Cheap Love
Cheap Love
: Living and Loving on Less
Perfect Bound Softcover
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Vulnerable, frank, witty and wise, Cheap Love is the story of best friends from college who spent their honeymoon in a borrowed tent and—with a deliberate focus on establishing a lasting romance while pursuing financial responsibility-- were able to celebrate their tenth anniversary on an Alaskan cruise. Lovers of simple pleasures, unexpected adventures, spoiling others and following Jesus, Carrie and Erv share their struggles and success with transparency and grace. This couple draws you in and inspires you to follow their example.

Chapter One: New Beginnings A Blossoming Friendship Growing up poor has its advantages. My modest financial beginnings led me to attend an inexpensive state college where I would meet the man of my dreams. At first, I was disappointed that I couldn’t attend the private Christian college where many of my youth group friends were headed. It wasn’t until the fall of my sophomore year that I realized God had better plans for me. When I arrived at the first Campus Ambassadors Christian Fellowship meeting of the year, the circle of students contained many new faces. One in particular stood out to me. He was short, wearing glasses, sitting directly across the circle from me. We each took turns sharing a story from our childhood. This guy wanted to share two stories. And they were long stories….with lots of details…shared with enthusiasm. I was intrigued. When the meeting was over, I immediately walked across the room to introduce myself. “Hi! I’m Carrie. I enjoyed your stories tonight. What was your name again?” I remembered it being an old-man name, but it would not stick in my head. “It’s Ervin. But you can call me Erv. Everyone does.” I couldn’t decide which was worse. Erv or Ervin. Maybe he goes by a middle name. Or another nickname. Erv was a junior who had just recommitted his life to the Lord. After two years of living the typical college-life, including a fraternity and a non-Christian girlfriend, he was looking for a fresh start. Making new friends and growing in his faith were top priorities. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to talk for long. I needed to get back to Littell Hall for an RA meeting, and I was already running late. After making my way across campus, I spent the next two hours discussing floor activities and disciplinary procedures. When I returned to my dorm room, all the girls on my floor bombarded me with questions. A short guy in a tie-dyed t-shirt had just left the building. He had stopped at every room on the floor looking for me. They all wanted to know who he was, but no one had caught his name. I didn’t know what to tell them. I was not the kind of girl that guys came searching for. It never occurred to me that the guy from Campus Ambassadors with the old-man name would walk clear across campus to see me. The next day, as I sat in my 11am class, I noticed someone in the front row. Because I was sitting near the back, I couldn’t tell for sure, but I thought it might be Erv. I leaned out into the aisle just a bit so I could see him a little better. It didn’t help much. Having forgotten my glasses, the details were fuzzy. I would have to wait until the end of class to get a closer look. I spent the next hour distracted. When the professor finally ended her in-depth analysis of Old Testament literature, I initiated my plan. I needed to get close enough to tell if it was really him without being too obvious if it wasn’t. I had only met this guy once, so I wasn’t even entirely sure what he looked like. Did he wear glasses? I couldn’t remember. This guy was wearing glasses. As I neared the front of the room, he was talking to another friend of mine from the Christian fellowship group the night before. That cinched it. It was definitely him. I re-introduced myself, at which time he explained that he remembered me. In fact, he had looked for me at my dorm the night before but couldn’t find me anywhere. Tie-dye guy mystery solved. It was lunchtime so we headed to the dining hall together. Since we were both at school on a combination of academic scholarships and government grants for poor kids, eating in the dining hall meant a free lunch for both of us. We enjoyed getting to know each other better over high calorie cafeteria food. I was disappointed when I glanced up at the clock and saw that it was almost time to leave for my next class. As soon as lunch was over, the questioning began. My friend Rachel ran into us on our way out of the dining hall. I introduced her to Erv and then said goodbye to my new friend. As soon as he was out of sight, she gave me the third degree. “Who is that guy? How do you know him? Is he the one who was looking for you last night? I heard about that! Do you like him? You guys would make a perfect couple. You’re the same height. And you have the same skin tone.” I didn’t realize that matching height and skin tone made the perfect couple. Apparently this was a winning combination. I explained that I had just met him and had too little information to determine if I “liked” him. After further interrogation, I was actually happy that I had to get to my next class. I made a mental note to avoid sitting by Rachel at dinner. I didn’t want any more questions. That night as I was procrastinating instead of doing my homework, my phone rang. It was tie-dye guy. “Are you going to breakfast?” he asked. “Probably not,” I replied. I usually had a piece of fruit or a granola bar on my way to class, allowing me to sleep as late as possible yet not starve. “Well, John and I are going to breakfast at seven-thirty, and we want you to come too.” “Um…sure. Sounds like fun.” I was really thinking, “Sounds pretty early.” But, it was nice to be invited, and I didn’t want to say, “no.” John and Erv were waiting for me in the dining hall lobby the next morning at 7:30am. They were slouched in the semi-comfortable chairs of the dining hall lobby half asleep. I was amused at their lethargy even though it was their idea that we meet at this hour. We dragged ourselves up the stairs and ordered our breakfasts. The dining hall was deserted so we had our choice of seats. Once we sat down and started talking, however, all three of us were wide awake. We found ourselves in the midst of a passionate debate. I don’t remember the exact topic of conversation, but it was obvious that all three of us had strong opinions. It was refreshing to be so honest. Though it was tense at times, we enjoyed ourselves and respected each other. We decided that we should do this again. We soon became “the breakfast club,” meeting twice a week to share, talk, argue, and pray. We had others from Campus Ambassadors join us along the way making it even more fun. More opinions and input made the conversation richer. The crowd changed from week to week, but Erv, John and I were the constants. We were always there, and we looked forward to it- even at 7:30am. In the meantime, Erv and I found ourselves spending more time together. In addition to free campus breakfasts and free campus lunches, we added free campus dinners to our joint schedules. I moved up to the front row by Erv in our “Bible as Literature” class, and we would meet in the park or the library to do our homework together. We went to our Campus Ambassadors meetings on Thursday nights, and he asked to help lead my small group Bible study every Tuesday night. Between classes, meals, CA and church, we were seeing each other almost every day. On Common Ground Through these events we found we had a lot in common. We were both passionate about our faith, enjoyed learning, and loved the inexpensive pleasure of the great outdoors. Other than limited income from our work study jobs on campus, we were broke. Finding creative ways to have cheap fun became a favorite pastime. While our friends went to the movies or bowling, we organized game nights and scavenger hunts. We found ourselves in a little band of like-minded (and empty-walleted) friends who went biking, camping, and canoeing. With shared gas money, borrowed canoes, and patched tents, we all could enjoy an entire weekend of fun without breaking the bank. Our love of learning set us out on new adventures together. Our campus fellowship group didn’t have a worship leader, and I was just learning to play guitar. We borrowed a couple of guitars from some nice folks at church and started teaching each other how to play.

Erv and Carrie Starr teach business at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, New York. Erv served as a financial counselor with Crown Financial Ministries, and Carrie is the former Eastern Regional Specialist for Campus Ambassadors Christian Fellowship. The Starrs love adventure, saving money, and being generous.


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