Back in January I set a goal to spend less. I’ve wanted to write about the reasons behind that goal ever since I posted it. But no matter how many times I write and rewrite it in my head, the post ends up being too long, my thoughts too jumbled.
Now that I’ve got three months of spending less under my belt, I’m ready to talk about it. And I’ve decided to do it in phases, starting with what I call the tipping point – that one moment that pushed me right over the edge from spender to saver.
I was sitting at a Christmas dinner for our church’s women’s organization. It was a simple affair – soups and salads enjoyed while listening to women share a favorite Christmas memory that had strengthened their belief in the Savior Jesus Christ.
A small, sweet woman from South America stood to speak. She talked about growing up in poverty and having very little in the way of material gifts to celebrate with at Christmas. She wept when she mentioned seeing other girls in their beautiful holiday dresses and other children playing with new toys, knowing she would have neither of those luxuries. Instead, her little family would gather together and fashion a Christmas tree out of tinfoil because that was all they could afford.
When she spoke of the tinfoil tree, her face lit up as if it were the most beautiful tree anyone could have. It was obvious to me that it brought her great joy. She confirmed my thought by adding that this tree was evidence to her that God and Jesus Christ loved her so much because they would give her, a small child, something so beautiful to bring her happiness at Christmas.
She sat down. Meanwhile I sat in the back of the room, tears streaming down my face, my conscience awash in a guilt that only gluttony and selfishness could provide. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of holiday, I had completely bought into the falsehood that it takes things and stuff to be happy. I had lists a mile long of things still left to purchase for my children, friends and family – much of it non-essential, and without thought or meaning – but all intended to make Christmas and people happy.
It was during that dinner at my church that my brain and heart knew it was time for a change in the way I viewed money, the things money could buy and whether or not they had ANYTHING to do with my actual happiness.