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The following entry was submitted by Dave Ellis, an elementary teacher in small-town Canada. His blog is Bitcoin Canada Blog.
Below are secrets from the faith and finances of a frugal father. They are things my wife and I have implemented over the years to save a boatload of dough. Most of them are not that simple for the average person, some even requiring a complete mindset and lifestyle overhaul. But you are not average. You are a citizen of the kingdom of God, called to a life of adventure and sacrifice. Hopefully a couple of these tips will encourage you to consider a permanent change for the better. If not, you might end up with, at the very least, an amusing story to tell (see #5).
1. Live close to work. I supported my wife’s decision to quit her job in the insurance industry to be at home with our kids (4, 2, and ready to leave the oven). We then moved to within 1 km (0.6 miles) of my workplace so I could walk or bike to work. This allows us to happily live on one income with one vehicle.
2. Pay cash for a used vehicle. Last year we bought a 6-year old minivan with cash. No monthly payment, no interest. We love it. Nobody needs a brand new SUV. If this is tough for you to swallow, repeat it a few times to yourself while considering the savings, and you’ll be cured. We now save weekly for our next vehicle, with the goal of never having a car payment ever again.
3. Say goodbye to cable TV. I invested about $120 towards an antenna on our roof (antenna, tripod, hardware, grounding wire) and we get 6 digital channels completely free. No cable bill. Totally awesome. Do some research in your area to see how many channels you’d get. Because if you actually have time to watch 50 channels or more, I have a hunch God may have bigger and better plans for your life.
4. Having a smartphone is dumb. Okay, not true. But since one of my life goals is to be the last North American adult without a cell phone, I have to stick this one out, merely on principle. Incidentally, it has saved us a ton of money over the years. You would likely freak out if you calculated your lifetime cell phone expense thus far. I would love to know this dollar amount as well. A laptop and iPod are sufficient for me, and neither come with a monthly bill. Oh wait, I do have a monthly internet bill. I’m not Amish (yet).
5. Raise backyard chickens. Seriously. We own 3 hens and get fresh eggs daily. Growing or raising your own food, and/or buying even a small percentage of fresh, local (REAL) food is better for your health, the environment, and your local economy. Now, the chickens don’t actually save us much (any?) money, but they’re a cheap, low maintenance pet, that I recommend to any omelet-lover out there. But check local bylaws first. And what’s with the FDA and FBI? They’re not out to support the independent food producer, but massive corporations. If either gives you trouble, pray about it. Then move to Canada.
6. Make your own clothes. I once found a pattern, bought the material, and cut and sewed together a shirt for myself. It was very satisfying. It cost me about 8 bucks and 8 hours of time. The same day my clothing brand, Old Davey, was born, it died. I’ll never do it again. But my brother-in-law has kept at it (he made pants, a dress shirt, and even a pair of undies) and who knows, maybe this is the new, money-saving hobby for you.
7. Never carry credit card debt. The excellent posts on this blog and subsequent discussions have dealt with the topic of debt very nicely. Debt simply cripples in so many ways and adds too much stress. The only good debts are a mortgage (increase payments annually if possible) and a student loan (pay off ASAP). Having no debt equals more money to give to the churches, charities, and people of your choice, and offers more opportunity to make family memories.