Discipline turns big spender into tightwad

Sue Springer, a third-generation member of the Church of the Nazarene and creator of the money management workshop "Tightwads for Jesus," is a woman who believes people should get back to basics where money is concerned. The basics are offered in the Bible, she says.

"Riches don’t make you happy. But neither does poverty. It’s that middle road," Springer said. "There’s nothing wrong with being well off, it’s more of just facing your reality. We’ve got a society of people who are living in a fantasy."

Springer and her husband, Ross, live thriftily, which in turn gives them financial freedom and access to the finer things in life.

Springer said she used to run to the mall "clicking her heels" to shop away her tax refund. But her husband said now she’ll disappear for hours and return only having spent 50 cents or $1 — perhaps on a discount case of navy beans.

She drives a shiny new Cadillac she paid for in cash. She wears largely thrift-store clothes and she gets "teed off" if she has to pay more than $6 for a pair of shoes.

The Arlington resident even has her own side business as a tea etiquette consultant, but will halt everything for a "bargain alert" — when she’ll call other women from church to let them know about a sale on corn flakes or canned green beans.

Before she created "Tightwads for Jesus," Springer and her husband were something of a debt statistic. They had nearly a dozen credit cards. Years of small, legitimate purchases had added up to more than $31,000 in debt.

Like many Americans, every month they would throw money at their own, personal black hole.

One day, she heard Floyd Cummings, a retired pastor from the church, speaking about the principles of tithing. He discussed the differences between wants and needs, and told parishioners that if they tried to donate 10 percent of what they earned to the church, God would provide them with the means.

"I was sitting in the audience and I thought to myself, ‘I should listen to this man.’" Springer said. "So I decided right then and there, I thought, ‘I’m sick of living with this debt.’"

She decided to become a tightwad — "to cease spending for a season."

"If you want more of what you got, keep going what you’re doing," Springer said. "But if you want to make changes, you’ve got to make some changes."

While paying a steady tithe — or 10 percent of their income — to their church, she and her husband made some changes. They stopped eating fast food and stopped eating at restaurants. They shopped for closeout bargains at grocery stores and for good finds at thrift stores. She ripped up credit card offers that came in the mail, and renegotiated lower interest rates on the accounts she did have.

With relentlessness, discipline and "double and triple payments" on their credit cards, their debt was gone in 2 1/2years.

"I think people feel hopeless. I had one person say, ‘I was born in debt and I will die in debt,’" Springer said. "They’re resigned to it when they don’t really need to be. It’s trading slavery for freedom."

Once the couple were out of debt, she started sharing her experience, at first informally with friends who also were in debt. There seemed to be a need for frank, common-sense talk about money, she said.

"A friend of mine at church, we decided we’d start a support group for people who wanted to get out of debt or keep out of debt, and to do it while eating and living well," Springer said. "I’m not into hamburger recipes."

Using her personal experiences, the Bible and a book by Christian financial counselor Larry Burkett, Springer constructed "Tightwads for Jesus," initially called "Jesus Saves and So Can You."

She grounded the class around the importance of giving money to the church and the blessings that can come from it.

"In a nutshell, were it not for God, you would have absolutely nothing!" Springer wrote in a handout. "God is concerned with our attitude, and money is the testing ground before God of our true willingness to surrender self to him." She cited Matthew 6:23-24, which is about the impossibility to serve two masters.

Apart from tithing, there are other principles for managing money God’s way, she said.

Rather than get-rich-quick schemes, people should seek God’s increase, as well as his decreases.

She teaches that people should avoid buying things if they don’t have "peace" about the purchase.

Springer said people should evaluate and separate their financial needs, which are vital, from wants, which are not.

People shouldn’t go into debt to do God’s work, but she suggested giving rather than lending to help the needs of others.

And whether privately or in front of a packed church community room, Springer speaks fire and brimstone about the "dangerous trap" of credit card companies.

"They’re after you. They don’t care about your future. They don’t care about you as a person," she said. "What they care about is the dollar."

One of the biggest problems in America comes because "predatorlike" credit card companies coexist with legions of people who are willing to use credit to live beyond their means, she said.

"If you get down to it, all you need is a shelter, a place to wash your clothes and dependable wheels to get you from A to B," she said. "My identity is not tied up in things."

Biblical principles can apply whether you’re a believer or not, she said.

"Giving back — it frees your head up," she said. "It’s a matter of the heart. I’m sure if you gave begrudgingly, it might be a little different."

Reporter Jennifer Warnick: 425-339-3429 or jwarnick@heraldnet.com.

See related story: Bargains for the soul

Talk to us

More in Local News

An example of the Malicious Women Co. products (left) vs. the Malicious Mermaid's products (right). (U.S. District Court in Florida)
Judge: Cheeky candle copycat must pay Snohomish company over $800K

The owner of the Malicious Women Co. doesn’t expect to receive any money from the Malicious Mermaid, a Florida-based copycat.

A grave marker for Blaze the horse. (Photo provided)
After Darrington woman’s horse died, she didn’t know what to do

Sidney Montooth boarded her horse Blaze. When he died, she was “a wreck” — and at a loss as to what to do with his remains.

A fatal accident the afternoon of Dec. 18 near Clinton ended with one of the cars involved bursting into flames. The driver of the fully engulfed car was outside of the vehicle by the time first responders arrived at the scene. (Whidbey News-Times/Submitted photo)
Driver sentenced in 2021 crash that killed Everett couple

Danielle Cruz, formerly of Lynnwood, gets 17½ years in prison. She was impaired by drugs when she caused the crash that killed Sharon Gamble and Kenneth Weikle.

A person walks out of the Everett Clinic on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Everett Clinic changing name to parent company Optum in 2024

The parent company says the name change will not affect quality of care for patients in Snohomish County.

Tirhas Tesfatsion (GoFundMe) 20210727
Lynnwood settles for $1.7 million after 2021 suicide at city jail

Jail staff reportedly committed 16 safety check violations before they found Tirhas Tesfatsion, 47, unresponsive in her cell.

A person walks in the rain at the Port of Everett in Everett, Washington on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
First heavy rain event predicted Sunday night for Snohomish County

Starting Sunday evening, 1 to 1½ inches of rain is expected in western Washington. It marks the end of fire season, meteorologists said.

Clinton man, 61, dies in motorcycle crash Friday

Washington State Patrol lists speed as the cause. No other people or vehicles were involved.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Separate road rage incident ends with fatal shooting in Lake Stevens

A man, 41, died at the scene in the 15300 block of 84th Street NE. No arrests have been made.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and law enforcement partners advise the public of of colorful fentanyl.  (Photo provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration)
After rainbow fentanyl pills found in Tulalip, police sound alarms

Investigators are concerned the pastel-colored pills may end up in the hands of children.

Most Read