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Sailing Through Rough Economic Times


Setting a new course and charting progressive steps toward financial accomplishment can be a spiritual adventure.


sailing through rough economic times

by Norma Jackson Goldman


An economic downturn provides excellent motivation for examining buying/spending habits and for being wise stewards of all the resources God provides. Successful cost trimming requires a willingness to change well-established habits and reset priorities. Setting a new course and charting progressive steps toward accomplishment can be a spiritual adventure as well as a practical exercise in self-discipline. Begin by examining major “budget busters.”


Gift Giving

For years now, Christians have complained that the real focus of Christmas has been lost in commercialism. Let this be the year you and your family agree to focus gift giving on young children and mission causes. Without a written budget, this won’t happen, but half of what you spent the previous year would be a realistic goal.


Eating Out/Grocery Shopping

Eating out is a huge budget buster. Families of two or more find it is definitely cheaper to eat at home. Limit eating out to special events and consider substituting a family potluck for a restaurant meal. Never order tea or a soft drink. Stick with water and don’t order dessert. The extra sugar could result in an expensive diet! A 20% reduction in the monthly cost of food is easily achievable.

Grocery buying habits are usually firmly entrenched, but consider these changes:

  • Shop only once a week (or less), never when hungry, and always with a list.

  • Take a little longer to comparison shop, be willing to switch brands, buy luxury items seldom, and only when on sale; always clip coupons;

  • Take advantage of senior discount days when they are offered in your community, even if it means switching stores;

  • Be careful about over-stocking freezers, which results in throwing food away.


Cut Automobile Expense

If you developed the habit of consolidating errands when gas prices were skyrocketing, you know this practice makes sense no matter what the cost of gasoline. Use discount coupons for oil changes and routine maintenance costs. Rotate tires often to lengthen the life of your tires and increase gas mileage.


Avoid Credit

It’s convenient to hand over your card when making a purchase, but statistics confirm that you spend more when using a card. What you save on a sale item can be eaten up by interest charges. Develop a mind-set that dictates, “If I don’t have the cash, I won’t buy it right now.”


Defer Non-Essential Purchases

It’s much easier to live with “I’ll buy this later, when our bank balance improves,” rather than “We can’t afford to buy anything.” There is a positive psychological effect when we acknowledge that we are making good choices now that will pay future dividends rather than gloomily bemoaning the fact that we won’t be going on vacation this year.


Review Insurance Coverage

Examine all policies to determine if a higher deductible makes sense on auto and homeowner’s insurance; be willing to change companies to get a better premium at renewal time. Expect at least a 10% discount when you place home and auto with the same agency.


Consider Downsizing

Carefully planned and managed downsizing could offer your greatest opportunity to reduce expenses. Listing all costs related to home ownership sometimes makes it difficult to justify a home purchased when raising a family.

Early in retirement, many experience erosion in investment income and Social Security. Make changes before these income reductions become a reality.


Make Lemonade

While we would never invite an economic downturn (one of life’s lemons), we can show family and friends that it need not be a calamity! By re-thinking our lifestyles and re-prioritizing spending and buying, we truly model what it means to “make lemonade out of lemons.”


About the Writer: Former magazine editor Norma J. Goldman enjoys a successful freelance writing career in retirement. She lives in Nashville, TN. Learn more about how the Free Will Baptist Board of Retirement and Insurance can help you. Visit



©2010 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists