Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Thriftiness, Weakness, and I'm always Right

Isn't it interesting how everyone has a certain area of thriftiness and a certain area of financial temptation?  But- what's even more interesting is how people can vary so much from each other in these areas.

Let me give an example:

My mother absolutely forbids using a dishwasher and dryer.  All dishes are done the old-fashioned way (for those who are so engrossed in the technology of 2013 and may not understand what old-fashioned dish washing means, it is best described by one grabbing a dishcloth, filling a sink with soapy water, and then cleansing away grotesque and unsightly food remnants from the dishes by hand!).  The dryer is also a forbidden luxury.  All clothes, including washclothes, towels, socks, and underwear are hung up to dry.  Summertime laundry is hung up outside, and wintertime laundry is trudged downstairs to the warm basement where it becomes a criss-crossing maze.  If you have ever watched Laurel and Hardy when they join the French Foreign Legion and are made to do the camp's laundry- that is a great picture of how our basement looks.  Okay, that might be stretching it a littllleeee bit.  However, although she is very conscious about saving on such things, her weak spot is on buying sale items even if we don't need them.  It is incredibly hard for her to pass up a good deal- especially if it would make a great gift for someone!  We have quite a few items on hand for just the right gift for just the right person!

My father will not approve of buying equipment new, unless you absolutely have to.  You can use silicon, duct tape, (and whatever else man has created to hold and repair broken items) to fix and make it like brand new.  He also has a struggle to take a vacation and not do something during that time to try and make a little bit of income.  Weak spot- good food and restaurants.  His idea is that there is no reason in the world why you wouldn't save money elsewhere instead of cutting back on the quality of food.  Yes, I love mealtimes around our place.

Of course, I need to make myself vulnerable and tattle on my areas of thriftiness and weakness.  I save money by shopping at Goodwill.  I see no point in spending money on new clothing when there is all kinds of used shirts, sweaters, and skirts just waiting for me to come along, wash them up, and make them look like new.  Another tight spot is on technology- who cares if my computer isn't an Apple, or if I use a mp3 player instead of an Ipod?  Aah- but, ouch, I can spend without thinking on education and books.  My money can be soaked up on the classic literature and arts in a split second.

Some people save money on food, sports, cars, gift giving....yes, the list could go on for quite a ways. 
I remember the first time I heard that some people don't include meat in every meal because of expense (and, no, they weren't vegans).  I just couldn't quite fathom that; for I was raised on ole' home cooking.  The philosophy my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother held to was that each dinner should include a meat, vegetable, and potato (or pasta or rice).  Then there are others I know that run their vehicles for years and years and years, until it falls apart under them.  Some people save their money on gift giving.  You remember the aunt who never gave a Christmas gift and just sat there while everyone else was buzzing around and handing out their items that they had purchased or made for each other? 

Is there anything wrong with thriftiness?  No, as Christians we are actually called to be wise stewards.  Can thriftiness be wrong?  Yes, when we start to care more about our money than God's commands on giving and sharing.  

But what's the purpose of this post?  The purpose is to say that we are a problem.  That's the plain and simple truth of it.  We tend to criticize others on their areas of thriftiness or weakness.  We make fun of one person for saving money by hand-delivering cards instead of mailing them, while pointing fingers at another for going to Australia on an expensive honeymoon.  Meanwhile, we save money by washing empty sour cream containers, but spend money to buy a Jaguar as our work car. 

Point is- we are all humans still being crafted by a patient God.  Don't judge because someone thinks and budgets differently than you.  It is so easy to do though because, of course, we are always right.  Right?  Nah, unfortunately, we are not always right- especially me.  Sometimes we need to overlook the things that drive us crazy about some one's financial habits, learn from some one's stewardship or sharing, and remember that we are all different and unique!