Thursday, May 22, 2014

Planting My Stake--Stop The Consumption Madness

I am really good at finding a bargain.  I like nothing more than to save money on an item.  In my quest for finding the best deals, I "liked" a lot of deal Facebook pages.  I subscribed to deal blogs.  I get the Sunday paper with all of its ads and coupons.  I have my handy dandy Amazon Prime subscription so I can buy what I "need" cheaper and get it quicker with just the click of a button.

A few months ago God pretty clearly said, "Lisa, you buy things you don't truly need.  You have a consumption problem and this has to end."  Did I just admit that out loud???  I said, Okay God.  I can do that.  And then I went about my merry way determined to only buy what I really truly needed.

That lasted about...thirty seconds.  Because I have this memory problem.  I say I will do something and then promptly forget about it until I am reminded about it later.  God kindly tapped me on my shoulder again and said, "Lisa, you buy things you don't truly need.  You have a consumption problem and this has to end."  Wash, rinse, repeat.

And then there is the fact that I'm staying on budget.  I do not have an over spending problem.  God wasn't bringing up my consumption problem because I have been driving my family into debt.  No, God has been hitting me over the head with this because He wants me to live even more below our means.  To live simply so we have more money to give.  Which I agree with and fully support.  It's just been a struggle for me because it's different than how I've always been.

Like yesterday.  Once again God reminded me of my consumption problem and I said Yes, I will work on that.  Then it slipped my mind as I took the kids to Menards to buy sack chairs for our upcoming camping trip because they have all outgrown our old kid size chairs.  While we were at Menards I saw this awesome deal on pocket knives.  $8.99 regularly, but they had an $8.00 mail in rebate making them just $0.99!  Of course I picked up 2 because camping and knives just seem to go together.  And then there were sparklers that would be great fun on a camping trip.  And those twizzlers looked really good for a snack.  And lets not forget the lunch bag cooler that I have been meaning to buy because our old one had a ripped liner so I threw it away.

I got home.  I settled in with my Bible ready to have a nice, uplifting moment with God.  Lisa, read 1 Samuel 15.  I was prepared for an encouraging verse.  Instead, I read all about Saul and how he only sort of obeyed God.  And when he was confronted with it, he said, "The Lord bless you!  I have carried out the Lord's instruction."  When Samuel questioned him about why he only followed God's instructions part way, Saul came up with excuses.  To which Samuel replies: "To obey is better than sacrifice...Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king."

I admit.  I read that and was like, huh.  What's this about God?  Nice story but how does this apply to me?  Lisa, you just spent money without asking Me.  You aren't obeying Me very well.  Take back the things I have not approved.  Ohhhhhh.  That.

But really, God.  Is that really what You mean??  Because it was just some sparklers and twizzlers and super cheap pocket knives.  And they were a really good deal!!

And I quote: "If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor My name," says the Lord Almighty, "I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings.  Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor Me." -Malachi 2:2

Okay.  I got the message, Lord.  Back it all goes.

So I bagged up the stuff to go back to the store, plus a few other things that needed to be returned but I hadn't gotten around to yet, and made a returns errand.  I admit that I had a conversation in my head about the sparklers and twizzlers.  God, this is sort of embarrassing to be returning things that only cost $2 each.  And God, in His infinite wisdom and humor said, Exactly.  No sympathy in that corner.

A few days ago I read in this really awesome book, Grumble Hallelujah by Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira, that one of the first areas God addressed in her life when she started getting serious with God was her materialism problem.  And God told her to "Drive your stake, lifestyle-wise.  To declare that enough is enough."

God told me to "drive my stake" and declare that enough is enough and it's time to stop buying things that aren't true needs.  He told me to literally drive my stake.  As in go buy a stake and put it by my front door as a symbol to remind me that nothing goes past that stake unless it has been a purchase approved by God.  So I bought a yard ornament, brought it home, and drove it into the ground right by my front door.

Then God and I brainstormed a list of things for me to do to help me break my consumption cycle.  Here is my list so far:

1. Unlike or unsubscribe to deal sites and blogs.  All those deal websites and Facebook posts and blog posts?  They weren't helping me at all.  They just tempted me to buy something I didn't know I needed but suddenly couldn't live without...because it was such a steal of a price.  I "unliked" a bunch of pages.  I unsubscribed to a bunch of email lists.

2. Cancel the newspaper.  This one seems counter productive.  But here me out.  I don't read the actual paper.  I get it strictly for coupons and the Meijer ad.  But the coupons in my local paper  I pay $12 a month for the paper and I am not sure if I even break even using the coupons.  But what I do find myself doing is scanning the ads looking for bargains.  When the only ad I really need is the Meijer ad, which I can get online for free.  Eliminating the paper will prevent me from scanning the Menards and Office Max and Aldis and Target and all the other ads that are full of good deals.

3. Wrap my debit card in a little note.  I thought about taking my debit card out entirely but that was pushing it.  I have considered going cash-only, but I know myself and that is not going to happen yet.  But, I still plan to...

4. Go cash only.  For my grocery budget and spending money.  These are the two big areas where I spend the most money (duh).  So I am going to go cash only, and when the money's gone, it's gone until the beginning of the next month.

5. Designate an errands day.  Lately I have been making one big trip to the store a week, plus a few little trips here and there, which often adds up to an extra big trip.  Not working.  I need to designate a shopping day again (I've been watching my nephew 1-2 days a week for almost a year now which has led to my moving shopping day all over the place, but he's older now and I can take him shopping with us if I happen to be watching him on my shopping day).  Shop once a week and go without if I under shop.

6. Menu plan.  And stick with it.  This is going to be a tough one for me.  Because I feel led to make a menu to cover every meal, not just dinner.  If I plan out all our meals, it will help me shop smarter and be sure to not forget something.

7. Think and pray before I buy.  This is going to be the hardest one to remember.  To pray before I go shopping, and to think before I buy something.  Do I really need this?  Can I do without it?  Is this something that the Lord approves?

8. Make a clothing master list.  This is a list of what each child should have clothes-wise.  A child does not need 15 t-shirts.  It is a waste of money, doesn't fit in their drawers, and leads to a messy room when half those shirts are just thrown on the floor rather than in the hamper.  So I am going to make a list of what they truly need and stick with it.  No more impulse purchases of really cute shirts that are on clearance.

9. Make a list and stick to it.  I am really good at making a grocery list before going to the store.  I am not so good at sticking to my list.  As I get better at making up a full menu each week, I will make shopping lists off these menus that will include every food item we will need for the week.  If it's not on the list, it isn't purchased.  No more impulse buying just because I find a good deal on something we don't really need.

I am sure that I will be adding to this list as time goes by, but for now this is enough to get me on track.  I want to be a person who obeys God completely.  No more partial obedience.  No more forgetting my commitments.  I am driving my stake and saying enough is enough.  I am done with being an over-consumer.  It's time to cut back and let God have control of our budget.

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