Does money burn a hole in your pocket? Does buyer’s remorse set in after you have spent your money? If this sounds familiar, you might be wondering how you can manage your spending so that you can buy the things you need now and also save for the things you need in the future.
Most people would admit that at some point or another they have spent beyond their means, but that does not classify them as impulsive or compulsive spenders. However, compulsive spending is prevalent in our country, and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to identify unhealthy spending habits because impulsive and compulsive spending appetites are legitimized by our popular “plastic culture.” In fact, a recent Wall Street Journal story revealed that plastic now represents 74% of all in-store purchases.This culture not only encourages credit card debt but also presents it as the normal and accepted American way to spend.
Put all spending under God’s control. Once you recognize that you are a manager of God’s finances, you will begin to look at spending from the vantage point of whether He will be pleased with the purchase. Also, discover the factors that drive you to spend money. This could be anything from self-esteem to feeling like you just need a “pick-me-up”. When you go to shop, you need to justify the reason that you are going, set a time limit and have a written list of what you need. This will help you avoid many spending pitfalls.
Ask for Accountability
A great way to control spending is to find an accountability partner to hold you accountable for everything you spend for a specified period of time. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” Once you have accountability, you will be more inclined to be more cautious in your spending habits, creating more of a "look now, buy later" attitude. So, shop around before buying and learn to say “no”. Keep a record of spending and purchases and share these with the accountability partner.
Be Aware of Manipulative Advertising
Responsible spending says “yes” to real needs and “no” to most created needs. Advertising thrives on instilling discontent. Its goal is to create a sense of need, to stimulate desire, to make you think you need and deserve more. Don’t buy into the message that there is a newer, faster, wrinkle-free life that you can’t live without. We must consciously reject its claims and counter them with the Word of God, which tells us what we really do and do not need.
Create a “Want” List
Whenever you find something that you think you must have over a certain established dollar amount, put it on the list. Then wait seven days and find two additional prices for the same item. If there is still a need or want for the item after the week goes by, then go ahead and buy it. But, make sure you only buy one item on the list at a time. If you find new “wants” during the week, you will have to decide between the two. Of course, any “wants” should only be considered if they fit into the family budget in advance.
Since unhealthy spending cycles are encouraged rather than discouraged in our society today, savings will most likely continue to decline and debt will continue to increase unless self-discipline and self-control are established to bring spending under control. As Christians, it is our responsibility to show others that there is a better, biblical way to be financial managers of God’s resources.