We sure complain about the high costs of health care, but did you know that the average American spends about the same amount (5.6% of their income) on fun? Yet no one complains about skyrocketing entertainment prices!
That’s right. According to Visual Economics, the average American earns just over $50,000 per year. Of that, around $2,800 goes to amuse ourselves. It’s nearly the same as we spend on healthcare (5.9%, almost $3,000) and much more than we give away to charity (3.4%, $1,700).
“Our credit cards are maxed out, and I don’t know what to do!”
“I can’t sleep at night—I just lie there and worry about our finances.”
I’ve been hearing a lot of comments like these lately. Many of our close friends are at the end of their financial ropes, and the cords are fraying. While my husband and I are doing all right—we’re paying all our bills, at least—we too are feeling the effects of a challenging economy and several years of missing income.
I knew when Pete made the switch from commercial consulting to full-time ministry that our financial situation would change. We were used to being somewhat frugal—at least we thought of ourselves that way—but this would be on a whole new level. Sensing God telling me we needed to simplify our finances and learn to live with less, I sought counsel from older (and hopefully more mature) members of our church. And I was astonished that no one had any advice for me. All I heard was, “You’re doing fine!” Really?
You want to eat like a king, but your budget is more on the peon level. What to do? Don’t despair. Help is on the way.
How you do your marketing can impact how much you spend on food, as well as how healthy your meals are. Now that you are learning to cook, you can skip those frozen dinners, boxes of mixes, and the tasty-but-expensive pre-made meals in the deli. Instead, look for staples that can be used in a number of different ways.
I have a number of ingredients that I keep on hand at all times. Granted, I live quite a distance from the nearest market, plus I have plenty of storage, which makes it more convenient for me to store stables, compared to someone with a closet-sized kitchen and ready access to groceries. But there are some basic foods that most cooks use often enough to stock. You can see my list on my Mom’s Pantry page. Yours will be different, of course. This is just a starting place.