I used to get all jazzed up and excited to go shopping aka splurge on myself. Now I wasn't as geeked up as one of my fav Real Housewives of New York City, Ramona Singer; but I certainly could and have been known to shop with vigor, especially on Black Friday.
I am not trying to say shopping malls are evil places or even that folks who splurge on themselves are selfish, bad people; heck I have done my share of splurging over the years. But in the last month I have just begun to realize some things that have caused me to reflect on how I spend my money at the mall and why exactly I do.
When I go shopping, I tend to focus on how much MORE I wish I could have and/or buy. It is not a sin to want to have nice things and be presentable to the world, but as our desire for more stuff grows it can become all-consuming. It is as if "window shopping" is like lust. Just as a man/woman would sexually lust after each other in a selfish way, I have begun to notice the tendency within myself to lust after cute clothes, accessories, or shoes that a) I really don't need or 2) Can't really afford anyway ... its like even what I can afford to buy is not good enough. I grew up hearing from the time I was little, what matters the most are people and relationships; not material possessions. And honestly, I never thought I was terribly materialistic, but I can see in little ways (if I'm really honest with myself) how my desire for never being satisfied with what I have is a circle that just keeps on spinning if I don't acknowledge it. We cannot take our stuff with us from this world into the next; when we die, the stuff doesn't go with us.
I've noticed how easy it is to go to Target or the mall for one specific item and then come out with $40 worth of stuff that in 6 months I'll forget about or loose interest in. Sure, I know a huge part of that is self-control and being frugal, but I also wonder if there is any connection to the fact that in our world of instant gratification we don't want to wait to buy it till we can afford it. I want.need.can not live without this.watch/shirt/dress/pair of shoes/movie/etc. It is easy to buy things because let's be honest, waiting to save or buy when you can afford is not fun (yes smart/frugal...but not always fun). I have to get better at curbing that tendency and being more aware of that desire to spend willy nilly...especially when I am at Target ;)
It drives me nuts at every.single.store. today when you are at the check-out counter offers you the option to open a store credit card so you can save some un-goldy small amount of money, which isn't even worth opening the card to begin with. I think when shopping today it is so easy for people to buy things with money they haven't got....those tricky,tricky sales people ;) I know I am not the the best example of a person who financially has it all together, but I know enough to not open multiple credit cards.
It may sound silly but I have also been challenged in how I spend my money at the mall by the example of Pope Francis. As a person of faith, I try hard to have my beliefs impact my daily life so I can (hopefully) be a good, true example of what I believe and profess to be truth. Ohhh Frank...how you challenge my comfortable, nice suburbanite life...
Pope Francis actually makes me uncomfortable on a regular basis. But that's awesome (most days) because it makes me uncomfortable in way that stretches my faith and how I treat others. Pope Francis drives a 19 year old used car, wears simple black shoes, and challenges people to instead of coming to visit him rather give the money to the poor/homeless. He recently named 19 cardinals for the Church; but these men of God were specifically were either from more poor countries and were more aware/in touch with the plight of the poor/homeless/unwanted. His example and message are another way I need to evaluate how perhaps I am too comfortable with the "stuff" of my life, when instead, it is so much more vital and important to care for those who have so much less than I do.
Jim and I are really starting to be intentional about creating a budget this year. I am paying off my credit card and putting it away in my jewelry box, so as to not tempt me for frivolous purchases. We are going to start reading those dusty Dave Ramsey books that have just been a decoration on the bookshelves. I have begun to create a running of list of prioritizing how I plan to use money from each paycheck; whether its a new shirt, getting my eyebrows waxed, or going on a retreat with my small group...I am consciously planning ahead for purchases and weighing the cost of how I spend, so as to help eliminate wasteful spending. We both want to be financially prepared for our future, save, and lay a good foundation for when we have a family of our own.
So in the large scheme of things, I really don't hate hate shopping malls...but I am finding myself starting to really really think about and be more intentional about how/why I spend money at the mall...