Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What Makes Me Happy At 34 vs. 24

I know that 34 is not old but I feel older with more wisdom than my 20's for sure!  I've been really happy lately and I was thinking on how I love the life that God has given me.  What makes me happy at 34 is different than what made me happy at 24.  When I was 24, I was a new mom of a 1 year old but I was self-centered.  I spent a lot of time and money on clothing with matching purses and shoes, exercise (2 hours a day!) and anything else that was about ME.  Looking back, I wish I would have been there more for my daughter instead of spending so much time on foolish things that don't really matter in the end.

Being a decade older now with a 1 year old, I feel I'm much better prepared for this as I've learned contentment and what is really important in life.  I cherish the moments with my son as I know how fast they go by and I cherish moments more with my 10 year old daughter as she grows into womanhood in coming years.  I'm completely happy with being a mother and a wife.  I honestly didn't know it would bring this much joy and with each child I have, it truly does multiply that love as the Duggars so often say.  I love my life!!

Being happy with human beings more than fabric is a big one for me.  I see so many who are caught up in that girl that I used to be with clothing, material goods and excessive time spent on SELF.  However, some seem to never come to that place of realization like I did about what is really valuable.  They continue on with this self-centered life and let those best years with their children (or no children) pass them by.  WAKE UP I say!!  Wake up to realize that the house, redecorating, new outfit, car or whatever it may be, is not the place to find your happiness.  Find it in your husband, children and God and you will be able to think on those wonderful days that you were present in their lives when you are old, with lots of time on your hands to THINK about what your life was full of. 

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Budget For a Family Living On $40,000 a Year

A good modest income in the area that I live in is around $40,000 or $20.83 hourly wage and most families make less than this.  For a typical family with children, this gives you an estimate of $35K after taxes, so you need to budget for that amount. I did figure in a state income tax since most states have it and also figured in the tax return and/or deductions/credits for children.

Always give God his 10% first!  I'm estimating costs here and these may vary depending upon location and other factors.  This is just to show you an average budget for a family living on this amount a month with no debt.

*This is not my family's budget or income, I'm simply providing estimates for the average, lower-income family.

Budget - $35,000 = $2,917 a month

Monthly Budget for $2,917 (after taxes)
Tithe -$334
Offerings - your choice but estimating $50
Savings - $100

Housing
Rent - $730
Renter's Insurance - $15

Utilities
Electricity - $100
Water - $25
Garbage - $25
Phone - $30
Internet - $60

Personal
Food - $275
Toiletries - $120
Life Insurance - $10

Transportation
Gas - $250
Car Insurance - $80
Maintenance - $100

Medical
Health Insurance - $350
Dental Insurance - $60
Medical Bills - $100

Entertainment & Clothing
Fun Money - $75
Clothing - $25

Debt
ZERO!

You can see that in recent years, health insurance has risen so high that it is almost impossible for families to afford it at all.  With this budget, I estimated total medical costs at $510, which is actually cheap insurance, so you have to pay deductibles and co-pays throughout the year and that can eat up your savings.  Obamacare jolted prices upward, and they are becoming to where there is no way a family can afford to pay for them and this brings up the question about is it ok to use medicaid?

At this income you are putting in savings $1,200 a year + any interest.  That comes out to about $6K in just 5 years and $12K in 10 years.  If you live in an area like mine, which I blogged about here, you would have to put most of your "savings" into your rent or cut expenses elsewhere if possible.

Having an emergency fund set up should be your first goal and it is generally recommended that that should be $1,000.  Then a savings for 3-6 months in the event your husband loses his job or becomes disabled and the rest you can invest.  If you don't put aside 10% for these things or live so that you can do so, you will find yourself turning to a credit card or other debt.  Stay chain-free and build wealth!!  I recommend Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover for anyone who is unsure how to budget, save or is in debt.

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Can God Provide For Housing?

In our area, several years ago, you could find a decent 3 bedroom for under $900 but as the years went by, the rent went way up.  Now, it would literally be a miracle if you found a 3 bedroom rental for under $1100.  Families with more than 2 children, have to have a 3 bedroom because the laws in our area deem it so with rentals.  It is either 2 per room or if you have a boy and a girl, they each must have their own room.  This means that most families with children NEED a 3 bedroom home to meet the law and live comfortably.  Some landlords ignore these rules and allow more in a 2 bedroom or a boy and girl to reside in the same room but most do not.

The recommendation from financial experts is that your housing costs should be less than 30% of your gross income but Dave Ramsey recommends it only be 25% of your take-home pay.  So let's do an example of an average one-income family who has a modest income of $40,000 a year.  30% of that would be $1000 a month that you can afford for housing or according to Dave Ramsey's guidelines, 25% of take home pay would give you $730 a month for housing.  So for a family making $40K a year, they should stick within a $730 - $1,000 a month for housing.  With those numbers, you can see how a typical family can't afford the rent in my area, so they have to pay more and save less, or not at all.

It is now cheaper to buy than rent, in my area, when you look at monthly payments.  Some are finding that they have to buy in order to have a place to live because they can't afford $1100+ in rent but can pay a $700 mortgage, which after property taxes and insurance, comes out to still be under $1000.  However, putting yourself in debt and literally setting yourself up for financial distress when something in the home needs repairing or breaks, is destroying peace in many families.  Also, if you can find a home that cheap in our area, it probably means it is old or in a part of town that isn't desirable.  Rent will most likely only go up from here as landlords are still trying to make up for their bad decisions on purchasing homes when homes were way over-priced in my area several years ago.

Thankfully as a Christian, we can know that even though rent is going up and laws are making it hard for many families with children - we have God as our ultimate provider and he isn't fighting against families!  Now more than ever, we can see the mighty hand of God at work in His provisions, even in housing.  God will supply your need but maybe not your want - some don't live within their means on purpose because they WANT something that they just can't afford and they create situations of hardship.  Yes, God does sometimes give you your wants too but He will always give you your NEEDS.

He provided my family a place several years ago that seemed too good to be true at the price and size of the rental, but it was really true (and good!).  Even if our landlord chooses to raise our rent, God will still make a way for our family - whether it is more income to pay the higher rent or providing another place for us.  God CAN provide housing for His people and their families and He WILL if you let Him lead!

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Our Family Diet - What We Eat

When I write of diet, I'm speaking of diet as in a noun, not the verb form that so many people think of which pertains to something you do to lose weight.  Diet is simply what you eat and EVERYONE has a diet or else you wouldn't be alive for very long.

Diet - the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats. (Google dictionary)

We ate a certain way before I was pregnant because I had the time to make just about everything homemade.  Then came my pregnancy and bed rest with a husband who can't cook - enter take-out and processed foods.  We ate this way through my pregnancy and also most of the time throughout the first year of my son's life because it took me a while to get used to having him around and to get over the tiredness!  We are now in a position that I'm better suited for this new life of juggling and I'm ready to return to a mostly-homemade food plan.  

*We recently made a no-fast-food commitment to eliminate it from our diet because we have fallen back into the trap of grabbing it when out or when cravings call for it.  We opt now for Subway or frozen pizza from the grocery store in those times when we are in a bind or out without food planned.

Organic

Most of what we eat is organic but we do sometimes buy non-organic cheeses if they are from antibiotic/hormone free cows and some fruits and vegetables depending upon the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list.  However when money is tight in a month, we will buy non-organic produce but we always, always buy organic milk - I just don't want to drink the other stuff knowing what it is laced with - synthetic hormones and drugs.  Up until recently we were buying non-organic meat but we are going back to organic meat since we will be consuming less of it as we used to do a few years ago.

Non-GMO

This is something that we are switching over to more of.  Most of our grains and flours come from a non-GMO farm.  However, a lot of other foods are not marked, so even though we many buy organic, we have no idea if it is GMO or not.  I hope that laws move forward to label food so that we can know if we are getting a real, God-made food or something made out of a laboratory!

Meat on Weekends

We also know that we feel better overall when we only eat meat on weekends but we got so used to eating meat daily, as most Americans do, that it is a hard habit to break - and an expensive one at that!  However, I miss feeling better and I want to eat only organic, grass-fed beef and not consume the antibiotic/hormone-filled unnatural corn-eating-cow meat we have been eating that is cheap.  I'm ready to dish out the moula for the good stuff and go back to meat on weekends, which does include chicken as well.

Fish, bacon and sometimes natural sandwich meat is the only meat we eat during the week but the meats that take longer to digest (up to 7 days), we will only consume on weekends; 2 days a week.

Main Protein Sources

We eat a lot of beans, nuts, dairy and eggs and that comprises our main protein sources.  We occasionally have tofu.  Beans are a super-food because they pack a punch and when you eat a diet that has them as one of your main protein sources, you will not have any issues in eliminating toxins in your body in a timely matter; a.k.a. going to the bathroom!  Dairy helps you get in your calcium, magnesium and vitamin D easily.

Fruits and Vegetables

Remember these foods?  Most Americans don't eat enough but they should be consumed at every meal and even snacks.  Fruits that we eat are bananas, apples, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries and oranges.  Vegetables we eat are carrots, dark leafy greens, kale, green/red peppers, onions, garlic, green beans, peas, broccoli, sugar snap peas, tomatoes and potatoes (and mushrooms when I can sneak them in).  However my son is on some pureed jar foods right now due to a health condition and he eats a bigger variety of fruits and vegetables than we do.

Healthy Fats

Our healthy fat sources are nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocado.  I only cook with olive oil but occasionally canola oil.  Nuts are a great snack, we love almonds with yogurt and peanut butter as our other source.  I use tahini, which is ground up sesame seeds, in our homemade hummus and we also eat sunflower seeds as a snack.  I also use ground up flax seeds in muffin recipes, which also give you omega-3's, along with fatty fish like salmon.  Everyone but my daughter eats avocado, with me eating half a one daily.  My husband likes avocado when I make into a healthy, salsa-guacamole.

Whole Grains

Our diet is mostly comprised of whole grains in the form of oats, whole wheat, whole-grain pasta, brown rice and corn.  All of these grains help with elimination and also keep you full longer with the fiber they contain.  I use oats in our homemade granola bars, as just oatmeal and in many other recipes for breads and snacks.  We are also going to be using our oats to make oat milk, which my daughter and I love but are tired of paying for it at the store.

Sweets

I'm probably the only one in my family that likes dark chocolate but they do eat other sweets - local, raw honey, sucanat, evaporated cane-juice crystals, brown sugar, molasses, stevia and pure cocoa powder.  We don't use white sugar, also known as table sugar, unless we are making something for a get-together or holiday treat.  I use the cocoa powder in making chocolate desserts and homemade hot cocoa.  

Drinks

We are big water drinkers and have well water that is filtered for us by the company that owns it and it doesn't contain fluoride.  Other drinks we drink are milk - cow's and oat, hot cocoa, coffee, tea and occasionally apple juice.  My husband is the big coffee drinker and I'm trying to quit my 2 oz cup I got hooked on again recently.  I tend to opt for teas - mostly herbal but also green tea.  We only buy juice maybe a few times a year because we would rather eat fruit, then drink it watered-down!

Seasonings/Spices

Most of our spices, seasonings and/or herbs are organic.  I plan on doing a post on these because it would take a lot of space to list them all here!  Our main ones are curry, cinnamon, taco seasoning and italian seasoning.

_______________________________________________________________________________

I think I covered just about everything and gave you a view into how we eat and what our diet is comprised of.  We also have been eating 20% junk food but we are paring that down to 10% and totally elminating fast-food (we hope LOL!).  When I say junk, I'm talking about processed snacks like chips, cakes and ice cream or frozen pizza.  Keeping that to only 10% of our food is the goal!

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

God Can't Provide If You Have Another Baby

Want to hear how ignorant our world is today?  Not even the "world" but some Christians are even effected by faithless talk.  One of the things is the "danger" of having too many children or even any at all!  Have you ever had anyone say any of these things to you?

  • Don't have them if you can't afford them
  • I can't afford any more children
  • Children cost too much
  • I'd rather have pets than children, they are cheaper
  • I want a house, so no kids for me

I find it very alarming that today's Christian can think that God couldn't provide if you have a child(ren).  Sure they can have faith for all other things but when it comes to children, faith is out of the picture because God just can't provide for too many little rugrats.  They just aren't important enough for God to provide finances for, so don't dare have too many or you will end up on the streets with God shaking his finger at you telling you "I told you so."

Close up your wombs, swallow some abortion/birth control pills and do all you can to prevent these things being born.  We can't afford to bring another child into the world, another mouth to feed, another child to care about.  God can't afford to give you more provision for another little nuisance.  

What they are really saying is that God will somehow punish you for having children by bankrupting your family if you dare bear any offspring or one too many.  Children are expensive to those that don't value what life is all about.  Those that are so focused on material goods and money tend to view children as a liability.  I find this a bit disturbing seeing how God warned us about riches and the love of money in the bible:

1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Has anyone ever seen a warning in scripture about the "love of children" being the root of all evil or of financial distress because I can't find it?  However, most Christians covet after money but shun children - and GOD called children a blessing!  Yet, they don't want what God views as a blessing, rather they bash it as something you should do everything possible to prevent.


Psalm 127:3-5

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. 

Men try to seek money to be happy but they find that it only corrupts and gives them sorrows in the end.  What did God say would make a man happy?  Having his quiver full of these arrows - children!  Someone to take care of him when he is too old to care for himself.  It's called a FAMILY and this society seems to want to do away with the family and sadly, many Christians are so ignorant, they are helping this come to fruition by their anti-children speech.

Psalm 128:3
Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. 

For every child we've had, God has provided just that much more.  My children have NEVER been without - ever!  God has actually OVER-provided to where they have clothes, toys and food busting out of this place.  You mean to tell me if I have another one that God will decide to close up shop and stop providing for us?  What a fool!  

So the next time someone criticizes your choice for having a child or another child for any of the above reasons - remind them that you serve a God that is able to provide for all the blessings that HE gives!  Last I checked, God ain't broke!


Related reading: 

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