Advertising professionals are paid mind-boggling salaries to separate you from your money. Television, radio, the Internet, billboards, newspapers, magazines, shopping malls—the list goes on and on—advertising is everywhere. You’re exposed to thousands of messages each day to spend more and more. Why are billions of advertising dollars spent every day in our country? There is only one reason—companies want your money and they have incredibly sophisticated techniques to get you to spend!
You and I can’t beat them at their own game. The only way you can win is to ask the Lord to give you the discipline to undertake Biblical stewardship, to limit your exposure to the ads and to control your spending opportunities. In Romans 12:2, we learn: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” We can never be good and pleasing and perfect unless we put God first.
By putting God and our Biblical stewardship plans first, can we put up a barrier between us and the advertising blitz. It seems almost un-American in this “Shop ’til you drop” society, but one of the most effective ways to bring spending under control is simply to remove yourself from the temptations.
So it’s key to limit your exposure. Here are four truisms:
- The more television you watch, the more you spend
- The more you look at catalogues and magazines the more you spend
- The more you shop, the more you spend
- The more time you spend online, the more you spend
With the proliferation of Internet shopping, you must limit your exposure to online shopping opportunities. Web-based retailers are cool places to visit, which drives you to spend money on their site. It’s so easy – all you have to do is click. And since you are using plastic, it does not even feel like you are using real money. Remember, one of the keys to controlling your spending, and staying out of debt, is simply to limit the number of spending opportunities.
The second way to get out of the grasp of advertisers is to have a spending plan. If you don’t have a budget or spending plan that conforms with Biblical stewardship, you are never going to be very successful in managing your money! Before you shop, check out your spending plan to see if you have any money to spend in the category that you are thinking about. If you don’t have money allocated to that item in your spending plan—you can’t go shopping!
The third way to defeat the advertisers is to remove yourself from the temptations to spend. One way to remove temptation is to pray and wait for the Lord to provide. Once you do this it becomes an adventure to see how the Lord provides. We’ve seen this happen over and over again—God always provides, it just never happens in the time and way we expect.
The fourth way to get out of the advertising trap is to be thankful for what we do have. What if everyday we only had the things we thanked God for the day before? I dare say most of us would not have much if everything were dependent on our gratitude.
No matter how creatively the advertisers influence us to spend, we will never find happiness in our stuff. We can only find true happiness and fulfillment in God. “Your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever” Psalm 16:11.
Your number one resource to controlling spending is the Lord. Ask for His help. “My eyes are ever upon the LORD, who frees my feet from the snare.” Psalm 25:15.