Byzconsin: Becoming Better Stewards

stewardshipSo, if you have been following our blog for awhile or know us personally, you will know that since moving to Wisconsin we have had our finances turned upside down due to a job layoff, compounded by there not being a whole lot of work in Manny’s field here in Wisconsin AND pay being much lower in Wisconsin than in California.

Ironically, one major reason we chose to move to the Midwest was because of finances. California was getting too expensive, especially for a large family like ours with only one income. Moving here was a perfect solution—or so we thought. When we moved here, Manny was able to keep his same job from California and just work from home. So he had a decent salary, and we expected our cost of living to go down quite a bit: No more commuting an hour to and from work, housing was cheaper, car registration less, utilities, etc. Basically, we thought everything was going to be great!!

Well first, not everything was as inexpensive as we thought. Utilities were not much cheaper, due to the need for so much heating for so many months. The water and sewage was a shocker—whoa, way more that we payed back in California. The cost of food wasn’t lower either. We don’t buy a bunch of processed stuff (that might cost less), so the meat, dairy and produce actually costs more here or about the same. Our clothing expenses went up because we needed so much more clothing. Back in Cali we wore sandals pretty much year round, now we needed shoes and clothing for the four seasons to live with lots of snow, mud, bugs, and not enough heat!

We definitely had some surprises. Not all bad though. Being able to buy a house has been huge for us. We may be paying more for meat and dairy but the quality is certainly better. Tasty meat and great cheese and butter. The butter and cheese from the Pine River Dairy is actually priced great and so dang good—unbelievably good. Besides finances driving us to make the move, living a healthier lifestyle was a major motivator. Having good quality food, including lots of farms around and the ability to grow a garden has been a big plus for us.

So Manny ended up with a job at Johnsonville, you know, the sausage people. He had some offers from Title companies (the line of work he was in for almost 20 years) but after figuring out commuting costs and with the family not feeling too comfortable with him going back to that line of work, it made more sense to try a career change. He is making less than he used to and we need to figure that out.

I have been going back and forth about getting a job. Sounds easy enough but when you figure that we live around 15 to 20 minutes away from other towns, I homeschool 5 kids and have 3 younger kids not in school yet, plus need to run the household, Manny works second shift, and Scarlett has a work schedule to deal with too, taking a part time job outside of the house isn’t that easy. I do get paid for some of my writing, but there is a reason for the “starving writer” expression! What to do?

Well I am definitely pursuing more writing projects and we are continuing work on our blog, but for an even more immediate help I have been looking at ways to save money. Often our first thought is, ‘How can I make more money?’ which was mine, but now I am thinking, ‘How can I save more money?’ Saving money is money in the bank so that’s what I am focusing on.

This also ties in to our desire to be good stewards of what God has given us. I have always tried to be frugal but this pinch makes me find additional ways that I can cut back. Usually time would prevent me from some money-saving strategies that I was aware of but never tried, but now I’m thinking ‘if I had to work outside of the house part time, I would have no choice but to make it work,’ so I am thinking the same about the time spent on money-saving strategies and also my writing projects. At least this way, I can schedule and plan the time to suit my family best and not follow someone else’s schedule.

I have to say, I am feeling good about these changes because they are forcing me to do things that I wanted to do anyway. I’m making laundry soap, we are cooking from scratch even more than we already did, we have long term goals for a garden and canning, plus other ideas. Being good stewards and living healthier is important to us; as Christians we want our faith to touch all areas of our lives; the money issues are making us take stock of many things and see where we can do better with what God has given us.

At first, these issues (which were quite serious) were so discouraging we questioned our decision to move here. We thought, ‘If moving here is what’s best for us, then why are we having such financial hardship–especially when a big reason for the move was finances?’

We have learned or had past lessons deepened from the turmoil. A few of them are: God’s will and His idea of what is best for us are often not our idea of those things and certainly not the world’s idea of success and good. Trusting God completely is an act, not an idea in our minds. No matter what we have ever struggled through God has never let us down, either by working through other people or providing the right opportunities just in the nick of time for us. We have to keep trusting He will provide in the way He deems best.

Detachment, poverty for the sake of Christ, humility–these are some of the things we have contemplated and have grown to understand more through this experience. As we are climbing out of this financial bog, it is much easier to see why God would allow such things to happen–it’s been good for our souls and what is more important than that.

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! I think it’s really beautiful how you all are seeking greater detachment, poverty, and humility through these struggles. I also think it’s cool how the money issues have caused you to do things like cooking from scratch and making soap! (I would love to make my own laundry soap someday, I’m hoping to gradually work towards that)

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