How many times do we desire rest? How often do we rest? How many people take time and prioritize rest?

I know that’s something I struggle with.

I always have something I could be doing….marathon training, writing my blog, working on my two book ideas, learning how to use different programs I want to implement in my projects, doing the research behind ideas I have for church, networking, reading about leadership and small business, budgeting financial goals, and the list could go on. Don’t forget playing with my two fur-babies and maintaining a spectacular marriage!

My husband occasionally has to put his hands on my shoulders and say, stop. (And that’s one of the ways we balance each other out just perfectly!)

I used to fight the idea of rest. I would get all frustrated at myself, that I wasn’t able to cram over a hundred “to do” things in one day. It would stress me out!

Now, I am much more open to the idea. But more likely than not, I’ll just forget I need to stop and take the time.

Rest enables us to be more productive during other hours in the day. Rest lowers stress levels. Rest is good for our minds, bodies, souls, and relationships.

That’s one of the reasons I don’t listen to music most of the time while running, even during that 15 miler I did the other day. Silence, other than cars passing and the occasional animal, helps my brain to relax. I also use it as an opportunity to talk with God.

The other day my husband was bemoaning the fact that it felt like our weeknights were nonexistent, and weekends……what are weekends again? So tonight, I insisted on preparing supper so he could have some time to just sit and read. Rest is important.

I have learned the hard way a couple times. My body took on flu symptoms and literally forced me to crash. It was not the flu. I don’t want to ever experience that again. And I hope you never will.

So…..How ’bout you go rest.

Pinching Pennies: Windows, Garage Door, and the Library

Winter isn’t the easiest season for finances, for various reasons:  The weather, expectations at holidays, and finding ways to entertain ourselves indoors. Below are three ways we have handled financial friction…

  • Windows

This past June we moved into our first house–a foreclosure. Beautiful house, 111 years old, affordable…..tall windows. A little drafty. Ideally, one would purchase a more efficient furnace, invest in insulation, or look at replacing windows. We are currently in a position to do none of those. Instead, we bought insulated curtains that were on clearance, for our larger windows, and hung blankets or towels over the others. And more importantly, taped heavy plastic around the windows. Hopefully that keeps the gas bill low enough!

  • Garage Door

After the cold weather started hitting, our garage door started complaining. Several mornings I had to hit the button multiple times before it was up enough for me to get our car out of the garage. Finally one morning, it jammed with the motor going and going and going. My husband came out and detached the motor. We could hired someone to come out and fix it for us. Instead, we are opening and closing our garage door the old fashioned way–using our hands.

  • The Library

In the past it’s always been easy to rationalize renting movies, going to the theater, or buying books. Individually those privileges don’t cost a lot. But when you’re on as tight a budget as we are, it adds up. Alternate solution:  the library card!

It’s always good when there are alternate solutions! This year for Christmas we had to be more creative because of financial reasons than ever before. Next week I’ll share our solutions for this year’s holiday…

Merry Christmas, readers!

Our Christmas Tree

When a Saver Marries a Spender…

We were walking through the clearance aisle. My husband picked up an item, “Oh! We should get this! We could use this…..” That’s about as far as I listened before coming up with a ton of reasons (in my head) not to buy the item. I interrupted, “I didn’t know you needed that. How long have you wanted it? How often will you use it? Where will we keep it? Where’s the money coming from? Is it worth it?” And as I’m asking all those questions I watch his face fall. I was one of those people who would go shopping for a specific thing, find what would work, and make an excuse not to buy it. I would go back to the same item three different outings and rehash the processes. And when I finally convinced myself to take the “risk” and buy, the store no longer sold it.

My husband and I frequently interacted that way our first year of marriage. I was a tightfisted saver and my husband was an openhanded spender.

Our first year of marriage: Are we ever going to grow up!?

Fortunately, we lived in a town of about 600 people. Consequently, less financial decisions to get into conflict over. We chose to look at our differences as an opportunity to grow.

The tool that had the greatest impact on our growing together was a budget. I know, most people who have never lived by a budget go running, screaming from that word. But it’s true.

Since I am the detail-oriented person, my husband let me create our budgeting chart, and he looked it over when I was done. It was easy enough to agree on where to allocate finances, but when it came to implementing our plan….

It was hard at first. But practice makes perfect.

The budget convinced me visuals are valuable. Each time money was spent we could see how the numbers were affected. More than once my husband said, “I didn’t realize I was spending that much money!” More than once the numbers proved to me that yes, we could afford to have fun. Maybe even splurge a little.

We meet more in the middle now on finances, but still retain our individuality. Now we view ourselves as a perfect match for balancing each other out. My husband is the idealist who sees endless possibilities, and I am the realist who asks the tough questions. We are both creative and use that to our advantage in coming up with solutions.

I know every partnership is different. But when there is more than one person involved in finances it needs to be a partnership—a team effort—or nothing will be accomplished, other than a downward spiral.

What are things you and your spouse do to grow together in the area of finances?

Financial Obstacles

Our Stash

  • Adjusting to being a one-income family. Fortunately, over the years we learned how to live on just my husband’s income. We originally got the idea from Crown Financial  and I believe Dave Ramsey espouses the same idea—I’m just now diving into his material. My income was going toward debt. Now I’m the breadwinner. And my income is less than two-thirds my husband’s. With my husband exploring the world of a freelance artist, that income will be almost zilch. He will be supplementing our budget by substitute teaching… Okay, so maybe being a ‘one-income’ family isn’t technically true but he won’t be getting a regular paycheck—no ‘nine to five’ job.
  • My job. When I took my job almost a year ago, I knew it was not financially stable, my starting pay was below what I could get at a similar position elsewhere, and there were limited benefits. The company books were a mess, putting the business in a precarious position. Entries were recorded inaccurately, redundantly, or were incomplete. My boss had very little guidance on the financial health and direction of the business. One of the reasons I was hired was to put finances in order. It was/is a challenge, a risk. It requires hard work. It requires creativity. It requires not buckling under stress. And I love it! I realize though, no matter how much I love my job, it is an obstacle.
  • Home owning. We were fortunate with the house we had been living in. It was one of the nicest rentals in the area, and one of the lower costing ones. Our landlady sold the house—not to us. We searched for another rental, but none were affordable for us. Either the rent was too much or the utilities would be extremely high. We even considered moving into an apartment above my workplace and remodeling it as a form of rent; went so far as to have an electrician and a heating/cooling guy come out to give us quotes. Nothing seemed to stick. We gave into looking at owning a home. I say ‘gave into’ because we were leery of taking on the financial responsibility, when we didn’t know if our wallet could handle it. We looked at two houses. The first was—quite plainly—discouraging. The second….turned out to be a foreclosure! Which put it in our price range, and was still livable. The process of getting a loan and buying the house went as smoothly as possible. We were told our credit scores were golden! Though, as every homeowner knows, financial responsibilities don’t end once the sale is final.
  • Budgeting. The obstacles above are clear factors why we need to change our budgeting strategy. Definitely breaking new ground here.

Obviously, if God wants my husband to pursue his dream, if God wants me at the job I have, if God gave us this house, he will provide the means for us to survive. And not just survive…..thrive!