Monday, January 7, 2008

A More Abundant Life

Here is something I’ve been thinking about, a new idea for a new year: Cultivating a mindset of abundance, rather than a mindset of scarcity. I don't mean becoming a mindless consumer, flashing a credit card, shouting, “Whee! I have SO MUCH money that I can buy useless crap every time I set foot in a retail store! And so what that we will never be able to retire. At least we will have a fondue pot, lava lamps in multiple colors, and big-screen TVs in every room!”

No—what I mean is, for my family, having a mindset of abundance means buying the best quality we can afford of the things we need (which of course means knowing what we really do need); enjoying the things we want that we CAN afford; and blessing the kingdom of God and other people. Not hoarding, is what I’m saying. Being a good steward of the resources we have, then trusting God to provide for us while we help take care of others.

I spent several years when we were barely getting by with a scarcity mindset, and it was no fun at all for me. Some people may enjoy the “frugal down to the bone” lifestyle, and I’m all for saving money UNLESS it causes you to be stingy and start asking people for gas money when you give them a short ride, or other stories of tightwads I’ve heard.

Living with abundance also means choosing to enjoy what you already have, and not hoarding it in case you need it “someday.” My late grandparents’ house is full of unopened gifts—packages of sheets, pajamas, scented soap—that they saved for “later” because they felt it was too good to use, that what they already had was not threadbare enough. "Later" never came. I’m glad they were careful with their money, that their worst fear (running out of money in their old age) didn’t come true—but I wish they had enjoyed the gifts, that didn’t cost them anything, while they had a chance.


  1. wow, that's a good point... i plan on enjoying my life as far as my income level will realistically allow. i don't have to have trinidads to have a relaxing experience, no excalibers will do just fine ($8-10/ea vs $4-5/ea). planning for retirement is good not LIVING during retirement is bad.

  2. One thing I learned during our frugal-out-of-necessity times is that "stockpiling" is not actually frugal. Many frugal tipsters will tell you that when you find a good deal, stock up on it if you know it's something you'll use. But I found that wasn't a good use of my time, space or money. Very often, right when I was about to run out of something, someone would give that very thing to me, and then I didn't have to buy it. Either that, or an even BETTER sale would come along after I had stockpiled. So not stockpiling is something I follow to this day. For example, if I don't need toilet paper right now, I'm not going to buy 300 rolls just because it's on sale.

    I'm not sure if this comment really has too much to do with your entry (other than your grandparents' stockpile) -- guess I just wanted to share!

  3. I've read a lot of blogs recently where people are vowing to buy absolutely nothing that's not absolutely necessary and I go away from these posts feeling not inspired but sort of grim. I don't like feeing like I'm wasting money, but I DO like the feeling of having enough, and as you wrote, enjoying what we CAN afford. Great post!

  4. My grandmother hoarded and never spent until she found out at 94 she was dying. Did she really think she would be able to take it all with her?

    I think you can take an environmental stance to buy LESS but still splurge on the more expensive things you want. So, for me, that would be organic produce and fairtrade products.


  5. I completely get what you say here. I go to a science of mind church and we talk about these principles frequently. Have you ever heard of Edwene Gaines? She is a great author and speaker on this subject. GREAT POST! Its so awesome to see other people who "get it"