Strategies for Saving and Spending in a Cash Society

One of the many adjustments we had to make upon moving to Nepal was learning to live in a cash society. While there are a few places that take credit (I can think of one!), the majority of shops, restaurants, services, and utility providers accept only cash. When you pay cash for every last little thing, it just seems to fly out of your wallet!

We came to this country with next to nothing, so there is always something that needs to be bought. Jo needs socks. Shep needs bigger pants. Mom needs shampoo. Dad needs undershirts. The trash guys need paid and the water bill is due, too.

Add all those up after a week of language school sans free time, and we have ourselves a pretty hefty shopping list. Putting it on the debit card would feel pretty painless. I could even tell myself its not THAT much, but handing over a stack of 1000 Rupee notes (equal to 10 USD) is enough to send me into a total panic!

Aside from our big monthly hauls, we are always picking things up here and there. There’s a shop for meat. A shop for fruits and veggies. A shop for clothes. A shop for underwear. A shop for office supplies. A shop for toys. A shop for beauty products. And so on.

I have a constant awareness of products around me that we want/need. The fresh strawberries call my name from the side of the road. The shoe shop with the fuzzy boots makes me suddenly aware my feet are cold. I saw a new brew at the coffee shop this week. I have 500 Rupees ($5) in my pocket. The wheels are turning… I wouldn’t swipe my debit card for a smoothie, but I could pull out a few of those rupees.

Separating my wants from needs has become increasingly difficult and sometimes overwhelming for me. If I have it in my head I need a new scarf, for instance, I am undoubtedly going to pass 40 shops hanging them in their windows!

Some strategies that have helped me with saving money in this cash society…

  • Let my husband handle the money. Ask him for money when I need it. Thankfully, he is a generous man!
  • Take the change when he pays taxis. A little bit adds up over time and pays for my needs here and there.
  • Resist the urge to buy a 40 cent snack every time I pass a shop–or 75 cent coffee…let’s be real, that’s the real struggle here.
  • Buy in bulk whenever possible. Nearly 18 lbs. of strawberries on my counter at the moment for which I paid $20. This is why freezer bags are constantly on my someone-send-me list.
  • Be willing to try brands other than the ones I am familiar and comfortable with.
  • Know when convenience is worth the extra $$$ and when it’s not.
  • Make a shopping list and STICK TO IT (even if they got a shipment of Reese Cups in this week!!)
  • Meal plan based on what is in season.
  • Know how much is/was in my wallet at all times. Be aware of what is being spent and where.
  • Shop American brands we like online during sales and arrange for them to be brought or sent. Many times this is cheaper than paying the import tax for clothes we aren’t necessarily fond of. Learning my lesson on that one.
  • Avoid the “dummy tax.” Know how much things should cost. Set a limit on what I want to spend. Know that many shopkeepers will start high because I am a foreigner. Speaking the language is insanely helpful in this scenario.Dave Ramsey probably wouldn’t let me advise anyone. I am just thankful for all the Lord has provided for our family and all that I have learned about stewarding His financial blessings in this wonderful country.

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Do you have money saving strategies that help you steward God’s money?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!


5 Things My Children Need to See Me Do

It is a well-known (but often understated) fact that mothers have a strong influence in the lives of their children. The following 5 things are just a few of the “better caught than taught” behaviors I feel strongly need to be modeled for mine.

  1. Loving Daddy
    Yesterday, I asked my daughter, “How do you know that Daddy loves me?” She replied, “Because you kiss him whenever you want!” (Has someone showed her Sweet Home Alabama, or what?) She notices and needs to see this sweetness and affection shared between the two of us. My kids must see me respectfully encouraging his leadership in quiet submission and loving him in the quiet, less noticeable ways. The ways that change my home and give my children their perspective on marriage. My daughter talks often of getting married and having a family. I’d like to think it’s because we have so much love and so much fun in our house! More than anyone else, we are forming her views on the world and on marriage and family.
  2. Working
    We take advantage of  the affordability of house help here because it frees me up for language study and family time, provides an in-home Nepali speaker, and gives us influence on an unsaved or newly saved person. But I don’t want my children to think that the only person working in our home is our house helper! Some jobs are only mommy jobs and I will do any job that needs to be done at any time. My kids need to learn that habitual laziness is not acceptable and that hard work won’t kill ’em!
  3. Reading my Bible
    I remember seeing my mom every morning, sitting by the small lamp light, coffee in hand, reading her BibleWhile she never drew attention to this habit or forced it on me, she encouraged me to read the Word by her faithful testimony. I want to do the same for my children. These days, it’s so easy to just read on a device. However, my children need to know that I am reading my Bible and not scrolling through my Facebook feed. And that can only be evident with the Holy Bible in written form (English…Nepali…or both!) open before me.bibles
  4. Giving
    My children need to see mommy as a giver of all that has been given to me. This can be complicated in missionary life where our income comes from the gift of others, we are sent care packages while on the field and spoiled like crazy when we are on furlough. When the plate is passed, my hands need to be putting something in. When I am presented with the needs of others, my heart needs to be stirred into action. When we partake in the gifts God has given us, we need to share them. My life needs to be an overflowing fountain of the grace of God seeping into the lives of those around me. The people I know need to live better for knowing me and my children need to be more generous for observing my giving spirit.
  5. Forgiving and Asking forgiveness
    This is so big and has presented itself so many times over the past several months. I have to model forgiveness in giving and receiving. When I am wronged, I need to display a spirit of forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t have to be deserved or requested to be given. And thankfully so. Tensions have run high around our house when we have been under the great stress of an international move, natural disasters, and economic crises. My attitude and tongue have gotten away from me, and I have had to ask for forgiveness. It is difficult to admit wrong, but my kids need to see this. They need to know that mommy is imperfect, saved by the grace of God, doing my best, making mistakes and in need of grace. They should understand the love and forgiveness of Christ by what is modeled in our home.10384896_10154735939250511_8065171325237398765_n

    I can’t control who my children turn out to be or even if they choose to accept Christ and serve Him with their lives. But I can control what, rather WHO, they see in me. Always praying that He will ultimately make the difference in their lives, and that, just maybe, He would use me to do it. I can think of few greater honors.
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What behaviors do you believe you should model for your children?
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!

Confessions of a Missionary Hoarder

During my 30 Day Blogging Challenge I shared with you the temptation for missionaries to become materialistic on the mission field. I am following up that post, where I shared all that I am learning through that struggle, with a closer, more humorous look at my hoarding habits.

I’ve always considered myself a minimalist, though maybe more in theory than in practice. My husband, who finds joy in throwing things away , turned me into the puzzled person standing in her closet saying, “Where’s the shirt I bought to match this skirt? Oh yeah…I took it to Goodwill.”

But the mission field has changed me. While I don’t think I could qualify to be featured on the disturbing reality show, I think it is safe to say I am a hoarder. But I fall into a whole other category…

My name is Amber Taube, and I am a missionary hoarder.

I buy clothes and shoes 2 years ahead of time, and panic when my kids grow faster than expected. In case you were wondering, yes, we are expecting a flood.

I currently have 8 bags of chocolate chips in my pantry. The Nestle Toll House morsels only get used on occasions deemed special enough for these tiny pieces of gold. I used the bag my mom brought in July on the 1st of December, if that tells you anything. I don’t plan on using the bag of marshmallows until I hear the trumpet sound…or I get another bag, whichever comes first.

We have a goodie cabinet on lock and key. And when some careless soul leaves it vulnerable, and my vulture toddler finds her way into the stash, I nearly shed a tear to see the evidence of THREE opened packages of graham crackers on the floor. Doesn’t she know I was saving those!? …For…something…I’m not sure what.

And when my 1-year-old mess machine dumped the entire bag of decaf coffee on the floor, I grounded him until his third birthday and returned all of his Christmas presents. I didn’t really do that, but I may have if they had more than a 2 day return policy here… Have I shocked you yet?

I probably have enough baby food to feed that monster baby for a few weeks should we completely run out of food. But I’d rather feed him a piece of old bread off of the floor (or ALL that decaf) than crack one open in haste.

I have at least 6 Bath & Body foaming hand soaps resting in my bathroom cabinet. And us adults are the only ones allowed to use it. The rosewater anti-bacterial stuff is better for the kids, right? That’s what I keep telling myself anyway when I think about how much fun my kids would have with the foam. Probably too much. My daughter is obsessed with “making her hair pretty” these days with whatever she can get her hands on, including ALL of the detangling spray I’ve been saving since her baby shower anxiously anticipating the arrival of her gorgeous locks.

Have you contacted the Hoarders casting agent, yet? Maybe they can fund our first church plant!

Of course, I am exaggerating…a bit. And if we had cooking gas right now I would have made a few batches of cookies and sometimes I nearly bathe in the foaming hand soap.

I am really so thankful for the sacrifices made of those who support us, fund my hoarding habits, and enable me by sending me great stuff worth hanging onto until the moment I can truly savor the sentiment. Now, does anyone know a good therapist in Kathmandu?

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What I’ve Learned in 30 Days of Blogging

I have learned many things in this month I’ve dedicated to blogging. And now, because I’ve somehow lured you here again, I am going to share a few of these things with you!

I have learned that blogging is a DISCIPLINE! I can see that those who run great blogs really have to make a full-time job out of it! Thankfully, I have a better job and this is just fun for me (is that weird? maybe it’s weird…). A commitment to blogging every day was intense and was quickly a source of regret. Daily blogging will not be a regular thing for me!

Sharing on a blog often puts me in a vulnerable position. Sometimes it was so hard to put myself out there. The posts I struggled to share the most were: We’re not in Kansas Anymore and Flexibility and Feelings of Children. But there were many I almost took down immediately!

I have realized that I have more time on my hands than I thought. What was I doing with it before? I enjoyed fewer moments on social media which can be a source of discouragement for me, and I also let some things slide that I thought were important that I realized I held too high and enjoyed a break from!

Facing my thoughts and feelings head on and confronting them with the Word has been a challenging, therapeutic, and transformative process.

God showed his goodness to me in an all new way in that He would use something He was teaching me to influence another person’s life through written word.

I have incredibly supportive friends, family, supporting church staff and members, and husband. I had some friends who read every day! My mom was “that mom” who made sure her friends were reading daily along with her. I heard many an encouraging word from pastors wives and had a couple posts read in church services or printed in a bulletin. Finally, my husband reminded me to write, helped with kids and housework to give me writing time, and patiently waited for me to finish up posts when he wanted to watch a movie or head on to bed. All of this support encourages me to carry on with my real job…missionary mom…and do my best for the glory of God in this country.

To sum it up…blogging every day has been challenging, rewarding, fun, and terrible all at the same time! Thanks for following me on this weird and wild journey of sharing the crazy thoughts that go through my head as I live my life in this strangely amazing place! I’m so thankful for all that the Lord has taught me through it, and I look forward to continuing to share what He continues to do in and through me, my family, and the Lord’s ministry here.


Have you tried to start or maintain a blog?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!



Materialism on the Mission Field?

I have found that materialism is a real temptation to a missionary on the foreign field.

What I have seen as tempting is not necessarily stockpiling goods (though I did a bit of that today in preparation for the coming holiday). Rather, it is a focus on the presence or absence of material things.

It is tempting to find comfort in goods both vital and superfluous to a typical American’s existence. Chocolate chips and marshmallows might not seem like a big deal to you, but I can’t deny that there was a HUGE smile on my face when I opened a care package containing these precious ingredients just in time for a Thanksgiving feast.

The problem does not lie in my love of these sweet morsels. I cross into dangerous territory, however, when I allow my happiness to rise and fall with what is on the supermarket shelf or waiting at the post-office for my prompt pick-up.

If there is any seed of discontentment inside, it will be well-watered with the steady-flow of complaint when faced with a lack of some item I’ve dubbed necessary.

While it is not wrong to desire things that make me feel just a little bit more at home, when they cease to fill my cupboards, I am forced to face myself.

Am I the puddle who cries over spilled milk and empty boxes of fruit snacks? Or am I the glue that holds my family together, shoots for two into the dustbin and says, “Well, that was fun!”

I want to be like Paul who finds his happy place despite a time of going without.

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Here, Paul expresses gratitude for the gift of love provided by the church of Philippi. He notes that he had not received such care for some time, but not to send them on a guilt trip. Rather, he wants them to know that he wasn’t hurting or pining for this gift that didn’t come. Though it may not have been an easy lesson, he had learned to be content. He had even learned to suffer with grace and contentment.

But how did he do it? Through Christ-supplied strength! When the support came, and when it didn’t, he knew he would be okay.

When the supermarket shelves are fresh out of whatever it is I think I really need at the moment, so will I. When the comforts of home just don’t find their way to my mailbox, I can be content.

But not because I am some super-human missionary woman that doesn’t have natural feelings. But because I can learn through Christ-supplied strength to face the day with the things I think I need to face it…or without.


Have you found contentment in Christ despite the familiar pull of materialism?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!