Becoming the CEO of Your Home: Planning and Budgeting
(This is the first in a series of posts by Lynn Cunningham.)
Part one - Where it all started.
More than decade ago, I was suddenly left with an 18 month old baby and my husband’s son from a previous marriage. I was in the midst of closing my seasonal business and knew things were not right with our finances but had no idea to what extent. Until he left.
When I returned to our home after a few weeks separation, I found what I never could have imagined. A red cut notice posted on the front door for the electric. A stack of mail showing a mortgage, insurance, car payment and a host of other bills that hadn’t been paid in months. Half the furniture was gone. The air conditioning was completely broken beyond repair and it was June. The bank accounts were empty. As I lay on the floor of my empty living room, I began to cry out to God for a way out. A plan. An action plan.
Over the next few weeks, that’s exactly what He and I laid out. I began to cut off everything that wasn’t a necessity. I made payment arrangements for the bills that were left by priority. I actively searched for a job. Any job! I had a garage sale and sold everything that we could absolutely spare. I immediately when to the local DHS office and applied for food stamps. Because of my education and work experience, I only qualified for 90 days of emergency food stamps. This gave me two goals. I had to have a job by then and I had to make that 90 days last as long as I could.
This first month of food stamps was my learning curve. I was like a kid in a candy store with mom’s credit card. I bought all the stuff I normally didn’t because it was too expensive and all the name brands and convenience foods. At the end of the month I had some of the money left and still needed other necessities that food stamps didn’t cover like diapers, wipes and toiletries. I began to collect coupons for food items that I normally bought. I would have the cashier ring up all items and then total. First I would swipe my card, which would leave a total for the items not covered. It was usually $20-30. Surprisingly, I had just about that many coupons. Over the next few weeks I began to form a plan to use this gift more wisely.
The second month I purchased anything in a can. Soups, juices, fruits and veggies, canned meats, etc. These have long shelf lives. The third month I bought frozen items, continuing to use my coupon method. At the end of the 90 days I still had money left. For the final bit of money left, I bought meat. Chicken, pork chops, ground hamburger and sausages. These were easy to freeze and had a long freezer life. I was surprised how far the money went when I had a plan, bought the store brand or use coupons for the name brand. Often the name brand was cheaper with a coupon than the store brand.
This staple of food lasted my household for 18 months. Yes, 18 months without grocery shopping other than milk, eggs and bread. I stood on this scripture,
“God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.”