Spender, Saver, or Saver Who Spends?

Some say there are two types of people in the world—savers and spenders. I disagree. I think there’s a third type—savers who spend. 

Spenders live paycheck to paycheck. Every dollar that appears in their wallet quickly finds an escape hatch and vanishes. Bills that come around once or twice a year, like car insurance and property taxes, always catch spenders by surprise. Even birthdays and Christmas throw them into a panic, despite the fact that these special days come around every year at the same time. 

They often use credit to pay bills or make purchases they didn’t plan for, which digs their financial hole even deeper. They give little thought to long-term goals and resent those who have things they don’t. They seldom give to the church or charity, because they can’t afford it. 

Savers squirrel away every dollar they don’t need to live on and never buy anything. They’re often frugal to the point of embarrassment. When a genuine need comes along that they have money set aside for, they still panic, because they don’t want to part with their precious hoard. They equate money with security and peace, yet seldom experience either. If they give to charity or the church, they usually do it grudgingly and in a very limited and self-serving way. 

Then there are the savers who spend. This group lives frugally, gives generously, and accomplishes long term financial goals. When infrequent or unexpected expenses arise, they have the money to meet the need, because they planned ahead. They make short-term sacrifices to enjoy long term benefits. Most importantly, they value people over stuff and acknowledge that God owns it all, and they are only his stewards. 

Like most aspects of the Christian life, a healthy financial perspective finds the balance between the two extremes. The saver who spends lives peacefully in the tension between spending and saving. If you’re stuck at one end of the financial spectrum or the other, 

I’d like to I share a few suggestions to help you move toward the middle. 

1. Acknowledge that God, not you, owns your money and possessions. We are only stewards. As financial managers, we are to spend and save God’s money according to the principles in his Word. As we do so, he promises to meet our needs, but he may choose not to provide some of our wants if our desires will hinder or harm his greater purposes. 

2. Recognize the difference between needs and wants. Cable TV, a late model car, and mani-pedis are not needs. We can sacrifice these luxuries to help us accomplish long term financial goals like becoming debt free, investing in God’s kingdom, or sending children to college. 

3. Give generously when the Lord prompts you. The Philippian church was an impoverished church, yet they gave generously and sacrificially when God moved them. In response, God promised to meet their needs, just as he was using them to help meet others’ needs (Phil. 4:19). 

4. Save wisely, not to secure your future, but to rightly manage the resources God has entrusted to you. This includes planning for occasional expenses like the ones mentioned above. Set up saving categories for appliance replacement, car repairs and maintenance, and unemployment. Even if you can only afford to tuck away a nominal amount in each category, regular savings deposits add up and can take the edge off an unexpected expense. Planning also prevents us from using credit, incurring high interest, and further increasing our indebtedness. 

5. Sacrifice the little things to enjoy the big things. I know one family that ate out every Friday night. A normal meal would cost their family of four about $50. One of their goals was to take a family cruise when the oldest child graduated from high school. Instead of going into debt to make it happen, they decided to cut back on their restaurant dining, agreeing to go out to eat once a month instead of once a week. They took the extra $150 they’d been spending on meals and put it into a cruise fund. 

Mom drew a thermometer on a piece of paper with the target amount they needed at the top. Each month, when Dad made the deposit into the cruise fund, they’d color in a bar on the thermometer. Watching the amount grow was empowering and exciting. It was also a great lesson in delayed gratification. When the time finally came to take their cruise, they enjoyed it guilt free, knowing there was no lingering credit card bill to haunt them for years after. 

6. Value people over money. I know a one-income family who has lived frugally all their lives. They are some of the most giving, kingdom-minded people I know. Although their resources are limited, they always donate to students going on mission trips, extend hospitality, and give thoughtful, generous gifts. They understand the purpose of money—to meet our needs and the needs of those who cross our paths. They know God intends for us to be a channel, not a reservoir. 

When appropriate, we should willingly release “our” money to help accomplish his purposes in the world. This may include supporting a missionary, sponsoring a Compassion International child, or buying a special birthday gift for a lonely widow in our church. We might have to sacrifice in one area to be able to give in another, but we’ll never regret it. The satisfaction of knowing we’ve touched someone in Jesus’ name is worth much more than the temporary pleasure of self-indulgence. 

These suggestions are just a few coins in the bank of life, but I hope they’ll get you thinking. Take a moment to ask yourself, Am I a spender? A saver? Or a saver who spends? Invite God to examine your heart, your spending and saving habits, and your attitude toward money. If he shows you an area that needs adjustment, respond quickly to what he tells you to do. 

When God closes the financial books at the end of our lives, he’ll ask us one question: What did you do with the money I entrusted to you? 

May our answer will be one that honors and glorifies our Lord. 

Now it’s your turn. What’s one way you try to honor God with your resources? Is there an area you’d like to improve on? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

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  1. Thanks for the tips. You can either be focused with your money, or you'll wonder what happened to it and not get the enjoyment, and satisfaction of partnering with Christ. Great reminders.

    1. Very true, Tim. Do we control our money or does our money control us?