At Church, we always hear those stories about how people didn't have enough money to tithe and they did with faith, and then someone showed up at their house with food or a job opportunity. I've always listened bewildered with a bit of pessimism and doubt.
We have enough money to tithe. That wasn't the issue. It was more that we make money, and yet we spend money, and at the end of the day, we don't have a lot of money saved, and most months, we go into the red. So I began to analyze and compare.. the latter being the dangerous one. I thought of all our resident friends with a lot of kids, with kids enrolled in private schools AND activities, and wondered, gee how do they make it work? Is it because they aren't giving 10% of their money to a Church? They might be Catholic or Jewish, or some other religious denomination, but it's still difficult to not stop and wonder how others do it. I ask my close friends what they spend on their monthly grocery bill and it ranges from how the heck do they survive spending that little?! to ohh okay, that's more along what we spend. There's not absolute answer of "this is what you are doing wrong." Different people, different spending habits, different appetites for different things. But it is still frustrating and unsettling and most of all, STRESSFUL.
Andy asked me the question the other day, how are we making more money but saving less of it?
I DON'T KNOW!
In an effort to cut down, we could give up cable. We could also give up dining out on the weekends. And a lot of other things. But I guess I'm just not sure how all the little stuff adds up so quick. We've decided with 4 kids, we need to cut back on the amount of activities our kids attend. I'm not dealing with the timing of when expenses hit, making sure I time our automatic billing so we have money in the account before it's taken out. To be honest, I've never dealt with this because I'm usually very good at saving and pretty frugal with my spending. While my income went up when I was working, I kept my contribution rates on an incline so that my take home was about the same, so I lived off of a first year associate's salary for five plus years and saved enough to have a hefty 401k and enough to put a down payment on a home. But without a firm footing the bill for most of my meals, and with four little ones running around doing stuff, life gets expensive.
So I've been couponing. And pretty much looking at our expenses on a daily basis. I am monitoring it DAILY now. Yes, I am a bit obsessed.
Recently, I was talking to two friends about couponing and expressing my concern with how expensive life is becoming. I got to hear experiences about how others do the same stuff I've been doing with stocking up on goods while on sale, and shopping smarter, and it felt good to know I wasn't alone. Really really good. And then my one friend told me she gets free or discounted meat from her MIL. I forget the reason why, but she offered to call me next time she got some if I wanted in. I said, "YES PLEASE!" with much enthusiasm and joy. This was about a week ago.
Last night, she texted me that she dropped off two boxes of frozen meat at my house.
It filled up my 10% full before freezer and we have enough meat to probably last us through the summer. This, my friends, is a true tithing miracle. It may not be the "we did not have enough food to eat" scenario, but I had just told Andy that we could truly save a bit if we had ramen or mac'n'cheese about twice a week from here on out and ate very simple grilled cheese or tuna and egg salads for dinner. It is not much, but it is my tithing miracle. And it makes me remember that the Lord is looking out for us, even if we think it's just a coincidence, or act of kindness from someone else. He really is looking after us.