What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Friday, December 21, 2007

Act your Wage, Wage your Actions

The other week I read someone say "Act your Wage" in reference to Christmas shopping and the little cliche sort of stuck with me. I thought, "How clever!" and very fitting.

People, even those who aren't able to and SHOULDN'T, often buy into the commercialism of the holiday and go way overboard. It is almost as though the Christmas lights blind them to reality for the month. If you can't afford to pay the heating bill-then you should be having a VERY modest Christmas! It's that simple.

For several years now, I have noticed that from October to December ALL you ever hear are advertisements to BUY BUY BUY. It is interesting to listen to them too. Often you will here : "You DESERVE this" "After all-you deserve it!" "Why not get the thing you have ALWAYS dreamed of?" So then, if you decide NOT to buy that IPOD, then you must not DESERVE it? Businesses are REALLY good at convincing people they don't even know that there is none as worthy. They are really good at building up strangers. They even have psychoanalyzers working to figure out the best way to appeal to us. To sell us what we DON'T need by making it appear that we can't live without it. Hey, they are just doing their jobs. The object of the game is to sell-and they are doing a mighty fine job of it. The problem is that no one sees THROUGH it.

Have you noticed what happens AFTER December 25th? For months leading up to Christmas, we buy buy buy. Shop shop shop. Then-Christmas is SLAMBANG, done in a night and a day-and then the little radio jingles are NOT for stores anymore. Now they are debt consolidation ads. "We know you are in debt-and we are here to HELP!" "Are you feeling buried in debt? Call us!" Don't believe me? Just listen to your radio in January!

Am I the only one in the world that sees this?!? Apparently so. I just read an article that the
Federal government is loaning banks $20 BILLION in order to help with the overwhelming credit and loan output. Now that is just SAD. Our country is not in a state of depression. Masses of people aren't buying houses this month. Our country isn't in a state of crisis. $20 billion dollars is being taken from our government to pay for the unnecessary, frivolous holiday spending of Americans. There is no sadder use of money than that.

Acting your wage is clever, catchy, and a good challenge. But-it's incomplete. It only applies to the people who need to count pennies. What about those people who have PLENTY of money? Or those who don't fit into either category? Acting THEIR wage would encourage them to frivolously spend on everything they DON'T need.

Not only must you act your wage, but you need to weigh your actions.

The thing we need most of all is wisdom and prudence when dealing with finances. If we don't have very much money, then we need to set our limits and STICK TO THEM. We need to prioritize the money that we DO have and stretch it as thin as it can get. If that means not buying a ton of Christmas presents, decorations, or Christmas hams-then so be it. The first Christmas was the most amazing Christmas ever, and it was spent in a barn.

If you are one of those people who happens to have large sums of money hidden away under your mattress, the kind of person that sneezes dollarbills, you are not exempt from making wise financial decisions. Sure, you can enjoy the finer things in life with a bit more excess, but in order to KEEP your fortune-you must handle it wisely.

I think both the rich and the poor need also fix their eyes to the future. Too often we Americans live in the "here and now"; we 'live for today'. Spontaneous spending is at an all-time high; if you see it, you get it. Whether you have the money or you don't doesn't seem to matter. Perhaps it is because of the false assurances those small pieces of plastic afford.

If you don't have the money, the obvious answer is that you shouldn't buy what you can't afford. But what if you DO have the money? Should you buy that cheeseburger? Or that set of BEAUTIFUL sheets on clearance? Or that toy that Johnny would just LOVE? Just because you happen to have $20.00 in your wallet (or a debit card, etc.) doesn't mean you should get it. In my case, we are desperately trying to save money (to no avail, mind you) for a house of our own someday. Matt and I are both sick to DEATH of renting. We want a home of our own, with land for our someday animals, gardens and our children. Would our money be better spent on that set of sheets, or in an account-accumulating for that great day that we CAN afford our dreams?! You know the answer to that, and so do I. But I still obviously fail, quite miserably, at times.

Anticipating the future is a wonderful way to meet your financial goals...but it is WONDERFUL for another reason.

We need to weigh our actions to see the effect they have on our children. We need to train them to be good stewards. We need to train them to be content. We need to train them that greed is sinful. How can we do that? We can avoid spoiling them!

I see, so often, people getting their children treats and toys every time they are at a store. Why then, is it surprising when their children ask for things all the time, show discontent and disrespect to their things? Not only that, but they grow up to think they can just splurge and buy things for themselves that they don't need, whenever they want. Lax spending and greed is a very dangerous combination.

If we buy many toys for our children for Christmas-they will not have as much appreciation for them. I see it time and time again. Children with a big pile of presents open one gift and are on to the NEXT one before they have even realized what was in the first package...even if that was the thing they wanted MOST. Of course, it is harder to simplify Christmas gift-giving if you have spent year after year indulging. I don't know of any child that would be content with one or two special gifts after having opened dozens in years past.

Excess can be HARMFUL to your child. We should think more about what our actions will do to our children over time. Will it cause our children to be ungrateful? Unsatiatably greedy? Unwise spenders? The object, after all, is for them to grow into responsible, wise men and women.

Seeking to use your money wisely is something that needs to happen DAILY-365 days a year. Not just at Christmastime. But at Christmas, we need to be ESPECIALLY on guard against those who are trying to rob us by appealing to our senses. There is absolutely NO NEED for us to be going $20 BILLION dollars in debt from Christmas shopping.

It is unwise, unsafe, and speaks VOLUMES about the types of children we are raising.

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Tracy said...

You are wise beyond your years.

Jthemilker said...

Amen Sister! I was just thinking of this yesterday as I struggle to decide if I shall buy something for my darling husband that he "wants" or use that sum of money to pay off a bill... or to save for our one-day home??? My coworker said "Charge it" and was shocked to hear that I don't use "credit." Thanks for the reminder... we all need it this time of year.

Lindsey's Photographs said...

I remember our first christmas on our own we moved away from family at the time and didnt have a huge budget. I was devestated not to give my 2 year old a whole livingroom of presents. How INSANE! You are exactly right. This does have a huge impact on our children. SO much different than the way my parents did it. I want to do it right. We have simplified and im enjoying making homemade things as gifts with the kids. And people enjoy getting somethng made from them instead of something that will probably end up in the yardsale box.

Andie said...

You are so WISE!! A friend of mine presents her girls with three gifts each, because the wise men brought 3 gifts to Jesus. What a great idea! I think I'll try that next year!
Christmas blessings-

Mom2fur said...

What a brilliant post! Me...I tend to tune out holiday commercials. If I'm going to buy something, I'd do it with or without advertising. I can look through the sunday circulars for the best prices.
It isn't just in January you hear those debt commercials. They are on all the time. Some of it is spending too much, and some of it is that the CC companies can play all sorts of nasty tricks without warning you...like upping your rate if your are ten minutes late paying on ANOTHER card. My debt started mostly due to medical bills (above insurance), but I can only scratch away at it because of ridiculous fees and rates. I do use the cards for some other things, but I don't go nuts. I'm with you...if you can't afford heat, don't spend money on frivolous things. So much as I'd like to surprise him with one some year, it will be a looooong time before my husband sees a plasma TV on Christmas morning, LOL!
Regarding getting something every time they go out...then when is something 'special'? I had no qualms whatsover to say to my kids, "not this time--I don't have enough money." Kids need to know that money is a finite thing.
I don't believe that giving them a lot spoils them in and of itself, if it is mixed in with respect and love. But it does give a kid the sense that 'money grows on trees' and mom and dad are endless pits of generosity. I saw kids coming to my daughter's 8th grade dance (about 8 years ago) in limousines! If they're doing that at 13 or 14...what's to look forward to for the senior prom?
PS...hang in there. You are still young and I am sure you'll have your house one day in the not-too-far future!

Rebecca said...

Andie~It's funny. That is what we typically do as well. Because Rynnie Roo's gift is so much work, we are only giving her one this year but most years we do three gifts. Within those three gifts we give one want, one need and one book/educational thing. It was worked out thus far...


Dana said...

Amen and Hallelujah! We fall into the category of "watching every penny" and have a very modest Christmas by the world's standards. Even if we weren't watching every penny and frugal as can be, we'd still do a modest Christmas.

Christmas Blessings to you and yours--

Anonymous said...

We also give use the "3 Gift Rule" It helps put more meaning into Christmas for the little ones knowing there is a reason for everything. Although we are not penny-pinching to the degree that others are, I grew up with very little and was all the better for it - we were thankful we had food to eat! I want my children to have that appreiciation for what we have, but without the fears because of our financial situation that I had growing up.

I am appaled that the feeling of "entitlement" is so prevelant around me...I have worked hard to get where I am, but I have never lost site of those less fortunate...instead of buying that flat-screen HDTV (it's still just a tv, you will never think that you are actually there!) we should be adopting a family of those who can not afford to heat their houses and buy coats for thier children! My son, even at 3 years old got a bag and put toys for the "poor kids" in it...that is what I want to see in my children.


Lindsey said...

I really like this 3 gift rule. We may just have to to that next year

Tracy said...


Limousines at the prom? Hmmm... I didn't even have one for my wedding! Then again, I'm against the prom thing anyway!

abigail said...

Yup. I agree completely. (But this you already know.)