Frugality: Is This Word In Your Spirit?

Frugality (fru-gal’-i-ty), as used in this article, is a reference to the quality of being economical or being concerned with spending the least amount possible for quality products. In order to exercise Christian stewardship, the following points about frugality will prove to be important:

1. You are working with someone else's money. As discussed in the article "Financial Stewardship" (click here click to see article), the money that we have belongs to God, not to us. I know we worked for it (smile), but we worked for it with the bodies that God gave us.

God has given us money for His purposes, not ours. As we spend the money in our possession, we should be asking ourselves, “Is this what God wants me to purchase with His money?”

Just as the servants were making deals on behalf of their master, in Matthew 25:14-30, and just as brokers make deals on behalf of their clients, we should handle the money in our possession, as if we believe that it all belongs to God (see Ps. 24:1).

2. Profit comes from earning high and spending low. In order to have enough money to invest, which will be the subject matter of the next article in this series, we must earn more than we spend.

If you make $100,000 a year and spend $100,000 a year, you are just as broke and far from needed wealth for retirement as a person who spends all of the money that he or she makes on a part time minimum wage job. To develop wealth, you must learn to spend less than you earn, so you can have money to invest. Frugality helps in the "spend less" area.

3. Cheap quality can be more expensive than high quality. If you have a choice between a $50 book shelf and a $75 book shelf, it may seem as if you should automatically choose the $50 book shelf.

However, if you have to replace the $50 book shelf in a year or two, as opposed to being able to pass a $75 book shelf on to your children and children's children then the $75 book shelf makes more sense.

In other words, if quality is low then the cost of replacement must be factored into the initial price. In addition to the replacement costs are issues like time, stress, and energy used to do your first work over again. The point here is to check the quality, not just the price tag.

4. Brand names are not always a measure of quality. As is the case with many generic items in the grocery store, some of the brand name items only differ from the generic items in name. There is no quality difference. It is helpful that many items have the list of ingredients on the packaging.

Look at the difference between name brand cough medicine and generic, between brand name vitamins and generic, between brand name canned vegetables and generic. They are surprisingly similar, if not identical in quality, even though the brand name can be much more expensive. The same holds true for cloths, automobiles, furniture, and other items.

5. Buy what you need, instead of letting people sell you their brand. If we are not careful, we will let people sell us their brand, instead of us simply buying what we need. Billions of dollars are spent every year on trying to sell us stuff.

Television commercials, radio ads, newspaper ads, magazine ads, internet ads, "junk mail," and so forth are some of the many ways that businesses try to sell us their brands.

Frugality calls for us to be conscious that there is a battle for the money that we have. Businesses are trying to get us to buy their product at as high a profit as they can. We are trying to buy what we need at a cost as low as we can.

Let's consciously control our spending in such a way that we get the quality that we need at an affordable cost, instead of simply someone else's brand at a higher cost or a lower quality or God forbid both higher cost and lower quality.

6. Don't try to cover psychological scares with "stuff." There are some who feel bad about themselves. In order to feel better, they buy "stuff." It is not strange for women who feel ugly to go out and buy the best looking outfits, no matter the cost. They are trying to cover their perceived psychological scares.

It is not strange for men who think they are "small men" to go out and buy a great big Hummer vehicle to show how big they are. They are trying to cover a psychological scare. Instead of wasting our money covering mental scares, let's seek the wholeness that comes from being in right fellowship with God.

Working on our discipleship (click here to go to the Christian Growth section) will do more for our mental well-being than wasting our money on a bunch of stuff. At the end of the day, stuff can only cover, but God can heal. Praise the Lord!

In summary, we should seek to have frugality because we are working with someone else's money. Profit comes from earning high and spending low. Focus on quality, instead of just cheap prices, brand names, or advertisement. And don’t look for psychological healing in stuff.

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