I asked my good friend, Kerry, to talk about a theme that is near and dear to her heart, but also a theme which is so important to every person, especially stay-at-home moms, or those wanting to be, and that is, Saving Money–especially at Christmas!
Faith’s Firm Foundation: Is saving money at Christmas different than at other times?
Kerry: Saving money at Christmas can be a bit harder as there are so many deals out there and everyone else is buying stuff like crazy. You have to be disciplined and not get caught up in it. Set limits, I have a personal limit of $5. This does not mean I never buy anything over that price, but I do give anything over that price even more thought and prayer. Buying a big gift does not mean you like someone better than if you spend $5 and were able to buy something that really showed you knew this person and thought about who they are and what they like. And as at all times, never pay full price. Always check the clearance racks first. There are some exceptions but they are few. If you start with ground rules like this then you can deviate as needed but just buying at full price and on impulse will less likely become a way of life.
The real shopping starts in about three or four weeks. Then the sales get good. Have some money left to take advantage of them. They are great. And think long term. When they begin to clearance Christmas stuff, much of it will work well for birthday gifts, Easter basket fillers, even next Christmas. Often I start the year with a significant amount of my shopping for the next Christmas done. And at such a deal. The toy selection will never be this good until next Christmas–think birthdays. Just as September is the time to buy school supplies and underwear. This is the time for toy shopping if you have much of that to do. Buy ahead on school supplies, if you want markers to fill a Samaritan’s Purse box and didn’t buy them in September, it will be painful, double or more the price.
FFF: Tell us about yourself and why/how you got into “saving money as a science” or is it an artform?
Kerry: I come by being thrifty genetically. I also saw it lived out in both of my parents. We have a joke with my Dad asking him how many decades a particular pair of shoes or pants span–often more than 2. One of the great lessons my Mom taught me was unshopping–even before you purchase it.
We would go to a large store (think Target or WalMart) and she would push the cart around and we would find odds and ends that were useful or caught our eye. But before we ever checked out she would park somewhere and examine each item and much was put back. With some thought, we decided we just didn’t need it or enough was already spent.
That was a valuable lesson–much of what we buy we just don’t need. It is so much more fun to me to pray and patiently wait for items I want than to just go out and buy them. Anyone can do that. What a great blessing it is when something is found, a gift from your Father. It was also valuable for me to see them wait patiently for something, to save for it and to not only enjoy the item but the hunt. My Dad was bothersome by reminding us that an item not only cost the price of that item, but also the interest you were losing by not saving that money. That was so annoying, but it impacted me.
The why to saving became more clear as Phil (my husband) and I saved together. Even though he was the only one working we always made it a point to support missionaries. We saw God more than return our investment as we waited and searched out bargains. By spending less, we had more to give. And he made sure the missionaries got paid first; we lived with what was left. We have always used credit cards–but with one major rule. The day we could not completely pay one off, they all got cut up. As of now, we haven’t had to cut them up.
FFF: Does it take you a lot of extra time–will it take a lot more time in order to save money that will make a difference?)
Kerry: I don’t think it takes more time, it just take patience and thinking ahead. Anytime you need something now, you will likely have to pay full price. Every clearance rack I approach I am thinking ahead to birthdays, Christmas and such.
I shop fast most of the time. First, most of the time I limit myself to the clearance rack. If it is not there I have decided I don’t need it. That means there is a lot of the store I don’t need to check out. I do not examine things very closely unless I find something that catches my eye. Become familiar with the stores and determine who knows how to do a real sale. Season changes are the time to shop. I buy the most in January and August.
FFF: What are your “Top 5 Tips” for saving money?
Kerry: Some top rules:
- Tithe, all the time, do not let yourself get in debt to God
- Pray about everything you need
- Never pay full price
- Shop ahead, avoid needing it today, think ahead. Each year the kids will need a coat, deal with that in January when the coats are on clearance, not in September, when they are at full price.
- Buy used when you can and as it is available.
- Get by with less. My son taught me how few clothes he and I really need. As easy as it is to do laundry these days, go with less and with things you really like.
- Set limits!
Well, this is just the “tip of the iceberg,” as they say, to what this woman knows about the subject of saving money. In future weeks we will be hearing more from her, I hope.
I will be starting a new series in about a week (Wednesdays) on Saving Money. if you have specific questions you would like addressed, let me know by commenting.
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