The Truth Of It: Becoming A (com)passionate Penny Pincher

Can I be real honest with you guys?  (Somebody out there please stop me now . . . please???)  Yesterday I was able to get a few great deals at Rite Aid and Walgreens and planned on taking them to donate today towards tornado relief efforts nearby.  They weren't much, but they were something.  However, as “the penny pincher” (which so many people jokingly call me), I felt like showing up with just two body washes, a few razors, and some toothpaste was pretty pitiful.  We did drop off supplies last week at a local Red Cross Shelter, so it wasn't like we weren't giving anything, but it just didn't seem to be enough!  So, I started thinking about my pantry (which would be laughed at by those on Extreme Couponing), but in my heart of hearts I hesitated to give even though I have in abundance.  What is wrong with me?

Now don't get me wrong, I am no hoarder . . . (really!) But, I do like opening my pantry doors and seeing enough. I like having enough bars of soap, enough cans of veggies, and enough pasta.  It just (weirdly), makes me feel like we're okay, that if we need something we'll have it, and alleviates a little anxiety on my part about finding another deal!  Isn't that just CRAZY??? Especially after what's taking place in our part of the country this week? And when we really do have enough?

I realized that while I choose to give because I really do believe God asks me to do it, the heart behind my giving needs to be a little purer, a wee bit less selfish, and a whole lot more trusting that God will provide . . . (*another deal*).  I also realized this: it doesn't matter what anyone thinks if I show up with just one tube of toothpaste. (Not that I should take just one, because I have four in my pantry, and surely there will be another toothpaste deal soon!)  But, if each of us gave just one, imagine our impact on those in need.  If we each decided to give just one item this week, how many families could we impact?

I am blessed beyond measure.  As I type this I'm sitting in my cozy home, with electricity and hot water and my safe and sweet family. Over two hundred people lost their lives to the recent storms, and thousands more are left without homes.  It's astonishing to even think about.  I can give an extra bar of soap, more razors, and even juice boxes (OUCH!  It did hurt a little to stick those in the bag!)  But ultimately I want to be a compassionate penny pincher.  Not a stingy penny pincher who's pantry is bursting with deals yet who's too fearful to give abundantly, but rather a woman of God willing to help those in need (even if it leaves a little more space in my pantry.)

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3: 17-18

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Comments

  1. Such a good reminder of kingdom values. Thank you for inspiring me today!

  2. Michelle says:

    Amen! That was something I needed to hear. I’m just starting with couponing and man I’m glad I’m starting off right after hearing this. And again, AMEN!

  3. Well said laurie. I know how you feel. I, too, struggled with giving what I took to Dublin. I thought “well, I need this toilet paper and can’t buy any more until I get more SBs”, then i realied how selfish was I to not want to let go of my toilet paper?! We gave a box full as well as two bags of our stockpile, after realizing that I can easily replenish these items within a month or two. These families literally have to start all over; they will appreciate the one box of toothpaste that I hesitated to give. How selfish are we? Couponing has really been a blessing to our family. I couldn’t have given as much as we did if it weren’t for it. In fact, a couple of ladies and I are going clothes shopping for one of Staci’s classmates whose family lost their home, personal belongings, and cars. They also have a newborn. I told them about your coupon site so we are going to be printing out some Old Navy coupons as well as to other stores. Thanks again for all that you do! Love you!

  4. Laurie, I felt exactly the same way when I started to go through my little stockpile. However, I realized that it would not kill me even if I had to buy my next tube of toothpaste, can of green beans or even juice boxes at regular price, especially knowing that it was because I gave to someone who was in need. We are so blessed to be able to give out of our abundance. And you’re right, there will be plenty of other deals. I’m glad you guys are okay up there!

  5. Very well said. Thank you!

  6. Laurie,
    I so often feel the same way. I worry about my selfishness. I will gladly go out and do the dirty work, pick up debris, cook for the hungry, take care of the children, shift through trash for that one treasure, yet as a Christian woman why do I feel this way about giving? Look at what has been given to me. Yet, I do. It is nice knowing I am not alone in my struggle to become a cheerful giver.
    Thank you for making me feel not quite so bad about myself.
    Josie

  7. I love this post! I can’t tell you how many times I find it easy to give toothpaste or pasta, bit how hard it can be to give some of the great deals that are much harder to find like cheese or nice razors or diapers. Yet, in the past few months God has challenged me to give him/others my favorite things. The things I want to hold onto most, because I need to remember my blessings come from Him not coupons. It has been amazing to see what happens. I gave a Venus razor to a friend and the next day got a high value coupon in the mail (I still don’t “know” how I got it.). I gave a pack of diapers that I found on clearance that were just the right size for my daughter and I did not want to let go of, and the next week at Wags, as I was buying diapers again to keep, the lady behind me in line that I casually knew insisted on paying for them. I am constantly being reminded to have open hands, so I can share in the blessing of giving and receiving.

  8. Thank you, Laurie. Your challenge to give more every day is convicting and so needed. I have been so blessed by God’s provision that it is a humbling privilege to be able to give it away. And seeing your little reminders is just the kick I need to go home and put a box together!

    Thanks for all your hard work keeping us informed of the deals so we can have more to give away.

  9. Laurie you are amazing! I got right up after reading your post and put together 7 (very full) bags out of my stockpile. I dropped them off at Dublin and I have to say that I feel really good right now. I have struggled with ways I could help with this disaster and you gave me just the right push to start. Thank you!

  10. Ashlie says:

    Laurie,
    Your raw honesty is so freeing to read, because I think we all have those moments. It doesn’t matter how much we know we have in abundance compared to so many, it is difficult at times to give like the poor widow gave in the Bible… giving until it hurts. We’ve been talking about the generosity of Easter the past couple weeks in church and it’s been such a reminder of what the difference between giving and being generous is. As I packed up a bag to take to my local food pantry tomorrow, I also had those thoughts of, should I really give toothbrushes, we don’t have that many in the pantry… but I know for someone who hasn’t had a new toothbrush in months, they sure will be glad that I gave out of my “abundance”. Thanks for being so open and honest… until it hurts.

  11. Thanks for such an honest post. You are not alone!

  12. I felt the same way last week. After seeing the devastation in some of my family’s neighborhood, I went home and raided my pantry, closet, etc. I had a huge bin of little girl clothes that I had intended to put in a consignment sale a few months ago but I mixed up my days and missed it. It was really hard for me to let go of those items and give them away because I knew later on I could make some money by selling them. When it came down to it, I realized that I may be going through a lot, but I’m not the one that is in need right now. It made me so happy to imagine a little girl feeling like a little princess in my little Sydney’s cute clothes.

  13. Jessica says:

    Very well put. Love that you quoted the scripture also! 😉

  14. Beautiful…I’ve always believed that we have a duty to share our bounty with those in need, you described my feelings exactly.

  15. Marella says:

    Applause!!!

  16. Laurie says:

    Thanks so much for all your kind words and also letting me know I’m not the only one (I really thought I might be!) It’s just so silly, especially when we really do have so much. What’s so funny is that I ended up at Kroger this morning and was able to get SOOOOO many more deals than I even knew of – and found extra coupons for things that turned out to be free (8 more packages of soap to give . . . yayyyyyyy!)

    I just get so mad at my self for being so anxious about giving from my stockpile – I was thinking today that it’s almost easier for me to give cash, because I’ve worked so hard to get those items for free (and despite years of couponing I still fear that the deals might be over!) I love hearing how generous you all have been – what a blessing we as couponers truly can be when we choose to help those in need.

  17. Living in North Alabama near the heart of the destruction, is a constant reminder of my family’s earthly blessings. We were without power for 8 1/2 days (restored today Praise GOD!), and taking care of daily necessities was a true chore! My stockpile came in handy more than once. It provided a blessing to us during our time of need, and now you’ve called me out to pass this blessing to others. Really, truly, you can never out give the Lord. It always is returned often times in increased measure.

  18. Debbie says:

    Laurie,

    I know exactly how you feel – I have struggled with the same feelings. Thank you for having the courage to voice them. All throughout the week that we were without power I just kept thinking about your posts – it was one of the many things I found I missed the most. I was glad to see you and your family were safe. We were also fortunate to not have any damage to our home – trees can be replaced.

  19. MIchelle says:

    Laurie,
    I think you said it perfect. When the storms came through and flooded our house, I was able to save the things most precious. . . pictures, memories, and our whole family was safe. . . but as we salvaged items over the last week. . . so many of those FREE items I hesitated on giving away to those who needed even more than me were destroyed by the water and the other items almost became a burden to pack up and put away and hopefully next time I am up there I will get the chance to donate what was left. We are in the uncertain part right now as we depend on others and depending even more on coupons as insurance failed us on this one. . . it gives me a whole new light on couponing. . .I hope to follow more of the passionate. . . then the penny pinching.

    • Laurie says:

      You’re in my prayers Michelle! I can’t imagine losing what you’ve lost this week, and when I’m grouchy about just being without internet/cable, having to leave my home would have just about done me in. (You’re doing so well!)

      I do think we need to keep enough that our family doesn’t struggle, I just hate that I’m so afraid to give some when I do have enough! Right now, I hope that you’ll be able to accept help from those who offer it, and for awhile enjoy the “enough” that couponing hopefully coupons can give you during this difficult season. Praying for you!

  20. Awesome post! I can relate to your feelings. I packed up several things, but found myself hesitating an embarrassing amount over those harder to get deals. I have been so ashamed of myself for feeling that way. It helps to know that others have struggled with this, and I feel even more encouraged to give now! The blessings we have by giving far outweigh the blessings we have as stockpilers! 🙂

  21. It’s like you’re in my head! This has been my exact struggle over the past week. I did give a big bag from my small stockpile, but it didn’t seem like enough, especially when I kept more than 1 body wash and shampoo. (I was telling my husband about my struggle, and he said, “You have a stockpile?” That’s how small it is!) So I’ve been wondering, “What is enough” to have on hand? I feel like I’m giving sacrificially, but in reality, I could give so much more. Thanks for sharing your feelings.
    BTW, that verse just became my Facebook status. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Tammy – I actually was thinking that it would be great to do an “enough stockpile” list. I worried that people (especially those who are really struggling financially) would read this and say “I need to give away everything I have!” I don’t think that’s case – I’ve found that for myself, I like having maybe 6-8 bars of soap on hand, 6-8 shampoos/conditioners, 4 toothpastes, etc. For me though, it seems ridiculous to have 40 bars of soap, 100 toothpastes, etc. – I really don’t have the room for it and there really are more deals out there! I’m adding to my to-do list to post a list of amounts (that I think!) are reasonable, although every family is different!

      Thanks so much for sharing that you feel the same way, and I love that you set that as your fb status (I loved that verse when I was reminded of it yesterday!)

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