Has it really been more than three years since I posted on this blog? For some reason, I thought it had been less than a year. Apparently time is going by more quickly than I’d realized.
As we reached the end of 2015, I realized that I didn’t have any distinct goals in mind for 2016, whether financial or otherwise. And I’m actually just fine with that. Sometimes I have found it very helpful to make new goals in the new year. This year just isn’t one of those years. But I did find it encouraging to think back on 2015 and the ways that we have made progress.
The most notable financial goal that we achieved in 2015 was to pay off Keith’s last student loan from our years at Prairie. Yay!! This means that out of all the loans we acquired on the way to achieving our bachelor’s degrees, the only one we are now still paying is my loan from Whitworth, which is now about a third of it’s original total. All of our Prairie debt is paid off. We still have other debt, including Keith’s loans from going back to school at SCC a few years ago, but it is exciting that our undergraduate degrees from Prairie are officially paid for.
A small but challenging goal that I set for myself in 2015 was to refrain from buying any new books, CDs, or DVDs. I don’t usually buy a lot of CDs or DVDs anyway… maybe a few each year, and yes, I still buy CDs instead of MP3s or whatever… but books tend to sneak into our monthly budget here and there. Especially because I’m homeschooling our kids, it’s easy to justify buying a particularly good book for them once or twice a month. But we have a lovely local library system that allows me to place up to 25 holds at a time, check out up to 50 books at once, and request any library books that are not in the local system to either be purchased or borrowed from another library. The same goes for borrowing CDs or DVDs. I’m happy to say that I succeeded in following this goal for the most part. I did pick up a few used books here and there at garage sales, but even in that I was blessed to find a few that I’d really wanted. I read “The Heavenly Man” by Brother Yun this summer and really wanted to purchase a copy for our personal library, but I refrained because of this goal not to buy any books this year. Then I found a copy for fifty cents at a garage sale! (And bought it, of course.) That was an encouragement to me to continue with the no-new-books policy, and also to remember to ask the Lord for the things I want, even in the little things like special new books.
I may continue this no-new-books goal for 2016. There are a few notable instances in which having my own copy of a book is definitely worthwhile, and there are a few cookbooks that I’ve been really wanting. There are also a few favorite kids’ books that I would really like to pick up for our children so that we don’t have to keep checking them out from the library over and over. But I may wait and give them a special gift of one new book each on Valentine’s Day, or something like that.
Another way that we have managed to save money is by Keith taking on every car repair needed to our vehicles, and a few other repairs as well. This fall he replaced the air conditioning unit in our minivan. It was a complicated endeavor, and it took quite a while, but it ended up saving us approximately $600 for him to buy the parts and do it himself. He also fixed our washing machine when it broke and fixed the radiator on our car. I have really appreciated his determination to learn to fix these things himself, not only because it saves us money but also because I just think it’s really cool that he can do this stuff.
One other way that I was able to help our budget was to continue to replace items that we lost in the 2014 storage fire and send the receipts for those items in for reimbursement from our rental insurance company. They gave us about 10% of the value on many items up front, and more on others. On the ones that they only gave us 10%, they are happy to pay us back for purchasing “like kind” items, so I have been creatively (and ethically) replacing those things. For example, my most recent replacement was that I lost an heirloom cedar chest in the fire that was worth about $440, so I replaced it with other storage items: a very nice dresser for our boys’ room, an ottoman for our living room, a laundry hamper, some cool/useful decorative boxes, a laundry hamper, and a diaper caddy for our new little baby (due to arrive next month). It has been really neat to be able to get creative with replacing items lost with items that are more useful to us anyway. I think it is also a good way for me to be able to help boost our finances, as I’m still a stay-at-home mama and not bringing in any income.
So, that’s our progress for the year. Nothing earth-shattering, but I’m happy that we are continuing to make progress forward.