I have been thrifty my entire life. This might be because I have never been really affluent. But the main reason for my thriftiness was that I thought it was the “right” lifestyle. My wife recently threw away (to my deep regret) a pair of shoes that I had worn for 10 years after repeatedly replacing the soles. My wife also threw away some of my suits after buying new one as a 60th birthday present – they were also a decade old. I only wear suits on Sundays so they last forever. My watch has also been with me for more than 10 years. Fortunately, my wife can’t throw it away because I always wear it.
I don’t buy too many things for myself partly because I’m indifferent to my needs or my appearance. But I’m also not used to spending money.
These days our household budget is not tight because our two children are married and financially independent. We are not extremely rich, especially after having made a pledge for the church building project. But we are financially comfortable enough to be able to eat out when we feel like it and travel to places we want to visit.
Still, it’s hard for me to spend money freely. When I go to the pharmacy or grocery store I still pick the item that’s a few pennies cheaper. At the airport I use the water fountain instead of buying bottled water which costs more than two dollars. I always finish the food on my plate even when I’m full. I apply lotion sparingly so a bottle lasts forever.
I’ve realized however that being too conscious of money deprives me of little pleasures that money can buy. So I’m making a determined effort to relax a bit in regards to money. Nowadays, I don’t always finish all my food at restaurants. I go to Starbucks for coffee instead of McDonald’s. I don’t compare prices when buying something on vacation. I even buy bottled water at the airport!
I am especially making an effort to be more generous to waitresses, hotel maids, and valets who depend on tips to survive, although I still prefer restaurants where tipping is not required and parking my own car.
The Apostle Paul said, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12) I may have learned to live in want but have yet to learn the secret of living in plenty. As Christmas approaches, I hope that I can be generous to people who are in want.
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