In the spring of 2011. I embarked on a 365 day spending fast. Why?
I’m Greedy. So what?
Once, a baby peed all over my lap because his mom didn’t have any diapers. Once, I held the hand of a homeless man who was in agony, and he couldn’t tell me why. Once, a woman said “God bless you!!” with a huge, toothless smile when I had only given her half a sandwich.
The poor exist because we have not learned to love our neighbor as ourselves. (credit to Shane Claiborne for opening my eyes to that in a whole new way…)
I claim to be a Christian; to follow Jesus Christ. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is his commandment, second only to loving God with all we are. It’s funny how those link hand-in-hand so closely. If we claim to love God without loving our neighbor, can God’s love really be in us? (1 John 3:17) I see how far I have to go. I am greedy! So what?
“If you have two coats, one of them belongs to the poor.” – Dorothy Day (but the guy that baptized Jesus said it first!)
I have three coats. Actually, four.
I buy myself things I don’t need all the time. Those shoes that I just “loved.” That little dress I might wear… someday. A new iPhone case because I want a change. Art I wasn’t planning on buying until I saw it…
I’m afraid to count how many t-shirts are in my drawer.
We all buy things we don’t need, and we all have neighbors that need. So what?
You already know this – we live in a community and nation that is obsessed with more, bigger, better. The more we get, the more we want. Our stuff “expires” and then we want more stuff. When will we stop believing in stuff? Meanwhile, your neighbour has an empty fridge. My neighbour has no friends. Their neighbour has no home. Still, so what?
We have an opportunity to change things; the only thing I can change is me.
As a result of personal conviction on this, I realize I need to confess my greed and turn away. So I confess to you now – I am greedy, and I am sorry! On March 21st 2011, I resolved to buy nothing new for myself for 365 days. I will shop at second hand stores only. I will borrow and share. I will give what I do not need to those who need it more. I want to be free from always wanting, and I pray this resolution changes me from the inside out. Every time I see something new that I want to buy, instead I’ll turn to God and say thanks for all the ways He has already taken care of me. Filled and inspired by the love of Jesus, I’ll throw my old self away and put on a new way to live. (Ephesians 4:21-24)
Want to join me in buying nothing new for a day, a week, a month, a year, whatever you choose…? Instead, give that money to someone you know that needs it, or take a bag of groceries to the food bank or a friend, or support your local church, or sponsor a child through Compassion, or send some flowers.
This could change me. Could it change you?
10 Lessons from Less Spending
Completed March 21st 2012.
As of today, I have officially gone 365 days without buying anything new. A sharp financial teacher I know asked me to record the top 10 things I learned from this experience.
On March 21st 2012 – after going a whole year without buying anything new – I had nothing new I needed to buy. The day came and went like every other day – I even went to the mall and didn’t buy anything but yogen fruz to enjoy with a friend!
Here is how it changed me, and here is what I learned:
- Healthy spending is as much of a lifestyle for your heart as healthy eating is a lifestyle for your body. I adapted to a new lifestyle.
- I still have more than enough. Although I wasn’t purchasing anything new for myself, I already had so much in my possession. I could still shop at second hand stores. It became a treasure hunt when I needed something. What’s your inventory?
- I value gifts so much more. When you aren’t buying for yourself, you really appreciate someone else’s thoughtfulness.
- I learned what was frivolous. When I received a gift card, I put a lot more thought into what to purchase and why. There was no thoughtless, frivolous spending.
- Time changes your mind. It was amazing how many times I wanted something in the moment, and how less than 24 hours later I had forgotten about it completely.
- I found a new love for gift-giving! The only time I could shop was to buy gifts for people – so I found a new love for gift-giving! The best part is I never walked out having ended up spending money on myself…
- I focused more on the people I was with than things to buy. At the beginning of this challenge, the hardest part came in leisure shopping trips. Now I focus more on the people I’m with than the things to buy.
- I stopped spending so I could give, but giving has to be intentional. Although I wasn’t spending money on ‘new stuff’, it was easy for that money to end up in on coffee and dining out if I didn’t have a plan for it.
- I’m still greedy. It’s something that doesn’t get ‘cured,’ only surrendered. Living in North America, greed is like germs. You just get over a bad cold and go back into a school full of kids with runny noses.
- Generosity can be just as contagious.