Today I wanted to talk about finances. Most of us single moms took a financial step back when we became single. The majority of mom’s I have gotten to know are now low income, although there are a few who have been very well provided for. I have come to realize that both are a blessing from the Lord.
My sisters who are well taken care of financially are women who choose to use the resources given to her for the glory of God. While the ones who find themselves now as low income have used this season as an opportunity to depend fully on the Lord and live completely by faith. Both situations glorify the Lord, and isn’t He good to use every situation to work in our lives and in the lives of others through us!
Both of these walks are imperfect, but when we commit to embracing the situation that God has us in, we open the door for Him to work powerfully in our lives. Some of us might be in a tricky financial situation due to our own carelessness. Not to fear, God is the great redeemer and there is no circumstance too difficult for Him to work out. The key is going to Him in repentance, ready to change your ways. The Lord will do the work but we need to be willing to be transformed.
I am in a very low-income position at the moment. Yes, sometimes I dream of having more money. But I cannot tell you what a blessing it has been to have to depend on the Lord. Many, many times I have been provided for in the most unsuspecting ways. From debtors “randomly” forgiving debt, to people I barely know bringing over food and presents, to sports camps and programs paying the full amount for my children when they are only supposed to cover half. Friends, it is nothing short of amazing to see the way God cares for His children!
I have learned a few things, over the last couple of years as a single mom, about being a good steward of whatever the Lord has entrusted to me. I am *far* from perfect in this area, but a lesson has been learned from each slip I’ve made. God is so faithful to pull us back when we fall. Here are some of the things He’s shown me:
#1 Don’t Stop Giving
The Bible gives us many words about the power of giving. One of the verses I hear often is Malachi 3:10, which says “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” What a promise! I also love “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” Luke 12:33.
This concept is so counter intuitive, isn’t it? We’re already lacking, and we’re supposed to share with others out of that lack? But the ways of the Lord can be trusted. When we give, we are opening ourselves up to a whole new level of blessing. While the blessing may not always be monetary, we can be sure that we will experience a peace that surpasses all understanding and a closeness to God that comes from being obedient to His word.
I recently read a book that was put out by Focus on the Family called Faith Based Family Finances. It’s a thick book that explains complex financial ideas in everyday terms, and it was a huge blessing to me. One thing really stood out as I read, and that was the chapter on faithful giving. One of the stories in the book talks about a man who received a bonus at work but didn’t tithe on that amount since it was “extra”. He was tithing on his base salary, so surely God didn’t expect him to give out of this bonus? His accountant asked him a very convicting question, “Who do you think got you that bonus?” Ouch. But that was just what I needed to read to fully understand that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17. When we see that everything we have is from the Lord, we will develop a heart that will joyously give a portion back for His kingdom.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21. Let’s not forget to ask God for what we need! Don’t be afraid to ask your heavenly Father, who loves you eternally, to provide for you. When He comes through in ways you couldn’t have dreamed, get out that singing voice and sing praises to the Lord, who alone is worthy!
Before you get paid each month, fill in a spreadsheet with what you expect your income and expenses to be. Look ahead on the calendar, are there any birthdays you might need to buy for, or maybe your family could use some new shoes or clothes? Try to think of everything you’ll be putting out for this month, and don’t forget to budget your giving!
Add it all up to make sure you have more incoming than outgoing. If you are in the minus, see where you could make some cuts for this month, or make a plan to make the extra ( Kijiji anyone?!).
Once you’ve made your plan, stick to it! Ask the Lord for self control and diligence. Being intentional about each dollar the Lord has provided is a sure way to bring a smile to His face. We are walking in His way for us, and “Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.” Psalm 37:16-17. The Lord Himself upholds us when we obey!
#4 Cook at Home
As tempting as it is to pick up something quick, it is so much more nutritional and budget friendly to cook our meals at home! One way I stay on track with this is to meal plan. I used to plan my meals without checking the flyers, but I’ve learned to look through the inserts first to see what is on sale (Especially meat and dairy wise). I then plan from that, which has skimmed off quite a bit of my grocery bill.
Another thing I’ve done in this area is check out yummly.com. I cannot say enough good about this site! When I’m down to just a few ingredients in the house, I can type in the main food that I have and select “5 ingredients or less”. A huge amount of recipes come up and I have never walked away without something delicious to make for dinner. Also, every single thing I’ve made on Yummly has been good. Those who have tasted my cooking can vouch that this in itself is a small miracle!
Remember to make use of your slow cooker and casserole dishes when you know you’ll be short on time. We single moms don’t always have hours in the day to prepare an elaborate meal. Some chicken breasts and veggies thrown into the slow cooker in the morning will provide a delicious, healthy meal that we will feel good about feeding our family!
#5 Shop at Thrift Stores
Thrift stores are such a blessing when you’re on a low budget. I like to look out for the sale days. My local Salvation Army thrift store has a sale on different items every Friday and Saturday. Sometimes it will be kids clothes, sometimes women’s blouses, sometime music, you get the picture! The Salvation Army stores are very well priced and I don’t think I’ve ever walked out empty handed.
Value Village usually has a 50% off clothing, bath, and bedding sale once per month. I follow them on Facebook to make sure I always know when the sale is. I’m signed up for their email list, but for some reason I never get reminders of this day. Turning on my notifications for them on Facebook keeps me in the loop for that!
I do find thrift stores are better for myself than my children. Kids wear through clothes much faster than adults, so I do tend to buy more for myself at these stores. However, there are lots of ways to save on new kids clothes and you can sometimes get fairly close to thrift prices if you watch for sales and discounts. Pretty much everything I wear, though, is thrifted.
For my children, I really like Old Navy when they have their big sales. We also just got an outlet mall in Winnipeg, where I live. I’ve found that the Under Armour store has regular 30% off days, on top of their already discounted clothes. My little athletes have found a few really nice shirts and shorts on the cheap, and I know they’ll last longer than some other brands. Please comment at the bottom and let me know where you like to find cost-saving clothes for your children!
Lastly in this category, don’t shop when you don’t need to! The Bible says that we shouldn’t worry about what we will eat and what we will wear (Matthew 6:25), so let’s not get caught up in having more clothes than we need. When you’re really due, check the sales and the thrift stores and be diligent to not spend more than necessary in this area!
#6 Have Free Fun with you Children
I know I can get caught up with thinking we need to visit all the paid attractions in our area. But they add up really quickly. Instead, I’ve been looking harder at what activities my city offers for free, as well as checking Pinterest for things we have in our home that could be turned into fun family times! I have started an At Home Activities board on my Pinterest that I’ll be adding to regularly if you need inspiration.
I’ve also been hearing lots of ideas lately about making everyday activities more memorable. Things like having candlelight at dinner, doing a smore fondue if it’s raining, and playing “beat the clock” when it’s time for chores. I think it’s important to create sweet memories with our children, and to know that they can be done for free makes it something that I want to do even more! Actually, I think the free things we do together will end up being what they remember, not the $50 hour at the trampolines!
I hope you found these helpful! What sorts of things do you do intentionally to keep your finances in check? May God bless you abundantly as you strive to be a good steward of the finances He has given you!