His power and might by putting ourselves in a position to need Him.