Shopping in Tension

During Summer of 7, I cleaned a lot of my clothes.  I suppose in some ways I didn’t think through that because I didn’t leave myself too many items for the cold days.  I suppose when it’s 102 out you just convince yourself you just don’t need too many sweaters.  Well, it seems I do actually need a few extra items.  So I’ve been adding some clothes to my Christmas wish lists and doing a tiny bit of shopping.


Over the last few years after reading Crazy Love and Radical and starting Blood:water belt, I’d just stopped shopping.  Sure, a few times a year I’d visit Old Navy for the girls and pick myself up a few things but I avoided Target like the plague and didn’t seek out The Loft.  I was just so done with spending my money and regretting it. (P.S.  You MUST read the latest post about the blood:water belt)

I knew when I started WIWW posts that I’d want to buy more things.  I was right, I do.  Especially now that I need some winter clothes.  And since I’ve been letting myself shop a bit for winter clothes and Christmas shopping, I’ve been kind of a train wreck.

I gave in and bought two shirts and two sweaters at Target last week.  All of it was on sale and one was even a maternity shirt on clearance (did you read how I buy maternity even thought I am NOT pregnant?).  I got home and saw there was a gap in the stitching of one of the sweaters.  I thought to go exchange it but when I took it back I just couldn’t.  I let them put the money back on the card and left Target empty-handed.

A few weeks ago I realized the brown boots I wear constantly had completely lost their form. I’d be walking and realize the left one was sagging.  My boots would be uneven and I’d look silly.  I’d have to tug on the boots and wear 2 and 3 pairs of socks to try to keep them up.  I finally broke down and bought a new pair when Nine West had a sale on top of a sale.

The boots arrived and I let them sit behind my desk on the floor in the box for 2 days before I would wear them.  It killed me to spend that much money on one pair of shoes.

This morning I got a sale email from The Loft.  Shirts were only $10.  They had a pretty white one with black stripes and I knew it would be so cute with a scarf.  I put that and another white tee in my bag.  I went to check out and then I closed the tab.  I couldn’t pull the trigger.

I feel like a maniac.  There is this constant tension between what I want, what the world says I need and deserve and where I really want my money to go.

Believe me, I sure am enjoying my boots and new shirts and already am thinking about where to buy a red scarf before this weekend’s holiday parties (while simultaneously trying to convince myself I don’t need it).

I don’t always manage the tension well but I do believe at least some tension is good to keep spending in check.

I just wonder if anyone else is feeling this tension especially this holiday season as we’re shopping more?   If so, how do you manage it?  When do you decide to give in and when do you decide to hold off?


  1. I don’t know exactly the magic answer, but for me it is NOT SHOPPING, which isn’t hard because I don’t love to shop, but the less you are in stores, the less you will buy. If you feel you “need” something, put it on a list and wait, then shop online or go out and buy that and only that (like you did with the boots.) The key issue is a heart one, which is why Jesus told Judas it was okay to have expensive perfume “wasted” on his feet rather than the poor be fed. If we have a generous heart, ready to give whenever He moves us to, we needn’t feel guilty. One thing that did/has helped me was doing a save to give challenge where I matched spending and giving and made sure that one did not exceed the other. It was arbitrary, but it helped keep me accountable mentally.
    Katrina recently posted…What Your Family Really Wants for ChristmasMy Profile

    • Yes, not shopping helps me the most too. I have almost sworn off Target because I know there will be so many things I’d want. It’s just been hard because I’ve HAD to go out Christmas shopping and I really do need more winter clothes so it brings all this messy stuff up.
      I’ve thought about giving as much as I spent but I think I’d make it way too legalistic. I’m going to have to think of something though.

      I just realized as you commented that you wrote a similar post to this with your grocery shopping :)

  2. Spending money on myself is hard for me; I’ll gladly spend it on my family, but when it comes to stuff for me, I always end up putting it back. haha.
    Chloe S recently posted…Stress Point ReviewMy Profile

  3. I don’t always manage the tension well either! Constantly struggling with the whole want or need thing. If I look at it critically, there aren’t a whole lot of things that are really needs. And is it bad to have some wants? Good food for thought here — I’m right there with you.
    Jamie recently posted…Five GenerationsMy Profile

    • Is it bad to have wants? Definitely not bad to want things unless it’s coveting. But I do believe in stewarding our money well so I wouldn’t say we should buy anything we want. Again, there’s a line somewhere. I suppose it comes back to seeking God in everything.

  4. I used to struggle with this tension a lot…do I need? Do I want? Am I selfish?

    But here’s the conclusion I’ve come to, I work and I’m required to dress semi-professional. I’m not selfish for making that happen. I love clothing swaps, toy trades, and consignment, but sometimes I need a black sweater that isn’t too small and faded out.

    I think we get ourselves in trouble when we fixate on the items we don’t have, we make purchases in excess, or when our shopping trumps our giving.

    I also think making smart purchases is key.

    Good conversation here, Amy.
    Amy L. Sullivan recently posted…Tell Me What You Think and The New Social Media Revolution 2013My Profile

  5. I would be a total liar (and no one would believe me anyway) if I said I didn’t shop. It’s one of my gifts and I’ve found over the past few years that God has allowed me to use my talents for shopping and putting outfits together in so many ways that glorify Him. It’s also part of my personality and I’ve learned that I don’t need to feel guilty about it. That being said, just like anything we’re good at or are passionate about(like cooking, running, writing, singing), there comes a point when we’ve gone too far and it becomes idolatry. What I’ve also learned is that God doesn’t just leave me guessing. If I’m listening, I can hear Him clearly say, “That’s enough, Dani.” Sometimes I choose to ignore Him and find myself returning an item later but as I’ve grown I can usually say, “You’re right God, that is enough.” and just walk away and not think another thing about it. I’ve learned that walking with Him in any area is just that. Listening. We try to make it more complicated than it really is but really all following Christ is, is listening to His voice and obeying.

    • I hear you. I think for me I’m trying to find where that “too far” is for me. You’re right, I’m listening and trying to see what pleases Him ultimately because I do think He receives pleausure when we enjoy nature and express our creativity.

  6. We had one 32″ big box TV in our house. AFter saving coins for TWO years… we had enough to buy a big screen TV that could hang over the mantle.

    We had been saving for a TV even though there was nothing wrong with what we had. We’d been saving for a big screen TV even though we don’t have cable.

    But walking into WalMart and then purchasing the TV was hard. We kept telling ourselves that we didn’t need it… that we should just hold on to the money. I finally had to say, “you know what? We don’t blow money. We tithe. We are good stewards and we PLANNED and SAVED for this.”

    There are still days that I worry if we did the right thing. And what I think that means is …. I’m doing the right thing. I care. I see the value in money and where it goes.

    It’s like my own checks and balances.
    Heather {Desperately Seeking Sanity} recently posted…What I Learned This WeekMy Profile

    • Totally get this. After you work to save for something, it’s hard to let go. You hit the nail on the head though, it’s the fact that you care where your money is going and are thoughtful about it.