...a God to serve...a family to love... a work to do...

How A Homekeeper Can Live Within Her Means

Would you like to know how to always have enough money and how to live within your means? Here is a quick run-down on what we’ve learned to be content and rely on God. Grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up, relax and read.

The first and most important rule: Refrain from buying everything you want.

Does that sound too simple? Let me put it this way; it is the most foolish and immature thing in the world to think that you have to have whatever you want. It is equally foolish to think that because your friends or neighbors or fellow church members have something, you must have it too. It is not mature thinking to say to yourself that you deserve everything you want or that you must have everything you want. If buying something you want causes your finances to be strained, bills to be late and tempers to flare, then why buy it?

This may seem foreign to you, its kind of old-fashioned I guess. But I have stayed at home with our children for the past 29 years  and my husband has been the sole bread-winner. We decided that it was best for our children to have me at home managing things, than for us to have a second income.

Because I am at home, I am the home manager. My husband doesn’t make the decisions about the home, menus, minor purchases or even decorating. Those are my responsibilities. If I have questions or need input I ask him.  I give input when we are budgeting and make sure that small expenditures around the house are included. I manage that money to best of my ability. I consider myself to be self-employed and homemaking is my career so I work at it like I would work at a job.  So I try to be ready to give account of how I am spending my budgeted money and give account of my time and efforts if needed. I don’t make purchases that are a foolish expense and I don’t fulfill wants from the household money. I save what I don’t use for future Needs.

Rule number 2: Don’t desire what others have and don’t try to emulate them in all their purchases. If they have gotten what they have by hard work and good planning, then emulate their pattern. Work hard, save toward purchases. Now, you must realize that I am not saying that you shouldn’t have anything that others have. If I see that my friend has a certain kind of washing machine, for example, and I already need a washer, I may think, “That is exactly the kind of washer I need.”  When I go to buy the washer, I remember what my friend has. When I purchase it I’m not purchasing it simply because my friend has one.  I am purchasing it because it will fill a need in my home and I have saved my money in order to purchase it.

Rule number 3: Don’t buy on credit. You might think that you can’t survive without credit. We have not purchased anything on credit for over 25 years.  Here’s how we make purchases, especially large ones;

First we decide that we need something.  We’ve learned to distinguish between a “Need” and a “Want”, have you?  If it is a Want, we make sure there is no other pressing Need and then we start saving for the Want.  It is buying wants on credit that has gotten many a family into serious financial debt.

Then we shop around to see what we’d like to have, what we think we can afford and where we will purchase it.  I’m sure you’ve done that.

Finally, we save our money until we have enough to purchase the item. We don’t buy it on credit. we have learned to wait and postpone gratification. We’re saving for a washing machine right now, going to the laundro-mat weekly.  Believe me, it is most gratifying to pay for something completely and take it home and have it belong to us than to pay for it over time with interest.  So that brings us to …

Rule number 4: Really learn what a Need is and what a Want is.  I’m not telling you to completely deny yourself and your wants, I’m counseling that you learn to temper your wants and not give in to every desire. And I am telling you that its best to fit your wants in to your budget after your needs have been met. God promises to meet all our Needs (Philippians 4:19). We’ve learned that often He meets our Wants as well. When we have been faithful in being mature and wise in our handling of the money He gives us, He has blessed us. When we’ve made financial blunders, He has taken care of us but we have had to face the consequences of bad management.

I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention Rule number 5: Give from what God has given you.  Budget regular giving into your finances. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7).  Don’t be stingy with your money and resources. If you are a Christian, then God is at work in you and part of the time, He works through your finances, not only to use your money for His Kingdom, but to change you into the image of Christ.

Rule number 6: Budget.  Set aside a certain amount of money for each bill and each expenditure. A budget can be hard to set up so I recommend help like Dave Ramsey or Crown Financial.  Crown Financial is what we used years ago to get hold of our spending and learn how to use money as a tool to do God’s work.   Budget your Christmas spending this year. Set aside some money each week, even if it is only a few dollars. I encourage you get off the Christmas Gift Treadmill because it only leads to frustration and poverty.  It has taken nearly 30 years to get our extended family on the same page with us, but this year,  probably due to the current economic crisis, they are willing to forgo gifts and spend time together!

And finally, Rule number 7:  Be sure that you DO budget what we call “Fun Money”.  Don’t deprive yourself completely. It just makes everyone grumpy.  We budget money to do something fun every week. Years ago we had to make it twice  a month instead of weekly.  But we have always, always made sure that the children had some fun whether it was a hamburger at a restaurant or mini-golf, or camping. We know that constant strictness with money makes people feel deprived and that leads to discontent.

Don’t worry about your children while you are learning to balance your needs and wants and set up a budget, involve them.  If you have been catering to your own wants, you’ve probably been catering to theirs as well.  So talk to your children about what you’re doing and bring them in on your plan to live within your means. Children are very resilient and will learn how to conserve and budget as well. And that will be a great life skill to pass along to them.

Being content with one’s circumstances is a great thing. It takes a load of care off your shoulders as the Keeper Of The Home. Paul said he had learned to be content in whatever circumstance he found himself (Philippians 4:12).  One key to content is dependence on God to meet your Needs. The other key to content is good management of resources. I hope you can lay hold of both!


  1. Rose Curran

    I love this information Sylvia. It has really given me a lot to think about as my husband is now the sole bread earner in our home now. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  2. Tami Lewis

    how do you handle it when your dh refuses to budget? i never know how much money we have or how much i can spend!!

  3. Karen Twombly

    Really excellent Sylvia!