On Practicing Mindful Spending

“Do you pray about the money you spend?”

You may not be a praying person at all, but this question is still relevant.

Admittedly, I am a praying person. I am a praying person of the Christian variety. To be more exact, I am a praying Christian in the Methodist tradition. The Methodists got their name, a bit derogatorily, as people observed the methodical ways in which our forebears sought to grow in the practice of faith.

One method was represented in a list of prescribed questions the early Methodists asked one another in small group meetings. I spent some time in a group that regularly went through these questions, too–a kind of neo-Methodist experiment. The questions are challenging (check them out). One question in particular regularly tripped our small group up: “Do you pray about the money you spend?” I remember well asking that question over breakfast biscuits at a fast food restaurant. As we squirmed in response to the discomfort of the question, we looked at our breakfast and thought maybe we had not been using our moneys in the most proficient or beneficial way.

The praying question is one of responsibility. It challenges us to consider if we are using our money in the best possible manner–a manner that benefits more than ourselves. It challenges us to run a mental audit of our spending habits. An audit is a review or examination. Examining our habits is likely to reveal some regrettable decisions in where we have sent our money. Frugality is about taking control of our money (as opposed to letting our money control us) and using it in the most beneficial way. So though we may not all be praying people, a step towards frugality certainly requires us to ask a question similar to “Do you pray about the money spend?”

Maybe that question is, “Have you used your money to do the most good?” Or, “Is this the best possible use of our money?” You can craft your own–you get the idea.

Have you used your money to do the most good?

The Methodists sought to live by three “General Rules”. A couple of these rules are relevant in taking steps towards frugality, as they could provide a litmus test in regards to expenditures. Those rules are: 1) Do no harm. 2) Do good.

Applying those rules towards monetary expenditures inspires some further questions for me. I think about standing in line at the coffee and considering “Is this purchase going to do harm? Am I trading future regret for the instant gratification of a cup of coffee?” Essentially, I am asking if my purchase is going to harm my future goals.

The point here is not to convert you all to Methodism (though I’m here to talk if you’re interested). The true point is to invite us to be conscientious about how we use our money. Mindful spending leads us towards becoming masters of our resources. So figure out what accountability question works for you, and put it into practice. A little method can help to reign in the madness.

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