Monday, October 26, 2009

How My Last Dollar Turned Into Much More

To the people behind me in the checkout lane, I must have looked like I was on my last dollar, literally. I couldn’t find my wallet (a different grocery store called later to say I had left it there on my last shopping trip; fortunately everything was intact). So all I had in my purse was an envelope with a bunch of one dollar bills from our yard sale. My boys had just been diagnosed with coxsackie virus (better known as hand-foot-and mouth), so after the doctor’s appointment, we loaded up and went to the store to get them some medicine, Gatorade, popsicles, and a few other things.

When I got to the checkout lane and realized I didn’t have my wallet, I started counting my ones. When I ran out of cash but still had more items in my cart, I started making decisions about what I absolutely had to get and what could wait until my next shopping trip (once I found my wallet and debit card).

The woman behind me must have felt such pity for me--standing there with my sick boys and counting my ones once again to make sure I hadn’t miscounted--that she told me and the cashier that she would buy the rest of my groceries. She even insisted on buying the items I really didn’t need that trip (a watermelon, a pack of diapers, some cereal and cheese).

Of course, I thanked her profusely and offered to send her a check once I found my wallet. But she graciously refused and told me this was her gift to us. On top of all that, she even held up a crisp twenty and asked if I had gas in my car or needed anything else. Wow. (I didn’t take it but thanked her again for her generous offer).

When we got out to our van, we saw a beautiful rainbow arching through the sky—a rare sight where we live. What a symbol of God’s faithfulness. He blesses and provides for His people even when they’re down to their last dollar.

This event forces me to evaluate how frugality and generosity really do go hand-in-hand. Are we frugal so we can hoard more? No, I’m sure we would all say of course not. The motivation for frugal living is to manage the resources God has given us with such excellence that we can afford to be generous on every occasion. The woman behind me had extra money—perhaps from living frugally—so that she could provide what I was lacking at the time. By living frugally, I too have some extra money with which I can afford to be generous to others in need. This is as God intends.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously…for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work…You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”—2 Corinthians 9:6-8, 11

So give it a try sometime. Take a whole bunch of ones with you to the grocery store, count them out slowly, and then count them out again as the cashier tells you your total. See if anyone offers to pick up your tab. Just kidding!

Live well below your means (or at least within your means). Look for ways you can be generous to others in need. Trust that God will provide for your future needs if He uses you to provide for someone else’s current needs.

I’d love to hear your stories of how being frugal has allowed you to bless others!

(Linked to Heavenly Homemakers and Saving and Giving)
Visit Frugal Fridays for more money-saving inspiration!


  1. This isn't a HUGE thing but it helps a lot! By buying clearenced toys, we not only have stockpile of toys in the gift box for our kids and for bithdays but also to fill Operation Christmas Child Boxes and other charities. One wonderful experience was last Christmas. We caught wind that a family we knew from church had lost their income right before Christmas. Because of the extra toys, we were able to make up a "Santa" box and secretly drop it off on their doorstep. It was such a blessing to hear their excitement of the mystery box the next week at church. It was truly such a bigger blessing to give than to receive!

  2. Thanks for sharing Jodi! How do you find clearanced toys?? I'd love to find out more! Those are some great ideas :)

  3. Thanks for sharing....perfect that I found your sight tonight.....linked to Heavenly Homemakers. Just a few moments ago my husband said that I just might try to share to much or give to much....well your post today proves that we can never share too much or not be about what God needs us to do for others.

    (By the way I am a wife, mom of 6 and a very normal mom who appreciates "stumbling" on your blog tonight!)

  4. What a wonderful story!!!
    God is so good to bless- AND give opportunity to bless others!

  5. Thank you so much for this post. I have been dealing lately with a lack of generosity in my heart, and God has graciously been convicting me of it. Just the other morning I was ready Spurgeon's Morning devotional for the day and it talked about this. I am so encouraged my your post. Thank you.

  6. Thanks April! More and more I'm finding, it really does seem to "even out." We do something for someone, only to find someone does something for us too! Blessings, Cheryl :)

  7. What a great story! I would love for you to come by and share it at my weekly meme, A Time to Give. It's a place to share our giving stories and inspire each other to be more generous. Stop by!

  8. What a sweet story!

    We save all year and in Nov. go on a shopping trip with my children to buy toys for our church's "Christmas Store" for needy families. these families are chosen by a county agency and recommended to our church. The parents get to come and "shop" for their children, the gifts are wrapped and tagged, and each family receives a food box with goodies for several full meals. My kids say shopping for this and helping set up is their favorite Christmas activity.

  9. Some toys are clearanced after Christmas, and others at the end of summer. I rarely hit them at the right time, but I know many people who have.

    What a great blessing that woman gave you.

    I remember that about a year ago, I only had a little bit to spend, and I hadn't lost my wallet.

    I emptied dh's change jar and went to the store. I rarely get to go to the store. I took $20. It was most of what was in the jar, and all that I had, or would have for a long time.

    I tried adding in my head as I went, but I estimated wrong and when she told me my total it was over $24. I was shocked (and embarrased that I had added wrong). I had to tell her to take four things off---and then I paid her in change. I had to tell the checker (who was not paying attention) three times to stop bagging my things. And then I had to pay with change, while an ever growing line was behind me.

    I went out to the car and sat there and cried. It was hard, even going to the store and then trying to carefully count as I went along and only getting a few things (mostly I just got potatoes). It was hard to walk through the store and not cry because I couldn't get things, like eggs, or apples.

    I drove home and told dh what had happened and then I cried again.

    Then, I went out to the garden to get some lettuce so that we could eat it for lunch. I felt so grateful that we had lettuce growing.

    And as my husband said the blessing at lunch, I felt truly grateful for the food that we have been given by the Lord. I felt content with what we had. I felt so grateful that I had lettuce and turnips growing in my garden.

  10. To The Prudent Homemaker--
    Thanks for sharing your story. I'm so sorry that happened to you, and that no one helped you at the time.
    On the flip side, I have been blessed by your site, especially your sharing about how you have stretched what you have on hand. (I even went to the Smith's case lot sale after reading your ideas!) :) Thanks for the inspiration!