I have been accused of being cheap, stingy, fugal, prudent, economical, thrifty, abstemious, tight, miserly, and even penny-pinching…mostly by my parents…and my children…and anyone else who has known me for more than 2 ½ weeks. People tend to exaggerate.
“Dad can we go to the Dairy Queen?”
“Hello Miss…yes I would like one Dilly Bar…oh and could I get a knife and four sticks…I’d like to divide it up for my four children.”
I have been known to negotiate the price of such items as cars, Legos, bicycles, coffee, pizza, mirrors, tires, a globe, a skateboard, shoes…really…pretty much anything.
On one such occasion, I was able to get Walmart to take an extra $75 off of an edge trimmer. On another opportunity, I purchased a Carhart coat, where I walked out of the store $5 richer than when I entered, and I once successfully negotiated the price of a bicycle from costing $75 to where the seller was offering to pay me $75 just to take it.
“You have no pride!” Sarah has told me on more than one occasion…one being as I stood at the Cabelas’ customer service counter while the associate handed me a brand new Leatherman in which I paid a total of $0.
It’s not that I don’t want to be generous…it’s more that I would rather give as much as I can…while spending as little as possible.
There are three secrets to my successful negotiations. First, you have to be willing to ask. Second, you have to be willing to beg. Third, you have to be willing to walk away. Craigslist is a dangerous place for people like me. You find people practically begging for you to offer them insultingly low prices…and then asking if they would deliver it to you.
This past Christmas, I found a treasure. My oldest daughter is a flautist and she longed for a new flute. I could be considered a musical newt…so when I discovered she wanted a new flute I was like,
“What!? That’s silly!... You have a flute...a flute is a flute!”
“You’re a musical newt!” Sarah said…(not really…I paraphrased what I am pretty sure she was thinking), “She wants an ‘open holed’ flute…they are different…to advance to the next level, she would need an open holed flute.”
I stared at her for a long moment, until I came up with a snappy come back… “Oh,” I said.
I quickly turned to Craigslist and was quickly left with my jaw gaping at the asking prices of these instruments. Shouldn’t an “open holed” flute be less money, since there is actually “less” metal used in the flute? Apparently the rest of the world does not see eye to eye with me on this issue.
For the next several months, I continually scanned Craigslist, looking for a great deal. Finally, one came through that had some potential. Comparatively, as to what I had been encountering…this person was asking about 75% less than they could have been asking. It was a steal!
I acted quickly…scheduled a meeting to make the exchange…and then proceeded to offer even less than what was being asked. “You must be mad! You are already getting this at an incredible price!”
“I know…sorry…ok…how about just $50 less?”
“Fine…$20 less,” she said.
It was an exorbitant gift…yet, it was worth every penny as I watch my oldest daughter’s shock as she opened the flute. She never expected such a gift. It was a gift of grace. I couldn’t help but imagine the joy that God must feel when he gifts us such generous gifts. The word for these gifts in the New Testament is “charismata.” The word literally means, “gift of grace.”
Those of us who believe in Jesus, have been given the gift of grace…in salvation…but then also in gifts of grace from the Spirit. The Spirit gives gifts that are all…and totally…undeserved. We have done nothing to earn these gifts…yet, as in salvation and forgiveness…they are given freely.
Now my daughter is using her gift…and it is beautiful! The rest of my children received “different” gifts this past Christmas…no one else got a flute.
That’s the way it is with God…1 Cor. 12:11, says that the Spirit gives to us gifts…each is different…but He gives as He sees best…and He gives generously…to point to who He is…His character…His love…they are His gifts…to us.
Then…we use them.