Last time, I mentioned that Karl and I had been reading Randy Alcorn's book Money, Possessions, and Eternity together. We have also been doing some thinking back to our first year in Paris, when our budget was extremely limited. Though it was not an easy season, it was one of the sweetest times in our life together, when we had to lean on God's faithfulness. Yup. Poor as all get-out, and our life just a bowl of cherries.
A little financial tête-à-tête this past week also revealed that it was time to tighten the belt again. Hm. I thought we were doing pretty well. (The debit card history told another truth.) Rather than get all glum about it, we agreed to treat the situation like a game. We have x amount of dollars for the next month. What can we squeeze out of it creatively? More importantly, what can we learn about about God's investment in our material needs?
This is not a glamorous idea, nor a new one. It's the basic idea of budgeting, of course - but with a tighter constraint than we normally have. The frugal blog Small Notebook's No-Spend Month Challenge is an excellent recent example. We will be closely following their model, a family of three who limited themselves to $250 dollars for one month to cover the following:
-food & eating out
The figure did not include:
-rent, insurance, bills
-work and education expenses
-savings and investments
-tithes and gifts
We'll be doing $200 for the next month, from August 23-September 23, with the added non-included expense of mass transit (Abbey's bus pass falls under the work/education category). We are starting with a semi-full fridge, and 3/4 tank of gas.
There are two things that I don't want this to become. First, a morose experiment in self-deprivation. Alcorn's book has an excellent chapter or two on how asceticism can be pointless, and even dangerous to one's outlook on life. God created many things for us to enjoy, and that is exactly why we're working with constraints for a short period of time: to appreciate them more. Secondly, I do not want this to become all about how clever Abbey and Karl can be in the face of a dilemma. (Though we might have to get a little clever!) The point is that the Lord wants to teach us new ways to view our pocketbook and glorify Him with our money and possessions. What can we learn in these respects?
I'll be using lifelong fling over the next month to update you on this latest adventure. Hopefully it won't be too boring - I'll try to keep it to a healthy balance between the practical (as in, oh my gosh! do you know how much money you save making your own x?) and the philosophical (i.e. I wonder what Martin Luther meant by the "conversion of the purse"?)
Should be entertaining!
Addendum: I find it curious and encouraging that once we decided to do "No-spend month", two things happened: my brother insisted on taking us out to breakfast, and some music colleagues of Karl gave us produce from their garden. None of them knew about our master plan - we just rejoice in God's provision already showing up in unexpected ways!