Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Money Rules

Yes. Pun intended. OK, so I've been thinking a lot about money, how I'm spending it, and as you may or may not know I've become increasingly interested in the minimalist culture as of late. I got the minimalism bug a little bit back in July, but now I've really been thinking more in depth about my consumer in take, need vs. want, etc. Let's be clear, studies shows that money DOES buy happiness--to a certain degree. But then you hit a certain threshold and things aren't quite as pleasurable anymore, and in this country, I'd say we hit that threshold a L-O-N-G time ago. Basically, we're buying a lot of sh** we don't need. And these things add up, penny by penny, prolonging our retirement, preventing us from being able to give to others, having us work harder and harder to support these abundant lifestyles, making the Earth work hard to feed our consumption, and believing the lie that we're much happier or life is better when we own x,y, and z. But the thing that I cannot get away from is the fact that minimalists very much echo the teachings of Jesus. Some might say he knew what he was talking about...? Fancy that. But as I begin to think more and more about when he told the rich man to give up everything...I have to wonder if we (as in us Americans) are those people. If you have two coats, give one away, you know. I look in my closet and I have 6 coats: rain jacket, wool coat, 3 spring jackets, casual winter jacket. I have about a gabillion shirts, more skits then I could probably count on my hands, you get the picture. Stuff. Everywhere. Shiza, I even have like 10 reusable bags--which is great for the environment but why do I need TEN? I downgraded a lot this year in an attempt to become more minimalistic, but I still live in the land of plenty. Minimalists are all about what you NEED. I wondered how much I was spending on STUFF last year--I calculated what I had purchased, and it probably added up to about $600-$700 dollars. And I didn't even buy anything extravagant. It was $20 here, $30 there. That skirt is on sale for $11?! YES. Now I NEED a shirt to go with it, blah blah blah and round and round we go. And then you look around and you wonder where it really got you, because a few weeks later I would look in my closet, see that piece of clothing, and that little pleasure censor didn't go off quite so loudly in my head. And when I sat and thought about how much I had spent on clothes and shoes to make me feel good about myself, I wouldn't say that I felt that much better, and I could have gone on a VERY nice vacation somewhere with all that money (I dream of going to Italy some day SOON...). My professor in college often said that it is American Christians who get the most caught up in the conforming culture, that we lose sight of who Christ really is (that's why we need sociologists!!!) because we are so blinded by what seems "normal" even though the things we believe often very rarely line up with the teachings of Jesus. And then you look at something as devastating as Japan, and you wonder why any of it matters at all.

So with all that to say, I am developing my "Money Rules" to live by in 2011 (and...for the rest of my life really):
1. Will spending money bring me pleasure through experience, not things (ex: a delicious latte in my reusable cup on a winter day in a coffee shop with a good book, crafting supplies, a concert, etc.)
2. Will spending money bring pleasure to someone else (i.e. buying someone a cup of coffee, giving to a good cause, giving someone a gift, etc)?
3. The money is being used towards my personal health/hygiene (i.e. toothbrush, toothpaste, running a 5K, etc)
4. Will spending money fund organizations or businesses that are good for human beings and the planet (Pick up a copy of one of my favorite gifts given to me by a friend: The Better World Shopping Guide: Every Dollars Makes a Difference)
5. If I give a gift to someone, my gift will follow the abovce rules (i.e. will be socially conscious, or will provide someone with an experience verses a thing)

Obviously, these are loose guidelines. But all that to say, I've been thinking about how incredibly short sighted we are. That $25 dress that doesn't seem like a big deal. An extra pair of shoes. Another pan for cupcakes when you already have one. Before we know it, all of these "little" things add up to very big things. I was even thinking today how we are even short sighted when it comes to our sufferings in life (we lose sight of the vision that God might have for us--we get mad when we could just get over it, we don't give more when we could, etc). That is my goal: to keep my eye on the prize, and keep running the race! No really. Literally--the 5K I'm running is coming up and I need to get my butt in shape.

Some of my favorite minimalist blogs:

Favorite Social Conscious Gift Giving Sites: (it's like groupon--but for socially conscious businesses!)
Or: give to a cause in someone's name!


  1. I love this Jess. I'm trying to become a minimalist as well! It's so hard...and I definitely just bought a necklace or two yesterday. Dang. But we should be accountability buddies! Yeah!

    Also - have you heard of It's another grouponish site. I love it so far - check it out!

  2. oooh will do!! Yes--go accountability! I know, I slipped up and bought a dress the other day, but you know you can't win it all and I definitely am doing a LOT better then I was!!!!