Let’s get something straight: We don’t own anything, the big guy upstairs does. We are called to use the resources He has gracefully provided for us responsibly. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But what does that look like practically on a day-to-day basis? Here are 10 easy ways to be good stewards of the money He has entrusted to us—and save some cash in the process.
1. Buy generic products, especially at the grocery store. You will be shocked by the difference of your monthly grocery bills if you buy generic brands, as opposed to name brands—everything from plastic baggies, to bread, to spaghetti sauce, it’s almost always cheaper. Does it work or taste better? It can vary with the grocery store and with the individual.
2. Shop at Goodwill: There are many “diamonds in the rough” at Goodwill and thrift stores. Sure, a lot of it is junk, but there are also some great finds, especially with clothes. Most people don’t realize that people donate and drop off perfectly good things to these places because they are moving or they’re doing some spring cleaning or people have grown out of their clothes. It takes a little hunting, but you can find some great finds at a great price. However, keep in mind number five.
3. Never make impulse purchases: Never make spur-of-the-moment decisions on large purchases. Take a few days to think about it and weigh the options. Ask yourself questions such as, “Can I afford it right now?” and “Do I really need this?” This will allow you to think clearly without the swirl of emotions while being in the store.
4. Tithe: We are called to give back at least 10 percent of our gross earnings, not our net. Tithing was not a suggestion, but a direct command for God’s children. And it’s a great weekly reminder that our resources do not belong to us and it provides us the opportunity to use our money to honor Him.
5. Seek value above cost: Products that may cost a bit more may last longer. Some products may cost quite a bit less, but they may wear out or break much sooner. Weigh value (how long it will last, how it will serve its purpose, how often it is used, etc) above mere dollars and cents.
6. The Starbucks Factor: It’s not the large items that will surprise you how much they add up—it’s the small things. A movie here, a Starbucks grande caramel mocha there, filling your car up with gas, eating out—you’ll be surprised how much it adds up. Write down everything you spend for two weeks and notice how the little things add up to more than a little chunk of change. Try to limit your spending and trim down on the “non-essentials” of life. If will make a big difference!
7. Avoid eating out often: Most people I work with eat out almost every day for lunch (and some of them every day for dinner!) My wife and I either bring a lunch or go home for lunch most days. We’ve found that going home most days for lunch and having a sandwich saves a great amount on our monthly bills. Take a lunch to work and cook dinner at home more often than not. It’s not only easy on your wallet, but also on your waistline!
8. Remind yourself that possessions are not the sum of your life: It’s an easy principle: living simpler will make life simpler. Remind yourself you don’t “need” as much as you think you do and that everything you see you don’t necessarily have to have.
9. Be creative in how you spend your time: Read a book, take a walk in the park, ride your bike, throw a Frisbee, watch a little league baseball game, play your guitar, watch a children’s play. It will save some cash on how your entertain yourself.
10. Always, always, always pay off your credit card bills! If you ever fail to make a payment on your credit card because you don’t have the money cut the card up immediately into a hundred pieces. My dad always said, “There are only two types of people: those are paying interest and those that are receiving interest.” Paying interest on your credit card can take years to get out. Your credit will carry with you the rest of your life.
The key to all of these is moderation. Spending in moderation with wisdom and balance will help keep your checkbook in balance as well.
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