In this lifestyle overhaul, another goal is to be a better saver.
Like a lot of young married couples these days, we started our marriage in debt. Not because we went overboard on our wedding, or honeymoon, or even our home. Our wedding was simple, but to me it was darn near perfect - it didn't really matter that we had a small budget. I made my favors (with the help of my awesome bridesmaids too, of course), didn't use real flowers, and even printed our own invitations (which I bought with coupons!). What mattered is that I actually got to marry the absolute greatest guy I've ever met. Heck, I just wanted him to get down the aisle and say "I Do" before he could change his mind. ;-)
About a year before we started dating, Paul purchased a foreclosed fixer-upper that he'd been diligently working on until the day we got married and I moved in. He had saved up money for quite some time to buy what is now our home, and slowly fixed it up one paycheck at a time. He didn't go into credit card debt, which still kind of amazes me. He is really wise with his money.
Enter me..... wise with money? Well, not so much. I didn't have a *ton* of debt coming in, but I did bring some with me. I feel bad for the fights I used to cause because I wanted things we just couldn't afford. I wanted to nest, set up house - and to me, that meant new furniture, new decorations, new carpet... but we just didn't have the cash. I wanted my home to look like so many of our friend's homes. But my Paully just held strong. He kept on me and reminded me we had debt to pay off, so I finally conceded.
Then we found our church home. One of the first sermons we heard was on tithing - a challenge issued by our Pastor to begin tithing and watch God work. We had always given to church, but it was sporadic. We weren't dedicated to giving at least 10% steadily back to the Lord. So, we prayed about it, accepted his challenge and began giving back to the Lord. After all, it's His money, can't He have some of it back?
I'll be honest - the first couple months were tough. It was hard to write that check, thinking how I could use it for groceries, or save it for furniture, or.... something. But what good is giving if I'm not doing it cheerfully? I sucked it up and continued anyway, praying that God would change my attitude.
More than 3 years later, we've kept our promise and are still tithing - and God has kept His promise to us ten-fold. Both of our attitudes have changed on it as well. We don't sigh writing the check or even really give it a second thought. It's what we do, end of story. We're giving God what is rightfully His.
We're not rich, far from it... but between the excellent guidance of my husband and our obedience in giving back to God, we rarely argue about money - which is huge. Our first year, that's one of the only things we ever argued about. I'm much more careful with how I spend money, and now I'm the one that's socking away money in savings. We still haven't gotten new furniture. Yes, I still want it - and we'll get it one day. The point is that we have furniture - and guess what? It functions pretty much the exact same way as new furniture would. It may have slip-covers, and it may be old... but it functions, and that's all we need.
So this post is called the $5 savings plan, right? Where does that come in? Right... now! I was looking for creative ways to save a little more and I discovered the $5 savings plan. It's so easy it's almost comical.
The $5 savings plan is this:
Any time you come into possession of a $5 dollar bill, you put it in a jar. (Or jug, or box, or under your mattress... wherever your sweet lil heart desires.) The point is, anytime you get a $5 bill - you put it away. That's it. It's funny how quick those $5 bills can add up.. and will you really notice that $5? Probably not. Let's be honest, $5 doesn't really get you much (unless you love that cheap-o fast food - and we're not eating that garbage, right?!) so why not put it away?