One of the benefits of a budget and a commitment to “spend less than you make” is developing resourcefulness.   My father was a master at teaching this to my brother, sister, and me.  He was and is a modern day MacGyver able to make complex machinery out of chewing gum and duck tape. As a teacher for 30 years, he didn’t make a lot of money. He did, however, teach us how to do things cheaper and find incredible deals to make the money go a long way.

My father once got an entire truckload of free sod since some of it was molding. On that particular day, he and I were driving our truckload of “dead sod” singing a father/son duet parody to an old country tune: “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road.”  I believe our version went, “Dead sod in the back of the truck… stinkin’ to high heavens…” As we looked up, the driver in front of us was driving a trailer which originally read, “U-HAUL: Move it yourself with.”  Now, due to a combination of bad adhesive and weather forces, it read, “U-HAUL: MOVE IT YOU_ _ELF WIT_” Move it, You Elf Wit! I’m not sure what an Elf-wit is, but it’s amazing how often that phrase came up over the next twenty years in our house. When a brother or sister was in your way, you’d hear someone in our house cry out, “MOVE IT YOU ELF WIT”.

Every time I hear that phrase I laugh and remember the continuing legacy of resourcefulness my father models for me and my kids. In fact, I was in a U-Haul recently buying boxes for a garage sale. I learned that U-Haul has a new service that can save you 2/3 the cost of your next move.  Rather than a full professional move, you can rent a U-Haul truck in combination with some U-Haul partners to load and unload your truck for you. Since you are still driving the truck, it will cost about 1/3 of a professional move, with about the same effort.

Resourcefulness comes in many sizes. As we were preparing for a family garage sale, my daughter took pictures of all her Littlest Pet Shop toys and learned how to advertise them on Craig’s List (with mom’s help). Rather than selling them at a garage sale for pennies on the dollar, she advertised them on the web. A young woman in her mid twenties (an avid Littlest Pet Shop collector apparently) bought them. My daughter made over $100.

My son -age 11- has been desperately wanting a new X-box and asked for it last Christmas. My wife and I told him, “No!”   He already has a Wii and Play-Station.   If he wants an X-Box, he had to earn the money himself. That ultimatum was the catalyst for action.  He tried out and was cast in a local commercial making $200 back in December. After a full day of video shoots and a real taste of  “a day’s work,” he had almost enough to pay for the X-box.   I showed him how to use Craig’s List and e-Bay to locate a deal. We found an X-Box about 45 minutes away. It came with two $50 games, yet was priced at $160. He was thrilled. We had a father/son road trip to pick it up.    He learned resourcefulness while I remembered the old sod truck.

Just last week, he wanted to buy a new game for his X-Box. This $60 game was beyond the reach of his $35 savings.   He gave me puppy-dog eyes and asked me to buy it for him.   I nicely refused.   We tried the used game store GAMESTOP where games are usually at least 25% cheaper. We discovered they had a waiting list for the cheaper game. “We’ll call when one comes in,” they said.   My son was dejected that he couldn’t have it now.  But two days later, the phone rang.  As I picked it up for him, we got another 10% off because of his report card. Another deal and discount was uncovered.   Bottom line, waiting a little longer and digger for deals paid off!

PROVERBS 21:20  The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.

There are so many ways to be resourceful.   The reason more people don’t develop the skill is because they just “charge it now.”   Under the constraints of a budget and wisdom, a powerful force of resourcefulness is unleashed in a human’s heart.  My dad taught us the art of garage-saling. He showed us how to navigate the junk yard to get parts for my first car.   He taught my brother and I how to go to the public library to check out a CHILTON, where step by step instructions are given for fixing any car issue.

If you have someone you want, but can’t afford. Don’t charge it.  Don’t go buy it.  Find a cheaper, better, and more innovative way to get it.  “MOVE IT! YOU ELF WIT!”

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