Friday, January 14, 2011

Guest Blogger - Marybeth Whalen

Today, I'd like to welcome Marybeth Whalen to My Thoughtful Spot. Marybeth is a North Carolina native, wife to Curt, and mother of six. She writes for Proverbs 31 Ministries, directs She Reads, and writes novels. Her first novel, The Mailbox (a fantastic read, by the way), came out in 2010. Her second, She Makes It Look Easy, is scheduled for release in June 2011. Follow Marybeth at Cheaper by the Half Dozen, where she shares about life and writing.

1. It's a New Year, and we're all thinking about resolutions. Many of us want to become debt free in 2011. What one piece of advice would you give to point us in the right direction?
Make a budget with your spouse. Then stick to it. Earmark where every dollar is going so you will have a better handle on your money.

2. One suggestion I hear every time I ask, "How do I save money when things are already tight?" is to cut back on things we don't need. We all know about cutting Starbucks and fast food out of our spending. What other things do you recommend as "unnecessary spending?"

We had to be ruthless when we were cutting things out-- gym memberships, cable packages, cell phone services, "fun" groceries, (i.e., convenience foods, unnecessary snacks, etc.), restaurants, etc. That's where the budget is so helpful-- when you list it all out, you really see where your money is going, and where you can cut.

3. You mention a few ways to trim our grocery bills in your blog. Would you mind sharing one of your favorite "grocery bill cutting" recipes with us?

I am always on the lookout for simple recipes that use few ingredients-- fewer ingredients, the less you spend. And of course I try to stock up on meat when it's on sale or plan my menu for the week around what's on sale. Meatless dinners-- breakfast for dinner, baked potato bar, vegetable plates, etc. all help with that. Spaghetti is always a cheap, filling and good favorite. If you had some form of pasta once a week and breakfast for dinner once a week, you'd have two inexpensive meals and that helps cut down on your overall spending.

Here's a simple recipe I always recommend: Take chicken breasts and cover them with barbecue sauce. If  you use a crockpot you can cook them all day then shred the meat just before dinner and serve it on buns. Kids love sandwiches for dinner! Or you can put the chicken breasts in a 9X13 pan, pour the barbecue sauce over them, and bake for 1 hour. I serve this with wild rice and a green veggie for a fast and delicious meal.

4. Dealing with creditors can be frustrating, humiliating, time-consuming, and just make a woman want to cry. Sometimes bankruptcy seems like such a simple way out. We know that's not the biblical solution. What do you recommend doing when we want to give up?

Have a support system in place - someone you can talk to, whether that's a trusted friend, or (ideally) your spouse. Hold each other accountable and spur each other on. When my husband and I were going through it, we would both hit walls occasionally - but thankfully never at the same time so one of us was always there to pick the other up. That's where faith and your walk with God comes in - trusting Him to orchestrate things so that you can handle it without breaking.

5. What's your favorite finance scripture, and why does it speak to you more than the others?

"I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread." Psalm 37:25

That just became the verse I would repeat when things were tight or when things were going wrong. It reminded me that God is in this process and He will see us through. It became a prayer I prayed. I would say, "Lord, I know that You are on our side. I know that my children will have food and shelter tonight. Help me focus on the basics and live in today, trusting You with tomorrow." It always helped.

6. Any final thoughts?

Just do the work. It's not easy. It's not fun. It's a few years of nose-to-the-grindstone living. But we knew we'd gotten ourselves into this and we'd have to get ourselves out. We are glad for so many reasons we did the work. It's strengthened our own walk with God and ultimately made our marriage stronger as we learned to talk about a touchy subject: money. 

We share so much more in our book Learning To Live Financially Free - our story of how we learned to function as a team, then and now. We still use the principles we learned then, and honestly, there are times we have to hold each other accountable - like when he wanted to buy a new tv or I wanted to buy a new car. Did we need a new tv? Do we need a new car? Our tv works, our car - though old - works. We have to keep working hard to not fall victim to the "wants" of life - the same attitude that got us in trouble long ago. This time we are able to talk through it and stay committed to our vision for our finances, a united vision that was not easy to come by. Neither of us wants to let go of that.

1 comment:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts here at My Thoughtful Spot! I love hearing them!