vs. Extravagance
Not letting myself or others spend that which is not necessary

Key Verse

“If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?”
Luke 16:11

The operational definition of thriftiness is “not letting myself or others spend that which is not necessary.” When you think “thrifty,” do you think of someone who is stingy with their money? Maybe you think of someone who can barely make ends meet, scrimping and saving in every way? However, some of the most generous people, and even the most affluent people, have learned that thriftiness is a key to managing their wealth! As Christians, we know that God is the One Who has given us all we have, and we are only His stewards. However, we want to be wise stewards who carefully manage these resources, knowing we will one day give account for our decisions. Instead of frivolously spending on what you do not need, consider what purchases or investments would meet the Lord’s goals. He desires that you learn to be content, that you seek Him first and allow Him to provide, and that you lead others to Him. (See II Corinthians 9:8.) Thriftiness is reflecting what God values through the purchases we make.

A wise steward has an eternal motivation for saving his money.
An extravagant spender “throws away” money on pursuits that are worthless in light of eternity.

The opposite of thriftiness is extravagance. Spending extravagantly means that you buy whatever you want whenever you want it as if you had unlimited funds! This mindset leads to habits of wasting money by asking for things just because you want them or because you think you should have what “everyone else” has. Instead of rushing into a purchase, ask yourself the following questions: Is this a genuine need? Have I given this need to God? Am I prepared to give account to God for this decision? Extravagance is spending carelessly to satisfy “wants” while thriftiness is spending carefully to meet genuine needs.

Evaluation Questions

  • Am I content with what I have, or am I easily drawn toward purchasing the latest modern conveniences?
  • Do I compare prices and look for the best buy, or do I purchase whatever I want as long as I have enough money on hand?
  • What needless spending is draining my savings and preventing me from investing in people?
  • Have I ever walked away from a purchase to think about it overnight, trusting that if God wants me to have it, He will direct and it will still be available?
  • How am I saving money to prepare for emergencies and major purchases?
  • Instead of borrowing money from others, do I ask God to provide what I need in His time and way?
  • To prevent spontaneous, wasteful purchases, do I prepare a list before going shopping?
  • Do I take good care of my belongings so that they last longer and do not need to be replaced as often?

More About Thriftiness

“God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply. He is too wise a God to frustrate His purposes with lack of funds; and He can just as easily supply ahead of time as afterwards, and He much prefers doing so.”
J. Hudson Taylor
Transformation results as we behold the Lord and yield to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). As we see God’s character through testimonies in Scripture, we grow in our understanding and obedience to His Word. Here are ten aspects of Thriftiness with supporting verses found in God’s Word.

God enables me to:


Save more and spend less.

“There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.” PROVERBS 21:20

Make good use of what I already have.

“He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, five, and two fishes.” MARK 6:37–38

Recognize the value of a purchase.

“That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a burying place amongst you.” GENESIS 23:9 “She considereth a field, and buyeth it.” PROVERBS 31:16

Budget my money, time, and energy.

“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” EPHESIANS 5:16

Save when times are good.

“Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” PROVERBS 27:1 “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.” PROVERBS 13:22

Make distinctions between what I need and what I want.

“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” LUKE 12:15 “Having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” I TIMOTHY 6:8

Be content with basic needs.

“Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me.” PROVERBS 30:8

Consider lasting things as valuable.

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” MATTHEW 6:19–20

Avoid being wasteful.

“The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting; but the substance of a diligent man is precious.” PROVERBS 12:27

Be careful in spending.

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” LUKE 16:10

Thriftiness in Scripture

Dorcas Wisely Invests Her Resources

“Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named . . . Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.”
Acts 9:36
The number of believers in the early Church multiplied rapidly. Three thousand people were saved on the Day of Pentecost, and five thousand more believed after a lame man was healed at the temple gate. Given this tremendous growth, the early Church was not without problems. One problem that arose was a dissension between two groups of believers regarding the care of their widows. Although the apostles sought to fulfill the Church’s responsibility to care for the widows, some widows were overlooked. The issue was brought to the attention of the twelve apostles, who wisely acknowledged that the level of care that the widows deserved was beyond their human ability to provide. So, they called on the church to select seven men to serve as deacons so that the apostles could devote themselves to prayer and the preaching of the Word. Under these new provisions, the needs of the widows were supplied. However, some believers recognized that they could also be a help to the widows. What else could one do to care for the widows’ needs? In addition to food, what would be needed by women with no steady source of income? Who would choose to budget their own resources so they could provide for the widows?

Revealed in Nature


Koalas have one of the most specialized diets of any living mammal, eating only eucalyptus leaves. These contain very little nutritional value, so koalas must conserve every bit of energy. To “get by” on less, they move very slowly and sleep for as much as eighteen hours a day.

For Kids

Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum

The Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum uses examples from the lives of men and women in the Bible whose walk with God resulted in good character or whose lack of faith produced poor character. Through the study of thriftiness, children are motivated to be wise stewards of what God has given them by avoiding thoughtless and extravagant spending.

View the Thriftiness booklet sample:

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Free Resources for Thriftiness

Enjoy these selections from the Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum that are fun and memorable!

Bible Story Coloring Page
Verse & Definition Word Search
Related Hymn Sheet Music
“A fool may make money, but it needs a wise man to spend it.”
C. H. Spurgeon