The word thrift tends to have a bad reputation—we associate it with cheap or skinflint, even miserly. Thrift, however, simply refers to wisdom in the management of money and resources. One could argue that we should just use the word stewardship, but thrift is a specific kind of stewardship, the kind that is cautious and prudent rather than wasteful and careless.
Our first concern is family, to budget income so the kids have enough to eat, well-made clothes and warm beds. This is pretty obvious—what isn't so obvious is what to do when you have plenty. If making it to the next check isn't an issue, do you even need to worry about how you spend your money? If stewardship was only about money it might not make much difference, but proper stewardship affects the way we spend our time, where we focus our energy, and what kind of car we drive.
This doesn't mean every minute needs to be scheduled or that you should raise tightfisted kids unwilling to part with their hard-earned cash. Establishing habits of thrift actually frees you to be more generous and charitable, virtues that God calls His people to foster. A one-income family who insists on spending all their money on themselves will likely struggle, whereas a family practicing principles of good stewardship can meet its own needs, give freely and avoid any unwarranted financial strain.
Thrift requires creativity. A simple example could be planning your errand route to save gas, while a more complex one could involve writing weekly menu plans each Saturday. There are literally thousands of ideas available, the advice of families who've made the initial effort of living not just within their means but well within their means, and found that in the long run it's made their lives simpler and less stressful than they would have thought possible.
Some of the books we offer promote debt-free living, others present strategies for time- and money-saving organization, still others are compendiums of ideas and advice for those aiming at greater self-sufficiency. We haven't put all these into practice by any stretch, but we're working on it. It would be easy to react against American consumerism, but the best path is more difficult—it requires balance and moderation as we lead our families away from the bondage of materialism toward lives of genuine freedom.