As a single mother of two, I started my own home business without any capital and paid off $35,000 debt in 5 years on $1,000 a month income. I am often asked what are the top lessons I would give a family or even a single person who is dealing with a tight budget. Here are my top tips for living on a small income.
* Stop spending.
* Don’t think that using a credit card or getting a loan will make it better. Going into more debt will not help you get out of debt.
* Get rid of your pride. You may have to shop at garage sales for a while. You may not be able to have your kids in sports and you might have to say no to friends when they want you to go to an expensive restaurant. Pride is a sin. God didn’t kick the angels out of heaven because they murdered someone or were doing drugs, drinking or smoking but for pride.
* Stop worrying about what others think or whether or not you are making a good impression. We constantly tell our kids not to give in to peer pressure but we do it all the time. We Christians can be especially bad about worrying what other Christians are going to think of us. That is the same as when your kids worrying about their peers.
* Cut back on everything. You can save 50% on your grocery bill before you even go to the grocery store by simply exercising good portion control with your food. It is better for you, too. Go from a 30 minute shower to a 5 minute shower. Not only will you save on utilities, but your skin will thank you.
* This should be number one: tithe. Right now when others are panicking about their 401k’s or about what their stocks are doing, I don’t have a worry in the world. I have invested my money in someone who has promised that no matter what happens in the world, including with finances, I and my children will be fed and taken care of. He has demonstrated His faithfulness over and over. To me, my tithe is the best savings a person can have.
* The real test of a person’s character occurs during hard times. Keep your integrity, be responsible and be trustworthy and honorable whether your situation is your fault or not, whether it is fair or unfair. Proverbs 22:1 says "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold."
I once received a notice of foreclosure on my house. I had 2 weeks to come up with $35,000 and I couldn’t sell my house. I didn’t have $35. I wasn’t sure what to do. If I lost my house, my kids and I would literally be out on the streets. After a few moments of panic, I prayed and God told me what to do. One of the first things I did was to call the banker and tell him I wanted to start up our old business, which I knew nothing about and had no money for supplies, no customers and a limited market.
What loan officer do you think would say, "That’s great– forget the foreclosure and you don’t even need to make a payment until your business is up and running well"? None that I know of, but that is exactly what he said. We had banked there for a while and, because of that, he knew I always paid my bills (the foreclosure was because of my husband’s debts he incurred when we were separated). The loan officer said "Jill, I know you and trust you to pay so I’m not worried."
Everything God tells us to do is for a good reason and it is usually for our good. He wants us to have a good name because He knows at times when things hang in the balance, a person’s good name can tip the scale in the right direction.
* Don’t decide you are going to change your ways and then expect God to suddenly produce a miracle and make all of your debt go away. God loves you, but He is also a just God. He expects you to pull your weight and if you spent 5 years carelessly spending, you may have to work extra long and hard for 5 years to get yourself out of your mess.
It would be like telling my teenage son to clean his room. After a month goes by, he is out of clean clothes, can’t find anything and has been grounded by me for failing to do what I told him to do. He tells me how sorry he is, insists he’ll never do it again and repents all over the place, but he still has to clean his room, which is such a big mess it is going to take twice as much work.
I forgive, but he is perfectly capable of cleaning it himself, so he has to clean up his own mess.
Here’s something to think about:
In Matthew 6:24, the Bible says "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." We always think that this verse relates to having lots or money, that it only concerns the wealthy or those seeking wealth, but it can pertain to the poor and those in debt, too.
Be careful. What controls your waking thoughts? God or money? What do you seek after more? God or a way to pay your debts? What do you talk about more with your family? God or how the bills are piling up "in these hard economic times"? Do you spend all of your money eating out, playing a game of golf, buying your kids sports uniforms and dance lessons and having your nails done or do you first tithe?
I have found most people give their money to whoever or whatever has their heart and soul. I don’t say these things to condemn you but to get you thinking, "Do I have things mixed up? Can I do something differently? Do I need to change something, even if it is something small?"
We guard our families in so many areas. Don’t let Satan sneak in the back door with this and destroy you, your family and your testimony.
As a single mother of two, Jill Cooper started her own home business without any capital and paid off $35,000 debt in 5 years on $1,000 a month income. Jill and her daughter Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of http://www.LivingOnADime.com