My husband and I serve with a non-profit organization in the US. Our paychecks come from donations and because we would much rather help people understand how they can know God personally than anything else, finances are usually tight. We've budgeted for years, operating on an envelope system (when the envelope is empty, you can't spend anymore) and paying cash for whatever we buy, including cars, doing without what most Americans consider necessities. It hasn't been too bad; we live very simply and are mostly content with the simplicity.
I must be honest, I do get frustrated with having to always be so careful with every penny, especially when it doesn't seem to make any difference at all. We've been married for 14 years and on staff with the non-profit organization for most of that time, so finances have been tight for a long time. I've learned lots about being frugal, and how important quality is to successfully practicing a frugal lifestyle. I've learned the value of a dollar; a lesson I did not learn at home or when working as an RN in the hospital. The lessons are good, but it doesn't seem to matter what I've learned, we never get ahead.
This week, though, I've been greatly encouraged with the benefits of our budgeting. We're buying a house! It is a fixer-upper that lacks all major appliances except a vintage 1951 stove. The carpets are going to be ripped out as soon as we get keys. So, I went shopping (not a favorite past time) to find a refridgerator, a dishwasher and new flooring. At the end of the day, I'd spent more money than I usually spend in three months but scored fantastic deals that will bless our family every time we use them and will add value to the home when we get ready to sell. Knowing that our previous frugality made it possible to make those purchases helped me see; being careful WAS paying off! We're getting ready to move into a house that we'd never be able to buy if we hadn't budgeted for so long. It is exciting, and as I walk through the door, I'll be reminded of the value of budgeting.