Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The trappings of Target

"To poke a wood fire is more solid enjoyment than almost anything else in the world." -Charles Warner

Staying on the theme of "what I learned during my weekend at Hearts at Home" is one of my favorite topics: finances. My first workshop was about getting a grip on your finances. Marianne Miller (presenter) spent much of the time talking about budget (check!), but I wrote down several questions that hit home for me, and maybe they will for you too.

"Am I spending money because of a cultural norm?" Are we spending money on X, Y, or Z because it is what everyone else does? If this doesn't sock you in the gut at least a little bit, you aren't being honest with yourself (or you are truly awesome and financially counter cultural, and I salute you). One of the things she talked about was going to Disney (I get the two places confused, so we'll just call it Disney). After 4 hours at the amusement park her boys started asking when they were going to get to go back to the campground. It was then she realized that for her family, the joy was in the camping. She had a few other examples, but it made me think about the things I start to think I need just because of what other people think I should a newer vehicle or a house in another part of town. One audience member with whom this obviously struck a cord because I couldn't tell if she was angry or sad, but she said it with a lot of passion in her voice: "Aren't you afraid your kids are going to miss something?" I thought to myself "REALLY? We REALLY believe we need Disney or a car to have a full life? Did people not have a full life 100 years ago?" But then I started considering the things I think I "need", but when I really look at my motives, it is a result of marketing or peer pressure or the heat (right now it's 86 in our house and we have one working fan. I COULD turn on the air, but it's March...but I've been looking at really neat looking ceiling fans for about an hour online...)

Before anyone gets defensive I do want to say that nothing in itself is bad...Disney, a newer car, a nicer neighborhood, a ceiling fan (especially a ceiling fan), but it's the WHY of why we think we need those things. Is the culture driving us? 

"How much is enough?" If you don't define it and put self-imposed boundaries, there will never be "enough." She even suggested putting boundaries on what you are willing to spend on something. Meals. Clothing. Lodging. A ceiling fan.

We use a budget (or spending plan) to put those boundaries on ourselves. We allocate so much for clothing each month. It gives us enormous freedom to spend what we have budgeted, but it also helps reign us in from going crazy just because LOFT keeps telling me their already reduced sweaters are an additional 50% off. In the same way, many of us need the boundaries of a healthy eating plan. Even if we don't need to lose weight, we need that boundary to have the freedom to eat what we need (and not feel guilty), but to also keep us from buying a box of Little Debbie tulip cakes everytime we go to the store...and eating them before we get home (I have not done this, but without my eating plan I totally would).

Look back at the quote. Sitting around a simple campfire is about the most satisfying thing in the world for me (add in s'mores and my cup runneth over). I have to remember that when the sale ads invade my inbox and I'm NEEDING _________________. The simple things in life satisfy.

I love the song "This World" by Caedmon's Call

"This world has nothing for me, and this world has everything. All that I could want and nothing that I need."

I think they were also describing Target.

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