Whenever I make a grocery run, my price book helps me compare prices at several major stores so I know that I am getting the lowest price.
We go out to eat about twice a year which includes fast food runs and pizza nights.
We use cloth diapers, cloth napkins, and cloth paper towels.
Our home is decorated in a style I like to call Hand-Me-Down-Meets-Garage Sale.
Our clothes are hand-me-downs, garage sale, thrift store, and clearance rack finds.
We eat vegetarian 2-3 nights per week and make our own yogurt, bread, and granola.
I wash and reuse ziplock bags.
We own flip-phones and got our first TV last year (a hand-me-down of course).
This year we will finally replace several windows that have been patched together with either cardboard or duct tape for the last couple of years.
I create a budget every year that Husband and I agree upon and then follow, tracking even the smallest expenses.
I enjoy calculating in my head the rough cost of nearly everything: a light absentmindedly left on all day, the flush of a toilet, a 15 minute shower versus a 5 minute shower, hanging clothes to dry versus using a dryer, and one recipe versus another.
Sometimes when I share my latest frugal adventure with others, I get strange looks and sometimes even snickers. Share enough about your tightwad ways and you will soon be pegged a miser.
Life is short! Live a little! Enjoy your life and the fruit of your hard work!
I am thrifty, frugal, a tight-belted home economist, but I am not a miser.
Why we do what we do
Husband and I do not pinch pennies so we can accumulate more. Instead of following the beat of the American spending frenzy, we are making different choices. Maybe the craziest thing is that we don’t feel deprived. We have real joy!
We live frugally so that we can give big, steward God’s gifts, live free from the confines of debt, and focus on the eternal rather than the material.
The first conscious choice we’ve made is to live debt free. We don’t have payment plans for cars or other major purchases coming in every month. If we cannot pay for something upfront, we do not purchase it. Period.
The only debt we have ever carried was our home mortgage. Which we worked hard to pay off early.
The second choice we’ve made is to live simply and not embrace excess and perfectionism. There are times it creeps in and we find ourselves quietly coveting something new instead of being content with our dated or mendable current possession. We are constantly balancing our desire to acquire with contentment, frugality, and stewardship.
Everything is a gift from God. The thrifty wisdom of our parents, our income, our talents, our gifts – it is all just on loan from the Lord. Husband and I constantly ask ourselves how God wants us to spend our money. It’s His first not ours!
And that brings me to our fourth choice – generosity. The Lord doesn’t ask us to give, He commands us. No matter our income, we are to give.
There is the notion of tithing 10% of your gross income (income before taxes), but all of us are capable of going beyond this is some form or other.
In our family budget, tithing is the first line. All other expenses or savings are calculated on the money left after we have given our first fruits to God.
But we must be willing to give more….
My parents lived the essence of generosity. Mother was good at loving others with a casserole dish full of food. Daddy was good at reaching for the tab first when a large group of extended family gathered at a restaurant. We drank only water and would forgo dessert when we ate out, but you can be sure the waitress was well tipped. Christmas and birthday gifts were thoughtful and meaningful. They worked harder than anyone I’ve ever known so that they could help their daughters go to college.
You can pinch pennies, calculate savings, and follow a written budget, but if you are merely trying to amass wealth and get the “best deal”, then you are completely off track.
Are you willing to sacrifice a little so when someone else has a need you can “blow” your budget? Don’t put yourself in financially rocky water to help someone, but put yourself in a place where you can give in an unplanned way.
Or maybe God is calling you to generosity with your children. Are you willing to help them to the best of your financial capabilities with college or getting started in life? Helping our children with financial burdens like college may not always be appreciated in the moment, but they will one day rise up and call you blessed!
This type of radical generosity is the point of counter-cultural frugality.
Frugality, no matter your income, is not about amassing, but about generosity. Debt free living helps you to respond to the needs of others.
So no, frugality does not a miser make!
You’ll also like: