As I've mentioned before, one of the sacrifices of the missionary lifestyle is living on a much reduced budget. It totally goes against the grain of what the world is telling us ... 'Bigger, Better, More' ... including the pay-packet. Knowing that our money is coming from supporters too has also been a big factor for us, as we feel we need to be a lot more responsible with it as well.
We have learnt to have a totally different perspective when it comes to money and 'things' since we got married and especially in the last four years. Knowing that we would be following the missionary path and that we didn't want to accumulate too many 'worldly goods' that we would have to ship all around the world with us when we got married,we did something different. We broke down a dream honeymoon in the Maldives into small chunks and asked guests to give us money towards different elements, including upgrades to a watervilla, spa treatments and scuba-diving as well as 'airmiles' towards the flights etc.
It was an amazing 10 days and something we would never have been able to have arranged or afforded ourselves! When we returned however we found that our car had been broken into and some items had been stolen. Not exactly how you picture ending your honeymoon ... but it has helped shape the importance that we place on our possessions right from the start of our marriage.
We often find ourselves looking longingly at items in shops and magazines and saying 'If we weren't doing what we're doing ...'! But do you know what, even though lots of our possessions are borrowed/secondhand/second choice we feel a freedom from accumulating things and what we have doesn't have as much importance in our lives. Basically we're living a much more contented lifestyle than we thought possible which was a totally unexpected bonus.
Since living in the States, we've also learned ways to save little extra bits here and there. In the UK, you can get the odd voucher from time to time to save money on your weekly groceries. In the USA, the equivalent 'coupons' are everywhere. Some people take coupon-ing so seriously that they can spend $1,000+ in a food store and literally come away having spent less than $10. It really is an artform of it's own and takes hours of preparation and organisation ... and way too extreme for me.
In the Sunday papers each week there are booklets literally full of coupons, see below. It was a trick we didn't learn until we'd lived in the States for at least a year (a tip to anyone welcoming new people to a new country ... fill them in on information like this, especially if you know they're on a tight budget! It may be obvious to you but it's probably not to them).
Since we discovered this, we have bought the papers on the way home from church most weeks. While we haven't changed our shopping habits to suit the coupons, we have found that we've saved $5-$10 a week on groceries on the stuff we would be buying anyway. While it may not sound like too much, when it adds up to $300-$500 a year, for little effort, it's definitely been worth it.
It has also meant a little bit of extra spending money for us ... so from time to time when we do see a couple of things we might like to buy we have been able to do just that. Definitely a win-win situation for us!