I'm sure there's an old saying about this, but the truth is--if you don't want to spend money, then don't go shopping. Don't go.
Every month I do our budget. This past month I'd been so busy, I didn't make many extra grocery shopping trips. I realized that I hadn't gone garage saling much or spent much time in stores at all. I was quite surprised when I did our budget at the end of the month and realized that we'd spent as little as we did.
My mom has been living with us now for a month and she is probably the most frugal person I know. She's always been a good influence on me in that way. One of the blessings of who she is, though, is that she doesn't make me feel guilty for what I do spend money on for my family. She simply makes me aware that I don't need to spend by her quiet presence and her contented heart.
It was funny because yesterday she brought up spending money on her grandchildren and I told her she didn't need to. She commented that they are happy with anything--the littlest of gifts in fact. I agreed and am very thankful for this. I was not a contented child or young adult and I have deeply desired such a heart for my children. I have taught them to say thank you whenever they receive a gift and write a thank you note. When they had their first birthday parties, I made a big deal that everyone would sit down and the girls would open their cards first and then the presents. When they are upset about something they don't have, I point out what they do have.
One of the biggest reasons they probably are the way they are is also because we don't watch television, we don't regularly go through the toy aisle at stores, and they don't get to pick out a little thing each time we go to the store. I have noticed that these practices (especially television) have started to lead us down the road to the "Gimmes" as the Berenstain Bear family would call them. I'll have a weak moment and give in and go to the toy section two trips in a row--and then I later regret it. I love the Berenstain Bear story about the "Gimmes". I think it made a bigger impression on me than on the kids when we read it together a few years ago!
But, there is an even bigger reason than all of these that I see as the heart of the matter. It is God and how we feel about money. All that we have is really His. What we believe shapes what we teach our children about money and things. It also shapes how tightly we hold onto money. We have to guard our own hearts when it comes to spending money on needs and wants and then protect our children's hearts in this matter as well. I feel very responsible for this.
It's rather ironic to me that I'm finally getting these thoughts posted on Black Friday. A few years ago, I used to love to go shopping on Black Friday. Even last year, I went and bought a shop-vac at Home Depot. But, when I went, I found that I cringed. As I heard stories about the crowds and saw the merchandise that was very cheap being sold even cheaper, I was sad. I began to think that Black Friday has started to become a day in which we buy gifts for ourselves instead of gifts for others. I do have friends that enjoy this day and do buy gifts for others. But, as I've looked around the stores the past few years I've noticed that that just doesn't seem to be the case for a lot of folks. So, today, I'm not going. Part of me wishes I could and that it was like it used to be 15 years ago without the mobs and intense frenzy. But, that's not the way it is today. So, I'm going to go get a cup of coffee and sit down with a cookie instead!