It’s amazing how much of our life revolves around money. We are either making money, spending money or using stuff on which we have spent money.
Yet for as much as we deal with money each and every day, it’s one topic that we rarely talk about. Part of the reason is that we all have challenges with finances, yet we feel we are alone in facing those challenges.
Maybe if we talked about money more, we would discover that most of us face the same challenges and we could learn from each other and support each other.
Another reason people hesitate to talk about money is the fear of being considered cheap. But there is a difference between being cheap and being frugal.
The dictionary definition of cheap is: not costing a lot of money; of low quality; not worth a lot of money; not willing to share or spend money.
The definition of fugal is: careful about spending money; using money or supplies in a very careful way.
The dictionary doesn’t mention this, but I believe that frugal people are good stewards. They understand that God owns everything and all they have is a blessing from God. This includes the money they have to spend and the material items they currently possess.
They feel a responsibility to obtain optimum value from their possessions and when something has outlived its usefulness to them, they will donate the item so someone else can use it.
Our responsibility to be a good steward is summed up in 1 Corinthians 4:2 “Now it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” Keeping in mind that a frugal person is also a good steward, let’s talk about what a frugal person does.
A frugal person desires to spend less money but the money saving decisions are made with a balanced lifestyle in mind. A frugal person knows enough to balance saving money against other areas of life such as time, energy, friendship, faith, love and health. For example, a frugal person, may haggle for a lower insurance rate, but would never take financial advantage of friends in a social situation.
A frugal person will make small sacrifices of their own resources—time, energy, and so on—to save money, but they generally won’t impinge on others to do so, nor will they sacrifice large quantities of their own resources to save money.
Being frugal means comparing both the price to buy something and the cost per use for that same item. Being frugal means balancing money savings against other factors. In some cases, a frugal person will pay more for a product where paying more is a better deal for their whole lifestyle.
A frugal person who jogs for exercise will buy the running shoes that best protect their feet and are appropriate for their use. Their decision is made with their overall health in mind, not simply the cost of the shoes. However, they will take advantage of end of year sales or coupons to buy their running shoe.
Frugal people are driven by maximizing total value, including the value of their time, effort and the use of the product. Being frugal is about prioritizing spending so that they can have more to spend on the things they really care about. Those who are frugal are resourceful with their spending, maximizing their dollars, so that they can fund big picture wants and dreams.
Frugal people follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule because they know this will prevent them from shelling out more money when something goes wrong with the car or the HVAC system later on. They request quotes from different vendors to make sure they get the best deal possible. They proactively request discounts if they are in the military, a senior citizen, or belong to an organization that may have a relationship with the vendor.
Frugal people only buy the clothing they need based on their clothing budget. They invest in basics that can be worn in a variety of ways and focus on buying classic wardrobe items, not fads. They’ll wear clothing from past seasons as long as it’s in good condition.
A frugal person will buy high-quality foods at lowest prices possible. They buy those foods at discounts, go to clearance sections, and use coupons to lower the prices as much as possible. They also buy in bulk to save and take advantage of buy-one-get one free offers for the products used often.
Frugal people will exercise regularly and will go to the park or exercise at home rather than paying for a gym membership that goes unused. And they know staying healthy will lower their medical costs.
Frugal people buy only what the kids need. They don’t mind having their children kids wear hand-me-downs or play with hand me down toys from friends and family.
Being a good steward and being frugal means a balancing act. Spending money on what is important to you and saving money in those areas that are not so important. And not wasting any money frivolously. Being a good steward equals being frugal.
Proverbs 21:20 “Precious treasure remains in the house of the wise, but the fool consumes it.” Life is short! Enjoy what your money allows you to buy—but be frugal!