I bought some shoes last week, and posted pictures of them on Facebook because, well, they are spectacular shoes. They weren’t extravagant (no Manolos or Brian Atwoods in my closet) but I bought them at DSW with my debit card and some coupons. They were NOT on clearance. Some of my online friends went nuts, and I got the usual responses that I get when I buy anything, “What would Dave Ramsey say?” and “what did Mr. Budget say?” and “I can’t believe you went on a shopping spree!”
Calm down, my friends. They are just shoes! It’s been YEARS since I bought five pairs of shoes at one time. And while I went in to buy two pairs that I needed, the other three were, yes, just because I wanted them. When you give, save and live below your means for a very long time, you can – on a rare occassion – just go buy shoes. And no, I did not plan my September budget with a line-item for five pairs of shoes. But I saw some of them online the night before and showed Scott who decreed that yes, I must have them – well, that’s all the confirmation I needed. (That and my BFF confirmed via text message that I paid cash and had not lost my mind. It’s good to check on those things every now and then. We ALL need accountability, especially a former shopping addict.)
Which brings us to the point of this little posting, “What’s this stewardship stuff all about?”
If people are going to freak out about a little shoe-buying, we obviously need some clarification here. Here’s MY definition of a good financial philosphy:
“Honor God, save for tomorrow and live the very best life you can on what’s left over.”
What does that last part mean? Well, it’s up to you. If you’re by nature a frugal person and clipping coupons gives you glee, more power to you! I love having coupons in-hand when I go to Target or the grocery store. It’s free money, after all. But I don’t have hours and hours to labor over coupon circulars. I get as many as I can that I will actually use and I use them.
If vacations are important to you, don’t come into my office for financial coaching expecting that I’m going to hammer you for having $300 budgeted each month for a big annual or semi-annual getaway. If you’re giving, saving and living below your means, my only request to that wise budgeting category is that you send me a postcard.
We all have things that are important to us. For me and Scott, a nice home is our top spending priority. And our budget reflects that. Therefore, vacations are thrifty and we live with one car and hardly ever go to restaurants. But that system reflects our values. We have other friends who rent or buy small houses because they want money for fancy vacations and they like to eat out five times a week. Who’s got the better plan? Well on paper we do because houses appreciate in value (usually!) while restaurant meals and vacations do not, but if you don’t care about a nice, big house, why put your money into one?
Do what makes you happy and fits within your budget. That’s what it’s all about.
Being a good steward doesn’t mean you have to live in a hotel, drive a 20-year-old car, buy your clothes in thrift stores and never turn on the heat – unless that’s just what floats your boat.
Be wise, be generous and be happy. And if you can, wear cute shoes while doing so.