January Freeze

We are in a freeze.  The freeze will last through March and maybe through July.

I am not talking about the weather.  I am talking about the bank account.

Just recently, Stephen and I were asked to lead our church youth group on a mission’s trip to the Dominican Republic with Compassion this summer.   Because all our girls go to the youth group, and love Compassion, and we have a sponsored child in the Dominican Republic, and  my girls want the opportunity to deliver shoes, we committed our entire family to go… wait, wait, do you see the dollar signs flashing? It’s going to take some serious creativity to save for us all to go to the Dominican Republic. For about a year, we have been planning this other trip to Europe for Spring Break.  We cashed in all our frequent flier miles, we cashed in hotel points and we put deposits down on our other expenses. There is no turning back. We wanted our girls to meet history with art, food and French and Italian culture. We have saved along time for this vacation, and Stephen and I have been excited to do something different than the third world.

But the Dominican Republic was not in the plans.

By the way, my kitchen could sure use a remodel, and our upstairs carpet is getting pretty worn… Another lifetime I suppose.

So, to afford this opportunity…we are cutting costs. My girl’s will be doing fundraisers and raising support with the other young people going, and we will be saving…and saving…and saving.

So here is what we are doing to save money.

  1. We are not eating out at all, not even fast food.
  2. I am planning meals for the week, and then grocery shopping with a list.  First time in my life for this.
  3. I am shopping at Winco and Walmart. Uggg…that is all I have to say.
  4. No clothing purchases.  After Christmas, we told the girls that we would not be shopping for anything.
  5. I am dressing warmer.  I like my house warm, but am learning to live with less heat.  I layered my clothes today with a bathrobe. Attractive huh?
  6. No luxury spending on pre-made or post made foods.
  7. I colored my own roots… no hairdresser this month.  (Savings $80) Turned out ok and the gray is still gone and my hair did not fall out.
  8. No Starbucks.  Serious savings by drinking all my coffee I purchased in Ethiopia.  Hoping it will last until March when I return to Ethiopia.
  9. No more home phone!  It’s gone!
  10. Less driving.  Trying to minimize all the trips and driving our smaller car around.

I admit, it’s not very fun to be in a spending freeze.  But we must do it if we are going to save for these trips.

So, what are some other ideas?

I am not willing to take cold showers, so leave that one out, but if you have some other ideas, send them my way!

22 Comments on “January Freeze

  1. Hear are some ideas for saving money. Since food is probably one of the number expense for most families I challenge you to quit buying prepared foods and cook everything from scratch. This requires a stocked pantry with the basics for preparing many different meals without heading to the store everyday. I am listing foods I always keep on hand and I almost never buy prepared foods.
    Basics include: fresh onions, celery, carrots and garlic. They will keep well for several weeks or longer. Keep on hand several varieties of pastas (whole wheat taste just as good and better for you), rice, and potatoes. Several varieties of beans and canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and paste are also a must. Never buy fresh vegetable unless they are on sale. Stock up on frozen vegetable when they are on sale. Buy meat when it is on sale (never meat that has been previously frozen unless your putting it in the freezer for later use). Chicken is usually a good buy as is italian turkey sausage. They both can be used in soups and sauces. I almost never buy beef unless it is a special dish or occasion. Think of your freezer as your best friend. I divide leftovers into individual portions and package them in the cheap sandwich bags sold at Safeway or Walmart and throw them in a larger freezer bag. The expensive bag can then be rinsed out, dried and reused many times. Keep a variety of spices on hand. They can be purchased in bulk form at Wholefoods or specialty stores at a fraction of the cost of the prebottled varieties. Have fun with cooking. Teach your kids to chop up the vegetables and store in plastic bags in the refrigerator for later use. My kids think I’m a great cook but it’s only because I never serve anything that was prepared for me.

  2. Patricia….

    Here is a site that features “deal” in the NW area
    It can be overwhelming, but it can also be helpful. Another great website is http://www.moneysavingmom.com – a lot of freebies, sale announcements and good ideas.

    Finally, I failed to mention in my first comment, I have stopped using my debit card and this saves me so much money. I carry cash – I try to carry bigger bills and find it’s much harder to buy myself a treat if I have to hand over a $50! When I pay in cash, I am more mindful of what I’m buying and there is a visual reminder of how quickly it dwindles. I’ve gone so far as to leave my card at home so that, no matter what, I can’t overspend!

  3. Patricia, that is wonderful news about Bolivia! I can’t wait to hear if it all works out : )

    And yes, I will keep ya posted on any fund raising ideas. We have told all of the kids and families who are going that it is going to be a “self funded” trip. However, we are all sharing ideas with each other about how we are individually raising funds and some families are joining together for fundraising events. (And then there are some families that do not need to raise any funds…wow…) These are just some of the things that we are doing to raise funds for our two teenagers that will be going. I’ll let ya know if I hear of any more…

    Such great news!

  4. Debbi,
    Those are great ideas, I will be sharing them with our youth group! Any other fundraising ideas for trips, just send them my way.

    Ian talked to me about Bolivia the other day. Hopefully I will be your Compassion person! There is a blog trip late May or early June so as long as that does not conflict, I will be joining you! I have not got the dates of that trip yet, but as soon as I do, I will be able to confirm Bolivia!

  5. Mary Margaret, it was a good post and great ideas!! Thanks for the tips, I am soaking them in!

  6. Go for it Jones Family!!!! I love it!!
    All of the suggestions/tips on saving money are great. I will have to admit that my husband and I have been doing most of these things for quite some time, not for a trip, but to live. He is a youth pastor and I am a stay at home mom (and full time Compassion Advocate). So, now that we are looking at a trip to Bolivia for 4 this summer, we are looking for ways to generate money for our trip as well. (However, we are blessed in that mine and Tony’s trip will be covered by the church, since we are leading it). We are doing a few fundraisers that you might be interested in:
    1. Our 16 year old a Sunday School teacher at church and the little ones love her. So, we are going to offer a twist on Mother’s Day Out. We are having a “Movie Night With Maddi” at our house. Parents can sign up to drop off their kids while they go out on a date. We will take up to 5 at a time and feed pizza and popcorn, koolaid and a movie. We will charge a set fee, but take any additional donations as we let them know this is a fundraiser for the missions trip.

    2. Bread for Bolivia. I recently heard of a fellow advocate who funded a huge portion of her trip with Compassion by selling home baked bread each week after church. She never priced a single loaf of bread. Instead, she just told the people what it was for. She said her lowest cost loaf went for $6 and her most expensive was around $35.

    3. Finally, we are humbling ourselves and sending out a letter to our friends and family to let them know what our church is doing and what our family wants to do. We are “giving them an opportunity” to join in and support us. We are putting a paypal link from our church right on the letter so that they can contribute right then and there….and have a tax deductible contribution.

    Just some thoughts. Let me know if you come up with some more creative ideas…We would love to use them as well!

    Your Frugal Friend!

  7. I am inspired as always & impressed. I will commit to pray and support your efforts! this is such an exciting endeavor! I have to admit I’m jealous of the Europe trip-and the Missions too. I want to do these things with my family but you have shown me that if I make a plan & work hard towards that plan I can accomplish this dream too.
    I think I agree with all the advice already given. It’s hard but once we discipline ourselves to a task it becomes much easier every day. Plus the reward and all of the current sacrifice will be so worth it in the end!!

  8. Hi Patricia,

    How great it is that you are sacrificing to do something so meaningful. What a wonderful example for your girls. I have had my share of times when I was a young mother and pitching pennies to make ends meet. All your ideas are certainly in line with what I have done in the past. My mother is 88 and still makes us put on extra layers instead of turning up the heat in her home. Old habits die hard. My mother is a great example of spending money where it matters. She is very generous for the right things which I believe is certainly the way to live. I bet you will not really miss the Starbucks and dinner out once you see the wonderful rewards.
    Good luck Patricia. I’m sending a check for the Shoes for Kids fund. Isabelle is an inspiration.

  9. Patricia- I plan an entire month’s menu; this helps me feel prepared. I only go to the grocery store once a week and shop for the items on the menu for that week. And I can flex my menu if I don’t want to make soft tacos I can trade something else for that week (Addy is always upset when I don’t make the exact thing for that day). At the beginning of every month I make a batch of chicken soup, split pea soup, a chili and a lentil soup. Then we eat half and I freeze the other half for another dinner which is great when I really don’t feel like I can make dinner again. We eat a lot of pancakes/eggs for dinner too.

    Also I allow myself to go to Target and CostCo just once a month for a stock up on essentials/toiletries so that I am not sucked into wanting something. Target is cheaper and much more pleasant than Wal-Mart. I hated Winco when we lived there but it did help with the budget a lot. I did find that Trader Joe’s really was comparable to Winco and far more soul-happy. Maybe that’s not the case now in terms of Winco/Trader Joe’s prices.

    Also I blocked Amazon.com and cancelled my subscriptions to catalogs…ignorance definitely helps me to not troll for things that I “need” to buy.

    I guess what I am communicating is that the best way I save money is to be prepared for our family’s hunger before I am exhausted and out of resources. And I try to ignore commerce in general.
    I also write down what I spend each day and add it up. I have to keep my little budget balanced so that helps me stay on track.

    We also have no cable. We go to the library for videos and have a basic Netflix plan. For us, the pay as you go cell phone works for us right now although we have no idea how to text. I do feel off the grid in many cultural ways but it helps me stay focused on the task at hand.
    We just rely on the computer for world news and social networking.

    Blessings and success to you!

  10. Amen Christy. It’s hard to get use to living on less. It’s amazing to have God provide. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I understand the unpleasantness all too well! My husband and I have been doing everything we can to penny pinch since September when my Aunt and her 2 boys moved in with us. I must say that I have missed the Starbucks and the heat the most! Although I greatly enjoyed the Starbucks I had today with a gift card from Christmas 🙂

    God in His grace has provided for us every month, many in which we did not think there was any way we were going to be able to squeeze enough to make the ends meet.

  12. Debra,
    I am impressed. Laundry soap? How do you make laundry soap. Do you have a link? Just curious.

  13. when we have worked really hard to save money (to bring our son home from Haiti) we handwashed our dishes and made our own laundry soap. we did all the things you did also. it felt drastic but was worth it. i think we did other things too i just can’t remember right now. i will come back if i do.

    these two trips sound exciting. something your family will treasure FOREVER.

  14. You may find some good ideas here: http://www.couponkatie.com
    Katie lives in Knoxville and much of the information there is focused on that area, but there may be something worthwhile for you to pick up. I bet that after these two trips are over, your family will feel like the sacrifice was minuscule compared to the payoff.

  15. I am encouraged by your comments! Stephen just said the same thing about the DR trip. Trust!
    It seems impossible. I lead Missions Trips and I am always telling others to trust and let God bring in the finances, now its my turn to learn this lesson!
    Jill is right, I just need to stay away from places that tempt me to spend.

  16. At first I thought you were talking about the weather since we woke up to ice on Wed – but then I remembered yesterday was in the 50s!

    I guess asking you to meet me at Starbucks again is out – unless I pay : )

    Your list sounds good – I’m a bit of a frugalista so I can relate. Menu planning and shopping with a list is a good start.

    We use the library – a lot! I prefer to shop the sales at Safeway and Fred Meyer instead of Walmart. I’ve never shopped at Winco. I’ve noticed Walmart is more expensive for many things. I also find that shopping for two weeks worth of groceries is cheaper than buying one week at a time. The more often I go into a store, the more money I spend.

    I think for me the biggest money saver is to stay home and stay out of places that entice me to spend. If I think I need something, I just try to make do. It’s like the saying, “If you want to stay dry, get out of the rain” – If you want to stop spending, stay out of stores.

    Have fun with it, too – keep a tally of all the money you are saving towards your trip so it encourages you to keep going.

    I might join your church’s youth group so I can go meet Yoselin and Hondy : )

  17. P.S. And those provisions also include adoption in 2011… we’re waiting to be matched to a little 5 year old girl. God leaves me speechless sometimes!

    Will pray for your provisions along with ours — He’ll come through!

  18. I had to nod my head at the familiarity of this post… I so understand. We’re already doing a lot of those things in order to support our ten Compassion kids (including a trip to Honduras w/ Compassion in 2010), but we’re Canadian, so we’re used to freezing :p

    Our faithfulness to God and to these kids have led God to always provide “enough”. That’s the faith we’re leaning on in 2011, as we prepare to send our 14 year old to Russia and Europe for 6 weeks, and I as prepare to take our 12 year old to Africa with me for our first time serving the people of Africa in person. God must have a sense of humor, because he also placed it on my heart to gather books to supply a Ghana school with books — our Compassion son in Ghana has no books in his school. I trust that He won’t make me start taking cold showers, but there are days when I am tempted to wonder!

    I know that somehow, by faith, His provisions will be there, and we’ll have enough to serve Him this way.

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