Saving money is good and all, but not if accumulating wealth is the goal in and of itself. Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in being financially responsible and organized. You couldn’t find anyone as passionate about minimizing debt, cutting expenses, and saving for emergencies as I am.
One danger in doing all the money-saving things is that money can become an idol. Or the security and cushion that money offers can become an idol. Countless Proverbs speak about wisdom and money. Clearly it’s something God cares about.
But if the accumulating of stuff does not overflow into generosity, you’ve got a long, depressing road ahead. Ecclesiastes 5:10 warns, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.” You will never be satisfied. You will never be happy.
The Bible, however, also promises that the one who gives to the poor, the Lord himself will repay. I don’t think our minds can conceive the honor and blessing God bestows on those who are generous. What joy characterized the person with a generous heart.
In light of this, I am going to lay out 4 ways to save money for the purpose of being freed to give, and give generously.
CREATE A BUDGET
This is not a new concept, but listen up. Reviewing your family’s expenses from last month will be eye-opening. Even if you stop there. But I recommend you don’t, of course.
Once you’ve looked over your past expenses, make a budget to create a plan to change your habits. Where do you want to cut so that you can save for those things that are a priority to you? It’s not all about pain and sacrifice. It’s about setting yourself up to be financially stable so that you can give in calculated ways that don’t devastate your own finances.
I know it may be hard to believe, but setting up a budget will make you keenly aware of your purchases and bills and habits moving forward. You will be much more thoughtful and self-controlled in your spending than if you did not have a budget.
MAKE A GROCERY LIST
Whether you have a budget or not, this one is vital. Make a grocery list before you go shopping. Make a comprehensive list before you go shopping. Assess what you need for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
If you’re entertaining, plan for that. If it’s the end of the month and your grocery budget is low, raid your pantry. Make do. Plan around what you have.
And most importantly, only buy what is on your list. You have taken the time to sit down and plan for the week and write down a grocery list, and there is no need to stray from it.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into Target because I need a couple things for dinner for the next couple days, and loaded up a cart full of $200 worth of stuff. Bleh. Writing up a list beforehand will undeniably decrease unnecessary spending.
SHOP THE SALES
While some grocery stores tend to be more expensive than others, there is a way to be successful at shopping at them. This is by shopping the sales. Each week, stores put out a flyer with their sales for the upcoming week.
These sales tend to be great prices, however, I definitely recommend doing your homework. Not every “sale” advertised is truly a good deal. I recently saw contact solution on sale for $.05 off the normal price. Not something to stock up on, for sure.
If you know what the grocery items you buy normally cost, you’ll be able to spot a good sale. You can find great BOGO sales and meat steeply discounted in the flyers.
Along the same lines as only buying what is on your grocery list from the previous point, when you shop the sales at higher end grocery stores, you need to be sure to stay away from purchasing full-price items there. Stick to your list. Otherwise, you’re completely defeating the purpose of shopping there.
If you really want to boost savings, collect coupons and pair them with sales. You will be walking out of grocery stores paying cents for things at times.
We recently had a coffee maker go kaput. I was faced with the option of buying a mediocre, affordable new one, but decided to check our local Goodwill first. There I was able to purchase a much nicer Cuisinart one used, for less than $10.
It took some elbow grease to get it clean (and put my germophobic-tendency at ease), but in the long-run I have a high quality coffee maker for a fraction of the price of a lesser quality new one.
Any finance guru will tell you that the value of a car depreciates steeply after the first two years. The same goes for almost everything.
If you take the time to look, you can find almost anything used for a fraction of what it costs new. I buy a big portion of what we need second-hand. Between yard sales, Craigslist, thrift stores, and Facebook flea market pages, I save a good chunk of change.
Not only do I find stuff for my family, but I find when I’m at yard sales or Goodwill, I also find stuff I know my friends need and want. Yet another way to give.
These tips will undoubtedly make you more secure, financially. But even more so, let the increased flexibility overflow in giving. Let us be a people who sees needs, and gives to them. People who generously give to our local churches. And Lord-willing, this generosity will affect every area of our lives, that we may sacrificially give our time, gifts, and energy in the same measure.