Last year I attended a financial seminar held at my church. I have never been a frivolous spender, but something stirred inside me as I listened to the speaker. Even if I wasn’t going on shopping sprees every week, was I being careful with what I spent my money on? After the seminar, I immediately began to pray if there was something I could live with giving up to save or steward that money elsewhere. My mind initially and hesitantly thought about my closet. I had more clothes than I needed, and more than most people had. I decided to do a fast on shopping for an entire year. During my year of no shopping, I obtained quite a few insights.
4 Insights from a Year of No Shopping:
#1 Consumerism is Bondage
I did not realize how much of a challenge this fast would be until the first time I walked into a clothing store. This was the first time I was able to see that I was under a form of bondage. I was unaware of how just walking into a store produced this need to spend money on things I did not need. Businesses all know how to market to their consumers and how to get them to spend. When I was forcing myself to become aware of my spending habits I realized how much I fell for these strategies that told me I needed something. The more I continued to deny my shopping urges the more and more I felt a sense of freedom. I was free to think clearly about what I needed and what I didn’t. I was also free to see that there were more essential things I needed to spend my money on. The non-essential things were hindering me from doing that.
#2 Insecurities are a Huge Motivator
When I walked into a store, many images flashed through my mind of what society influenced me to buy. I realized then that my insecurities were a huge motivator in my spending. The need to belong motivates us to spend money on things that culture, and society tell us is important. I had more than enough items of clothing, but I always felt the need to obtain more because of changing trends.
#3 Frugality is Counter-Cultural
I learned quickly that frugality was very counter-cultural. Not only was I having to face a self-imposed struggle with urges and temptation, but I also faced temptation from others. I found that support from others was hard to come by. I felt guilty many times because of the reactions I received for not wanting to spend my money. Many people felt obligated to encourage me to spend, became offended, or acted like they felt sorry for me. This included Christians. Even within Christianity saving and being conscientious about what we spend on is counter-cultural. We are very influenced by society and conform to it more than we think we do.
#4 Money is a Resource
I was very aware during my fast that God cares about what I spend my money on. In the New Testament Jesus brings attention to money all of the time. Money is such a common thing that we pay little attention to what we do with it. In itself, it is not a bad thing, but it is made clear that we need to be conscious of how we use it. Money holds a lot of power and being careless with spending is very dangerous. It is a resource and if we do not allow God to take control of our expenses were in danger of letting other things influence our spending. We must view Money as a gift from God and look to Him to what we should be spending it on.
“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” – Matthew 6:25-30