Mom was frugal but generous. She was frugal so that she could be generous. One trait of successful people is that they are frugal. They often don’t drive a new car every year, but they take care of the car they have and only buy a new one when it makes more sense than maintaining the current car.

What does the raccoon have to do with this? Mom did not like to waste food, but sometimes she would discard table scraps that she felt she would not use. She would put food scraps in the metal trash containers that were in the back of her home. The neighborhood raccoons discovered this generosity, and they decided to tip the cans over, making a mess as a result. They were after the scraps. It didn’t take mom long to realize that it was best to put the scraps on a plate next to the trash cans, so that they could eat her scraps and not make a big mess.

Mom loved to tell the story of the day she included some leftover mashed potatoes on the plate of food. The raccoons ate everything, but not the mashed potatoes. Mom was not happy. She didn’t think their fussy eating habits were in keeping with her frugal life. The next time she had leftover mashed potatoes, she put a little gravy on them. The raccoons pleased mom by eating those up. Sometimes it is all in the presentation. I can still hear her laugh about how she fooled the raccoons and taught them a lesson in being frugal.

Tim Challies, had this to say, “Money can be as big an idol when you seek not to spend it as it can when you do nothing but spend it. Frugality should not be an end in itself but must be a means to a greater end of bringing glory to God and of serving others.” That is the way I saw mom’s frugality play out in life.