Monthly Archives: October 2013

Deep Down Savings, In The Basement!

houzThis series of several articles will feature ways to save money in every room of the house. From the basement to the attic, including the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, closets and garage. Sometimes money savings articles can be hard to follow, because they connect various areas of life, but for those of us that are visual learners or like to compartmentalize things in our thinking, this approach can be more manageable for some people.

The basement is often a neglected area when thinking about saving money. Some areas of the country have few basements, so for you this is your storage area or place where your utilities are housed.

The basement is often a neglected area when thinking about saving money. But just like Christ is the sure foundation for life (Matthew 7:24-27), looking towards our basements (or utility closest if you don’t have a basement) might be full of wisdom too.

  • Have your furnace and air conditioning (HVAC) serviced once a year. Find a good HVAC company (Angie’s list?), they often have specials, or multi-year contracts that deeply discount annual system checkups. Call a few companies to find out their regular cost, so that you can identify a good deal.
  • Replace furnace filters about every 30 days, this will help you save on electricity and gas not to mention HVAC repairs
  • If you have a basement, make sure your homeowner’s policy has sewer back-up and sump pump failure coverage. Often this is not standard, so if you are not covered, you will lose money for these common causes of water damaged property and HVAC equipment, which costs thousands to replace if immersed in water.
  • Some plumbers recommend to extend the life of your hot water heater, is to drain it once a year to remove the sediment buildup. This is easy, but be sure to search the internet for the proper procedures, since the water is very hot! Also, if your hot water heater’s drain faucet is plastic, I say don’t bother draining it. I did once, and the plastic was so cheap that it didn’t re-tighten and broke, and I had to hire a plumber to install a brass one.

While on the subject of savings on HVAC related costs, now is a good time plan to save money on electric, gas or heating oil bills.

  • Outside doors are a huge source of heat escape: weather stripping cost $3 to $15 per door
  • Windows are another huge source of heat leakage, wait for a warm day to apply caulk: cost starts at about $3 per tube
  • On sunnier days, keep the blinds and curtains open, but close everything in the evening, these will act as insulators or solar heaters.
  • Have you noticed lately many space heaters being sold at the big box retailers like Costco, Home Depot and Wal-Mart, and TV ads selling the latest and greatest? A low-cost one can pay for itself if you turn the heat down low throughout the house and put the heater in the room you occupy. Great article for more information Don’t burn cash: A space heater may help you save on your heating costs.
  • Insulate wall plates and windows (switches and plugs) on outside walls

Those of us in colder climates might have high heating bills costing up to or more than $200 per month, for 5 months. This could easily amount to a 5-month cost of $1,000, so a 20% savings is going to save you $200. These low-cost suggestions can go a long way to helping you save thousands over time.

 

Do You Worship Money or Worship God With Your Money?

I am not an expert in the extensive and important subject of worship; however I do think that most of us have a limited scope of this topic and we neglect to consider the role of money in worship.  Is worshiping something we do when we go to our place of faith once a week, or is it down on our knees in privacy? Is it a corporate thing we do together, or in secret? Yes and Yes!… however I think it is more.

Worship is a lifestyle, it is an orientation. Let’s pick apart the word orientation. This word is used quite often these days to reflect one’s sexual identity. Webster’s Dictionary defines orientation as 1. a person’s feelings, interests, and beliefs  2. a main interest, quality, or goal. I like the second definition for the purpose of this article. It is a good question to ask one’s self; what is your main interest and goal, and why? The fun part about asking ourselves tough questions, is it helps us understand our motivations in life.

Money is the number one god of adoration of developed countries it seems. It is the measure of achievement, success and people look up to those with lots of it. We believe that the right allocation of money and resources will solve most of mankind’s problems. We see it as a source of happiness, joy and comfort. Despite all research, we conclude not only will money do these things, but that the more of it, will only increase good feelings, and diminish the ills that ail civilization. Money if seen this way, is a god that we are often oriented towards, therefore we worship it. Maybe Bob Dylan’s song “Gotta Serve Somebody” was right on.

Lately, I have been thinking about my own faith orientation, is it money, success, ministry, activity, entertainment and personal comfort or is it God? What do I worship? Sometimes during my walk of faith, I have to confess that I try to serve and worship two masters, but Jesus said this is impossible, read and think about Matthew 6:24 for a few moments:

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

What got me thinking about this lately was researching and thinking about tithing. One thing I discovered that the first worship service recorded in the Bible was Able’s worshiping God, by bringing choice offerings from the first born of the flocks he was tending in Genesis 4:4. This reminded me of the many instances throughout the Old Testament, where worship was strongly accompanied by offerings of valuable things like grain and animals. The first fruits of harvest, the first born unblemished animals, and things gathered in war. Here I see people who are oriented towards God in their daily labors, and are happy to worship Him in song and possessions.

I picture this worship occurring not just in corporatly and in private seclusion, but also in our minds and throughout our days; The image I see, is daily walking out Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  This is a picture of worship, walking out our faith; right foot, left foot.

So ask yourself; Do You Worship Money or Worship God with Your Money? I can worship Him with my money, in how I think about and it work for it, but also in how I give and spend it. How can spending money be worship, this seems silly!- many of you might say. I’m not totally sure; I am still developing my understanding of this (that is why I want you to comment below). However, I think it is possible to worship God when we plan and budget how we think he wants us to spend it- that can be a mini worship session.  It can be worship when we steward over it wisely when making good purchase decisions. It is worship, when we live well below our means, and not live too extravagantly. It is worship when we help other people with it too:

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:34-40.

From the words of Jesus, we can see that we worship Him, when we feed, clothe, invite in the needy, and minister to the sick and in prison. In conclusion, we worship God not only in seclusion and corporately, but all day long, and in how budget, plan and earn it, to how we use our money and possessions.

Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

This is just a quick post, to give you a few ideas for cutting your grocery budget in half.  This is definitly interesting to a lot of people since food costs can easily be 25% of people’s budget, if they are in the low to moderate income brackets. Wisdom, work, and good ideas are certainly key to this.

The Blog “Blissful and Domestic,” has great ideas about thrifty living and she seems to be really successful at it.  The whole concept is that you plan all of your meals for the month at one time, and then shop for the whole month in one day.  It saves a bunch of time.  She has instructions on how to freeze milk, bread, produce, etc.  That way you can buy in bulk when things are on sale, and still use fresh ingredients.

One my friends report “I have done this way of grocery shopping now for 3 months (Aug, sept, and just did Oct).  I am EASILY saving $150 – $200 a month on groceries.  But, the trick is, you can’t go back to the store for any reason – unles it’s a “need”.  Staying out of the store limits all of those “extra things” we pick up every time we enter the store.  I’ve also been buying some groceries at Aldi.  I have never done this before, but saving on things like rice, pasta, baking supplies, ect, seems to be a no brainer.  I don’t think there’s much difference in those items.   She also has recipes on her site and other ways to save money. ”

When I looked at our expense tracker last night (Mint.com), I noticed we went over some for September, and it was totally due to the little side trips, so this ideas seems to make great sense.

There is also a book “Cut your grocery bill in half” by Steve and Annette Economides that looks to be a good reference too.