One of the strongest messages in our culture is "You'll be happy if only you buy this." And it has a twin sister who says the same thing, just backwards: "the reason you're not happy is because you don't have enough. So go shopping!"
Everything in our culture revolves around shopping. Magazines try to sell us stuff. TV shows are punctuated by commercials. Movies have product placement. And even when there aren't specific ads, the people are so beautiful that we want to buy what they have, just so we can be that successful, too.
It sure is hard on one's wallet. But even worse, it's hard on our hearts, because what culture really sells us is dissatisfaction. You can never be completely happy because if you were, you wouldn't need anything. You'd have no need to shop! Hence, they have to make you unhappy so you'll head to the mall!
If you're a mom trying to make ends meet, it can be frustrating. And often we spend months scrimping and saving and depriving ourselves, and then what we want more and more is to splurge on something. We deserve it! And it doesn't seem fair that we should always be the ones losing out.
It's funny that we should think that way, because in reality, most young couples with kids who have big homes and vacations and new clothes are heavily in debt and bordering on bankruptcy. You're probably in better financial shape than they are, if you are watching your pennies and budgeting for stuff. But television rarely shows people living in small homes with hand-me-down clothes. I'm amazed at the shows and movies I watch where people with a relatively low-income job still live in a huge house. It's unrealistic. They're the ones who are wrong, not us!
So how do you come to the point where you can be happy with fewer things, but more time with family and less stress about money? How can we find peace without materialism? There's a (surprisingly) good article here at wiki on it, and let me share with you a few of their points.
1. Limit television, movies, and news watching, because it will make you feel inadequate.
2. Don't go the mall for fun.
3. If you want something, make a 30-day list. If you still want it after 30 days, and think it's worth the money, talk to your spouse about it and then decide whether or not to get it.
4. Make a gratitude list instead of a shopping list
And there's so much more! I, of course, would add prayer and reading Scripture, because it focuses your heart on what's really important. Even just play praise CDs throughout the day to keep your mind thinking about God.
But now I'd like to ask you: how can you defeat materialism? Leave a comment, and let's see if we can make our own lists!
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Labels: money, saving, shopping, spending