5 Fast Ways to Save Money in February

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Can you believe that it’s already February? 2019 is well underway, and February is the shortest month of the entire year. So, if you find yourself with a full to-do list, you may find yourself very busy this month, as February has the smallest number of working days.

The good news is that when it comes to money, lots of tiny little steps can add up to a BIG difference. Whether you’re dealing with a job loss, or celebrating a promotion at work, or just holding steady with the same-old-same-old, consider five fast ways to save money this month:

Check Your Payroll Deductions

In this new year, your take-home pay may be different due to personal circumstances. Your tax situation or your relationship status may have changed. Maybe now you’re a parent with a new baby! Maybe you’ve gained income from a side hustle or maybe you’ve lost income from the only job you’ve ever had in your entire life. Regardless of the changes, check all your pay stubs and make sure there are no mistakes. If you’re receiving unemployment income, verify that the amount you’re receiving matches the amount the state has awarded to you. Human error happens, so make sure you’re not losing out on anything!

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Buy Some Candy- After Valentine’s Day

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying wait until February 15th to buy a sweet for your sweetie! What I am saying is that I personally can never have too much chocolate, so I will be watching the stores for the post-Valentine’s Day sales to stock up on extra chocolate. I don’t care what kind of packaging it comes in – chocolate is chocolate to me! If you have a sweet tooth, the day after Valentine’s Day can be a clearance paradise, so you too can stock up (unless your significant other has loaded you down with so much chocolate that you have no room for more).

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Love-Themed, Heart-Themed, I-Love-You, I-Like-You, Anything Sales

Going hand-in-hand with the candy that gets marked down on February 15, you might see other items marked down after Valentine’s Day. Think items like cups, napkins, paper plates, guest towels, hand towels, candles, coffee mugs, pencils, pens, random things like that. Anything seasonal in the Valentine’s Day area will probably be marked down the day after. These types of things could be great to pick up and you could score a great deal on them. If it’s a cute hand towel with a heart on it, you could potentially use it year round in your bathroom (if it’s a good quality and it holds up). If you’re planning a wedding or an anniversary party, you might even get lucky and find supplies you can use (that are cheaper than items marketed as “wedding”).

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Saving Money on Energy Costs

Another area to really think about with savings is your energy bill. If you live in a part of the country that’s impacted by extreme cold this time of year, you know how much of a connection there is between the weather and the energy bill. If you can just do a quick walk-through of your home, you may be able to assess the opportunities to save energy. Are your windows, doors, or other parts of your home allowing cold air to pour in? Are there unfinished rooms of your home that you might be able to insulate? Would a space heater make you more comfortable when it gets really cold? Just thinking about a problem won’t fix it, but it’s a starting step.

Use Your Christmas Gift Cards

Do you still have gift cards left over from Christmas? If so, now is the perfect time to use them. A lot of brick and mortar stores are doing their final markdowns – clearing out the winter stock to make room for spring items – which can give you some nice deals to start with. Combine that with a gift card, and you can get an even better deal. Thinking through a list of items you need or want in advance can help you make the most of it.

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All views are the author’s own and content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

Singles, How to Make the Most of the Time

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Have you ever thought about what it means to “redeem the time”? In Ephesians 5:16, we’re told to “redeem the time” (or, as some versions read, “make the most of the time”). Have you ever thought about how this could apply to your life if you’re a Christian single with a desire for marriage?

Waiting is hard. It can be painful, filled with hurt and discomfort. It can be filled with ambiguity. There can be tension in waiting. As Christians, we’re encouraged to “trust in the LORD” with all our hearts (Proverbs 3:5-6), yet nowhere in the Bible are we given the promise of a future spouse. So, with confident expectation, we can do our part, and we can pray, but there’s that other part – the faith part- that means we have to hand over the reins and trust God that He will help with all the other parts in the process that we can’t control.

So what’s that got to do with our time, with redeeming the time or making the most of the time?

It’s my opinion that there’s a lot we can do while we’re waiting. If you’re praying and asking God to bring you a husband or a wife, or you’re asking God to heal your broken heart, I can’t make your prayers come true or fix your broken heart. However, I do think that waiting can be viewed as a time of preparation, rather than desperation. This can give us hope.

Waiting can be viewed as a chance to prepare for what we want – a future season of marriage. If you hope and want for marriage, you can take the opportunities now for making your single life the best that it can be. Don’t settle for dating people who don’t respect you, just because you’re alone. Don’t buy the idea that you are “less than” because you’re not in a relationship. Don’t accept the idea that you have to be in a relationship – you don’t.

You can give yourself some power if you feel uncomfortable with the unknown. I think that being single can give great opportunities for positive change. Focusing on these things while you’re single can allow you to experience blessings in your own life. And, if you get the marriage you’re praying for, the results of these changes could bless your future spouse as well. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Redeeming the Time Financially

If you’re single, why not consider the state of your financial house? If you don’t have financial goals that you’ve thought about, now’s the time to think on it and go for it! Big goals like saving for a house, paying down student debt, building an emergency fund, or being able to give to a charity you have a soft spot for – these are all things you can enjoy doing while you’re single. While you don’t have to stop these things when you get married, being solo means that you’re number one with no one else to answer to. Since I’m single, I expect that if I ever get married, that kind of “Me Only” mentality that I have with my finances would not make for a successful partnership. Having a husband would mean the game would have to change from “me” to “we”.

Redeeming the Time, At Work

Some girls have only one goal in life: get married, have kids, and be a stay-at-home mom. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having that goal. Motherhood is a high and noble calling. Partnerships of families where the mother is home with her young kids, and the kids feel safe and secure – these partnerships can create good kids who grow up to be good people. If this is your goal as a woman – to find a partner, get married, and be a homemaker – how can you redeem the time to that end? I don’t think that eliminates doing your best at a job outside the home. Being able to contribute financially can be an asset to your future household. Ruth, in the Bible, is an excellent example of this. Her second husband, Boaz, would never have met her had he not seen her work ethic displayed when she was gathering food.

Being single can be a great time to accomplish goals and acquire skills that can serve your family, regardless of your parenting plans. I probably never would have been able to finish my college education had I not been single when I was going to school. If I was a working mother with kids to care for, it would have been impossible. I couldn’t have done it; it would have been too much.

For men and women, being single is the perfect time to tackle time-consuming goals. What might you accomplish? Have you been thinking about going back to school, getting an extra certification, learning a new language, or going for a promotion at work? Being single gives you more time to take the steps you might need in order to advance your career before your family needs more of your attention.

Redeeming the Time, Just for Fun

Not everything has to be serious! Some things can be just for fun. Have you thought about starting a side hustle, going mountain biking, starting a website, or learning how to cook? Have you binge watched anything stupid lately, ate breakfast in bed, or re-decorated your bedroom? Would you enjoy doing a service project or clearing out some clutter, Kon-Mari style? Not everything has to have a goal – some things can be just for fun – and when you’re single, you get to be the boss!

I hope that wherever you are in your life, you can find a way to make the most of the time and enjoy it! You’re worth it!

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All views are the author’s own and content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

Four Marks of Date-Worthy Men (Or Women)

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There’s a new show on Netflix called Back With The Ex that has a unique premise. Four former couples – who dated and separated for various reasons – have a chance to re-unite and decide: Do we want to give this another go? Or should we stay apart, forever? It’s interesting to watch couples go through what is essentially an autopsy of their relationship. As a single woman, I’ve watched this series with a critical eye. For one couple in particular, I can’t help but think that the goal of marriage must be on one of the women’s minds – considering that she clearly wants it and he, well, has not proven himself to be a family man.

For Christian singles, there’s so much being said about dating, courting, and so on. Some of it is good and some of it is lacking. I believe that now more than ever one thing is for certain: if you are a true, deep in your heart Christian, it’s tough to be a “Christian single”. The path can be lonely so please know that if you’re a Christian single who desires to find a teammate that compliments you and your life, I understand where you’re sitting in life, because that’s exactly where I am. No matter where you’re sitting in your life – maybe you’re single again, had a broken engagement, or just getting into the whole dating world, please know that the Father loves you more than anyone in this world can.

I think it can be helpful for Christian singles to think about what their non-negotiables are when looking for someone to potentially share their lives with. Especially Christian women – because it can seem like eligible Christian women outnumber Christian men. If you feel like you’ve been waiting forever, you need to anchor yourself to what your are looking for in a partner. Remember, you are are NOT crazy if you’re asking for these things:

Care and Concern for Others – I’ve done my share of church hopping and I no longer attend a church. But I do remember one congregation that gave people the opportunity to pray out loud during the service (if they wanted to). One man in our group – who society might unfairly expect to be out of touch with things – would pray in great detail for so many people. His prayers included world events because he kept up with things. His compassion was evident. While he depended on others for certain things, he was clearly a man of prayer, compassion, care, and concern for others.

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As we go about our lives, whether it’s sizing up a potential mate or striving for our own character improvement, we can look at the traits of care and concern for others. These can manifest themselves in various forms. If we look at ourselves and see that these qualities are lacking, we can always ask God to give us more empathy (but beware, ask and you shall receive!) And if you’re looking at a relationship,  you can ask the Lord if this area is lacking in the person so much that it is a red flag or if it’s an area where he or she is growing (as we all grow and mature).

While not everyone will have the gift of deep prayer, your love interest could have another gift, like wanting to give to the needy, or being a great listener, or performing acts of service. Maybe she sings in the choir at church, or he does manual work for free or just speaking a kind word to someone without anyone else knowing it can be an expression of a caring heart. Having a caring, concerned heart for those in need is a wonderful trait when you consider the type of person you’ll choose to spend your time with. Having no concern, no empathy, no care is something to certainly think twice about. Proceed with caution (or not at all) if you suspect this to be the case.

Fidelity/Faithfulness/Integrity – Ever seen the show Cheaters? The poor folks who ask the producers of the show to find out if their beloved is cheating on them… such a sad situation. Not having trust in a relationship really leaves nothing left; wouldn’t you be better off alone? It’s critical to know that the person you’ve chosen will be faithful to you. This is not about casting judgement towards other people, but this is about what we, as singles, want for our own lives.

Christian women (and men), if you want a partner who is loyal and faithful to you only, you might feel like you’re waiting forever, but you are not crazy. Want a guy who is dating you but doesn’t get an ego boost from flirting with other women? Yeah, you might feel like that’s a rare catch, too! The saying goes that how you catch them is how you keep them, so while you might feel lonely not trying to catch a man by wearing short skirts and low cut tops, you’re more likely to “catch” a man who is like-minded, morally speaking.

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Solid Work Ethic – Charm, looks, muscles and a good tan – sounds good, doesn’t it girls? But I have to tell you what my mom has always told me (and still feels the need to tell me) – it ain’t all about that. One of my favorite YouTubers says that we all get old and we all get ugly – that’s also another way to put it! The person you’re interested in – do they have a desire to work? (At least while their employer is paying them to?) Does she want to be a Proverbs 31 woman so she can create a warm, loving household or a successful business venture? Got your eyes on that man at the office, girls? Those TPS reports he has to do at work may seem stupid, but does he do his work as unto the Lord? Work comes in various forms, so look at the person you’re interested in and ask yourself (and God) if they have the character trait of a good work ethic. While we all like to rest and have fun (I certainly do), there’s a time for work too. A man (or woman) who abuses their employer’s time will probably find themselves without a job (or at the very least, on thin ice), which can cause a great amount of stress.

Good Steward of Resources – Does he blow all his money gambling? Does he spend more than he earns? Does she have to have the best of everything, getting all tied up in having a high status, top appearance, and making other people think she’s the best? Does he try to save a little bit, even if it means he can’t have the fanciest car? While there are many times in life that we can fall upon bad luck through no fault of our own, you can ask yourself if the person is, in general, a good steward of their resources. Do they think about the future in general terms of what they want? Or are they irresponsible, making huge, messed up choices, that could impact you or your children, in a big way? No one is perfect and we all do things we shouldn’t. No one is in perfect condition – we are all works in progress and will be until the day we die. But if you’re attracted to someone who has a major issue of irresponsible living, it will impact you. Especially when there is no desire to change, it’s probably best to just cut your losses and move on, and consider that you’ve dodged a bullet.

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All views are the author’s own and content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

Visible Threat by Janice Cantore, Book Review

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Police officer Brinna Caruso is passionate about fighting crime. With her canine partner Hero, she’s proud of her reputation for zealously hunting down those who harm her community, and Caruso has a particularly soft spot for the predators who victimize children. When the dead body of a young woman turns up in her jurisdiction, it won’t be a typical open-and-shut case. The case evolves and although Caruso is always emotionally invested in protecting innocent people, there’s something different about this case. Professional and personal boundaries blur, and suspense continues to build.

Additionally, a dash of romance makes the story more interesting, and the amount is just enough to sweeten the story without making it sappy or overly sentimental. The faith component of this story is present, but it’s presented in small doses and very realistic ways, meaning that it isn’t preachy, and it has substance. The spiritual questions and answers offered resemble a conversation that real people would have.

Visible Threat greatly exceeded my expectations and I would be very happy to read more of Janice Cantore’s work.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. The thoughts expressed here are my honest opinions of this product.