I don't imagine Daniel was thinking about "Cutting Back."
Perhaps the best explanation I ever heard for "cut-back budget living" was given by a family called the “Breeden's.” They had ten children, were strong Evangelical Christians, lived very simply in Maryland, and Sharon, the mom, home-schooled the entire group. When I asked Sharon about budgeting, she succinctly stated, “If you save it over here, you can spend it over there.”
Let's look at a few examples. Say you cut down on your food budget by cooking more at home–everything from home-made-bread in a bread machine to powdered milk mixed with fresh milk. Perhaps you limit yourself to only one meal out a month versus several meals out a week in your quest to be more frugal. And you begin “brown-bagging your lunch" or actually "lunch-boxing your lunch"(more ecological) and are using that bread-machine bread you made.
Well, the bottom line of all of this cost-cutting is what are you going to do with that savings?
According to Sharon Breeden, “If you save it over here, you can spend it over there.” So your food-costs-savings can be put towards tithing, college fund, or into a clear-day (not rainy day) savings account. The goal is to learn to live under your means, not above them or at them. Living this way is like any competitive sport: it takes constant practice and discipline.
Mother Theresa said, “We can’t always do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” Is that not what The Frugal Catholic does? Does he or she not emulate the Proverbs 31 woman: “She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household.” She knows what is in her kitchen and does small things wisely.
So too, we can do small things with great love. We can make small cuts here to tithe/save/give over there. Being The Frugal Catholic is a thought process that enables us to use His resources prudently for His glory.
One of the best adages I know concerning economic living is a saying from The Great Depression-era: “Make it do; do without; use it up, and wear it out.” Plant that on your brain and say it each time you grocery shop, look on your favorite internet shopping site, or pick up a catalog.
Being prudent with your funds doesn’t mean hoarding ketchup or stealing towels from a hotel. It means being content with what you have, doing without new, using up what exists, and wearing out what’s there. Sirach 18:30 states it well: “Go not after your lusts, but keep your desires in check.” If we were following that verse, credit cards and debt wouldn’t haunt us.
More thoughts? With each article of clothing that comes in, give one away. Check www.cnpp.usda.gov for USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at home at four levels to compare how you and your family are doing regarding eating costs. Employ the envelope system where you cash a certain amount of money for each category/envelope, and when that cash is gone, you stop spending. Lastly: SOS: Stay Out of Stores. Create a family budget with all participating.
Remember: frugality teaches self-discipline; if you save it over here, you can spend it there. Or, in the words of Aesop’s Fables, “Save while you can, for you might not have a chance later.”
Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author
The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.