Why the ‘How Little’ Question Is Infinitely Better than the ‘How Much Question’

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Why do we try so desperately to impress people with the things we have?  Why is so much of our meaning and identity tied up in the things we buy and own?

I feel sorry for the people who always want to push the limits and ask how much they can afford.

The ‘how much’ lifestyle is full of stress, pressure, and unrealistic demands.

Far too many families have gone out and bought houses after asking ‘how much’ they can afford.  They’ve gone out and got jobs asking, “How much will you pay me?”  They’ve gone out and bought cars by asking ‘how much?’

How much, how much, how much?  It just sounds miserable to me.

When you fill your financial obligations and your time commitments according to the mantra of how much, you’ll find yourself getting pulled, tugged, and pushed on every end.

I feel sorry for other families that I meet where they are working themselves to the point of utter exhaustion.  All for what?  To buy another gizmo.  To own another gadget.  To upgrade to a bigger whatchamacallit?

It’s either silly or sad, but clearly non-sensical.

Too many people are stuck in an insane pattern of working like crazy, spending like crazy, and they’re spinning around without any real idea of what they’re doing.

And things - very important things – are getting sacrificed in the process.  Things like family, health, and ministry freedom.

You can’t help with that event at church or in the community because you’re busy making money to buy things you don’t really need.  You’re busy making money because you’re constantly pushing the boundaries of bigger and better.

And each day you’re feeling more and more miserable about life.

I sure hope I’m not describing you.  But, if I am, perhaps you’d consider embracing the ‘how little’ lifestyle.

Embracing the ‘How Little’ Lifestyle

When we moved back to the States, we intentionally decided we were going to embrace simplicity and a ‘how little’ lifestyle.  When we started furnishing our home, we didn’t ask – how much can we spend on a couch? Instead we asked, how little can we spend to get a couch that will meet our needs?  When we replaced our clothing wardrobe, it wasn’t how much would it cost, but how little could it cost.

We bought second hand clothing, furnished the house with second hand items, bought a cheap car (and were even given a mini-van).

The result was a lot of margin.  A lot of freedom.  A massive removal of pressure.

Even as I started setting business income goals, the function was never to push myself to see how much I can make.  I’ve never tried to push myself to earn more money for the sake of earning more money.  However, I set a goal to earn only enough for what we needed.  God has surprised us by making the business more profitable, but not by my effort.  We sought after the least amount of money I need to make each month to support a minimal lifestyle where we can have a home that is peaceful and healthy.

And I’d do it again in a second.

Our house is not the nicest that you’ve seen.  The things we own may not be cutting edge.  But we do have something I wouldn’t trade for the world – freedom, flexibly, peace, joy, and time for ministry.

Every time you ask the ‘how little’ question, you get something in return.  You get freedom.  You get flexibility.  You get choice.  You get to put yourself in a position where you have have an amazing adventure in the presence of God.

When you create a greater margin between what you earn and what you spend, you now have more resources to invest in the Kingdom of God and more resources to build up treasures in heaven.

30 Day ‘How Little’ Challenge

Over the next 30 days, refuse to ask how much.  Instead, ask yourself how little you need in different areas of your spending.  

Where have you found liberation by asking how little instead of how much?


  1. JD says

    Craig, such a great article. How I wish I had this wisdom when I was younger! As the saying goes, “better late than never”. We have been shopping for some new flooring since ours is currently worn out and has seen better days. One thing I have started doing is comparison checking among the few stores we have the prices and am finding there may be a way to save more on the purchase. Since we are not in a huge hurry we can afford to take our time and keep price checking to try to spend as little as possible and still have our new flooring we want.

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