(Actually nobody has asked me that but I like to pretend I'm more popular than I am, so....there's that.)
In light of your inquiries, I thought I'd write this post to shed a little light into the McNutt World of Finances.
Firstly, let me clarify very deeply that we are not financial experts. So far from it in fact that Financial Experts may well reside on the North Pole and we're in the Bahamas. But still. A few things.
At the top of our priorities is cutting our monthly expenses every single place we can. We have no debt except our mortgage. Our cars are paid off. Our school loans are paid off. We pay off our credit card every single month. If we know that we can't pay it off at the end of the month, we don't charge it. Simple as mud pie on a cloudy day.
A couple years ago when our cell phone contract ended, instead of renewing we went with a prepaid plan that literally cut our cell phone bill in half. We get about the same number of minutes and texts but at half the price. Granted, our phones are from 1996 and mine drives me crazy on a near-daily basis, but the reality is that neither of us can justify paying the money to upgrade to smarter, nicer phones that we quite simply can live without.
When we bought our house two years ago we did not even factor in my income to what we could afford. On the chance that I would one day want to stay home with our kids, we decided we better make that part of the plan from the beginning. So our approval was based on Matt's income alone. For which I am obviously very thankful, because even though I could not imagine giving up my flight benefits then, that's obviously changed.
I mentioned before that we (i.e. I) love to go out to eat. But, and this is a big but, we almost never go out to eat at a restaurant unless I have a coupon. Instead we'll go to take-away (not fast food) places where we don't have to factor in drinks and appetizers and tips, etc. On the infrequent occasion we do go to a restaurant, then our coupons most often determine where we're going. I literally have a stack of them in my purse as we speak.
Neither Matt or I are big spenders. I love to shop but I don't often actually buy anything. I'm more of a looker, if you will. Matt's really good at scouring the internet for the cheapest price of an item. And I'm really good at supporting him because I'd rather put hot pokers in my eyes than do it myself.
Tedious work + me = sure and instant death.
Another area we save a lot of money is our clothing. Most of mine and the kids' clothes are second hand. Literally. I shop thrift stores, consignment stores, garage sales. This past summer I got Micah's entire 18-24 month wardrobe, including top of the line shoes, from a garage sale for $40. I've found if I keep my eyes open and do a little extra work, I save a ton of money.
Oftentimes, in my mind, I feel like I live simultaneously in this world (the American world) and the Third World. Many of you know I have a degree in International Studies, and I chose it for the sole purpose of doing mission work for the rest of my life. The very first time Matt and I ever hung out we talked about how that's what we both wanted to do. I'm not sure what that's going to look like, but we both absolutely believe it's in our future somehow. I've traveled to 19 different countries, many of them multiple times, and I've lived in several of them for extended periods of times. And I don't say any of that boastfully whatsoever. I say it to say why I live simultaneously in both places in my head. I love culture. I love every single people group I've had the privilege of interacting with. I think the most gracious, giving, kind, friendly people I've ever known have been those in the poorest places I've ever been. I've experienced the greatest friendship in the most "inconvenient" of circumstances with the added bonus of the camaraderie of flying cockroaches.
(Unrelated side note: for those of you who have known me for approximately 17 seconds, you know that I have a teeny tiny obsessive all-consuming fear of anything of an Insect Nature. So if I've experienced good times even in the midst of flying cockroaches, then you know the people were pretty amazing.)
(Another unrelated side note: the only real panic attack I've ever almost experienced was in the middle of the Amazon jungle and had to do with the bugs I was sure were going to jump up and eat me alive as I used the restroom in the Great Outdoors.)
So. With all that said, I often weigh what I'd like with how it compares to what's needed by so many people elsewhere.
This relates to what we give as well. Matt and I are huge believers in giving, per la Biblia. And I'm not talking just the 10% mandate (that's a conversation for another day), I'm talking the example we find all throughout the New Testament of giving liberally to meet one another's needs, and also the explicit mandates given throughout the entire Bible to care for the poor. For example.
"For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance should supply your need, that there may be fairness" (2nd Cor. 8:14, emphasis mine).
I could write an entire mini-book on this, but succinctly put, our giving should promote equality and fairness with one another, which includes our brothers and sisters who wonder where their next meal will come from. So you can understand why I get a teensy bit irked (read: a lot irked) when our giving builds one more fancy church complete with coffee shop when 20,000 people will die of hunger today.
That being said, I bought a latte this week. So, there's that too. Again, by God's grace, we're all in process, but if Matt and I can be more intentional about our giving so the true burdens of others are lifted, then yes again and again.
Whenever I wonder if I can "afford" to give, I literally tell myself that if I can afford to buy one latte this month, go out to eat one time, buy one unneeded item, then I absolutely can afford to give. I'd rather cut those things than reduce our giving to real needs.
So, that, in a nutshell, my friends, is the Financial Plan of the McNutts. Hope all of you who submitted your questions concerning this (see: none of you) feel that I sufficiently answered your inquiries.