Downsizing the Greed Habit and the Budget
by Dianne Barker
I love bargains! Let me tell you about one of my shopping adventures.
I needed dressy black slacks and found a pair in my size with a quality label. The tag had a red sticker covering the original price (unreadable), which had been discounted to $30 then $12.99 and finally $1.99.
To use my store coupon ($10 off a purchase totaling $25) I’d have to spend a little more. I found a couple items I could use, and after applying the coupon, the entire purchase—including tax—came to about $17. I paid only $1.21 for the slacks.
Now, that’s a bargain. But looking back, clearly I fell into a trap.
I would have been ecstatic spending $1.99 for the slacks—an amazing bargain—but I just couldn’t waste that coupon. That’s like turning down $10 cash. So I spent more to save more.
Was that practical? I could rationalize that the slacks alone were worth more than my total cost. But uneasiness crept over me, exposing a little pocket of greed.
“Excessive or reprehensible acquisitiveness,” Webster defines greed—and it doesn’t sound pretty.
Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).
One who is greedy keeps bad company in Scripture. Jesus listed evils that come from within—out of the heart—making a person unclean: “evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly” (Mark 7:20-23).
I read this. “A greedy man brings trouble to his family…” (Proverbs 15:27a). “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income…” Ecclesiastes 5:10).
Truth troubled me. I had a greed problem. I’d never enjoyed browsing through stores and usually shopped only when I had a need—unless coupons lured me into the greed trap. Then I’d end up making unnecessary purchases.
Acknowledging my greedy shopping tendencies led me to adopt a new financial policy. Instead of spending more to save more, I’m spending less to save more. That’s making a noticeable difference in the budget. I don’t play catch-up, paying off the credit card charges for impulsive spending.
Getting control of finances is a good thing. Consider these tips to begin downsizing the greed habit and the budget.
- Give the Lord His share. If tithing is our first budget cut, we can’t expect to make ends meet.
- Eliminate superfluous spending. Before making a purchase, ask yourself: Do I need it? Can I live without it? Whether the temptation is to buy a new outfit or simply a milkshake on a warm summer day, self denial will result in savings.
- Avoid using a credit card if possible. If there’s a genuine need, try to delay the purchase until you have cash.
- Make paying off credit-card debt a priority. A firm decision to curtail spending is an absolute requirement.
- Borrow when it’s your only option (such as home mortgage, car loan, student loan).
Taking advantage of bargains isn’t a bad thing. Wise shopping has a favorable impact on the budget—a surplus is always sweet. But I don’t allow bargains and coupons to influence my spending decisions if they will play havoc with planned expenditures.
I’m not sure which happened first—the change in my shopping habits or the change in my desires. These days I crave fewer things and more of Christ.
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25).
(All Scriptures from NIV.)
Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and award-winning author of eleven books. Her latest book, I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life, includes a chapter on finances.
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