As a family, we always try to be good stewards of our money. In our personal life, we do a monthly budget and keep track of our spending. When it comes to missions work, and spending other people’s money (donations), we want to make sure that not only are we spending our money wisely, but that we are keeping a good record of how it was spent.
I devised a very simple method to keep track of our money while we were on our mission trip. Basically, I kept an envelope to store all of my receipts, and at the end of the day, I would record all of our purchases into a google sheets document. By using Google sheets, I could access it from my phone or any device that was connected to the internet.
We also tracked two budgets while we were away. Our mission budget served to cover the costs of anything that was related to our trip, whether it be food, supplies, or transportation. Our personal budget was used on days where we had some time off and went to explore the island or have a little fun.
A quick breakdown of what our trip looked like financially is as follows:
(I have grouped costs here for simplicity, this does NOT include personal budget for leisure time)
Total Amount Raised: $4113.05 (Fundraising, Private Donations, Church Donations)
YWAM room/board: $500.00
Project Wireless purchases for base: $339.29
Airport Meals: $186.59
Gas Money: $32.40
Support for Missionaries: $294.29
Supplies for apartment: $72.67
Total money remaining: $111.46 (given back to the church mission fund)
A few notes on the budget… We ate most of our lunch and dinners at the YWAM base (price included in room/board), but groceries were needed for breakfast, snacks, and a few weekend meals when we were not at the base during mealtimes. If you have ever been to a small island, you know that the prices are MUCH higher than buying groceries at home. For example, at home I can buy a 1 lb. package of butter for around $2.50 and in St. Croix, the cheapest brand was $5 a package! I packed quite a bit of groceries in our luggage (pancake mix, snacks, etc.) to help offset the costs some.
I COMPLETELY underestimated how expensive it would be for a family of four to eat in airports for two full days of traveling. We tried to find sensibly priced meals, and had the kids share food whenever possible, but there is no avoiding the fact that it costs quite a bit.
We decided to purchase a few items that were needed in the apartment we stayed in, such as frying pans, a dish rack, and a few other necessary items. And the “support for missionaries” was money we used to try and bless the full-time missionaries while we were there. Whether it was a flat out donation to someone, or simply inviting them out to breakfast or dinner. It gave us a chance to lighten their burden somewhat and hopefully bless them a little.
We are thankful and humbled that God would lead people to give us their hard earned money and our hope is that we were good stewards of that trust. Our time there was fruitful and necessary and we just can’t thank God enough for his provision and his investment in our little family.