January 13, 2008

Fighting Discontent

There are a couple of things I have been trying to do consistently lately to help ME with spending and contentment. It has to do with temptation. Stores and marketing departments spends wads of money to TEMPT us. Tempt us to spend more than we should, more than we intended, more than we can afford. And, even if we don't succumb and buy something we are tempted by, we can feel discontent and brood over the "I wish I had enough money to buy ________". Enough already.

Here are two ways I am finding help me deal with this issue:

1. Costco. Since I can't go into Costco with blinders on, the best thing for ME is to simply go to Costco less. Of course, taking a list, sticking to it, all help too. I used to be better about this because our full size freezer was easy to access and I could fill it up on one Costco trip a month. Then, when we moved two years ago, there wasn't a good place for our freezer anymore. Oh, it was plugged in and occasionally held a few items, but it got harder and harder to get to. So, I stopped my once a month Costco trip and started going as often as once a week! Egads! Waste of time, waste of gasoline, and four times the temptation to add a couple "extra" things to the cart each week.

My darling husband recently found a way to rearrange the garage so that the freezer is accessible again. Yeah! Now, I can go back to once a month Costco shopping, stock the freezer with meat and chicken and avoid extra temptation. Of course, I still have to pretend I have blinders on when I go in, even once a month. You know, avoid everywhere but the food sections. lol. I tell you, those marketers are good... they make you have to go past all the extra stuff before you can get to the food.

2. Catalogs. Ugh. Am I the only one who doesn't appreciate a mailbox full of catalogs? Half the time I'm not interested in what they are selling, so those are easy to take directly from the mailbox to the paper recycling bin. But, it is that other half... the ones I do occasionally make a purchase from online...that have items that do tempt me. What's a targeted consumer to do?

And as if it isn't enough that catalogs tempt me, there are ones that come in the mail that tempt my kids too! And I'm not talking just at Christmas time. My all time favorite to dislike when the kids get to it? Birthday Express! The kids can devour that catalog and dream and plan birthdays a year in advance. And it all leads to discontented hearts because I'm not buying anything from that catalog. What's a mother to do?

For the last couple of months I have been taking ALL the catalogs straight to the paper recycling bin, even if it is the Eddie Bauer catalog. I don't let the kids look at any of the catalogs that come in the mail, if I can help it. I am trying to get better at this. Avoiding temptation is so much easier than dealing with discontented hearts!

Then today I found out about Catalog Choice! Though it is a good exercise in character for me to keep dumping catalogs without looking at them, it would be even better if they never sullied my mailbox in the first place (not to mention the waste of paper, ink, postage, etc.). Catalog Choice is a free service that allows you to opt out of receiving catalogs. Sign up, browse through all the catalogs that are already linked to this service, find the one(s) you don't want to receive anymore and hopefully within a couple of months your mailbox will be catalog free (your postal delivery person will thank you too!). If you are still receiving catalogs after you opted out, it is just another click of a button to report this.

It is best if you have the catalog(s) in front of you when you are opting out, so that they can include your customer number (even if you've never bought anything from them, you have this number!) in the opt out request. You don't have to include this number and I'm pretty sure even without that number they can find you and remove you from their list. That is what I did, since I don't have any catalogs around.

It does take a few minutes to browse through the whole list of catalogs. If you know exactly which ones you receive you can go directly to those. I discovered that there are a lot more catalogs I am receiving than I realized. I found 29 that I was really sure of. TWENTY-NINE!!! There are a few more that go to my husband, so I need to set up an account for him so that we can opt out of those too. There are also a few I'm not sure I receive anymore. So, I'll look at the catalog titles when they come in the mail and if I haven't opted out on any of them yet, I can add them to my list. I can also add back in the customer account numbers at any time.

1 Timothy6:6-12
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you,O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.

This is a passage I need to mediate on as I shop, browse a catalog, browse the internet, etc. I have a long way to go. I have found over the years that discontentment has many, many faces. Just when I think I have conquered discontentment, I find that I haven't really conquered it, just perhaps one form of it and maybe only for that day!

What have you found helps you in this area? Share your tips in the comments section and after there are several I will make a post with them so we all can learn from each other.


Meg said...

I am right with you in this fight. For years, we have been living a pretty frugal life. Just enough food, shoes that were worn a month or two too long to be comfortable. Well, we still have a ways to go before we are in a position of financial freedom and I realized that I have grown weary of making do. With a new baby coming in the spring, dh and I decided that spending a little money to bring order to our home is a worthwhile investment, and now I am finding that spending a little has actually made me MORE discontent than spending nothing. The human heart is so fickle, is it not?

Anonymous said...

I have found that no money and no credit cards works for me. I must confess that organizers are a serious weakness for me, I hate that limbo in between beginning to reorganize the house and having the means to do it right.

Costco has never been a problem for me, but I am dangerous in a thrift store. I seldom buy anything for me, but with a family of 11 someone always needs something, not to mention some serious score opportunities for gift shopping.
by the way Jerri, I got the entire series of Fawlty Towers new at Goodwill for $3.99. Now to figure which anglophile relative gets it for Christmas next year!

MommySecrets said...

Great post & great reminder!

Jenny said...

Thanks for the reminder! My discontement swings with my emotions. I struggle most with where I live instead of what I live with (or without). In my head I tell myself that if I only lived somewhere else, I'd be willing to give up just about everything and live off mac 'n cheese (although I'm not sure my husband would agree with me!). Course as we all know, the heart is so fickle and I know there would be something else to complain about even if I lived in my "dream" location! Realizing that, sure shows what a spoiled little child I am to act this way. Makes me wonder how God puts up with me. But I'm so thankful He does!

Anonymous said...

Great post! Those two are biggues for me too! I have tried so hard to keep to a once a month Costco trip and when I do, it saves us big time.

Every now and then I will have forgotten something important like dog food and HAVE to go back...then all the sudden I need this and that....and you know the drill!

And Catalogs...dont get me started. I am a recovering catalogholic. I decided about a year ago to do the SAME thing you are doing! I just started throwing them in the trash...even those precious Eddie Bauer, Cabelas & Filson's!

Every little bit helps in fighting that discontentment bug.

Oh,by the way, I LOVE your blog and will be adding you to my blog roll if ya dont mind :)

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