Why We Save
I've frequently shared stories of our early days when we were so poor we could only do laundry if we found change in the street, so poor that we once had only two eggs to eat in the house, no money coming in for at least 24 hours, and I dropped one egg and broke it. I was also pregnant.
My husband joined the military so we had regular income and health insurance. We came in with debt, however, so we were still pretty poor, plus, we were still not completely responsible. We had a lot of lessons yet to learn, but we were given some excellent advice at the start of our military term (my husband served 20 years), and we learned something else after a few too many years of payday pizzas.
Mostly, however, we lived hand to mouth, payday to payday, and without much ambition to do more. Then my little brother got married. My parents paid for a plane ticket for me and one of our two children to go to the wedding. We were too embarrassed to tell them that we didn't have the gas to get to the airport twice that week- it wasn't in our town, my husband had to drive an hour or two away. It's not even that gas prices were that high, it's just that we were that broke and hadn't planned on two round trip tickets to the airport. Still, my youngest daughter and I flew out anyway, neither my husband nor I had any idea how I would be getting home from the airport one week later. We just trusted to 'luck.'
A week later, 'luck' had still not stepped in with enough cash for my husband to fill the gas tank. I was flying in that day and getting kind of worried about what the baby and I were supposed to do once we landed in this town. My husband swallowed his pride and went to one of the older men at church with whom he had something of a relationship, and whom we knew to be very well off. My husband explained our need, and asked to borrow twenty dollars to fill the gas tank so he could pick up his wife and baby from the airport.
The man gave my husband a hundred dollar bill, clapped him on the shoulder and said, "This is how I want you to pay me back. Instead of giving me the money, pay it forward. Some day I want you to do this for some other young family."
My husband and I had a talk about that a few days later. He was a little awestruck. This was a point of view he'd never heard of or considered before- that staying debt free, living frugal, exercises in self-denial, choosing to eat at home instead of eating out, choosing to wear that pair of shoes a little longer, choosing to borrow a movie from the library instead of renting one from the store- all these small decisions were not just about being greedy or about self-denial for self-denial's sake. They were not exercises in metaphorical self-flagellation- they were choices that each, one by one, would enable us to be in a position to help somebody else in need in a productive, useful fashion.
It's not the *only* reason. But it was the most important reason to us, and the one that really gave us the impetus we needed to think further ahead than 'this week.'
You may also enjoy this post on the spiritual cost of focusing too much on one's own comfort and convenience