By Karee Blunt
I awoke with my heart pounding, mind racing and feet ready to hit the floor running. I’d had one of those dreams. You know, the one where you’ve invited a lot of important people over for a party with expectations of serving up an amazing dinner. However, on the day of the big event, something unexpected pulls you away and you arrive home late to a house full of hungry guests, having had no time to cook, clean or even freshen your lipstick! It’s enough to make even the most seasoned entertainer want to cry.
After thinking through this dilemma, I realized what frightens me most is the idea of being unprepared. Lack of preparation can foil even the best of intentions, but what’s worse is it can cost us money. My upcoming social calendar may not include hosting any big parties, but I do have the opportunity to serve my very favorite people on a daily basis. Seems as though I should put a little preparation into providing for them too, right? So why is it so many meal times arrive only to find me unprepared?
How Lack of Planning Costs You Money
The truth is, lack of preparation is a real budget buster. On the flip side, planning ahead can actually save you a lot of money.
For instance, being prepared will help you avoid making a last minute stop to pick up a pizza because you hadn’t planned ahead. Not that pizza or take-out is necessarily wrong—once in a while is fine—but a few nights like that each month can really add up!
How about gift giving? Can you relate to this scenario? You’ve had the birthday party invitation for two weeks, but instead of picking up a gift on one of your trips to the store, you wait until you’re on your way to the party to stop and buy the gift you’ve had in mind all along. The problem is, now they’re out of stock and you end up having to purchase something else, slightly more expensive. Add a gift bag, tissue paper, and card to the tally and your last-minute shopping costs you $10-$15 more than you had intended.
These are the kinds of scenarios that happen to us all throughout the month. So what’s a girl to do? If we keep in mind that God has given us the responsibility of being stewards of everything He’s blessed us with, including our money, it makes it a little easier to understand why these seemingly harmless, unplanned expenses really do make a difference.
Luke 16:11 says, “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches?”
Planning ahead not only makes our lives run more smoothly, it helps us to be better managers of what God has given us. No matter the size of your budget, God gives each of us opportunities to show that we can handle our money wisely. If planning ahead isn’t one of your strong points, begin now to take small steps toward becoming a better planner. Your family—and your checkbook—will love the new you!
How to Save Money with Planning Ahead – 5 Ways
1. If your appointments and errands have you out with the kids during lunch time, take a few minutes before you leave to pack a light lunch to eat on the go. PB&J, apple slices, and water bottles are easy and inexpensive to throw together.
2. Always have a standby on hand for nights when you get home later than planned with no dinner ready. Scrambled eggs and toast make for a quick and easy dinner.
3. If you’re not already using a money tracking tool, start now! Keep it up to date and use it to plan how much money you have left each month for your healthy grocery haul.
4. Before buying something new, consider borrowing, shopping at thrift stores, or even checking out Freecycle to find a better deal. (Visit Freecycle.org to find a group in your area.)
5. Go to the store armed with your shopping list. On average, six out of ten items that end up in a person’s grocery cart are impulse buys. Before you go, make your list and then commit to sticking to it!
Learning how to save money with planning ahead takes practice, but once you figure out what works for your family (and you realized how much money you can save), it’s well worth it.
Karee and her husband, Rodney, live in beautiful Skagit Valley, Washington. They’ve been married twenty-five years and are a homeschooling family with five children. Karee has a passion for helping other women prioritize their lives and their money for the glory of God. She is co-founder of www.BuildaMenu.com, an author, speaker, and adoption advocate. She welcomes your emails at [email protected].