A friend glances down at my trendy, chunky white floral necklace and gushes over how much she loves it. Without even thinking, I immediately spit out how much—or rather how little—I spent on it.

Saving money is my badge of honor. It’s a skill I carefully honed out of necessity while our family paid off more than $127,000 in debt—an assortment of student loan debt, credit cards, car loans, medical debt, and more. I’ll use whatever coupons, codes, and deals I can to whittle away the retail price… and then proudly show everyone in the parking lot the evidence on my receipt. Yes, I’m one of those people who can coupon my way to paying little or nothing. I nicknamed myself (and my blog), “Queen of Free.”

I do believe the Bible calls us to live within our means, so I champion frugality as a way to avoid extravagant spending, meet financial goals, and free up our resources to give to greater causes. But even with these noble motivations in mind, can we take things too far?

Our culture is clogged with measures to save money—from the easy (coupon apps, free shipping, big sales) to the more extreme (dumpster-diving, DIY everything). The Internet runs flush with women sharing the best buys and money-saving tips. Online coupon sites have boomed into a multi-billion dollar business. It’s seemingly a snap to save money doing everything from making your own laundry detergent to knocking off your favorite restaurant recipes to taking your family to Disney on the cheap using top secret strategies.

Watching others score big discounts, our mouths agape, we become mystified by the mundane. She did what to save money? She got those boots for that price? How can they spend so little at the grocery store?

And then we’re confronted by our own humanity at the clearance rack and in the dollar section. We want it. It’s so cheap. We can even afford it. But do we need it? And is this the highest, best use of the dollars we’ve been given by the Almighty?

Just because the object of our desire isn’t something extravagant or expensive doesn’t mean it can’t become an idol. I’m enticed by forbidden fruit, exerting time and energy to spend as little as possible and then tossing it aside or storing it away when I realize the purchase doesn’t satisfy the deeper longings of my heart.

There has always been a pull on our souls to choose goods over God, the created over the Creator, the gifts over the Giver. Even while living cheap and staying on budget, it’s possible to allow things—bought at a great price!—to take priority over people and even God.

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There is nothing wrong with coupons, living simply, or saving money. Being set free from debt concretely displays God’s plan of redemption in Jesus. Furthermore, frugality—enjoying the process of making the most of every good gift you’ve been given—is a spiritual discipline, stewardship at its best.

When we manage well all we’ve been given—from the dollars and cents in our checking account to the clothes in our closet to the cans in the cupboards, we model a God who wastes nothing. We receive the blessings bestowed and use them to honor the Creator and point others toward Him. Pursuing frugality allows us to tackle such a high calling transforming simple tasks into a God-given pursuit.

The theologian Dallas Willard has said of frugality:

In our current world, a large part of the freedom that comes from frugality is freedom from the spiritual bondage caused by financial debt. This kind of debt is often incurred by buying things that are far from necessary, and its effect, when the amount is substantial, is to diminish our sense of worth, dim our hope for the future, and eliminate our sensitivity to the needs of others.

Paul’s admonition, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another” (Rom. 13:8) is therefore good spiritual advice as well as wise financial counsel.

However, when we twist the Holy into the human, taking frugality too far, life always falls flat. When we elevate any daily task over the Divine, emptiness ensues. When we allow the bottom line to barrel over our relationships – with God, with family, with those we have been called to love – we place our emotional existence in peril.

For all the women who want to rock a sale or score a deal or instantaneously respond with the price point when someone gives you a compliment, there is hope. Thank goodness, because I need it.

No matter how little I spend, I still pray to be delivered from debt every day, from the desires that capture my heart for more. Often after scoring a great deal, the words of Mark 8:36-37 (NLT) tumble through my heart. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” Or from the Message: “What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?”

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What an unusual prayer I begin to pray: that I not get everything I want, knowing that I could lose my very soul in such a request. Because no matter how big or how small the price tag, the pursuit of possessions never quenches the thirst only God can fill.

Cherie Lowe is an author, speaker, and hope bringer. Her book Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever Afterdetails her family’s quest to eliminate over $127,000 in debt in just under four years. As her alter ego the Queen of Free, Cherie provides offbeat money-saving tips and debt-slaying inspiration on a daily basis.