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When saving isn’t the best choice

Ashlawn Highland Kitchen

“We are not to judge thrift solely by the test of saving or spending.

If one spends what he should prudently save, that certainly is to be deplored. But if one saves what he should prudently spend, that is not necessarily to be commended.

A wise balance between the two is the desired end.”
–Owen Young


When I saw this quote, it intrigued me and I kind of wish I could chat with Mr. Young to find out exactly what he meant.

I’m thinking he’s talking about being penny-wise and pound-foolish. For instance, if your shoe starts to fall apart and you don’t pay for a repair, you’ll then have to buy a new pair of shoes. Or if you keep on pouring money into an old, inefficient appliance, that could be more expensive than forking over the cash for a replacement unit.

I also wonder if he’s cautioning against the miserliness that we frugal people can sometimes be susceptible to.

What do you think?


Joshua’s 365 post: Almost magical

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Monday 25th of March 2013

I think, too, that he's pointing to the place we give money in our hearts. Money is simply a tool, but how we handle it can reveal our hearts. When we spend what we should save, we are often putting the items purchased in a place of greater value than they deserve. When we save what we ought to spend, we are putting that money in a place more valuable than it deserves. Sometimes a heart too bent on saving is a heart putting money saved before God himself and it can become a form of idolatry.

We were made for relationship - with God and with those He has placed in our lives (spouse, kids, family, friends, etc) - and sometimes frugality becomes instead about saving the money when what we ought to do is spend it as a way to honor, enjoy or grow a relationship. I think of a friend whose husband won't allow their family to eat out *ever* so she hates to travel because road trips mean she has to prepare a cooler full of food and with a house full of little kids it becomes more work than feels worthwhile. How much better might it be to spend a little extra for the sake of special family time and the relational benefits that result? Or a friend who attends grad school with the typical tight finances of a grad student and how it has touched her heart when my husband and I send unexpected Starbucks cards or lovely bath salts during finals. These are the small blessings that we are meant to enjoy - assuming our money has been managed responsibly and we have extra - and I think this is at least part of what the quote is saying. Frugality is important, but it cannot become more important than loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves.


Friday 22nd of March 2013

I think he could also be cautioning against what I call false economy. To me false economy is when you buy a cheap version of a product & then when it dies (usually sooner rather than later) due to use instead of replacing it with a more expensive higher quality version that will last for many years & much use you replace it with another cheap version of the product & continue to repeat the buy cheap, wear it out, buy cheap cycle. Eventually the day comes when you decide to buy the more expensive, higher quality version & by the time you do you've paid for it twice, once by continuing to buy the cheap versions as replacements & a scecond time by buying the more expensive, better quality version. Having said that I do think there are times that buying a cheaper version of something that you're not sure you will use enough to justify buying an expensive version is worth it. I've done that with several things & have been glad I did. A stand mixer is one thing that comes to mind. I bought a model that could be removed from the stand & used as a hand mixer. It wasn't great as a stand mixer but makes for a great hand mixer & ended up putting a stand mixer on my birthday/christmas list & got a wonderful Kitchenaid mixer that I love. So I ended up with a good hand mixer & great stand mixer without spending a lot for something that wouldn't be used very much.

Laura Vanderkam

Thursday 21st of March 2013

I would look at this through the lens of time, as well. There are many things that one could do for oneself. But if your leisure time is in short supply, better to pay to get your lawn mowed, and spend that weekend time with your family instead.


Thursday 21st of March 2013

I think this thought might also apply:

Read in a homeschooling book recently about sometimes forking over a few extra dollars to the "small potatoes" retailer at convention, rather than saving a few dollars by purchasing on Amazon, etc. The idea was that it is rather miserly to ask lots of questions of a salesperson, finger through the goods at their booth, note that the price is $2 higher than one might get elsewhere, and wait to purchase somewhere else. I would say that extra few dollars is sometimes money well spent, if it is supporting another family directly rather than a large corporation.


Thursday 21st of March 2013

I agree. Like buying milk at the grocery store in our town of 800 vs. buying it at Walgreens the next time I drive the 40 miles to the town of 32,000. The benefits in goodwill and community are worth way more than the almost $2 a gallon I could save.

Barbara O

Thursday 21st of March 2013

This is repeating what some of the others have said, but I think he's mostly talking about the difference between 'cheap' and 'frugal'. This was a concept taught to us years ago in a course by the late Larry Burkett; he actually says that his wife accused him of being cheap, not frugal! I think as Christians we can easily see the difference. Spending itself is not the enemy-spending beyond our means or unnecessarily is! Some one who is frugal lives within their means, refuses to spend impulsively and carelessly, and sometimes goes without a 'want' due to the cost. Sometimes, I refuse to pay the money for something, not because I don't have the money, but because I don't think it's worth that much of my $. Cheap people hoard, and are not particularly generous (and giving out of our excess is very important as a Christian) I especially like what the poster said earlier about purchasing and expensive, but necessary, airplane ticket. If we are careful and wise with our spending (frugal) then we will frequently have the money to spend on emergencies, even if we consider the cost high. A cheap person would not have bought that expensive ticket, even though it was necessary. A frugal person considers it carefully and is grateful to God for the provision! I know all this in my head, but I'm not as good at frugality as you. You inspire me to put into practice what I have already learned!

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