Is being frugal the same as being cheap?

As we search for the great deals, cut and organize coupons incessantly, and shop for the sales, the question comes to mind … Why? Are we just cheap coupon queens? Don’t we have “something better” to do with our time? Are we never satisfied? Is there no method to our madness?

Does any of this sound familiar? Well, if you are as interested in coupons as I am, this is it! You know, you get those “common” looks at the grocery store who basically stare at your coupon organizer. Or you get those deep sighs from people who, unfortunately for them, stand behind you on the pay line.

By definition, according to Webster’s dictionary, another word for cheap is stingy. On the contrary, being frugal means not wasting or being thrifty. There is a big difference in these two words. I remember when my husband and I were married for the first time (20 years ago!). We both had well-paying jobs. It was nothing for me to go to the supermarket and spend $ 200 a week just for the two of us. Now I cringe at the amount of money we waste, because I did not use coupons or buy deals.

But as far as I’m concerned, there are good reasons for what I do. First of all, I want to be a good steward of what God has given me. Using coupons is just one of the ways I live to do this. Buying the sales, using rebates, and searching for the best deals go hand in hand with using coupons to efficiently spend the money God has blessed me with. Now, there are limits here. I don’t believe in doing anything unethical or illegal to get a deal. I believe that if I try honestly at all times, God will bless my efforts.

Another reason I use coupons and shop smart is so I can help others. The Bible says in 1 John 3:17, “But whoever has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need and closes his heart from him, how does God’s love abide in him?” God expects us to help those in need. One way to do this is by donating food, health and beauty items, and even clothing to local pantries. For example, I was recently able to “buy” 4 blood glucose monitors at no cost to me. Now, fortunately, no one in my family needs them; so I donated them in hopes of helping someone who does.

Another misconception is comparing storage to accumulating food for fear of what tomorrow holds. For me, this could not be more than the truth. I believe that as Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” God can supply everything my family and I need. Storage is a way to buy the things my family needs at the lowest price. Why should I pay full price for something when I know it will be on sale soon? And when it’s on sale, why shouldn’t you buy as much of the necessary item as you can at this low price combined with a coupon? It makes sense to do it! And for me, stockpiling is just another way to be a good manager.

So, I hope that through this I have dispelled all ideas that I, or other coupon queens, are cheap. It is frugal. I live to spend my money wisely and in a way that honors God.

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