I admit it. I have the weakness of wasting money.
Often I try to deny or minimize this problem.
The truth is I tend to spend money to lift my spirits.
One hundred dollar dresses, Coach hand bags, and expensive make-up hold no appeal for me. It’s little item after little item I buy that gets me in trouble.
Recently when my husband and I were looking over our credit card bills, he reminded me of my weakness, and I admitted I was back to doing it again.
Now I felt ready to stop.
Some of my “small” purchases that I turn to again and again are junk jewelry, knick-knacks for the house, Christian wall plaques, inexpensive books, scented candles. And the list goes on. Most items are $20 or less. I buy clothes I don’t need excusing it because I’m buying them at thrift or consignment shops or on a “great sale.” But all these add up.
The other category of my “little” purchases are food items: meals out, extras at the grocery store, some special, magical over-priced item at the health food store (or several), pumpkin lattes, bakery treats.
When I’m at work I reward myself with cafeteria meals, sweets from the gift shop, or a salty snack from the vending machine.
As I’ve been looking at what I spend money on, I see that little of it is what I need. These are impulse purchases to try to make myself feel better when I’m feeling resentful, rejected, or remorseful. Sometimes I’m feeling tired or bored and am buying as a pick-me-up.
Lately I’ve been on a spending fast. I tried to see how many days I could go without making these petty purchases–without spending any money at all. As I did this, I could track my feelings when I felt like buying something. When I realized what I was about to spend money on was about easing my emotional turmoil, I just said “no.”
In 30 days, I went ten days in a row with no spending and had 18 days where I spent zero dollars. Several of the days the spending was on giving money to others (ie money to my granddaughter for work she did for me at the house.)
Before this, I’d say I spent some money most days whether on the computer, at a store or restaurant, or in the work place. On recent days I thought carefully about what I was about to buy instead of just making a purchase because I “felt” like it. I avoided using my credit card and the excuse of “I’m adding up airline points.”
Just as I can binge with eating, I saw that binge-buying was something which easily traps me–even though the purchases aren’t large. It hasn’t been about what I’m buying as much as it’s about why I’m buying.
What I discovered is that there is sin involved with my “little” problem because instead of turning to the Lord to lift my spirits or comfort me, I was turning to the things of this world.
It’s freeing to be able to say “no” to these impulse purchases. I have money in my wallet and more money in my bank account than in months past. My pay check amount is larger (I’m not swiping my work badge in the cafeteria or gift shop anymore.) Our credit card bills are down. Now I’ll be able to give more to Christian ministries.
I plan on continuing this fast for a while and then returning to it whenever I find myself getting caught up in emotional buying. As I’ve been turning to the Prince of Peace instead of petty purchases to deal with depression or anxiety, I feel closer to the Lord.
The verses that came to mind as I thought about this issue today is Psalm 73:25-26: “Whom have I in heaven [but You]? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the rock and strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (AMP)
I know God is pleased each time I choose Him and His love as my treasure and my source above worldly trinkets.
Song selection: “Nothing Better” by John Guera. What a great, peppy song which really lifts my spirits, and it’s free on Youtube.