In today's American culture of materialism and disposable everything, from diapers to relationships, many folks find it very difficult to live frugally. Our media has convinced us that the newer, bigger, and prettier is better and is always a NEED. As a society, we've become brainwashed, in a since, and lost the ability to distinguish the differences between needs and wants. For example, after many years of use our DVD/VCR combination became worn out and was no longer reliable. My children informed me that we "needed" a new one. I responded to the children by reminding them that a DVD/VCR thingy is a want - not a need. I reminded them that food, shelter, clothing and transportation to the job that provides money to purchase the food, shelter and clothing are needs - everything else is a want. I feel it is my duty as a parent to point these things out.
In my world frugal living simply means learning to be a good steward of the blessings God has given us. This is translated into the ability to prevent wastefulness. In my quest to continue being a good steward I ask myself one simple question, "In what areas of my life do I have waste?"
time management - Where am I wasting time? / Where am I not being productive?
errands - Where I am wasteful with vehicle fuel mileage/wear & tear or time?
meals - What, when and why are we throwing away food?
home - Do we have rooms/areas of our home that are regularly unused?
property/yard - Is my yard/property utilized to benefit the welfare of my family and neighbors?
income - What are the reasons behind our purchasing decisions?
excessive possessions - Why?
care for loved ones - Do I take my loved ones for granted? Why or why not?
When we examine and honestly answer the above questions, we are then ready to begin the road to frugal living, aka - good stewardship. My family and friends often refer to me as "squeaky tight" when it comes to spending money. I've come to realize they think this because I view anything, and I mean absolutely anything, beyond the most basic food, shelter and clothing as abundance.
God has been very good to our family. Although we've never been "rich" by America's standards, our home is small - but I remember a time when I didn't have a home; our children have never suffered from starvation or malnutrition, but I remember a time when all I ate was one meal every other day; our children have always had more than one pair of shoes and more than two changes of clothes, but I remember a time when everything I owned fit into one suitcase. I share that with a hope that others will realize, that although they may not have everything the television says they should have, or everything their neighbors have, if they have more than the most minimum of the basics they are abundantly blessed.
Which opens another area of good stewardship - appreciation and contentment. Once we come to terms with the fact that we are most indeed blessed, we can then have an appreciation for our abundance and begin enjoying the things we do have. I am so very appreciative of the home we have, the abundance and variety of foods we enjoy, the unending pile of laundry & the automatic washing machine to clean them, the comfort of air conditioning, the convenience of a second vehicle, the ease of indoor plumbing, the luxuries of computer/Internet, telephone/cell phones, the relationships I have with my family and friends, etc., etc. Who am I appreciative to? Well, God of course. God is the one who provides us with excellent health so we can enjoy our relationships and take advantage of the job opportunities He sends our way.
It is very difficult to exercise a frugal lifestyle, aka good stewardship, when we fail to to understand the differences between needs and wants AND when we fail to be appreciative of the abundance God has blessed us with.
If we are blessed with shelter, food, clothing, friends and family why are so many of us not content? Do we fail to see that the Lord is with us and He will never forsake us?
Hebrews 13:5 (KJV) says, "Let our conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.