“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in haven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6: 19-20
I love shopping, but not for things like clothing and footwear. What I love shopping for are office and planner supplies. If I had a Staples credit card, I would be in trouble. I could easily spend hours in a store looking for and purchasing objects to make my stationary collections and day timers look Martha Stewart worthy. Thankfully budget constraints have forced me to make do with simple white ruled papers and generic brand mono coloured supplies. Certainly not fun, but when I think about it, debt isn’t fun either.
According to Nerdwallet, the average American household credit card debt is $16,140 (October, 2015). When you stop to think about it $16,000 is a lot of stuff to have that you haven’t actually finished paying for. I would love to see what these average households are charging on credit.
I do imagine that some of these consumers are also wondering what they purchased to accumulate such a high amount of debt.
In my 20s I filed for bankruptcy and this helped me learn to manage my money for several years until I fell back into bad financial habits again. In order to pay off my consumer debts I had to take a higher paying job in a remote location where I worked 21-28 days straight. The work was mentally draining and physically vigorous at times, but becoming debt free again was a great reward.
I have managed to control my consumer spending and not waste money by practicing mindfulness while shopping, especially in grocery stores. As Christians we are called to be good stewards of our money. In Ecclesiastes we read that “everything is meaningless”, but that doesn’t have to be true in your life. Money has great meaning; it determines whether or not you eat, where you sleep, your mode of transportation, and what you do with your waking hours. What God asks us not to do is allow money to become something we love. Money is a means for survival and thriving in life, but it shouldn’t have a place in our hearts.
Materialism is not part of what God considers to be holy living. He never asks us to accumulate “stuff” in order to please Him or impress Him; we do these things in order to please and impress other people. For others, material goods are a way to fill multiple voids in one’s life.
There is nothing wrong with having nice things, but not if the accumulation of goods become a top priority in your life. Practicing mindfulness is a form of financial stewardship and helps us to be responsible with our money and aware of our relationship to it and the things we purchase.
“Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil” (Proverbs 15:16).
Psychology Today lists 6 questions you should ask yourself when out shopping:
- Why am I here?
- How do I feel?
- Do I need this?
- What [happens] if I wait?
- How will I pay for it?
- Where will I put it?
If you want to take a closer look at your spending habits and give yourself a possible reality check on your consumer debt, feel free to visit Dave Ramsey’s financial page here.