Fighting the Temptation to Spend

by adustyframe ~ April 13th, 2010


For the past several years, I’ve lived on a very limited income.

Very limited. I mean limited. (Get the picture?)

God has been so good to provide for us in multiple ways. The provision seems to come right at the exact moment. Whether it’s a part time job, a gift, a need found at the thrift store, or some other type of provision.

During the time that I was given gifts regularly, I felt a heavy burden to be responsible and careful with the money. I think we should live that way ALL the time, but I felt more so when the money came from the hard work and generosity of others.

Living this way is no fun and yet it’s also been good. It’s helped me realize that having enough to pay the bills is enough. I don’t have to do things and have stuff to live a nice life.

We never had tons of money before, but it was much more than I’ve been living on. We didn’t travel a lot or live extravagantly before, but we surely don’t now! It’s amazing how little one really needs to survive.

Here are a few of my tips.

1. Use what you have. Find ways to re-use things for different purposes or just use what you have until it’s worn out.

2. Be content. Easier said than done, I know! But it really really helps your heart be cheerful and your “lot in life” easier to bear.

3. Don’t waste. Don’t let food go to waste. Don’t leave tools out to rust. Don’t beat up your belongings unnecessarily.  Take care of things and help them to last longer.

4. Sign up for freebies I’ve received lots of samples during the years. I figure it’s one load of laundry or shampoo that I didn’t have to pay for.

5. Use coupons of course only if you need the items and it’s a good deal. It’s not a good deal to use a coupon just to use it.

6. Don’t be brand loyal You just can’t be when you’re on a limited income. We have things that we prefer, but sometimes we get what we get! Think about it this way–I’d rather have cheap laundry detergent to wash my clothes with  than nothing. I buy the cheap detergent most of the time. When I have a coupon, or hit a sale, I can buy the detergent I prefer and then it’s a treat!

7. Don’t think about what you don’t have I don’t have a decent car. I don’t have a nice piano. I don’t have spending money. I don’t have money to travel. I don’t have the camera equipment I’d like.

See? GRR! That’s major negativity. Don’t concentrate on the things you don’t have or the things you want. Instead…

8. Count your blessings Do it formally. Write a blessing journal or post it on your blog. Color seasonal shapes with your kids and tape them on the wall–label them with your blessings.

Thinking about the previous list–

I have an old crusty truck that I can at least use to get around town.

I have a piano that’s mostly usable. I say mostly because sometimes the keys break and I have to wait to call the piano repair man.

I usually have money to pay the bills. It often comes in at the last minute, but it comes in.

I can find things to do close to home and think about trips we’d like to take when things change.

I have a nicer camera than I ever thought I would have.

We’re blessed with so many more wonderful blessings too.

9. Learn to have free fun. Borrow books and movies from the library. Play at the park. Walk a pretty trail and enjoy nature. Stay home and play games, read, or work on crafts. Have a friend over for coffee instead of going out.

10. Don’t concentrate on the things your kids don’t have. This goes along with #7, but it can really get you! I remember many years ago when we canceled cable. I couldn’t justify paying for it any longer.

James had some shows he loved to watch on cable and I felt guilty that he couldn’t watch the shows he liked. I know that sounds fruity, but at the time it was a very difficult thing to face.

I think about opportunities I’d like him to have or places I’d like him to visit and can easily be overwhelmed with what he doesn’t have.

However, even with all the things we deal with, he has a very nice life. He has fun things and he has the things he needs.

When I start feeling Mommy guilt over things I can’t provide for him, I just have to nip it in the bud and count his blessings to remind ME that he’s fine.

11. Realize you don’t need it now–there will always be another sale. Most things you don’t have to have this very second.

There are things I want or even need. These may be good things, but I don’t have the money to buy them now.

Can I live without it? Umm… yeah! Almost 100% of the time, it’s not an immediate emergency.

I’ve realized that if it’s something I need or something God wants me to have, I will be able to find it later.

Here’s an example. A local music store is closing soon. They are selling everything at clearance prices and each week the percent off goes up. They’re even selling pianos on clearance.

When I heard that, I wanted to go look and see the prices and think about a way to get a nice piano.

I don’t mean this boastful  so please don’t take it that way.

I’m a good pianist. I’ve spend a lot of my life at the keyboard. I have an old piano that really isn’t great and needs a lot of upkeep and repair. I am stuck playing on it and so is James. So are my piano students!

Imagine how embarrassing it is to have your piano students point out all your keys that don’t work. (Thankfully they are keys that the students don’t need right now, but still!)

I really think I could list 100 reasons why I should figure out a way to buy one of those pianos at such a good deal.

But even though I’d love to bring a new piano home and even though it’s such a good price, it’s not a good price for me. Not with this budget. It doesn’t matter if they’re selling Steinways for $1,000 (umm ok… maybe THEN I’d figure something out!)

I know that at some point in the future God will either provide money for a piano even if it’s a higher price. Or there will be another sale. Or I can just be content with the piano I already have and thank God that I have something to play on.

12. Don’t be proud Shop at thrift stores. Accept gifts from others. Don’t feel like everything has to be exactly how you want it. Sometimes (all the time…) what God provides ends up being way better than what I planned.

13. Don’t go crazy at the thrift store or dollar store Even if it’s cheap or a good deal, if you don’t have the money, it doesn’t matter. I was at the thrift store once and found $3 worth of things I wanted.

I didn’t need to spend even the $3. I analyzed each item in my cart and nothing was something I needed.  I put it all back. I remember thinking, “This is crazy that I don’t even have $3 to spend at the thrift store.” But I survived. The only thing I remember putting back was yarn–the other things obviously weren’t necessary for our existence.

Remember it’s not a good deal if you don’t have the money no matter where you’re shopping.

Which leads me to my next point.

14. Stay home Don’t go shopping if you don’t have money to spend. If I never go look at the pianos on clearance, I won’t have to think about the deals I’m not getting. It really works!

15. Pray Ask God to help you find what you need at a price you can afford. Ask him to help you be content. Thank him for providing your needs. Ask him to help you see new ways to save money or find entertainment.

Praying about it helps tons.

I know there are tons of money saving ideas and I use quite a few of them. These are just a few of my guidelines when I’m tempted to spend!

See more Works for Me Tips here.


9 Thoughts Shared to Fighting the Temptation to Spend

  1. Stephanie

    Those are some really great suggestions. I’m proud of you that you have the spiritual and emotional maturity to actually live them out! I use #14 a lot. You can’t spend money if you don’t shop….

    oh… I’m not always mature;0!

  2. Stephanie Bateman

    Excellent post Lizzie! And so true…my addiction is craft supplies and books. I so want to build up our home library again, but if spending $4 at Salvation Army or Goodwill is going to mean no gas in the car, what’s the point?

    Thanks for sharing the fabulous tips!

  3. Cindy

    Agree with you 100%. Thanks for sharing. I ponder these verses a lot to help me keep things in perspective:

    “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

    You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4)

  4. Sherry

    Excellent post! It is so easy to get into buy whatever you want cycle when you have money and even when you don’t. We incorporated a lot of these ideas, and after time were finally able to get out of debt. Praise God!

  5. Marie

    Right there with you on this, Lizzie. Also, instead of buying books at a retail bookstore, I find I save a lot by getting them used from the seller on – THROUGH YOUR BLOG’S AMAZON WIDGET. See? Thrifty, and it helps you a little. Books are my passion – not clothes or shoes.

    Definitely you can save a bit using beans and items from the reduced produce rack, too. I do that when I can.

  6. Robyn OHSH

    This is such a great post and EVERYONE can learn a lot from it!

  7. SAN

    Very wise, and so timely. We have been traveling through the valley ourselves for some time, it is so important to remember what is really important. Being broke forces you to make tough decisions and tap into gratitude! Thank you for the post.

  8. Christy

    Thanks, Lizzie. I needed this reminder.

  9. Jenn

    Excellent and timely post! Things have been tight here lately and they’re about to get tighter. When I got word that Husband’s health insurance for the family was going to cost us another $166/month MORE than what we’re currently paying I got angry. I thought about everything we already couldn’t afford. I keep reminding myself that those were things I WANTED, not necessarily NEEDED. God provides. Thanks for reminding me what’s imporant 😉