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Helping Your Neighbor is a Frugal Trait

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Back in the “olden days” when someone had a barn burn down, the whole community came to help build a new one. Or when someone was putting up a new barn for the first time, they still got help from the community. I know what you’re thinking…what’s the catch? Well, if YOU needed help next time, then everyone came to help you. It was an unspoken rule – one that sadly, we don’t follow today.

Now, I am not pointing fingers. I’m writing this for ME as much as I am for you guys…but what has happened to us? Why have we stopped helping our neighbors? Why do we sit at home in our comfortable little chairs and pretend like no one else needs our help? That’s a LIE.

We try to do everything ourselves instead of enlisting help. We’re afraid if we DO get help, then we’ll be required to help someone else out later. Big flippin’ deal. Shouldn’t you want to help someone else?

“So in everything, do unto others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 7:12

Guess what? I’m a control freak. Big time. I have a hard time letting someone help me. Even if it takes me longer, I’m more likely to do it myself.

For me to ask for help means I have to swallow my pride. I don’t like swallowing my pride. I like it just where it is, thank you very much.  It’s very hard to put yourself out there and say “Hey, I need help. Would you mind to come over and help me for the day?” Ouch.

Image by Ms. G

But, I did it anyway. I asked for help with painting our new house…and two friends responded. Two. Yes, two is better than none. For me though, that was a HUGE blow. What have I done that would make no one want to come over and help us?

Guess what again? That’s MY FAULT. Totally, 100% my fault. Why? Because I’ve never really taken the time to say “Hey, you’re my friend and I love you. I know you need help today. What can I do?”

No, instead I’ve stayed on my sorry behind in my own house and forgot about everyone else. Shame on me.

I need to start embracing the attitude of those in the “olden days.” I need to help my neighbor when he/she needs it. That’s my calling and my job. It’s yours too.

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40

Image by seantoyer

And in line with my frugal nature, I just have to tell you that helping your neighbor is also a lesson in frugality. You’re helping them and you’re also helping you. Should you help in order to get help back? No, otherwise you’ll be very disappointed later in life. You should help because you want to, but it will pay off. Here’s how being a good neighbor is frugal.

  1. If you help someone with their project, it’s also an educational experience for you. Many times Barry has helped someone out with a project just so that he could learn something new. This has saved us a TON of money – because now he can do that same thing for us and we can save the money we would have spent to pay someone else to do it.
  2. Helping your neighbor keeps you from doing something else. This one seems silly, but it’s true. If you spend the day helping your neighbor install a new deck, you’re busy. You’re not at the store. You’re not shopping online. You’re not going out to lunch. You. Are. Busy.  Unless your neighbor is an insurance salesman, you’re golden.
  3. You’re likely to get more help in the future. Yes, this is sorta like “you pat my back and I’ll pat yours.” It’s not the reason you should help, but it’s a good payoff. Having someone to help you when you need it means that you’re more likely to not have to pay someone to do it. Nice.
  4. You might get the leftovers. A few times Barry has helped with construction projects and gotten some of the leftovers. Or, he’s gotten a call later that said “Hey, we have this left over and wondered if you’d like to have it?” Uh, yeah. We’ve accumulated paint, wood, and all sorts of goodies this way.
  5. It’s an excellent way to Barter. Barry and I are very big on bartering to stay within budget. If your strength is electrical work then you can help your neighbor for free. If their strength is plumbing, then they can help you when your toddler clogs up the toilet with Play Doh. It’s a win-win situation.

Not to mention, you’ll likely make friends for life. :-)

Comment Policy: I love hearing your thoughts and input on what I write. Since I write about what works at my house, what pleases my handsome hubby and darling children; I'm sure we'll disagree sometimes. In those cases, do what's right for you and yours. As with any form of communication, please only post comments that move the discussion in a positive direction.

About Stacy

Stacy is the author of Crock On: A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook and Keep Crockin': A Poorganic Slow Cooker Cookbook, and a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom to her three children, Annie (June 2009), Andy (August 2012) and Eli (September 2014). After an “awakening” in March 2011, her family switched to a more natural, whole foods diet. She likes to blog about how to live on less than you make and how to eat good food while doing it. Her passion is teaching others how to save money and she tag teams with her husband in this endeavor. At Stacy Makes Cents you’ll find information on how to save money in the kitchen, how to have fun with your kids, and how to be thrifty in all areas of life. Her passion is teaching others how to live debt free. Make sure to follow her on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and more to keep up with her daily antics.


  1. Cynthia says:

    This was an excellent article. I was just thinking about this last night. When we give anything it always comes back to us ten fold. Bravo to you!

  2. Lynda Milner says:

    Great post and a humbling reminder to love our neighbours as Christ first loved us, unreservedly and unselfishly. Thank you Stacy :) You also raise the interesting point about pride – if our neighbours are uncomfortable asking for help, then how do we know to offer our assistance? Often its viewed as impolite to offer assistance that isn’t asked for first. Thoughts? …and thanks again for your great post.

    • I’m the worlds worst offender….I hate asking for help. I just hate it. It’s something I am really working on.
      I guess we should always offer even if we don’t get asked…..they can always say no. :-)

  3. Oh, yes… “Cast your bread upon the waters…” Very well written, Stacy. Something that occurred to me is that I remember when I was a child it was always fun to wash dishes at a friend’s home, but hated doing it at our home. LOL. I think that has carried over into my adult life, too. Another thing that has helped is that in our Church, it is just what we do. We HELP. And then we get helped. Yep. It works!

  4. Danielle @ More Than Four Walls says:

    Stacy you rock and I’m glad you’re back.
    Great post and totally relevant for me and my husband.

  5. What a wonderful post. I fully agree! We do pretty much keep to ourselves. I always hesitate to ask for help because I don’t want to appear weak. Thanks for the reminder that we need to help each other.

  6. I am lucky enough to live in a rural farm area..and we are pretty old fashioned out here. We still have that “unspoken rule” and if we are baling hay or if one of our neighbors are combining there are always helping hands. It’s a way of life out here. I feel blessed.

  7. Fantastic article. Mark and I want the girls to be big helpers. So whenever there is a work day at church or someone asks for help (yesterday we moved a couch) we try to take them with us. That way they can model this behavior. Only I’m not as good about this with people I don’t know well. I need to be more open to help every person who needs it, I don’t want to be close off. Great read!

    PS- I hope you and your family are coping well. We’ve been praying for you all during this sad time.

    • That’s a good point – most of the time if I am helping someone else, I try to leave Annie with my mom. I worry about her getting in the way – when I should be worried about her learning. Thanks for the great comment!

  8. From the other side, I wonder if some people who didn’t respond maybe didn’t feel ‘good enough’ at painting to do it at someone else’s house? Because that’s something I struggle with a lot. I offered to cook a meal for a family tonight whose dad had a heart attack on Friday and it just panics me that they won’t like the food. I enjoy cooking and cook a lot for my family and this family is one of the nicest you will ever meet, but I worried about this all night. :) So the first thing I thought when I was reading your post was that I wouldn’t feel that I am a good enough painter to offer to help paint someone else’s house. I would like to feel comfortable to both help and be helped, though, but more for the feeling of community than the frugalness. Not that the frugal aspect is bad, but more because I am new to my area and do community is more on my mind right now.

    • I can understand that viewpoint. I’ve had those thoughts myself. :-) It wasn’t the actual painting that I was talking about, but the thing I was going through at the time that provoked this post….and I’d be the first to tell you I’m a terrible painter – and I painted this whole house with Barry. LOL

  9. This is a great point – I need to help people more :-)

  10. I think we all like to be able to say, “I did that” instead of “we did that”, it’s just our pigheadness but I have found most of us will help others without a second thought. We are better givers than takers, when we should be grateful that others care enough to want to help.

    I always say, “take your blessings, in what ever manner, [a cooked meal, a nail hammered] and say thank you to the giver and to God for sending them.”

    Thank you Stacy for the blessing you have been in my life.

  11. Great timing. We homeschool and I am toiling with our fall calendar. Your article reminded me that we are to fill ourselves – mind, soul and very (very meaning everything else) with Him. Yet, we fill our calendars with stuff. Lives of busy-ness that have become our business and our success. How many people do you really know that have “time” to come over? I know of no one unless I get on their calendar. Looking at our calendar can anyone say, “Hey, I am free any day next week?” The fact that we run our lives by calendar says way to much about our mindset of filling our days with stuff to do just as we fill our homes with stuff to keep and our minds with stuff to think about. Hmm, my calendar need a new action plan.

    • You’re so right – and my calendar is just as full as the next person’s. I should never be too busy for a friend.

  12. Thanks for this post. Sometimes it seems that other people don’t need help – that they’re lives are amazingly perfect, but everyone needs friends (and sometimes help moving, painting, or just a friendly person to talk to)… I think that if we all lived a bit more openly we wouldn’t struggle as much or be in as much pain, but it’s really hard to let others in to see those parts of our lives.

    • Yes, it really is….I know I struggle a lot with letting people know how I really feel. I’ve been working on that lately.

  13. Great post Stacy! We need the reminder that Christ served as should we.

    A close friend from church and I started a group. We invited several women to join. One day a month we work on a big project at someone in the group’s house. We rotate through the group so everyone gets a turn. We have peeled wall paper, painted rooms, organized kitchens, cleaned garages, put in bead board (Camille and I learned to use a miter box and saw for that!)and so much more. We have developed a strong sisterhood in Christ and have made bonds with each other. Our only requirement is that you commit to 1 day a month. We have kept it to about 5 or 6. My daughter named us the “Beckies” as short for Beckie Home-ecie!

    • That sounds AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!! I would totally love to be a part of a group like that! What a genius idea! :-)

  14. Great reminder! On a similar note to the pride issue, is that it has been my experience that often times as much as I don’t want to accept help from others, others often seem reluctant to accept help from me. It has become just plain natural to act like complete strangers to each other even when we’re friends. Nobody wants to put anyone else “out” by accepting help or asking for it. I will try harder to notice when there is a need and offer to help.

  15. What a convicting post today Stacy, thank you for the reminder!!!

  16. I have another reason for helping my neighbor, partly frugal, and partly rebellious: If I give a hundred bucks to my friend down the road (the one who really is trying, not the one who will spend it on cigarettes) who needs groceries, she doesn’t have to go get a handout from the government or a public place, which keeps her from becoming a statistic, which keeps her from becoming a politician’s excuse for raising taxes on me. 😉

  17. We are partners in a church that works as a family and so when you hear someone has a need then you show up with pizza. We pray daily, or try to, to see those opportunities to have a servant’s heart. I find opportunities for my kids, too. I don’t believe in “paying it forward” because then it’s all about what “I” did and not what Jesus did for me. Can’t pay for that!!! Although, I think some people are gifted more in this area. We have this lady in our church who you can just bet will be over whether it’s a giftcard in the mailbox or reading to your kids and caring for someone sick. She’s a Titus 2 woman. I want to be like her!!!!!! Anyway, just do a word study on “Pride” in the Bible and pretty soon you will be telling your kids you are “pleased” with them instead!!!!

  18. Thanks for writing this article. I am confident you wrote it with me specifically in mind. (Smile) I am sooooo guilty. I am going to put my best foot or feet forward and work to improve my lack of helping others.

  19. I have to say, this is something that my family practices on a daily basis. There are 5 houses on my parents street alone that my dad has helped rewire, do additions on etc. I remember helping run wire on two of those as well. On the flip side, when my dad built the second story on his house, there are pictures of several of the men from the street helping with the beams and almost every guy from our church as well.

    When it came time for my house to be demo’d and remodeled and my father was sent out of town for work for a year straight (every couple of weekends home) every time I needed help one of the neighbors that he has helped has been there to get something fixed or install the header.

    I think a good couple of different tools in my basement (I’m around the block from my dad) are from the different families on the street as they all share their toys.. One has the “cherry picker” engine lift, two have table saws, huge air nailers etc… just go from house to house for whoever needs them.

    I never knew how truly blessed I was until I was a first time home owner in a complete (I mean complete! no walls left standing) top to bottom reno. And to top it off I was out of town and the city stopped by to write a letter for how bad my backyard was. My family, my sister’s family and my neighbors came by, spent two hours and cleaned it up before I was home and knew about it. Talk about many hands make work light.

  20. This is so true! Far too often, though, when I try to help someone, I get the “I don’t need help” response. Recently, 3 of my friends were either in the hospital or had immediate family members in the hospital. I offered help to each of them in the form of babysitting or meals and was turned down by all of them. They don’t want to be a burden on anybody – understandably – but all I wanted to do was help them in some tangible way and let them know I cared. One of my friends is still not doing well, although she’s out of the hospital, so my strategy is going to be just to make her a meal whether or not she wants one. She’ll eat it eventually, right?! LOL!

  21. I get frustrated that I offer help ALL the time to anybody who will listen (or so it seems) and am seldom taken up on that offer. DH and I discussed this and it seems more like people won’t accept help because then they would have to help. I don’t offer help to get help, I offer help to serve. It get’s saddening when I can’t help others.

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