This post was prompted by God's dealings with my own heart and these two posts by the lovely and always eloquent, Shannen.
I've been thinking about something lately. Quite a bit, actually. I've even had a handful of discussions with people about it and I know it's on my heart for a reason, although I'm not sure precisely why now. Maybe I will never be certain.
It's no mystery that much of our society is tangled in the web of "whatcha got"? What I mean by that is all around us, whether it's the news, magazines, blog posts or the conversation over coffee....thoughts seem to revolve around material items, finances and how to "expand".
I know the word expand is pretty general but think on it. We talk about how we want to add on to our house, how we want to get more clothes, how we want to make more money at our jobs, how we want to acquire a new car or how we want to get, get, get.
Sometimes the things we need to buy are just that. Actual needs.
But often they aren't and I'm seeing that we operate almost with a panic button next to us and we slam our hands down so quickly that we might not even have time to access whether we really need the things we are filling our lives with.
When we sold our house almost two years ago, I remember hearing people say, "It's a good move because you'll need the space, if you have more kids." (I also remember people telling us that this house was a dump, but that was actual fact. Ahem.) I remember people making that comment about us "needing the space" all. the. time and then I remember saying it myself. Now that I look back on it, I feel a bit ashamed. I suppose that's what time does. It's gives us a stretch of moments to look back on our own ignorance and reflect.
Now I can very much regret using those words because we didn't NEED more space. We WANTED more space.
I don't NEED a Blu-Ray Dvd player, I WANT one.
Sean and I don't NEED to go on a vacation, we want to (desperately).
We don't NEED a new car.
We don't NEED new trees for the backyard.
We don't NEED to put our kids in 19 activities that will cost us an arm and a leg.
We don't NEED.
But we want.
I guess it's a call to change my vernacular because I believe our generation is teetering on the cusp of financial ruin (we are already one foot in the door, in my opinion) because we really have a difficult time separating what is needed and what is a privilege to own. I hear people say that the house fallout of a few years ago saved us because now people are learning to live within their means but I don't really see that. Not within the sub culture of Southern California at least.
Sure, we are a bit more cautious about large purchases but I think we are really going culturally bankrupt on the small and insidious spending that we have all grown accustomed. Spending $15.00 on lunch, twice a week when that money could buy groceries for 2 entire days. Buying our kids so many things that one present on Christmas is unheard of. Eating out is normal, not luxury. Twenty five pairs of shoes, rather than two.
That kind of thing.
The kind of thing that I don't even think twice about.
But I'm starting to.
Lately I have been realizing that a budget is a beneficial tool in order to keep track and "on course" (whatever that means), but we get tied up in it and we feel like if we stick to the budget and zero out, we are a success. But what about not spending up to our limit? Why isn't that on the radar? Why isn't that always on my radar?
If I have an additional $20.00 left over at the end of the month, I want to use it to buy my favorite candle but why? WHY? Do I NEED the candle?
Do I really need most of what I buy and why all the upgrades everywhere I turn? My stove works fine and while a kitchen remodel would be exciting, I truly don't need it. I just WANT it.
The problem with the word need is that it's taken on an entirely different meaning, to my generation.
It no longer pertains to actual physical need, but rather what I feel I need at the moment.
I have made financial missteps in the past and quite assuredly I will make them in the future and I am happy I have because it has taught me more than almost anything else in life.
It's taught me what I value.
It's taught me what I don't value.
It's shown me my focus, at times.
I believe the Lord has been working in our family and in my heart, for some time now, to give us a different focus on what we do with the money that He has granted us.
Call it being thrifty. Call it being frugal or just call it boring.
I'm trying to look at each and every purchase threw the lens of:
Do I need it?
Is it worth sacrificing a dollar that could be used for someone who really needs it?
Do I already have one that is working and functional?
These questions and the scriptures that the Lord is showing me, are changing my perception of money. Suddenly, I feel a renewed freedom.
A freedom that comes from having enough (more than enough), giving to those that REALLY need it and using what I have wisely. I hope I am found faithful and I hope when I'm not, I realize it and change paths.
So, tell me. What is your journey like, in regards to finances? What have you learned?
I would love to learn more from you.
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."