5 Impractical Ways To Save Your Family Money In 2013

January 1, 2013 at 1:17 am , by 

2 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

From first glance, we look like apretty normal American family. If people only knew…

As for this time around, I would like to focus on 5 impractical ways that our family saves money…

I’ve heard it said that Generation Y parents are predicted to become much like the penny-pinching generation who was our age during the Great Depression.

Well, I believe it. Here’s the how and the why.

These are 5 impractical ways we as a family save money:

1. We don’t pay for cable or satellite TV. Instead, we pay $7.99 a month for the Netflix streaming plan. We have unlimited access all the shows you love, like Thomas & Friends and Sesame Street; for Mommy and me, there’s Lost and The Office. That’s not even mentioning all the movies that are available.

2. We don’t pay for Internet on our phones. Since we’re already paying for wireless Internet for our house and because our jobs don’t directly depend on it, it’s difficult for us to justify paying even more for Internet so we can play Angry Birds on our phones while we’re bored. Because honestly, as your parents, we never have time to be bored. I wouldn’t mind that, though.

3. We hardly ever go out to eat. By hardly ever, I mean, on a bad month, about twice. While the documentaryFood Inc. conveys a message that a family of 4 can eat for less on McDonald’s Dollar Menu, that’s not accounting for the fact there won’t be leftovers the next day. Shunning restaurants saves money.

4. We don’t update our electronics or possessions that cost over $100. My iPod has a cracked screen and its charge only lasts about 2 days. The screen of our 2006 model TV is only 30 inches wide, yet the length of it is nearly just as long. Oh yeah, and it’s been struck by lightning, so parts of the screen are discolored. Mommy and I have had the same cell phones for well over 2 years, but because Verizon recently started charging an “activation fee” for their “free phones,” we decided to just keep our old ones. In other words, if it ain’t dead, don’t fix it.

5. We live by a strict weekly budget, on an Excel spreadsheet. Like financial guru Dave Ramsey says, “If you don’t tell your money where to go, it will tell you where to go.” It’s impractical to account for every dollar spent, but knowing that we are projected to reach “debt free” status in 2013, I don’t mind living an impractical lifestyle.

So what if we shun credit cards and cable TV like the plague, or perhaps more relevantly, like high-fructose corn syrup? Mommy and I are obsessed with telling our money where to go.

We’ve learned the hard way. Just a couple of years ago, our money was telling us where to go. As for 2013, Lord willing, we will finally be free of debt.

Somehow, becoming debt-free is one of the most practical things I can think of.

 

Love,

Daddy

When Our Life Expectations are Faster Than the Speed of God

Roll the dice.  Press the buzzer.  Time to play America’s favorite game.  “Solitaire: Life Expectations Edition”.

Life is often a difficult and careful balance of two extremes. Not any two certain extremes- each situation has its own.  But one in particular of these balances has proven consistently annoying: The balance of being a motivated, goal-oriented, hard-working American as well as living in accordance to God’s timing.

I have an agenda, a set plan, an order of events, a timeline by which I’m already behind on, according to me.  Yet on a yearly basis, I’m stalled by a classic answer to many of my prayers: “wait, it’s not time yet”.  And that’s what I call being faster than the speed of God.

Obviously, God, in all his power and lack of limitations can not be outrun.  But by pointing him to my calendar and its several missed and delayed events, I’m simply reminding God of my inability to keep up with him- since his calendar doesn’t simply just move forward; he’s in every moment of the past as well as the present and future.

When God misses my appointments for his involvement in my life expectations, it also serves as a reminder that man-schemed plans are often irrelevant in the face of God.  My life expectations are nothing more than an often-frustrating check-off list of a game that I am playing, involving other people at times, as my volunteers and spectators.

Graduate college and get a job.  Check.  Get married by age 27, which is the national average of American men when they get married.  Check.  Buy a house.  Check.  Have a baby by the time I’m 30.  Check (of course, Lord willing).

Good for me.  I’ve met some of my goals.  My American society-influenced landmarks.  Of course there are plenty more that I’m only beginning to scratch the surface of.  So by playing the rules of my own game, I lose.  Conveniently for me, though, I’ve still got the rest of my life to play this game, and accomplish these goals.  Yet still, the humbling truth is that this game still doesn’t matter to God.  His checklist for my life is much simpler, yet much more complicated.  And from everything I can tell, it mainly just revolves around loving other people.

As for the film based on my non-fiction book, Scenic Route Snapshots, starring James Franco, it’ll have to be postponed until 2013.  Because after all, I need to publish the book first.  And according to my calendar, that’s scheduled to happen next year.

And yet I return to the pointless game of Solitaire: Life Expectations edition.