A Few Things to Look Forward to in 2011

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a partly cloudy, glass half empty kind of gal by nature. I tend to look on the down side of things first despite my attempts to turn that frown upside down. It’s who I am. Maybe I like to be pleasantly surprised when things don’t turn out as badly as I expect… (how’s that for a bad attitude?!) Since this ’tis the season to look back and look ahead, I figured I’d try to put some of my many thoughts down, perhaps to be accountable to the many aspects of my life I’d like to change.

The first on my list is that in this house, we must. spend. less. money. It makes sense to spend less than you make, and we do that, but we can do much better. We need to spend way less than we make, and since neither of us is rolling in the dough, it’s time to get creative. 2010 was not a terribly fruitful year for us financially, but it was a year to see how God continually provides. With gratefulness for being taken care of despite overwhelming situations, we both have been convicted that we’re not being good stewards of what we have been given, and with 6 young and impressionable pairs of eyes listening more to what we do rather than what we say, it has much further-reaching consequences than right now. The place I can start to save more money is our grocery bill. There’s no way around it; we spend too much on food. Since I’m the main grocery-getter, meal planner and preparer, it falls to me to tackle this challenge. I admit that I’ve been rationalizing how much I have been spending over the past year and it must change. Up until now, I have been resistant to couponing for a couple reasons, but I may have to walk through that valley here soon. The time aspect of couponing is my main concern: I homeschool 4 kids and need to spend even more of my daily hours with them than we’re doing now; plus classes, tutor prep, my annual editing job that’s hopefully coming up in January-March, the book I’m only partially finished with, and the normal domestic engineer stuff that needs to get done. To add even one more requirement to my week is exhausting just to think about. My meal planning the past year has gone like this: Get the ad for the supermarket that I shop at, go through the sales and plan my meals according to what’s on sale. In some ways it’s worked, but I’m still spending too much. It’s time to bite the bullet and get back to a simpler plan.

My change in January is going to be simple–and it may end up only lasting one month. I’m going to try and shop at Aldi’s exclusively for the month of January. Just switching to cash will help me spend less, I’m certain, but I’m going to limit myself and my meal plan to just what’s in the store. Besides, I also have a fairly well-stocked pantry and freezer with several meals of frozen meat and veggies, so I’m going to use that as well. I’d like to cut my bill by 1/3 to start just by making this change, so I’m anxious to see how it works.

Another change we must make (and by ‘we’, I mean ‘me’, because let’s face it, the food prep is my jurisdiction) is to waste less food. I’m amazed at how much we tend to throw away–the last little bits of leftovers or produce and veggies. If I can change my thinking to realize that I’m not throwing away old food as much as I’m throwing away money, perhaps this bad habit will begin to change.

So, since we spend so much money on the food we eat, I feel this is a good starting point. My Korean mentor teacher always joked about “living to eat instead of eating to live.” Starting with me, I think my family could do a little more eating to live and less living to eat. 🙂

After we get this area of spending under control, we need to move on to cutting utilities, but I need to think about that more. I’m going to leave that for a mid-year post.

What else would I like to see change in 2011? I need to extend grace to more people, the kind of grace I would appreciate receiving in my life. The people I need to start with are our children. In every area of their lives, they are more or less beginners. They are still learning basic aspects of being a person, and if I could remember that, I pray that I would be so much more forgiving and gracious towards them. That doesn’t mean, however, that they get a free “sorry, Mom, I didn’t know” pass. We are all trying to work towards very specific goals in this house: we all need to know God and make Him known, and to give glory to Him in all areas of our lives. When I look at my own life, I realize that I am sorely lacking in certain areas that I should be so much further ahead. How can I be anything but understanding as my children make that same journey? Grace for everyone. More grace than is necessary. More kindness than is necessary.

To achieve this, I must tame my tongue. I have got to get control of my thoughts and words and work, through God’s grace, to only say things which build up, not tear down. Again, this is not my nature. I am a critical, perfection-seeking person, first in myself and second in the entire remaining population. What a ridiculous notion to think that any of us is perfect! To help me in this goal, I plan to read the book of James at least once a week. It reminds me more than any other that the tongue is a powerful for tool and from it often come both blessing God and cursing men, that which should not be. I pray that I will grow to be slow to anger and quick to have a kind word.

Lastly (for now), I’d like to enjoy my children more. I want them to know that they aren’t an inconvenience nor are they too much to handle. They aren’t a handful, I don’t have a ton of kids, and I am quite aware of ‘what causes that.’ I would like them to be able to say “We’re glad you aren’t our mom too!” when people say “Better you than me!” (OK, that last one was a little over the top snarky). Yes, they are a lot of work, and yes, I am constantly concerned that I’m not teaching them the right things or the things we are learning well enough or quickly enough, but it’s worth every bit of the work. The work is actually cancelled out by the benefit and joy, but we sometimes lose track of the good aspects while staring down the hard work. My goal is to accentuate the positive. Before we turn around, Hannah will be an adult; she’s already 13. Where did those years go?! The years are only going faster and faster and I don’t want to miss a singe thing–the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I don’t want to make this totally schmaltzy. In some ways I wish I could have listed that I’d like to watch more movies or resolve to get my car washed more often. Alas, that’s not in the cards. If 2011 is going to be a fruitful year, there are some hard things that have to be done, at least in the corners of my life that I can change. So…with the last few hours of 2010, I’m going to go and slack off for a bit. Anybody want to chat or text me while I play Bejeweled??


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. anna
    Dec 31, 2010 @ 18:31:33

    Great post! You really are amazing. I see God working in you and making you what He wants you to be. The goals you have for 2011 (and the rest of your life) are straight from His heart. I look forward to seeing how these things change in your family (mine as well).
    Todd is blessed to have a woman of God who seeks His heart and longs to be all He has. We love you tons, Deb!


  2. Rebecca
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 19:14:18

    Write more about Aldi’s for me…
    I used to shop at one ocassionally in Columbus, and remember that we liked some things and didn’t like others – but I don’t remember what specifically. We now have one close to us again at our new house and I haven’t tried it yet, but would like to. When you say “everything” at Aldi’s, do you mean “everything” including meats, produce, etc.? If so, how do you think their quality matches to other stores for the discounted price?

    Also, would you mind sharing your monthly food budget for my comparison’s sake? (If you’d rather not share, that’s OK!) Does it include toiletries and cleaners as well?


  3. anna
    Feb 01, 2011 @ 18:11:27

    So, how’s the Aldi thing going Deb?


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