Archive for the ‘Creative Finances’ Category

The Easter Dress Story

Friday, April 18th, 2014

easter-dress-story

You will love my Easter dress story because you will realize that God is closer to us than we can imagine. He cares about each detail of our lives and is able to provide abundantly beyond all that we could ask or think.

My story begins a few weeks ago when I saw a beautiful Easter dress at Costco. It was perfect for my daughter. I sighed and put it back on the rack. I never buy new clothes for myself or for my children because resale shops are so much more affordable.

Even if I had the money, I would not buy it because money is limited. I either want to use extra money for something of eternal value, or for a refreshment for my marriage (like a getaway), or as an investment in my homeschool speaking ministry (my family business includes product creation, which costs thousands of dollars a year to produce). There is never enough money to do everything. I see money like a giant chess game, where I want to maximize each move to bring the most real joy into our lives.

So I left the Easter dress on the rack.

Easter-dress-story-2

Fast forward a week. A friend of mine was meeting me at the river to go for a walk because of the nice weather. When we arrived, she asked me what size Rachel was, because she had a dress that was too small for her daughter, and she thought it might fit Rachel. It was brand new.

I said sure, that we could look at it after our walk. So off we went for a walk, where I enjoyed sweet fellowship in the Spirit. When we got back to the parking lot, my friend opened her car and showed me the dress.

I had a shocked expression.

That was the exact dress that I wanted at Costco the week before, that I had carefully put back on the rack. And here God was giving it to me through this woman who was obviously prompted by God to offer me the dress.

I was speechless.

This just goes to show how great God is. He is so near. He paid attention to a small detail in my life. I’ve shared with you about how God provided for my needs back when we had no money and a ton of debt. Well, this was different. I didn’t pray about it, but God gave it to me anyway because He knew the desires of my heart.

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 ESV)

 

Pointless Coveting

Friday, November 8th, 2013

pointless-coveting

Ten years ago, my mother asked me to look through a department store catalog to see if I wanted anything. She was trying to figure out what to get me for Christmas. I told my mother that I didn’t need anything. As I turned the pages, there was really nothing I wanted. But then I saw a beautiful red and gold duvet with throw pillows, and it looked gorgeous. I looked at the price. It was nearly $200. I laughed at how ridiculous the price was, as if anyone in their right mind would pay that much for a decoration for a bed.

Fast-forward 10 years. I was wandering around at a yard sale with my mom. I found the exact duvet I had wanted for 10 years. It was $10. I looked up to God and thanked Him for giving me what I had wanted for so long. God indeed knows the desires of our hearts and remembers everything. I had actually forgotten about the duvet.

I went home and put the duvet on our bed, and it looked just as lovely as my dreams. I smiled.

When my husband came home from work, he wanted to lie down on the bed, but it was covered with a fluffy duvet and five throw pillows. He wondered how to undo it so he could just collapse. I helped him to know where to put the pillows.

After a couple of days, I realized that the gorgeous, fancy duvet was highly impractical. It took up way too much space when I took it off the bed. I nearly crashed over some glass candle holders to get it off the floor so we wouldn’t trip on it to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. There was nowhere to put it.

And every time I wanted to lie down, there was now an impediment in the way.

I realized that what I had wanted for 10 years, I didn’t actually want.

I wonder how many things we covet in life that aren’t actually good for us. That when God gives them to us, we don’t even want them any more.

Or worse, we plunge our families into suffocating debt because of our covetousness. And then we pay the penalty for years because of endless fees on credit cards.

Years ago I asked God to change my heart to give me desires that would bring Him glory and that would actually matter for eternity. When you ask God to change your heart, He does. My greatest desire right now is for women to grow in their walk with God, especially in the area of prayer. When God fulfills the desire that He plants in your heart, you feel incredible joy and you’re never disappointed.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 (ESV)

Growing Your Home Library Without Breaking Your Budget

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

home-libraryI bet you’re wondering how I grew my home library to over 2,000 outstanding, high-quality books without spending hardly any money. I myself sometimes marvel at how God has provided over the years.

When planning my homeschooling for the upcoming school year, I always start by committing the year to God and asking Him what areas to study. We go through history chronologically, but all the other subjects besides math are delight-directed until high school, depending on what we haven’t studied yet.

Anyone who has done unit studies successfully is able to pull together lots of fun books on one topic. You can do this by going to the library, but I prefer to own the books so that they are always available to me. (I like to preview all the books as well, and only have the very best.) When I write down what topics we will cover for the following school year, the books practically pop out at me wherever I look. Here are my favorite places to find books:

  • yard sales
  • second-hand stores
  • used book stores
  • used books on Amazon
  • Craig’s List
  • library book sales
  • used curriculum sales
  • gifts from friends or family

Back when I first got married, I didn’t have the basic Bible study tools like a concordance, Bible dictionary, handbook about Bible times, maps and charts, etc. I asked myself who would feel joy if I studied the Word of God? My parents decided to get me the whole set, which was on sale, for Christmas. Our whole family is closer to God now because we have proper Bible study tools, and the credit goes to my parents. I have no doubt they will be rewarded in heaven. That set of books was not cheap, even at 50% off. What I’m saying is that if people are going to buy your family Christmas presents anyway, make known specific books that you can’t wait to purchase.

After getting the bulk of my books at yard sales and second-hand stores, can you believe that I actually made money off books, and I could buy whatever I wanted—even new books—from my list? I know you’re eagerly waiting on the edge of your seat for my secret, so here it is: I buy hardcover children’s classics and coffee table books at yard sales for fifty cents. Then I turn around with a large stack of almost-free books that look new, and I trade them in to a used book store. My used book store also sells new books, and I often get a trade-in value of $80! I do this in the summer when yard sales are in profusion. I never buy children’s books that are from a book club, because they are worthless. I’ve learned over the years which books have higher trade-in value, and which ones get rejected. But with practically no money, I’ve acquired over 2,000 outstanding, high-quality books for my home library that my family uses profusely in our homeschooling.

Articles about Finances

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

articles-about-finances

Here are some interesting articles about finances, with personal stories from my own life on how we lived frugally for over a decade while living under a crushing load of debt. To hear my full finances story on audio, click here.

Saving Money
Top Ten Ways to Get Out of Debt
Saving Money on Groceries
Are Coupons Worth the Hassle?
Do Warehouse Clubs Save You Money?
Saving Money on Children’s Clothes
Don’t Fight Over Finances
Cutting My Family’s Hair
Selling my Hair
Pointless Coveting

Yard Sales
Tips for Shopping at Garage Sales
Throwing a Fabulous Yard Sale
Used Curriculum Sale

Cheap Entertainment
Dollar Movies
Exploring Local Parks
8 Ways to Relax with Your Kids
Climbing Trees
Playing with Cheetos
Camping in the Backyard
Splashing in Puddles
Growing Indoor Grass
Mime Act for Kids
Making Sun Prints
Painting from a Water Bucket
Sidewalk Chalk
Vegetable Creatures
Boredom Busters for Kids

Cheap Food
Making Your Own Flavored Popcorn
Snowflake Funnel Cake
Ice Cream Floats

Giving to Others
Hoarding Money
Verses on Poverty
Exposing the Harm of Ultra-Frugality

What other ideas do you have for cheap entertainment, either for date nights with your spouse or for fun as a family?

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