Proverbs 31 and the Ten Commandments of Thrifty Living

The Christmas season is a time for being generous and gathering with family and friends.  However, after the holidays are over, many people find themselves saddled with significant debt accrued by giving gifts and throwing parties that went beyond their budgets.  Even as we seek to be generous and shower affection on our loved ones, we must remember that the true spirit of Christmas is celebrating the birth of Christ and sharing God’s love with those around us.  Being generous and sharing with others does not require one to go into debt.  It does, however, require some time, effort, and planning.

Today I am sharing some ways you  “Applying Proverbs 31 to the Ten Commandments of Thrifty Living”.  The ‘commandments’ in bold were created by the author of this list–I found it many years ago and I no longer have any idea who authored it.   The Scriptures were included in the list and are from the New International Version. The application of these principles are my own ideas.  I believe these principles are still valid, and if you apply them to your holiday planning and spending, you will be able to have a meaningful Christmas celebration while staying within your budget.  

Applying Proverbs 31 to the Ten Commandments of Thrifty Living

1) Roll up your sleeves.  “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.”   Proverbs 31:17

Convenience items can save time but cost more.  Sometime the trade off is worth it as the time saved may be more valuable than the money spent.  Be wise in choosing convenience items that give you a good value for your money and do truly save time.  Likewise, paying others to things you are able to do will save you time but cost you money.  Make wise decisions about what taks you should do yourself and what tasks are worth paying someone to do for you.

2) Organize your world.  “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”  Proverbs 31:27

Organization helps you save time and money.  Organize shopping trips to accomplish multiple tasks while out to save gas and time.  Organize online shopping to ensure that you get free shipping and don’t have to pay rush delivery charges to get gifts delivered by Christmas.  To get ahead for next year, organize holiday decorations and leftover gift wrap and cards so they can be stored properly and be found easily next year.

3)  Provide for each day’s need.  “She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family.”  Proverbs 31:15

Caring for your family should be your first priority.  Don’t let the business of the holidays interfere with taking care of the day-to-day needs of your family.  It easy to get so busy that we end of eating out a lot and making multiple trips to the store for groceries and other necessities, both of which can wreck havoc with your budget.

4) Waste not; share your excess.  “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”  Proverbs 31:20

The holidays are a good time to clean out closets and give away items no longer needed.  They are also a good time to share generously with others what God has given to you.  I set aside a portion of my Christmas budget each year to buy new gifts for one or more children whose families need a bit of help. There are many, many ways you get share with others in deed.  A few ideas are:  donate unwanted items to Goodwill or similar organizations, buy new toys and clothing for children in need and donate through the Salvation Army, and pack a shoebox with small gifts to be donated to children in improvished countries through Samaritan’s Purse.

5) Discover your creative genius.  “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”  Proverbs 31:26

God has endued each one of us with creativity, although we each express it differently.  Pray and seek God’s direction in using the creative gifts He has given you to bless others.  I enjoy knitting and knit Christmas stockings as gifts.  I have friends who bless others with homemade jams, jellies, and baked goods.  If decorating is your talent, your gift to a friend could be to help her decorate her home.  Handmade gifts can save money but do require an investment of time, so plan ahead and be organized.

6) Learn prices.  “She sees her trade is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.”  Proverbs 31:18

Don’t fall for ads declaring that something is marked down 50% or more.  Many stores mark prices up before the holidays to give the illusion that you are saving more money than you really are.  The Internet and phone apps make comparison shopping easier than ever.  Check prices on the items you need before you go out shopping.

7) Presentation is everything.  “She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.”  Proverbs 31:22

You can make even simple meals special by using nice dishes and decorating the table to be festive.  You can make your home welcoming and inviting by adding inexpensive decorations, such as lights and tinsels, to your entrance. Simple, inexpensive embellishments can dress up your presents. Presentation does not have to be expensive to add a nice touch to your home and gifts.

8) Adjust your attitude.  “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”  Proverbs 31:25

Don’t let the holidays cause you to become overwhelmed and stressed.  If you get too concerned about buying everyone the perfect gift or creating the perfect holiday, you will wind up not enjoying the holidays.There is no such thing as a perfect holiday, anyway.  Remember Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ and a time to spend with friends and family. Keep your focus on Christ and you will have a more satisfying holiday.

9) Out with impulse.  “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.”  Proverbs 31:16

Plan your shopping before you leave the house.  Know how much you plan to spend on each family member and stick to your budget.  Impulse shopping leads to overspending and often to being less satisfied with your purchases than planning ahead and sticking to your plans.

10) Honor God.  “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”  Proverbs 31:30

Everything we do should honor God. When our focus is on God and celebrating the birth of His Son, our celebrations will truly be meaningful and enjoyable.

A Prayer for the Twenty-first Century Proverbs 31 Woman

Heavenly Father, I thank you for preserving me as a virtuous woman for my husband.  I ask that your hand would be with me today, helping me to live virtuously and honorably before you.  I thank you for the trust and respect my husband has in me.  May I honor and bless him through my words and actions each day.

As I go through my day, help me to do good to my husband.  Bring to my mind each day ways to lighten his load and make our home a true haven of rest for him.   Help me to remember the small “touches” that let him feel cherished and appreciated.

Please be with me as I work to make my home more comfortable.   Give me creative and economical ideas and help me to incorporate these ideas into my home.  Help me to stretch our financial resources to meet the needs of my family; let me not bring stress to my family by living beyond our means.

I ask for guidance as I plan meals and shop for food for my family.  Let me make meals that are nutritious, economical, and delicious.  Help me to view cooking as a creative challenge and a way to show love to my family, and not as one of many mundane chores.  This also applies to laundry, dishes, and house cleaning—let me view them not as labor, but as labors of love.

Father, help me to rise early and spend some time with you and my husband before we start our busy days.  Please help me to rest well each night and get up feeling refreshed so that I can be a pleasant companion in the morning.  It is important for my husband and I to share some time and eat breakfast together before we leave the refuge of our home for our work places.

As I work, inside or outside of my home, help me to work enthusiastically and energetically.  My family and my boss deserve my best each day.  Help me to make wise decisions that will benefit my employer at work and my family at home.

I know, Father, that I need to take care of myself each day—making time for daily devotions, exercise, and a little pampering—so that I may be strengthened and renewed to care for my family.  Help me to make these activities priorities and to incorporate them into my daily schedule.

Help me, Lord, to be aware of the needs of each member of my family and to work to meet those needs—whether it is a need of new clothing, help with school work, individual attention from Mom, or discipline and instruction.

Help me to use my time wisely each day, while still allowing time for fun.  Help me to limit time spent in activities that are not productive or that bring no real pleasure, such as watching television shows I’m not really interested in or playing computer games.   Help me to redeem this time to talk, read, or play games with my family. 

Father, your Word tells us that charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but good deeds done in your name will last through eternity.  Let me be particularly in tune to your voice encouraging me to write a letter, make a phone call, or say a kind word.  Help me to be generous to the poor and needy, to those who are lonely and need a friend, to a stranger who needs a smile and a kind word, and to friends who need encouragement. 

May I look to you each day, Lord, for wisdom to guide me through the day, and for the strength to be the woman you want me to be, so that my husband and children will feel loved and blessed.  Thank you, Father.