How to Scale down in tough economic times

In Slower Economic Times Set a Budget and Find Ways to Enact the Law of Sowing and Reaping

At harvest time, a farmer will often believe he is going to harvest a large crop. But long before he picks the first green bean or digs up the first potato, he begins to prepare the buildings in which he will store his crops. He may add an additional support beam to the hay loft, or repair a leak in the roof of his grain silo. The cellar might need to be cleaned out and purged of any old food, to prevent spoilage of the new crop.

While families today may not be farmers, they still can practice many of the farming principles during difficult financial seasons. These principles are called faith steps for a future financial harvest.

The first step is to evaluate the condition of the storehouse. Just like the farmer, purge the leftovers and repair the leaks. These two things can help bring financial order to the household, and are very simple things that should become habitual. This means to eliminate things that are not being used and make sure nothing is wasted.

For example, open up all the closets, drawers, cabinets and cubbyholes. Pull out things that do not get used. If it hasn't been touched in the last six months, chances are it will not be missed, unless it is an item used for seasonal events like camping or Christmas.

Start at one end of the house and work toward the other end. Go through the kitchen, living room, family room, rec room, bedrooms, bathrooms, attic, garage, and even off-site storage units. Chances are there will be a hoard of things that are cluttering up the house that can be turned into either money or giving opportunities.

Give away kitchen items to a young married couple. Give children's clothes and toys to a single mom. Send other unused items to either a gleaning service like the Salvation Army, or host a yard sale. An uncluttered home promotes an uncluttered mind. It also acts as a cleansing agent, purging the household of stagnate possessions. It's like draining a swamp to make a tropical oasis.

The second part to these faith steps includes eliminating financial leaks through wasted foods and household items. For example, use fresh fruits and vegetables before they spoil. Arrange the refrigerator in such a way that perishable foods and leftovers can be seen easily by keeping them in the front. Also, don't buy foods just because they are on sale if there's a chance they may not be eaten before the expiration date, unless they can be frozen.

As for household items, use what is needed without using too much. For example, follow the quantity directions with items like floor cleaners, laundry soap, dishwasher detergent, and the like. The cost of these items can add up, so measure cleaning supplies instead of randomly dumping or pouring. Select specific days to do laundry and stick to them. In addition, don't wash what isn't dirty. (This is specifically for those with kids who tend to put everything in the laundry hamper.)

These are only a handful of suggestions for saving money where possible. However, the key is not to be overwrought with penny pinching. Simply be mindful of what is being used and how much so that the budget is not filled with careless spending on items that are wasted.

Written by: Amy Miller