When Frugality is Bad for Your Heart
Is frugality always good?
My immediate answer was, “YES!!” said with a super annoyed tone so that it sounded like it needed the word, “duh.” at the end.
But what about when frugality isn’t good?
What about when frugality is actually BAD?!?!
That can happen!?!?
Read on friend. Read on.
Jesus talked about money a lot.
(Money is mentioned over 800 times in the Bible)
And a lot of what He said was teaching how to manage your money and your heart well.
Don’t be in debt.
Don’t spend frivolously.
Don’t love your stuff more than God.
And all of those things really line up with a frugal lifestyle.
Living beneath your means is essential.
My husband and I are all about that Dave Ramsey life.
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Pay off debt, build savings, build wealth.
We love it.
But here is where frugality becomes a problem.
“For where your money is there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
Which can absolutely fall right in line with being frugal.
However, it could also be that you have a heart issue and frugality is the symptom of a disease.
Here’s what I mean – just because you aren’t spending your money on a big house, new car, and fancy clothes does not mean your heart is in a good place.
Your heart can still be in a bad place while you do the right things with your money.
Here are 5 ways to check your heart in regards to your money.
1. Are you tithing?
I grew up tithing.
If I got $10, I gave $1 on Sunday.
So there has never been an option on tithing for me.
Everything that I have is from God.
And all that he asks in return for the great abundance that He’s so generously blessed me with is 10%.
That’s a no brainer for me.
But for some people, it’s not.
They don’t see their money as a gift from God.
It is something they worked hard for, and they sometimes toss a $20 in the offering plate like it’s a tip.
Or they don’t.
God is pretty clear on tithing so if you are a frugal Christian who isn’t tithing, your heart is not where it’s supposed to be.
2. Are you generous?
When my husband and I first started dating, I was truly blown away by his generosity.
I grew up with a single mom who went back to college so money was tight, to say the least.
Now, money was tight for my husband (then boyfriend) too.
He was working full time as a youth minister and made a whopping $18,000 a year.
But he would frequently pay for his friend’s meals or give money to his nephews’ school fundraisers or give money at church to support missionaries.
And whenever I’d ask him about it, he’d say, “It’s just money. I’ll make more later.”
This generosity has worn off on me and our kids as well.
I love seeing our kids be generous with the little money they make from chores around our house.
And I know that they learned that from their dad.
So are you frugal to the point that you aren’t generous?
When (If???) you go out to eat with friends, do you ever pick up the tab?
Do you give more than is required?
Because I think the story about a man going two miles when he was asked to walk one can be applied to money as well.
“And if someone asks you to go one mile, go two miles with them.” – Matthew 5:4
What we have found in our marriage is that my frugality empowers my husband’s generosity.
Because we are careful in what we spend, we can decide to sponsor a child through Compassion International without thinking twice about it.
He can drop a $20 in the shopping cart of a tired, poor, sad lady in the grocery store who is using a calculator to make sure she doesn’t go over what she has because we are careful to budget our grocery expenses.
Is your frugality on yourself empowering you to give to others?
3. Are you hyper-focused?
Do you think about money more in a day than God?
If you are in a season of debt retirement, being hyper-focused on getting those debts paid off is good.
In fact, to do it quickly, it’s necessary.
If you’re in a season of reduced income, thinking about money a lot is necessary to get all the bills paid and food on the table.
Related Post: How to Make Money on eBay
If you’re in a season of saving for a big purchase, being very careful with where your money is going will help you meet your savings goal quickly.
In fact, there are a lot of seasons of life where you need to be watching your money very carefully.
But there are a lot of seasons of life where you don’t.
There are seasons where you can set your bills up on autopay, your paychecks can be electronically deposited, and you can sit down and pay your bills once a month and then go days without thinking about money.
So if you are in a season where you definitely have enough, and you’re still thinking about money several times a day, your frugality may be bad for your heart.
4. Are you enjoying life?
If you are so concerned with saving money you don’t enjoy life, your heart is probably not in the right place.
For example, you’ve had one of THOSE DAYS.
You know the ones.
Where Murphy’s Law is in full effect and everything that could go wrong does go wrong.
Your dog runs away, your toddler reverts on 3 months of potty training, your preteen gets all sassy, the 17 loads of laundry you finally folded get thrown off the couch, you just stepped on a fourth Lego, you forgot to go to the grocery store, and you’ve totally lost your cool and now your voice from screaming at your kids.
It’s been a horrible day, and all you want is to have a pizza delivery guy show up with dinner.
But instead of spending $20-30 to make your life easier, your whole family happy, and keep your kitchen clean, you make everyone eat peanut butter sandwiches on stale bread.
Not because you don’t have the money, but because you won’t spend the money.
Sure there’s an obscure savings goal you’re trying to reach or an ingredient in Domino’s pizza that you don’t want your kids to ingest, but that’s really not the point.
The point is the money and being frugal.
When you find great joy in saving money only for the sake of saving money, you should ask yourself why.
It may just be that you are loving money, which can lead to destruction.
5. Are you harming relationships?
If you’re still not sure where you fall, think about what people say about you.
Now obviously, other people’s opinions don’t define you.
But if you are known for being frugal to the point of miserly or never going out with friends because you’re cheap or whatever, that should be a pretty good indicator.
Here’s a prime example – my husband and I need date nights.
We need nights to get away from our four wonderful children.
I need to wear clothes that don’t have a tiny person’s boogers on them and shoes that are amazingly cute and horrible for walking around.
I need to sit at a restaurant and eat dinner with my husband and listen to all his ideas while I eat HOT food.
Finding a reliable human to watch our four precious blessings sent straight from God is expensive.
Going out to eat is expensive.
Going to the movies is expensive.
I am a stay-at-home mom and my husband is a pastor.
We are on a pretty tight budget, and we still go on date nights as often as possible even though it is expensive.
Date nights are a line item in our budget.
We go because it is good for our marriage, and a good marriage is one of the best things we can give our kids.
It’s better than a trust fund or a robust savings account.
A good, healthy, loving marriage.
And if you just disagreed with me in your head, there may be a problem in your heart.
Your marriage is worth every single penny you put into it.
And then some.
Did you pass these five heart examining questions?
Do you tithe?
Are you generous?
Are you overly focused on money?
Are you enjoying life?
Are you damaging relationships?
If you think your frugality is bad for your heart, it’s okay.
The most difficult part of this whole process is going to be admitted that. Once you’ve done that, it’s pretty easy.
Your first step is to pray and ask God to intervene and restore your heart.
Next, talk to someone.
Tell your spouse, a friend, a family member, or a mentor that you are struggling with money and your heart. Ask them to hold you accountable.
Then give the money reigns to someone else.
If you’re married, this should be your spouse. If you’re not, set up as much of your stuff on auto draft as you can and ask a trusted person to manage your finances for a season.
You need to literally step away from your money. Use the time and energy that you used to spend thinking about money working on your relationship with God.
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. -Matthew 6:24
What techniques do you use to guard your heart against the love of money? Tell us in the comments!
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