Lessons I’ve Learned In Frugality

money

Written by Beth Corcoran, Contributing Writer

I will be honest with you. When I found out that I needed to write about frugality for my blog post this month, my heart sunk.  You see, frugality is something that I have definitely not mastered, and I feel I have so little to offer in this area.  But, at Stephanie’s encouragement, I am sharing my heart with you today.

The more I have grown as a Christian, the more I have seen the importance of the wise handling of the resources given to us.  So, I have sought to learn from wise, older women from my church. I have learned much, and I’d like to share a few things that I have learned.

I know many of you may be reading this and feeling much as I do. I would like to encourage you to keep learning how to be frugal and wise.

But I also know that some of you readers may have already learned the art of frugality. If that is the case, I encourage you to take others under your wing and teach them how to honor the Lord with their resources.

What is Frugality?

According to Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary, frugality is defined as:

FRUGAL’ITY, n.
1. Prudent economy; good husbandry or housewifery; a sparing use or appropriation of money or commodities; a judicious use of any thing to be expended or employed; that careful management of money or goods which expends nothing unnecessarily, and applies what is used to a profitable purpose; that use in which nothing is wasted. It is not equivalent to parsimony, the latter being an excess of frugality, and a fault. Frugality is always a virtue. Nor is it synonymous with thrift, in its proper sense; for thrift is the effect of frugality.
Without frugality none can become rich, and with it few would be poor.
2. A prudent and sparing use or appropriation of any thing; as frugality.

Frugality of Time

You will notice that as I have written, I have mentioned that frugality is the wise use of resources.  In general, I have always thought of frugality as a term relating to money.  However, there are many other resources with which we are called to use with great discretion.  As we see in the Psalms, time is one of these.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Frugality of time is a huge area that God is working on in my heart right now.  For example, I look at each of my children, and it brings tears to my eyes to think how fleeting time is.  I think about how fast they have grown, and how much I still have to teach them in the short years they are with me.  I think about all I desire for them to learn about their Maker.

But God continually reminds me that squandering my time will not accomplish His work in my children. Wise use of time is so important.  That’s not to say that we never do fun things (or read blogs!). However, making intentional choices to focus on what is truly important—the eternal things—is being truly frugal with our time.

clock

Photo credit: Timothy Valentine

A Look at the Checkbook

When I was in college, a very godly older women mentored many of the college girls.  I will never forget one thing she taught us.  She told us that you could tell everything you needed to know about a person and their priorities by just looking at their checkbook register. Where and how a person spends their money is the true test of what they value.  Luke 12:34 says:

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Nowadays, it would probably be better to say that you would look at the online banking statement rather than a checkbook register.  However, the message is still the same.  What does your spending say about what you truly value?

Frugality is a Heart Issue

Frugality has its practical benefits, for sure.  When we spend wisely, we have more money to use on important things and it really frees up our giving abilities. Frugality with time allows us to accomplish more each day.

However, the one thing that my wise mentors have shown me more than anything else is that frugality is not just about the practical, surface benefits. It’s not about being frugal so you look good! (We’ve all met someone who is revered for their amazing penny pinching skills, haven’t we?!)  Frugality is all about the heart.

When we surrender our time, money, and resources to be used with wisdom rather than how we would wish we could use them, we are recognizing that God is wiser than us. We are approaching God with open hands, gladly offering Him everything to be done His way, rather than ours.  And we are acknowledging our trust in the Lord that He has something far greater for us, rather than trusting in our riches.

In this way, frugality can truly be an act of worship.

What is the greatest lesson in frugality you have learned?

Top photo credit: CascadeandSTAN

About Beth Corcoran

I am the mother of four children (wait- make that six as of recently!)—two girls and two boys, ages 7, 6, 5, and 2 ½. While not homeschooling or chauffeuring the kids to their activities, I enjoy all kinds of craft projects and learning how to be a better steward of all that the Lord has given me. My blog is Stewardship Not Convenience.

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Comments

  1. Very well-written post! I love that last paragraph especially. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you for mentioning frugality of time! Today I said goodbye to a job I Ioved and the people were great, but like you said time is flying by. Now I will be a stay at home homeschooling mom, frugal with my time and children while I have the chance!

  3. Thank you for this post. I’ve been thinking about it more since TLC’s extreme couponing came out, and wondering– Is it really being frugal to get more for less? It is saving money, but it definitely is not what frugality is about. Thanks for confirming this for me. I want to be frugal with all the resources I have been given!

  4. I guess I’ve always just viewed frugality as a money issue but thanks for the reminder that it has to do with so much more!

  5. awesome post! i love the part about it being a condition of the heart… it’s not about being a penny-pincher… it’s about priorities! i so agree and can identify with the part about it freeing up one’s giving abilities.

    @curious_kitty

  6. Okay, wow! I’ve always thought of frugality in the sense of money. How wise and true your statements are! It IS a condition of the heart!! For sure! Thank you so much for this post!! You have challenged, inspired, and encouraged me.

  7. I love when the Lord prepares a post for me to read just after my quiet time with Him to reinforce what He & I had been discussing: better & best use of my time, “frugality of my time” as you put it. Thanks for your part in His work.

  8. This was a great post! God has really been teaching me about frugality with my time. I have an almost 5-year-old and a 20-month-old at home, and I have found myself getting caught up in the blogging world, along with being involved in several ministries from church that include work I do at home. These are not bad things in and of themselves, but God showed me a couple months ago that I was not putting my family first anymore. I was putting these other things in front of them, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. I have since cut down on the time I spend writing posts, and I have stepped down from a couple ministries out of obedience to the Lord. This has been such a challenging time for me, but I know that my family will be blessed as I listen to God and learn to be more frugal with my time.

  9. You asked what lessons you have learned about frugality. The best cooking/food comes from remnants of something bigger. I learned from my gramma how to stretch just one chicken into at least three meals. That lesson has transitioned to stretching lots of other items (vegetable tops, bones for soup – etc.) It has helped my family save a lot of money and keep nutrition as a high priority. Hubby loves how it tastes and how it doesn’t cost a lot which is the best part!

  10. You are right. Frugality is about focus, and is all about the heart. I’ve found focus a difficult thing to learn about, but having experienced a major illness and reduced energy has made a huge difference.

    I have to be frugal with my money (not so much anymore), my time, and most of all, my energy. I’ve needed to put a huge effort into thinking through my priorities so that I don’t run out of energy before I run out hours.

    Lately I’ve reviewed two books that address the issue of time use and focusing from unique, although not Christian, perspectives. The first one is free, about focus, and the second one, about time use and who you are, is available in most libraries. So you don’t need to spend any money to get them…but you do need to invest some time.

    Thanks for a wonderful post!

    Annie Kate
    http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/2011/05/the-word-i-dare-not-say-aloud/
    http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/2011/05/review-168-hours/

    • laurie prince says:

      I wonder Annie if you have ever heard of Flylady.net. I have read many testimonies of gals who have health issues with decreased energy who say they have been greatly helped. One thing the FLY lady recommends is a timer. Those with heatlh problems and decreased energy are to work on something for 5- 15 minutes and then rest the same amount of time or more it you need to. Her program {Marla Ciley} also is structured in a very simple way to help you focus on priorities and to avoid that time consuming perfectionism which many of us have a challenge with. Her website and daily motivational emails are helpful and inspiring . Marla also is a Christian so you would , as I do feel real comfortable with her free program and emails. Hope this helps Annie!

  11. great thoughts here! frugality is definitely an area that i have been growing in this last year. it’s been in the forefront of my mind and will continue to stay there. i want to make good use of the time and money that i have been given and teach my sweet babies to do the same:)))