I shop, therefore I am.
Sling-backs. Peep-toes. And my to-die-for Jimmy Choo pumps. If it’s splashed across Elle or Cosmo in neon pink, 72-point headlines, I want it. Six Sizzling Party Looks. What’s Hot Now. Flirty Florals. I’ve been through enough after-dark fashion emergencies to know how difficult it is to find the right outfit for a sudden invitation to a friend’s holiday bash or the boss’s last-minute cocktail party if a girl’s caught unprepared. That’s why impulse buying is not an entirely bad thing. Whether it’s out with the girls or out on a date, women want to be ready and look good. (And you clearly can’t wear the same category of outfit for a movie date, a dinner and dancing date and a meet-the-parents date.) If I had a dime for every party dress I picked up “just in case,” well, I’d have enough money to put toward that cute little Louis Vuitton tote I saw last week.
I’ve heard all the money-saving tips before. And I admit I may have too many things in my closet already, but I’m tired of those dated outfits. Waiting until the end-of-season sales to save money and taper my purchases sounds good, but wading through circular racks of last season’s castoffs is just not appealing.
I’m not saying the meaning of life can be reduced to knowing the top ten places to wear a wrap dress or the finesse required to pull off knee-high boots on casual Friday. However, women who have harnessed the mood-altering power of purchasing a bit of boho cashmere as a little pick-me-up know what I’m talking about. When I’ve had a hard week, buying something in the guilty pleasures category is the only consolation that puts me in a good mood for the weekend. And buying something at a two-for-one sale is almost like making money, right?
Elle. Cosmo. InStyle. They’re not to blame for our materialistic culture. They’ve just learned to capitalize on our vulnerabilities—those less closely guarded areas of our lives where, like Achan (see Joshua 7), we often succumb to peer pressure, impulse, desire and pride.
There’s nothing wrong with scooping up some key pieces to make “endless ensembles” or nabbing a new handbag to “achieve a fabulous look.” We’re talking about balance. Control. Being good to yourself by avoiding the underside of greed—depression over debt, interpersonal conflicts, overspending, overindulgence, the inability to give generously to others, impatience and envy, just to name a few.
We all like to feel the rush of getting something new, but isn’t it time for the material girl inside each of us to grow up? The one who goes shopping for retail therapy when she’s depressed. The one who spontaneously makes purchases but feels the inevitable emotional crash soon afterward. The one who is never satisfied with what she has—only with what someone else has.
Materialism overrides our good intentions and laughs at our sworn promises to cut back. It only responds to practical measures that take the control over our desires out of our hands and put it in the hands of someone else—namely, Jesus. (Although accountability with friends and family can be a part of the maturing process.) Try these rules on for size:
- Before you buy, ask yourself: What’s driving this impulse? Are you trying to find satisfaction in things, though deep down you know they will never satisfy you?
- Walk away from what appears to be a must-have purchase, and give yourself a mandatory 36-hour waiting period—even if it’s on sale.
- Think through the ramifications of major purchases on your budget.
- If you don’t have a budget, make one and stick to it.
- Think first. Detox from the euphoric feeling of what it would be like to wear that new outfit, work out on that at-home exercise machine or drive to work in that new car, and think through your decision.
No, following this advice is not as fun … in the short-term. Long-term, however, you’ll be amazed at how much more content you are with yourself.
“The average American family today carries 10 credit cards. Credit card debt and personal bankruptcies are now at an all time high.”
“Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’”
1 Corinthians 5:11; Philippians 4:10–12; 1 Timothy 6:6–8, 17