Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spiritual Sundays: Toothpaste, Good Stewardship and a Little Faith



Earlier this week I was, yet again, reading O Magazine, because the articles in there are always thought-provoking for me. I like that it's not just the usual "50 Ways to Lose 10 Pounds" and "Navy Blue is the New Black" stuff. The articles are about life, problem solving, discovering yourself, and changing your thinking. I also kind of enjoy the fact that I don't always agree with them, because it gives me an opportunity to ask myself why I don't agree with them and I usually learn something about myself in the process.

So anyway, this past week I was reading an article comparing two business philosophies: the Just In Time (JIT) philosophy and the Just In Case (JIC) philosophy. The Just In Case school of thought supports the idea that you need to put aside something for a rainy day, and stockpiling is good because you always have what you need on hand- Just In Case. The Just In Time philosophy encourages a "buy it as you need it" approach, freeing up space and funds for other things, and celebrates the belief that if and when you need something, you will be able to get it- Just In Time, because the universe is abundant.

The article went on to talk about the many benefits of the Just In Time approach, not only in business but in your life. The author said that so many of our life's problems- financial, health, and relationships- are caused by our subconscious attempts to stockpile. We spend too much because we think we have to snag a good thing before it's gone; we eat too much because there's a part of us that fears not having enough food; and we do too much because we think we need to prove ourselves to others in order to build enough relationships to keep us safe. 

I was kind of understanding the pitfalls of this JIC line of thinking, but I just couldn't latch on to the alternative- the author said why not just let things be what they are and trust in the universe that when you need something, it will be readily available? 

To be perfectly honest, I thought that was just about the dumbest thing I'd ever heard. Especially in THIS economy! What about food storage? What about a 6-month emergency fund? What about having peace in your heart knowing that when the storms of life come, you will be prepared? So what if it takes a little more work to make it so?

But after I re-read the author's main points a few more times, I realized that what she was saying was basically a promotion of the Law of Attraction, like on the dvd The Secret (very interesting, by the way, if you've never seen it). It's the concept of karma- basically, if you put good out into the world, then good will come back to you

Now that is a statement I can agree with. I don't think it means that if you give all your money away then one day a check for a million dollars will show up in your mailbox (and I'm not talking about those lovely pretend Publisher's Clearinghouse checks). For me, it's believing that if I follow the Lord's commandments and do the things He has asked me to do with a willing heart and a spirit of love, then He will bless me with the things that are ultimately in my best interest- things I really need. So for me, it's really about faith. The Lord has promised, 

"I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." (D&C 82:10)

Lately I've been thinking a lot about this with regards to stewardship. We haven't been doing so great with budgeting lately, and it's frustrating for me to sit down to look at our bank account knowing that we had enough money to cover all our expenses on payday, but now they money seems to have slipped through our fingers like sand and we're borrowing against our savings to catch up. We're still putting more into savings than we're taking out, but as far as I'm concerned, we should be increasing our contributions to savings, not constantly borrowing out of it. As I thought about it, I had something of an epiphany. I realized, Why would the Lord bless us with more, financially speaking, if this is the way we handle what we already have? 

One of my favorite mantras is, "That which does not change remains the same." With finances, there are only three main sources for that change- your employer/outside sources, God, and you. You can't rely on an outside source to give you more money- we simply cannot control what other people do so you could find yourself waiting indefinitely for that next big raise or that check from Publisher's Clearinghouse. You can't expect God to make the change, because let's be perfectly honest- if we're so desperate for more money then we're probably not doing His will when it comes to our money, and "when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." The one person we can control is ourselves, therefore, "That which YOU do not change remains the same."

Quite simply put, I have decided that I will handle my money as if I had millions. Do successful businessmen and corporations work without a budget? Do they spend without keeping an accounting of their expenditures? Do they cross their fingers, hoping they have enough money in the account to cover that last check they wrote? Obviously, the answer to all of the above is no, of course not! Therefore, why should I be any different? Why would the Lord want to bless me financially if this is the way I handle my finances? It's time to start acting like a pro with my money, to prove that I am someone who can be trusted. This includes recognizing the fact that I am blessed with the money I do have and using it to bless the lives of others as well.

I had kind of a silly experience that sort of tied this all together for me this week. With my couponing, I naturally fall into the JIC category because I am able to stockpile many items that I get for free or almost free. One of those items is toothpaste, and this week for our Relief Society Birthday Celebration we were doing a service project putting together hygeine kits. One of the items needed was toothpaste, and so I decided to raid my stash. They only wanted tubes of 6 oz or more, so I started pulling those out. As I did so, there was a little voice in my head saying, But what if you need those later on? What if you are in a desperate toothpaste situation and you gave them all away and your family has to suffer? It seems stupid, but there was a part of me that wanted to be greedy and keep some- Just In Case. Then my much more rational voice came in saying, Kasey, this is for a good cause. There are people out there who need this. Trust me, if you are ever in a desperate toothpaste situation and you didn't have any because you gave it away to someone else out of love, the Lord will provide for you and your family. And if He doesn't, then you were never meant to have this toothpaste in the first place.

Like I said, kind of a silly example, but it just goes to show how I was relying on the Just In Time philosophy, but applying it in a faith-based way. I was making good choices and trusting that by making those choices, I would be blessed when I needed it. I was being a good steward of the things God had given me, and therefore I have faith that He will bless me with more if I am meant to have it. By doing the Lord's will, I know that I will always come out ahead in the end.

Take some time this week and examine your stewardship- do you take great care with the blessings you have? If you were in charge of the universe, would you think you deserved to be entrusted with more based on the way you currently handle what you already have? Do you cling to bad habits and focus on your temporal needs because you fear the Just In Case, or do you exercise faith and trust in God to give you what you need Just In Time?

Just a few things to think about. :-)

5 comments:

  1. Good entry, Kasey! When I was reading it at first I was trying to figure out which position I favored. Normally I am more of a just in case thinker, but not always. Then,I thought about faith and there it was! Good explanation and reference.

    I was thinking about the same thing this week giving away the products for the hygiene kits. Danny thought I was a nut and I was trying to figure out why I would have a difficult time parting with toothbrushes. I guess it was the just in case thinker in me. I need to be sure that I don't let my preparation/ food storage goals get in the way of basic generosity. There are always things to balance, huh?

    Hope you have a great week. See you tomorrow?

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  2. You sound just like me, I may not have much but I have enough. angie

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  3. hi Kasey,

    I came across your blog and have found your passion for writing on the thrifty lifestyle quite remarkable. I'm looking for writers about thrifty living as part of an online promotional push for a client, and would like to offer you a job doing that. If you're interested, why don't you drop by my site (it's family friendly, no worries) and email me through the contact form. Or if you prefer, the address is gab at my website's domain name.

    Cheers
    Gab

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  4. You have an award to pickup here. Stop on over, grab it and send it on.

    And while you're there check out all the design changes that have been taking place on my site!

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  5. Hi! New here. Enjoyed this article. I loved what you said about handling your money like you have millions. I read something interesting recently that has changed my family's perspective on our income and stewardship. If a person works 45 years (which is entirely possible) and only makes $20,000 each year, they will personally manage $900,000 in their lifetime. That's nearly a million dollars! Realizing we will personally touch and manage nearly a million dollars or more in our lifetime made me realize how truly blessed I am here in this country. And it made me want to treat my money like I have the potential to be a millionaire! Have a great day!

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Comments make me happy. Nice to know I'm not just sitting here talking to myself. So, thank you!

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