Growing up in a small town, as the daughter of the only doctor, I was deemed the rich kid and constantly teased about getting whatever I wanted. I hated it. In reality I didn’t get whatever I wanted. I didn’t get a car when I turned sixteen, and my parents were generous but had limits. However, I never really understood or appreciated the value of money growing up. I never learned how to budget or save, which caught up with me later in life.
When my husband Justin and I married, he had a nice sum of money saved, while I had about $100.00 in my account. He was proud that he knew how to save. I was proud that I knew how to spend.
Like many marriages the issue of finances began popping up time and again. About three years into our marriage, there was a minor explosion. Justin and I had been through trying times, and as a result, I dealt with the situation by opening credit cards and spending money we didn’t have behind Justin’s back. I was in control of our finances and when the bills came I paid the minimum balance and hid the bill away.
My spending spiraled out of control.
When Justin discovered my secret, I became defensive, reminding him how he had wronged me. For a few days it wasn’t pretty around our house. Occasional blowouts and the silent treatment became our relationship for weeks. I was too proud to admit that I had no control over myself and my spending habits. If I wanted something, I bought it, without thinking twice.
One afternoon, as I sat at home with our newborn son, God opened my eyes. I finally realized that my sinful behavior wasn’t OK because I was angry at my husband. Simply because he had wronged me, I wasn’t entitled to now wrong him. When Justin arrived home that evening, I apologized for keeping the credit cards a secret from him. I promised to get rid of them and budget our money better.
I came to see that it wasn’t just my money. It was our money. Justin works hard to earn the money we have and by spending it frivolously I was hurting not only him, but our boys as well. My revelation didn’t mean I was cured of my out of control impulse spending habits overnight. Rather, it is an ongoing process.
A process that for me, means tossing out magazines before I look through them. I avoid online shopping unless I specifically need something—no more just browsing on the internet and "accidentally" seeing something I just have to have.
I had to get rid of all—every last one—of our credit cards. We still have one open, but Justin has it hidden away just in case we would need it. I have my bank card, and since we only have so much money to spend, this limits me. I know we have bills to pay and if I buy this, that, and the other thing they won’t get paid.
I can no longer impulse buy. You know, go into a store to buy one item and come out with ten things I didn’t realize I "needed." Now, I always shop from a list. I don’t go to stores to browse and I try to stay focused on my list rather than curiously checking out each aisle.
Proverbs 31:16 tells us of the wise woman who "considers a field and buys it." Notice how she thinks about the purchase before she spends the money. No matter how badly I think I need something, I have been forcing myself to wait a certain amount of time. At the end of that waiting period, if I still feel like I need the item, then I might buy it, but usually I realize I don’t need it. I also try to consult my husband about an item—especially ones that cost more than $20—and he is very good at convincing me I don’t need it.
I also started noting where I was spending too much money foolishly. My biggest spending habit was at Starbucks. I went too often and with no budget. Now, I load a Starbucks card with an amount we can afford each month, and when it runs out, I’m out of luck and have to stick with coffee made at home. I have to admit too, it has been fun to learn to be more creative in areas where I tend to spend too much. Getting books from the library rather than buying them and making my own decorations rather than buying pre-made ones.
The most important way I’m learning to maintain self-control in my shopping is through accountability. Not only have I brought this weakness before the Lord, I have brought it to my best friend. She knows me well, and knows that she needs to be consistent in asking me how I’ve been budgeting and spending our money. If I talk with her about something I desire, she is able to step back and question if that desire is really a need. Being held accountable has been key into my gaining self-control in my spending.
Getting control over my bad shopping habits has not been easy, but I can say that I’ve come a long way. Diligence in practicing simple budgeting, following my simple list of rules, and being accountable to my best friend, my husband, and Christ has helped me to gain control over my out of control spending.
1 Corinthians 10:13 has been an amazing reminder to me:
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
I’ve found a way out, and am working to stand up under it so that I might gain control of my out of control ways.
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
Get Our Free Ebook!
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions
The Psalms is a book that's rich with the reality of what life's like in this fallen world. Here are...
3 Ways to Navigate Personality Differences
Sometimes personality differences can wear on us. Here are three ways we can navigate them in a loving manner.
Surprised By ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’
If you haven't seen this film, God may speak to your heart through it in ways you weren't expecting.
The Wedding Ring
Are you struggling in your marriage? Here's how a wedding ring helped one wife fight for her marriage.
5 Ways to Live an Out-of-Control Life
Here are 5 ways to let go of control and trust your present and your future to God.
5 Creative Places to Find Prayer Accountability
Do you want to pray more, but are easily distracted? Here are some practical ways to stay focused.
How to Rescue a Day Gone Wrong in Your Marriage
Just because a day doesn't start well, doesn't mean you can't rescue it.
What Women Are Saying
-- Jenny Schroedel, author of Naming the Child: Hope-filled Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Death
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.
Faith4 years ago
When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds
Motherhood4 years ago
Surviving a Strong-Willed Child
Faith5 years ago
7 Ways to Create A Family Altar
Friendship6 years ago
Beyond the Registry: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Expectant Parents
Relationships5 months ago
5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Hear God
Marriage6 years ago
4 Reasons I’m Not Facebook Friends With My Husband
Everyday Faith5 years ago
6 Simple Ways to Give Thanks in the Thick of It
Articles5 years ago
10 Ways Life is Like a Box of Chocolates
Articles7 years ago
How to Lift Up the One You Love
Articles5 years ago
Relationships10 months ago
Facing Our Motherhood Fears
Digging Into Scripture2 months ago
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions