We knew we wanted to end the trip on this note: our kids, grinning ear to ear, dressed in aprons and hairnets while clutching their bags filled with “custom-made” candy bars and commemorative “Hershey Chocolate World” tins.
We had accomplished more in two days than any family should be able in our long weekend trip to Pennsylvania: Independence Hall, the Liberty Bill, Ben Franklin’s Print Shop, Philadelphia Museum of Art (complete with running up the steps while playing the Rocky theme song), Philly Cheesesteak, Lancaster County, Hershey PA.
Problem was, it was only 6pm Saturday evening, and knew that the trip had come to its natural conclusion. We had planned to get a hotel room and putz around for another day, but my husband had another plan: drive home now. Save the hotel money.
We were all for it.
Getting the kids excited about spending another 3 ½ hours in the car would have been impossible but for a new game we’d recently installed in our family: The Savings Jar (pictured above with our “Bean Jar” from earlier posts). Every time we decide not to spend money on something already in the budget, we write down the cause and the savings, and put it in a glass jar: “No hotel 3/2/12: $150”, “Ate ice cream at home instead of Cold Stone Creamery: $14” (yes, it’s that much for 5 people!); “Found same shoes at thrift store: $35 saved”.
Now it’s nice to save money and keep track of your progress, but what’s so fun and meaningful about the Savings Jar isn’t the pieces of paper that go into it, but what we DO with them: once the total has built up enough, half of the savings go toward a meaningful, intentional fun family purchase (TBD) and the other half to a meaningful, intentionally chosen cause.
What I love about this game is that it not only motivates us to save, but it makes sure that when we do, we have something to show for it- not just an abbreviated vacation and a fatter bank account.
Having a POINT to any sacrifice we make is key- otherwise, we fail to fully use what we have gained, or even worse…sacrifice for nothing. Finding a way to recognize, appreciate, and use the savings in our lives can guide us to making intentional choices that will ensure nothing goes to waste.
What if we can do this kind of thing with ALL of our savings?
So often, we work so hard to save time and money, only to have them disappear into oblivion…never felt, used, enjoyed, or shared. We work so hard to finish a job quickly, only so we can finish another job quickly. What if we used the time saved to relax? Meditate? Reach out to a co-worker? Stretch?
We work hard to save money at the grocery store. Where do those savings go? What if every time we saved $5 in coupons, $2.50 went to the Food Bank?
Sometimes “savings” are thrust upon us against our will. The concert is cancelled. Our date stood us up. We broke our leg so can’t do the ski trip. What do we do with our new-found extra time, money, and opportunities? Seeing the abundance in these situations is life-changing. Every time we can’t do one thing, it means we can do something else. Don’t waste that something else.
And sometimes we sacrifice for no purpose. I do this all the time- refrain from doing something I really want to, or purchasing something I can easily afford, just so I can feel good about myself for “doing without.” This is stupid. Unless we can see the good in it, don’t do it. Period. Money and time are precious resources- they are meant to be used and enjoyed.
In this season of Lent, when many of us are giving up something, let’s make sure it goes somewhere. Let’s not just give up, let’s get and give away.
Right now my favorite verse in the Bible is Romans 8:28: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” I see its application everywhere, but this week, let’s apply it to the things we are giving up-
1) Inventory the things in your life that you are giving up, and ask yourself “Why?” Examine your answer, and find ways you can quantifiably enjoy and share the results. If you can’t answer “why?” then re-examine the point of your sacrifice!
2) Look for new places in your life where you can painlessly “lean up” your spending of time, energy, or money…then find a place for the savings that both benefits you and your world.
3) Consider starting a Savings Jar of your own, if it appeals. If you already have another method of doing this, share with us!
4) Meditate on Romans 8:28 in relation to the things under our stewardship. What “things” could “work together for good” that we could give away? What “purpose” could they, be “called” to?