We are in the midst of an economic stimulus program that promises to deliver some pretty big checks to American consumers. This program, however, is not going to be a fix, it is going to be a band-aid. The problems that we aer having are not founded in a lack of spending by our society. I think we all know that. We are in the midst of a spending campaign, both within our households and within our government, that is unparralelled in world history. In the documentary, “What Would Jesus Buy” by Morgan Spurlock, many statistics are presented to soldify the message. Here are a few:
- four months are needed for the average American to pay off the holiday bills.
- For the first time since the Great Depression, the average American savings is a negative number.
- America currently has $2.4 trillion in consumer credit-card debt.
- More than 60 percent of the population is over their heads in “eternal debt.”
- Some 15 million Americans are clinically addicted to shopping.
- Three-fourths of the population are”dreading Christmas more than looking forward to it.
Our current economic crisis is a result of our spending habits as a society. There is no fix that involves continuing that behavior. If we want to change the economic structure that continues to create disparity and puts a strain on the national economy, we have to change the way that we think about money as a culture.
So, here is my proposition. We, as a culture, change the way that we approach our money. We have an opportunity to do that with “extra money.” When you receive your stimulus check, consider these options for how to approach this opportunity:
- Make a pledge like this:
2. Check out our post on websites that give to others for some easy online ways to spread the wealth.
3. Adopt a child: $36o would sponsor a child through WorldVision for an entire year. You may find that coming up with $30 a month isn’t that hard, even without a government “spending” check to help out.
4. Give it to your church. Or any church, really. This is not about the church needing money, this is about changing our attitude toward spending and giving. You don’t have to give it all, but i would encourage you to do more than the obligatory 10%. Give it away because you want to hange things, not because you want to feel better about having the rest of it.
5. Start a self-insuring savings account. This one seems a little self serving compared to the rest, but this might be a good time to begin saving a large sum of money so that you can switch your health insurance plan to a Health Savings Account or just choose a policy with low premiums and a high deductible. This may seem like a strange thing to suggest in the list of charitable options, but the idea is not only to give away the money, it is to start changing the way that we think about spending, saving, and giving. There is no reason why this can’t include taking control of your insurance options, rather than relying on your insurance agent to care for your medical expenses.
These are just a few options. This is not a not a time to get crazy about spending money, it is an opportunity to reflect on what we have been doing wrong and look for tangible ways to fix our behavior. Do you have an emergency fund? Do you have car payments? Is your credit card balance more than you can pay off in a month? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you have no business engaging in a spending spree. If you answered no to all of these questions, then you are in a great place to begin the process of calling for social change.
Let’s change the fiscal tide in this culture from spending and indulgence to giving and saving. We might just find ourselves in a more stable economic environment, and we might discover the joy of joining a cause for justice.