How Do You Know if Your Spending is Out of Control?

One of the most important things people learn from Compass Catholic Ministries is that everything belongs to God and we are simply caretakers of what he has entrusted to us.

Take note of these verses:

  • “To the LORD belong even the highest heavens; the earth is his also, and everything on it” (Deuteronomy 10:14, GNT).
  • “The world and all that is in it belong to the Lord; the earth and all who live on it are his” (Psalm 24:1, GNT). 

The Lord created all things, and he never transferred the ownership of his creation to people. You and I own nothing! Absolutely nothing! 

We are simply stewards of God’s blessings and as stewards, it’s important that we do not waste what has been entrusted to us. And that holds true whether we have a little or a lot.  

Overspending is a habit and once you develop a habit, it’s hard to stop it and sometimes even harder to recognize it. Think about how you spend each and every penny and consider where, how, when and on what you may be wasting money.

Then think about how much that wasted money could be of benefit to you and to the people in your life. How many good deeds could you do with the wasted money? How much could you help the poor, or your parish or ministries? How much of that wasted money will you regret in the future when you have a need for it?

If that doesn’t grab your attention, then think about how hard you work to earn the money you’re wasting.

Let’s just say you earn $10/hour. If you waste $50 buying something you really don’t need and won’t use, then you have just thrown away 5 hours of hard work! If you make $20/hour, you have still wasted 2-1/2 hours of hard work!

Picture yourself driving down the road and throwing money out the car window.  That cash fluttering to the ground represents your hard work that has been frittered away on wasteful spending.

So let’s review some ways you may be throwing money out the proverbial car widow.

One of the first clues your spending may be out of control is when you shop because everyone else is shopping.  If you shop because it’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, President’s Day or simply the weekly Saturday sale, you are probably buying stuff you don’t need.

If you claim you are saving money because you are not paying full price, calculate how much more you would save by not buying anything at all. And there is a difference between SAVING and NOT SPENDING. Unless that saved money is going into an actual savings account, you have not saved a penny. You have merely avoided spending as much money as you could have spent. If you don’t need something, and you aren’t going to use it then you’re not saving even one penny no matter how little you paid for it.

Second, consider your attitude toward the latest and greatest products. If it’s new, and you absolutely HAVE to buy it, your spending may be out of control.

The newest thing is only the newest thing for a short period of time. There will always be something newer coming along. And if your old item works just fine, why spend your hard earned cash just because the manufacturer came out with a newer model?

Think about it! Businesses are in the business of making money and the more they can influence you to buy the newest version of whatever, the more money they make.  They do not have your financial well-being as their highest priority.

So don’t get caught up in the hype to have the latest electronic gadget, smartphone, fashions or car. If you can avoid the temptation to buy the newest version of whatever, your financial situation will be in much better shape.

The third way your spending may be out of control is if you are wasting money on unnecessary fees.  Why pay a credit card company to do business with them?  This is especially true if you are carrying a balance on that credit card. Think about it. The retail establishment is paying the credit card company a fee for using their services. You are paying the credit card company interest if you are carrying a balance, and now they also want to charge you a fee for using their card? WOW, talk about greedy!

The same holds true if your bank is charging you a fee for using their services. In general, paying a fee to use a credit card or a banking service is not in your best interest, so avoid it.

Fourth, if you eat at a restaurant more than you eat at home, you are wasting money. Having meals at home will be much less expensive (and more healthy) than eating out. The food alone costs more in a restaurant because it has to include the cost of the chef, and waiters as well as the cost of the physical location. Then there is tax and tip on top of the already inflated cost of food. Your best bet is to learn how to cook or find the healthiest frozen foods you like.

And finally, don’t ignore loyalty programs. If you are a regular customer at a store that offers special pricing or sales to customers in its loyalty program and you don’t take advantage of it, you’re throwing more money out the car window.

Unless you are a covert undercover agent in a secret organization, it’s worth giving the store your name, address and phone number so you can take advantage of their loyalty program.

We encourage you to take a long hard look at your finances in the areas we mentioned above to see if you are controlling your spending or if it is spiraling out of control. Once you start digging into the details, you may find a lot of areas where you are wasting money.

God requires us to be good stewards of the blessings he has given to us. And that means not wasting even a single penny “Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NABRE)

For more, listen to the Compass Catholic Podcast on Podbean.

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