If I had it, Would I spend it?

Living frugally even when you don’t have to.  Would you?  Do you?

Squeaky tight funds or no, we all have choices to make with our money.  Even though our children are right on the “free and reduced school lunch” qualification borderline, it’s because of our thrifty ways that there really is money to spare.  We could spend it, and of course we do spend… some of it. 

Truth is, most of us are The Joneses, whether we think we’re keeping up or not.  It’s the not keeping up, though, that can gift us with a little margin in our money.  If we had it (and maybe we do?), here are six things we might do instead of spend.


95% of the world’s population is worse off than me.  95%!  That statistic alone causes pause when we glance at our 15 year old tv.  I’m not perfect, and in no way would I claim that we give all of our excess.  It doesn’t happen.  God calls us us to give, though,  and if we have it, sometimes that means more than 10%.

Prepare for Murphy.

Go ahead.  You know he’ll come a’knockin’ anyway.  May as well expect the expected and meet him at the door with cash in hand.

Save for a big goal.

Do you have plans for your funds?  We recently met a major financial goal that left us doing the happy dance and made all the “not-right-nows” and “maybe whens” so worth it!

No, I don’t recommend saving every single penny when you don’t have to.  That seems stressful and notsomuch fun to me.  However, tightening the belt and working together toward a common goal can be incredibly fulfilling and a great bonding experience. 

Practice environmental stewardship.

Why buy new when “well-loved” is just as good?  Sometimes well-loved is even better.  The truth?  I’d rather spend $5 on a gently used pair of name brand yard-sale baseball shoes than shell out $10 for a brand-new pair at stuffmart that will likely fall apart mid-season.  Do I have the $10?  Sure.  Do I want to contribute to our disposable society?  Not when I can help it.

Embrace contentment.

Being content with what we have is a surefire way to increase our blessings.  We purchased our living room furniture for a song about 12 years ago, and the uncle we bought it from made good use of it for at least the previous 5 years.  It’s old.  It’s outdated.  (Some even call it ugly.)  The couch has a long piece of plywood supporting the cushions, covering holes created by bouncy children.  Every so often I rearrange the stuffing that sneaks out of the back, attempting to conceal wear and tear.

Our furniture’s not perfect.  It’s not even fashionable.  But you know what?  We have children!  Young children.  And we use our furniture.  It’s good enough!

Be an example to our children.

Speaking of the children, I know it’s tempting to gift them with their every desire, especially to get them to stop begging right this minute, I’m not kidding would you just knock it off?!   I’ve been there.  I know!

However, I also know that children are sponges.  They soak up our words and our actions.  I’d rather my children learn lessons of waiting, stewardship, and saving, than instant gratification.  I have no desire to raise children who are given every material thing available. 


If tomorrow I happened upon an extra $100,  $10,000 or $100,000, what would I do with it?  What would you do?  (Truth – I’d search out a quality, used truck that my husband could take to the farm with the three big kids.  And I might buy myself a McD’s Caramel Frappe. ;))


“Live simply so that others may simply live.” ~ Mother Teresa

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  1. What a great post! Thank you for the reminder! My hubby and I make more money today than we ever have, but still live like we make half so that we can get out of debt. We do tithe on our full income, but other than that, I pretend we don’t have it. 🙂 Someday we’ll live differently, but our lives probably won’t look different from the outside.

    I’d probably get a caramel frappe AND a vanilla cone from McDs. I’m pregnant and the baby LOVES sweets. 😉 That’s after paying off debt, of course. 🙂

  2. My hubby and I had a long conversation just last night about giving more generously! We’ve been seriously clearing our home of excess stuff and as it leaves, so does the desire to acquire more stuff!

    If we were blessed with a surprise large sum of money, we’d give and probably put some of it towards our principal! {Can’t wait until we’re mortgage free so we can give even more!!}

    • I need your clear-it-out motivation over here! We’ve got city-wide garage sales coming up in two weeks. Wondering if I have the desire to “go for it” and set one up with a few other people. Pondering… 😉

  3. We are suddenly finding ourselves with an extra $400 each month. We paid off the van in August. I am trying very hard to capture that money and use it intentionally rather than let it become a part of everyday spending and have it disappear each month with us wondering where it went to. I changed dh’s paycheck to put an extra $200 into our savings right away. We have had some expenses increase and we were really struggling to make ends meet on my dh’s paycheck alone. The other $200 will go to help that situation. Now my income, is nothing but extra again. For awhile it was covering some necessities. We are going to pay $250 extra on our mortgage each month and I am trying to save the rest. Ugh, it is very hard to have extra money!

    SEveral opportunities have come around our town that want donations to improve parks and add a new football stadium. I would like to donate to those things because I will have 4 kids go to that high school and a new park with hiking trails sounds great. I want to be invested in our town and support the things we use. Giving more is definitely on our list of things to do more of.

    • Ahhh, I like to hear that “my income is extra” bit, because that’s what we try to do, too! There’s never a lack of people and organizations needing funds, huh? Sounds familiar. 😉

  4. I love this post and the whole idea!! My favorite part was the idea of buying used even when the new is affordable, I live the same way. Baby/ children clothes are my favorite example. I have some decent hand me downs for my boys. My second boy is child #4 that is getting good use out of these clothes. Can’t beat that!!! Could we buy him new..of course..but why??

    Great post!

  5. Faced the spending monster at Target today- sad to know that an employee had to put my random, “on clearance” wants back on the shelves for me- proud to know I walked away from that red cart with the money still in my purse and a feeling of relief for not blindly spending! Phew!

  6. This is one of the best posts you written thus far Amy!! I often hear my friends talk about budgeting and I always think that well we are pretty good off that I don’t to. We live on one income and my husband doesn’t even work at a very high paying job. I’m a stay-at-home mom and we have a mortgage. So far, we are living comfortably but your post has really made me think. Thank you :).

    • Really?! {thanks} 😉 We aren’t strict with budgeting, either, but I still think the mindset has to come before the budget or it’s ineffective.

  7. " It can't rain all the time ! " says:

    Well … I certainly know that the how’s, where’s, and why’s of said “HAPPENING UPON’S” can surely be a game changer !!!
    Just recently, I personally happened upon $540,000.00. Now one would think that happening upon ANY extra monies would be coupled with elation. My happening-upon came as a result of the sudden death of my beloved husband. So, as you can guess, in no way is elation remotely part of my equation. And if I were to be completely honest, “FEAR” would best describe my dominate emotion.
    Yet, I also know that before the happening upon occurred, my husband and I CHOOSE to live a very frugal lifestyle. No credit card debt, no vehicle payments, no lavish vacations, no fancy purses, etc.. We grew our own garden vegetables and canned them. We cut wood for burning in the fireplace to help out during the winter months, etc.. Our home and retirement funds were our major investments. With that said … I’ve come to know in this life that there’s a lot to be said for “Simple Living”. It makes for an uncluttered mindset and certainly aides in a good nights rest.
    Soooooooooooo … although I’m not exactly sure what I plan on doing with my ” Happening Upon “. I’m am 100 % sure that I already had everything I truly NEEDED before I happened upon it ! So in reality everything else is merely a want. And I can assure you that I plan on continuing to “Get a good night’s rest !” = )

    • Oh, mercy. 🙁 I don’t even have words to respond to this. You sure do bring perspective to the discussion, and a great reminder… it’s all WANTS.

  8. Love this! We are one of those ‘debt free other than the mortgage’ families and are working really, really hard to be one of those TOTALLY debt free families. We are in the home stretch and are throwing everything at it, although for the next few months we are only making our typical extra principle payment as we are expecting baby 3 and want to make sure that our emergency fund is well stocked just in case. After we get past that and are through paying taxes and such (self-employment fun) then we’ll be back to sending as much as humanely possible in.

    Our giving is budgeted for now and we love, love, love to dream of when we are totally debt free and have the option to do so much more!


  9. This is such a great post, I think I need to read it over and over again- and not just today, either! So many wonderful nuggets of truth in your words! I was challenged and encouraged. Thank you.

    On Gravity of Motion: Nourishment for this Mother’s Heart

  10. Great post!
    Hubby and I were driving along and noticed that the Ohio PowerBall was at $91M. We both asked the question, “What would you do with THAT much money?!?” It’s an absurd amount of money!

    As for your question, we would do the following (after giving):
    $100 – put toward our Emergency Fund
    $10,000 – fully fund our EF to 6 months & do a home improvement
    $100,000 – above two plus take all of our family on a nice weekend getaway in the woods, pay off our mortgage and have over $25,000 left over to save and give freely!

    Again, great post. And I completely agree with what you say about being an example to the children. We believe the same thing!

  11. This is a great post that rings very true with me. My family is fortunate to have a lot of extra, and while we don’t live as frugally as we possibly could, we try to be super intentional about our spending, saving and giving. There are lots of times when I’m tempted to buy stuff because I KNOW we have the money, but I try hard to think about our values and my ultimate goal…to be able to give more and more to those God commands us to care for. I don’t want to contribute to a disposable culture either, although occasionally a nice new dress makes it into my closet. Where my family wastes the most is dining out, and we have tried to cut this area too. Wanting to pay off that mortgage quickly and give like nobody’s business.

    • “I’m tempted to buy stuff because I KNOW we have the money, but I try hard to think about our values and my ultimate goal” Yes! Keeping that ultimate goal in sight is key, I think.

  12. Linked from Getting Free (or freedom?) blog.

    This is a very good article. I am a minister and see all kinds of financial needs in the church and the community. Often times what families need most is a good budget.

    Have you heard of the site, “I was broke but now I’m not”?


  13. You hit at the heart of my current situation….Finding contentment in the midst of…unemployment. Short story even shorter….I lost my job unexpectedly last year, we lost our home, and we added one more beautiful gift from God to our family in July 2011 (this makes 4 and counting). In the midst of all this, God is working everything out for us. Whew! Truth! If I had the extra money, I would purchase a minivan for our growing family (we currently have a PT cruiser which CAN NOT seat 6 people), I would rigorously pay off this crazy debt of mine, and I may treat myself to afternoon tea with my mom. Great Post!

  14. Thanks for this post, Amy. I’ve really been struggling lately with that old hobgoblin, discontent. I keep forgetting how much I have to be thankful for and how well off I am compared to the rest of the world (and even many of my American peers). DH has to travel half the time and work long hours while in town to earn the bulk of our income, and I often catch myself thinking, “It would be so nice just to take a bunch of our money and spend on things to make life a little more fun, cushy, and convenient. It would sure make up for being apart so often and having to handle so much on my own.” Then I get a reminder like this post of why our luxuries budget is so small–because we’re saving plenty for retirement, paying extra on our mortgage, etc.–and that helps me put things back in perspective. A pedicure or a few extra restaurant meals per month aren’t worth blowing those goals.

  15. Great Post!

    To answer your question,

    100 we would probably use towards immediate needs, and bar soap for the homeless which is a current project at our Parish.
    10,000 we have a few small loans that need paying off (goodbye part of our student loans) and we would save the rest so that we could give more freely as needs arise
    100,000 we have talked a lot about this, one! We would pay off the majority of our debt, besides part of our mortgage and give money to the little sisters of the poor, and join hands esl, both are organizations that I have worked/volunteered in and do so much good work for the poor.

    Oh and for fun, we would actually go on a honeymoon since we haven’t had one! I’m so down for the beach as I miss the beach smells and you can’t get those in the middle of the country!

    • Would you believe I’ve never been to the beach?! Actually… that’s not entirely true. I was in Spain on a college trip. But the vast majority of the time… landlocked Kansas. 😉

      • No beach? I guess if you don’t go you don’t know what you are missing?

        I’m funny as I love the beach but avoid the sun and rarely go more than a few feet in the ocean. I love just listening to the ocean sounds and falling asleep under a big beach towel. So relaxing!

        Now that I live in Missouri, I doubt I will get to go to any beach anytime soon!

  16. Linda from Georgia says:

    What a great post! My husband and I are debt free and have adequate money in the bank. Yet, I rarely shop because I have most everything I need. I’d never pay full price for anything. Other than Walmart undies, I don’t think I’ve ever bought clothes at regular price.With the exception of the couch and a recliner, everything else in the house came from someone else.

    I am content — what a lovely position! Because I am frugal, I was able to spend $118 to help feed the Fellowship of Christian Athlete kids at the local high school. I can fix lunch for the Ministerial Association Wednesday and buy a friend lunch. I was able to provide the needed gas money for a friend to attend training so she could serve at a women’s retreat. I think I am RICH!


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