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Reader Testimonial: Frugality Allowed Us to “Splurge” For Others

An anonymous reader emailed in the following testimonial which I thought many of you would find encouraging:

I was the tight-fisted frugal one when we got married, but my husband was so impressed by my freebie-grabbing, creative penny pinching and compulsive saving that he quickly got on board! Even though we’ve only had one income for our family of seven, and that one income has always come from the notoriously underpaid field of education, we’ve never had any debt except for our mortgage which we vowed to pay off in less than five years (which we did). Our vehicles, home renovations, computers and all other purchases have always been paid for with cash.

A few years ago we heard about an orphanage in Burundi that was in distress. Its 20 young occupants shared two 10 x 10-foot rooms and had no running water or electricity. A piece of property had been located that had roomier buildings, water, power and a little land (i.e. for gardening, or some animals to help feed the orphans). Burundian refugees in America who were supporting the orphanage had no idea how to raise the exorbitant (to them) sum of $15,000 to pay for this in full, as apparently there were no mortgages in this primitive country.

Hearing about it through an emailed prayer request, my husband investigated the need, prayed and fasted, and ended up writing a check for the whole amount of $15,000! He was able to visit the property a year later with our daughter. What a heart-stopping, choked-up moment that was for them!

He took the above picture of the orphans in front of their new home and would have packed one or two of them into his suitcase to live with our family if he’d been allowed to! I love that guy!

My seamstress daughter also designed simple dresses like the one below which her sewing ministry was able to make for the girls:

God’s ways are awesome and we’re so blessed to be a part of His will. My tightness paid off in that we were able to splurge for others far away when it was really needed!

-An anonymous reader

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93 Comments

  • Vicky says:

    Wow, what a heart warming amazing letter! God used them to bless those poor orphans, just amazing!

  • Paige Harshbarger says:

    This is beautiful and heartwarming! Thank you for sharing. I feel like I need to do a little more now after reading her story : )

  • Kristin says:

    Best. Story. Ever. Thanks so much for sharing. THIS is why we’re working so hard to get out of debt right now.

  • Mary C says:

    Wonderful story. I hope and pray I can be in a position to help others like this one day.

  • nancy l. says:

    WOW!! If this isn’t incentive to live debt free, I don’t know what is. What a life changing, eternal investment this family has made. And I just love the dress (and the smile) on the precious little girl. The daughter’s sewing ministry did a fabulous job!!

  • Amy says:

    That story just made me tear up. What a generous heart you have! I love your story!!

  • Sara says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. One of our financial goals is to be able to freely give. It’s an encouragement to hear of other people reaching that same goal.

  • lalalalala says:

    WOW.

    This story is absolutely amazing. I will think about this every time I feel like squandering my money away on impulse buys and splurges. If the world had more people like you and your husband, this world would be a much better place.

  • Amy says:

    I’m so glad she shared her story. I am in the middle of debating leaving my job to stay at home with my pride and joy (and to begin expanding our family). Hearing her testimonial of living as a one-salary household was reassuring. And how awesome they even find thousands of dollars to share with those less fortunate! I am inspired. Thanks for sharing, anonymous!

  • Melinda says:

    That is truly awesome!! You are definitely an example to be followed. God’s word says “to love one another”…. you have definitely shown that can be done even in today’s financial climate!! Thank you so much for sharing!! Blessings to you!

  • Karen says:

    Wow! What an awesome opertunity.

  • Ann says:

    WOW, what an amazing story!

    Mat 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me

  • Susan says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. I love it! I want to do similar things when I’m 100% debt-free. I want to live simply so I can give big! I love to read stories (and see the incredible pictures) of others doing the same thing!

  • saree says:

    Crystal, I’m glad you posted this. I’ve wanted to submit our story as a “We Paid Cash” story — but I didn’t want anyone who knows us to read this, as our giving was anonymous (a check to help someone pay off debt from an unexpected hospital stay as well as a nice piece of electronic equipment for friends in the ministry). The main reason we save is so that we can give more. It is so exciting when a need arises and the Holy Spirit immediately calls you to meet that need — and the money is there to back it up! We don’t do it because it makes us feel good… we don’t do it because we know it will “come back” to us… we don’t do it to earn “Heaven Points”. We do it to be obedient to the Holy Spirit!!!

  • ksenia says:

    This made my day! What an awesome story! Thank you so much for sharing it! I feel very inspired and uplifted.

  • L says:

    This post made me cry. It’s beautiful. We serve such a BIG God, who uses people like you mightily to take care of those in need. May He bless you and your husband.

  • Wow! What an amazing testimony!!! Thank you so much for sharing this encouraging story!

    We’re going through Dave Ramsey’s FPU right now and as he says, “Live like no one else so that later you can GIVE like no one else!”

  • Tracy says:

    Awesome…brought tears to my eyes. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Michelle says:

    Love this story! THIS is why I try to be frugal, because it truly is the Best feeling to be able to give! Thanks for sharing your inspiring story:)

  • Tammy Littlejohn says:

    This story is beautiful. It touched my heart!

  • Jen says:

    That is wonderful! Lately, I have been cleaning and decluttering my house and I have been finding so many things I have bought and don’t know why I wasted my money on such junk! Things I can’t even really sell, just plastic garbage. It has really inspired me to just stop buying anything unless it is an absolute need. No impulse buys at all.

    I want to take some of my money instead eventually and do something like this, that would feel like an excellent way to spend money and truly, so many of us in America could afford to do this.

  • Amye says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. This is just what I needed to remind myself of the goals to set for my family.

  • Jennifer says:

    I love, love, LOVE this! Thanks for sharing. More stories need to be shared about giving “big.” I think most Americans think that if we spend most of our money on ourselves and throw a few bucks at charity now and then, we’ve done our part. For most, the idea of sacrificial giving is a totally foreign concept.

  • Emily says:

    This is amazing! It’s news like this that keep me motivated. Keep up the wonderful work!

  • L says:

    Gotta love people like you, and parents setting such a wonderful example to their children! You already have been rewarded!

  • Ann says:

    Brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Kristen says:

    I second the commenter above who said “Best. Story. Ever.”
    Thank you for sharing this, and for being an inspiration to the rest of us! My husband and I were just talking last night about what we can do to help the people of Japan, and this story is just what I needed to hear, to remind me that we can make a big impact by living within our means, and sharing our blessings.

  • Becky says:

    100% inspirational. Thank you SO much for sharing!

  • TMichelle says:

    BEAUTIFUL story! This is so inspirational!!!

  • Janet says:

    This is awesome and amazing !

  • Like many others, I say: WOW! Thank you so much for sharing, and may the Lord repay you 100x!

  • Sher says:

    What a great story! My favorite so far! And what a blessing to those in Burundi. I am sure they loved the dresses! She looks simply delighted!!

    I don’t agree with people saying to keep the help just in the USA. While I LOVE our country and my husband has served in our armed forces, I believe God wants us to help the whole world. As He loves the entire world that He has created. He see no limitation of our countries walls.

  • Julie says:

    Beautiful and heartwarming story! What beautiful dresses your daughter made!!

  • LindaB says:

    Wonderful post, I love people that give back to others! Made my life richer to hear such a touching story.

  • margaret says:

    Wonderful story! Why limit our giving to our own country? Can’t we give here AND give to those living in other countries who also have a need?

  • Heather says:

    This is just a beautiful post! What a wonderful blessing for everyone!

  • Linda says:

    My husband and I have been married for 28 years and have spent most of them spending all our money and not saving a thing. Due to circumstances over the past 2 years, God has shown us how we miss used our money and we are on our way to making changes in how we spend and save. Your story is one of the things we want to be able to do…have the money to help where God would lead us. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • ann says:

    Thats a great deed anon! I’m glad you reached out to help beyond boundaries. Inspiring. 🙂
    On reading comments about helping ‘our own’ first, I thought, ‘What if God loved his own Son ‘first’ and then us humans??’
    Compassion knows no boundaries and if it does, its attached to the ego!

  • Jill says:

    About all the helping in the states comments…I have a sister in law who needs help – but the best thing I can do for her is nothing at all! She needs to do something on her own.

    I am not saying everyone in the states that is in need needs to grow up but there a lot of people on our country in “need” and it doesn’t even compare to the realities that other face on other countries.

    I second the one who said we can help both those within our country and others.

  • Heather says:

    I appreciate your story so much! Kudos to you for allowing the Lord to lead you EXACTLY where HE wanted you to give!
    We were called by Him to adopt from another country 6 years ago. Many people didn’t understand why we chose another country. This distressed me greatly. Then one day while listening to the radio at the perfect time the song “Voice of Truth” came on. It was as if Jesus Himself were speaking right to me. He was saying…”Listen only to ME, I am The Voice Of Truth, what I say doesn’t always make sense to others, but I want you to obey me.” I’m so glad that I listened to His voice then as we’ve been blessed beyond measure!

  • That is so inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing! It really gives frugality a good name and shows all of us what to strive for. Thanks again!

  • I was very moved by this story. In Jewish tradition, we are told that if you save a life, you save the whole world. This family has saved many worlds. I am a compulsive frugalista, but I manage to donate $25 a month to help keep an African girl in school. I would, of course, love to keep an American child in school, but 25 dollars wouldn’t go very far.

    • Marcy says:

      Don’t ever feel guily for not helping here in the States. There are so many programs and agencies to help our people. So many kids in foreign countries have nothing. Your $25 can go a long way in a third world country.

  • Diana says:

    What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing that! We are very tight in our spending (I consider myself an extreme couponer) and I hope to soon be able to tithe to our church rather than give “what’s left over”.

    • nita says:

      Diana,
      I would encourage you to give the first 10% right off the top of your income to God, then proceed with paying your bills. I realized early on, if I had to juggle my bills, I didn’t want to include God in the juggle. God will honor your obedience.

      • Ginger says:

        I wholeheartedly say Amen! The Lord is faithful to bless as we obey His commands. How gracious He is to give us so very much, even at our poorest, and to only require a portion in return for His Kingdom. Although, I believe our 10% tithe is likely to be just a start as God pours out His riches on us.
        Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
        Not in any way trying to promote a prosperity gospel, but God has always proven faithful in our lives (and the lives of so many others we know) when we have put Him first; in finances, in home, in relationships.

  • what a great story… thanks for sharing this encouraging story, crystal.

  • Clare C. says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Really made me think. Blessings to your family.

  • KimH says:

    That is indeed a wonderful story.. Love does make the world go ’round.

  • Amanda says:

    I LOVE this story. Beautiful. Humble. Fabulous. God is so good!!!

  • Cathy says:

    Wonderful story…thanks for the inspiration!

  • Shantique says:

    Thank you for this insiring story…people like you make the world a better place…whoever you are, your daughter is also a talented young woman. that dress is adorable!

  • Karen says:

    Thank you for blessing me with that story. It reminds me that everything is God’s, and we’re meant to be vessels for giving.

  • Ruth says:

    What an uplifting and heart warming story.

  • Danielle says:

    Anyone who was encouraged by this will also probably be encouraged and challenged by a book I read recently called Radical by David Platt. While reading it, I was inspired to see if we could give sacrificially. Our budget was already pretty lean–not many “extras” to cut. But where could we make SACRIFICES, rather than giving our “leftovers” to God (to use a term from Crazy Love by Francis Chan)?

    I wasn’t sure how we’d do it, but we made the commitment, and it has been amazing to see how God has stretched our dollars! We’ve been able to stock up on personal and cleaning items for free or cheap by using coupons, and somehow we’ve managed to get by on less and less for our groceries. It has taken some practice, and it certainly takes time and effort; but, the motivation to give to others has made it worthwhile.

    You may not be able to give $15,000, but you may be able to set aside $10 more dollars a month, then maybe $15, then $20…

    Compared to most of the people in the world, we Americans really are rich! Shame on me for ever flippantly calling myself “poor.”

    • N says:

      Danielle,
      You’re an inspiration of living out those convicting books. I’ve read “Crazy Love” and am currently reading “Forgotten God”, also by Francis Chan. Haven’t made it to “Radical” yet but it’s on the list. Kuddos on taking what you’ve read to heart and obediently giving.

  • Melody says:

    I have been so humbled the past 2 days with how much my husband and I have. And this article definitely sealed the deal. We are so blessed and have so much. I want to be this generous!

  • Kimberly says:

    Look at the smile on that little girl in her gorgeous dress! That in itself was worth the $15,000 donation and the trip your daughter and husband made to visit those children. Priceless!

  • Charity says:

    This is wonderful!!

  • Chris says:

    Thank you for this story, I really needed to read this today. This is my goal when we become debt free- hopefully in 5 years. I want to find ways to give back and help others.

  • Trina says:

    Wonderful story!I was touched and blessed by your example.What generous hearts you have.The beautiful face and smile and dress of the little girl brought tears to my eyes.You have stored up your treasure where moth and rust cannot corrode.

  • Jody says:

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  • Roberta says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. What a wonderful gift in Jesus’ name and an inspiration! God is so good!

  • Valerie says:

    Wow – incredible and inspiring.

  • Marcy says:

    I love your story. What a difference you have made to those childrens lives. I am an obsessive frugal couponer and we also have lived debt free. Our only debt is our mortgage to which we have 10% left. We recently used a good portion of our savings to adopt 2 little boys ages 2 and 4. (I finally get to take advantage of those great diaper deals.) We are so blessed, and couldn’t be any happier.

  • Rae says:

    What a special story. This is my favorite so far! How generous your family was and what an important thing you did for those orphans. And the “simple” dress is beautiful.

  • Gretchen says:

    Wow- I love this story- it beautifully illustrates how a little frugality and sacrifice can mean the world to someone else. Thank you for posting.

  • Melissa says:

    Thank you for posting this story. I love the dresses.

  • Caitlin says:

    This is beautiful… and the fact that the person sent this in ANONYMOUSLY makes it even more beautiful to me. Doing something for the glory of God and not for attention is something that is truly honorable. Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

  • trisha says:

    this story is so sweet and heartbreaking…i thank the lord everyday for people like you..god will bless you.. and thanks for sharing this story

  • Norma says:

    Very touching story, thanks for sharing. And the look on that little girls face in her new, beautiful dress.
    Priceless!

  • Shannon says:

    Wow! What an incredible story! Brought tears to my eyes. To give so freely of yourself is exceptional. My family is working to pay off the rest of our debt as we hope to be in the position to do things like this as well.

  • Shannon says:

    I am speechless and that doesn’t happen very often! What an encouraging and beautiful story.

  • That is definitely living like no one else, in order to give like no one else!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  • Lana says:

    It is amazing how little money can do so much good overseas. It would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to do the same in the USA. Our church has planted and supports 60 churches and a number of orphanages in India. Our pastor always says ‘I don’t want you to go, but I want you to give so that we can plant more churches.’ If we go we expect to live an American lifestyle but our Indian brothers in Christ do not expect to live like we do so our dollars do so much more when given to native pastors. What a blessing it is to our fellow Christians overseas when we give freely to help them!

  • Thank you! I was moved by the first picture but when I saw the little girl in her gorgeous dress, tears came. A beautiful story to share, I pray your family will continue to be blessed so you can continue to give.

  • Mary Ann says:

    What a beautiful and inspiring story!

  • Julie says:

    What a moving story! Just beautiful…

  • Dani says:

    VERY HEARTWARMING!!! What a wonderful thing you and your family has done! God bless you!

  • Stephanie says:

    THANK YOU FOR POSTING! This story blessed me abundantly. My heart is so warm, and I am encouraged.

  • Anon says:

    I have been so blessed by this story. Thank you for being obedient to His calling and for sharing this. It inspires me and convicts me.

    We are very blessed to be on a fairly fast road to paying off our debts and it hit me recently that we’re completely focused on our family. Paying off our car, our house. Writing up all of our goals for things we intend to pay cash for. We have had absolutely zero goals for giving to others. I’m realizing that I need to write down those goals as well so we have something tangible and measurable to work toward.

    Thank you again! Your daughter’s sewing ministry outdid themselves on the lovely dresses. 🙂

  • amanda says:

    I hope this woman reads all of the comments that this has generated. This short story is so inspirational! Thank you for sharing!

  • Ginger says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. THIS is the purpose of prosperity!

  • Anon's daughter says:

    I am ever in awe of my parents’ faith and money habits.

    Thanks for taking the time to leave comments – Reading them brought tears to my eyes.

  • joanie says:

    this story was AWESOME!

  • Cathy says:

    Praise God! That little girl in her dress takes my breath away.

    Makes me want to keep powering forward paying off our debt so that we can give more to people so desperately in need.

  • Michele says:

    What a wonderful, wonderful story. Just think how many lives you changed with $15,000 – that would barely buy a car here in the U.S.

  • Sirena says:

    Ok… that made me cry!! How wonderful!

  • Susie says:

    What an awesome, uplifting, INSPIRING post – made all the more awesome because this person doesn’t want to be publicly recognized for her (and her family’s) huge act of generosity.

    Thank you for sharing – you (and the comments following) truly made an impact on the way I see so many things. God bless you abundantly.

  • Nancy Geiger says:

    God bless you! 🙂

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