Want To Save Money? Stop Buying In Bulk

This article from Fast Company points out the surprising amount of food waste by families who shop in bulk. Freezers and refrigerators can certainly help food last longer, but the average American family of four throws away over $2,000 worth of food each year.

I’ll admit: although I don’t really buy in bulk, I do need to get better about buying just what we need, so we use what we buy. (I especially overestimate the amount of fruits and veggies we’ll eat in a week.)

2014 Goals: Going Deep

Happy New Year!

I have done a lot of reflecting in the last few weeks about the year behind and the year ahead. For me, 2013 was about breadth and expansion. I enjoyed new relationships, new ministry, new work opportunities, and involvement in the boys’ new activities. I read voraciously, devouring 67 books including the entire Bible. For our family, it was a year of travel, exploration of our new city, and of seeing friends and family from around the country.

For 2014, I feel God calling me to the opposite: to a year of going deep. A focus on quality over quantity. On roots over fruit. On input rather than measurable output. Here is how I expect this focus on depth to look in various areas of my life in the new year:

  • Spiritual: I will focus on prayer, meditation, devotional reading, and deeper Bible study on a few books and topics, including wisdom literature, specifically Proverbs and Ecclesiastes at the start of the year. I want my year to be directed by God’s whispers instead of my own bold proclamations.
  • Marriage: Dave and I have committed to intentionally making our marriage even stronger in 2014, using some shared reading and discussion resources to go deeper with each other.
  • Parenting: I will continue to nurture deep relational roots with each of my boys, prioritizing time to connect, instruct, and really listen.
  • Reading: My Amazon Wish List contains only five books at the moment. I don’t know how many books I will read in 2014. I don’t feel the need to set a specific goal in this area this year. I may just keep reflecting on all that I read last year!
  • Writing: I may blog less, as I desire to spend concentrated time and energy on a few other writing projects. I am not sure yet what my writing will look like in 2014.
  • Ministry: I will limit new commitments and stick with my existing ones: playing guitar on the worship team, leading a small group, and directing our church’s annual family camp.
  • Work: This is the one area where I will be developing a list of specific goals for the new year. There will be some expansion but also a lot of time spent improving and strengthening existing courses and programs. And my focus will be my full-time job with Capital Seminary, instead of multiple projects with multiple institutions.
  • Relationships: I know I will always make new connections and relationships, but in 2014 my focus will be on investing deeply in a few relationships, really walking with these dear friends in the year ahead.
  • Financial: I will continue to pay ahead on my student loans. Our goal is to be completely debt-free (including mortgage) in another nine years. We will also add to our long-term savings and retirement funds to build a stronger foundation for the future.
  • Health: I will focus on mindful habits in the areas of diet, exercise, and rest. I want to lose ten pounds and get stronger, leaner, and more flexible through sustainable practices, not quick fixes.
  • Leisure: The focus in this season of life is on family time and activities. We have several great family trips already on the calendar for 2014. I will enjoy supporting the boys in their friendships and activities. We have renewed our diligence to protect family meal time, our weekly family meeting, and other connection times. I also have a specific goal to create a cookbook of our family standbys and favorites.

From “Citius, Altius, Fortius” in 2013 to “Cultivatus” in 2014: I look forward to a year of strengthening and nourishing the roots that are essential to a lifetime of rich, effective and fulfilling relationships, work and ministry.

Quotable

“Generous giving, especially to the materially neediest people of our world, proves so pervasive in Scripture, and is so often either commanded or commended, that it is hard to envision anyone seriously studying the Bible in detail and not concluding that stewardship must play a central role in any truly Christian lifestyle.”
– Craig Blomberg, Christians in an Age of Wealth (IVP, 2013)

Most And Least Financially Fit Schools In America

From Forbes.com: “Is Your College Going Broke? The Most and Least Financially Fit Schools in America.” A few observations:

  • The top spot for most financially fit school is Princeton University. No surprise there. Princeton has an endowment equal to $2 million per student.
  • Also no surprise, the top 25 include some of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious schools: Columbia, Harvard, Notre Dame, Stanford, Wellesley, Yale, Juilliard, Bryn Mawr.
  • There are a lot of Christian colleges with grades of C or D. The highest-rated explicitly Christian college is Wheaton (IL), at 57th on the list with an “A” grade.
  • My employer, Lancaster Bible College, came in 205th place with a grade of “B.”