Running a large family and homeschooling often takes some creativity when it comes to finances. I’ve written before about our grocery bill and couponing, and many of you have shared that tightening the budget is the only way you can do this crazy life God has called you to. And you do it with joy and gratitude!
I recently received Crystal Paine’s audiobook called The Money Saving Mom’s Budget: Slash Your Spending, Pay Down Your Debt, Streamline Your Life, and Save Thousands so that I could review it and share it with you all. I was looking especially forward to listening to it because when I began couponing, Crystal’s site was the greatest help to me. Here's a sneak peek:
If you need to get a handle on your family’s finances but don’t have time for a lengthy course like Dave Ramsey’s, then a book like The Money Saving Mom’s Budget may be the best thing you could read this year. Crystal tackles every facet of budgeting and finances, and because she’s the homeschooling mom of a growing family (she has three young children), she sees things from the same perspective many of us do. Crystal and her husband live on his one income, they have no desire to put themselves into debt over lifestyle choices, and they give out of grateful hearts to those less fortunate than themselves.
In chapter one, you’ll learn about setting financial goals for yourself. Crystal includes a PDF with charts so you don’t have to go it alone if budgeting is new for you. There are encouraging stories of success from one-income families and those who’ve worked themselves out of debt, too. If you’re already drowning in debt, Crystal offers help for you, too.
Chapter Two covers chaos and clutter, productivity and time management. De-cluttering can be difficult if you’re the type who finds yourself unable to toss stuff, and Crystal gives step-by-step help that seems very doable to me. One baby step at a time...
Budgeting, a 3-month challenge for budget skeptics, practical ways for cutting your bills, and three common budgeting excuses are further covered in The Money Saving Mom’s Budget. Crystal discusses the benefits of using cash over credit, and she gives some very compelling reasons to dump the credit cards, particularly if this is an area of struggle for your family. You’ll learn about creating an emergency financial plan and how to save enough money to get you through a rough patch of unexpected bills or sudden unemployment.
Have you been wanting to learn about couponing and how to get the most bang for your buck at the grocery store? Crystal will walk you through if you’re a beginner, and seasoned couponers like myself might just pick up a few new tricks and resources. I took notes on this chapter because Crystal mentioned a couple of websites I want to begin checking as I plan my shopping trips.
There’s help for slashing your grocery bill (25 tips, in fact), ways to pay less for entertainment and the things we enjoy (being frugal doesn’t mean life has to be dull and miserly), and how to never pay full price. A wealth of frugal travel tips are included, too. Need to save money on clothing? Crystal gives you lots of practical tips on how to get the best deals.
I found Crystal to be hugely encouraging. She’s the real deal; while newly married and while her husband was in law school, her family lived often on less than $900 per month, and sometimes on as little as $650. Her advice is born of experience, and her hard work managing her family’s finances taught her to choose to be content in their meager circumstances. It would be easy to come away from reading such a book thinking, “I’m just going to have to learn to like being miserable”, but Crystal is a terrific cheerleader and I think you just might come away far more encouraged than discouraged. You can do this!
I can’t end my review without saying one thing, and I hope you know me well enough to know that it’s going to be about the Gospel. If you’ve shifted your hope from God to the gifts God has given, if you’re looking for money or a budget or a savings account to be your hope, then reading a book like Crystal’s or attending a class like Dave Ramsey’s is only going to feed the idol you’ve created.
Certainly, both of these resources and many other financial aids are excellent tools in helping us to be better stewards of what God has given us, but the bottom line is that God is our only redeemer, no matter how many months’ income we’ve saved for an emergency fund. If that emergency fund or your job or your savings account is pulled out from underneath you and if you lose it all tomorrow, God still is and always has been your only hope.