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33 Days of Spending Less

What I’m learning about simplicity and Target through my shopping fast

I worry about what others think. I don't like being inconvenienced. I may be addicted to "new" and "more."

And I learned it all while fasting . . . from spending.

This summer I read 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. In the book, she shares her experiences in seven different month-long fasts to combat the tug of greed, materialism, and overindulgence on her life. She fasted from food, clothes, spending, media, possessions, waste, and stress.

During her food fast, she stuck to seven foods: chicken, avocado, apples, whole wheat bread, eggs, sweet potatoes, and spinach. Then she chose seven articles of clothing to wear for a month, and spent money at only seven places for a month. She gave away seven items a day for a month, picked up seven green habits for a month, and observed the (seven) "hours of prayer" for a month.

As I read through her honest and funny accounts while I laid on the beach—on vacation—I teetered between full conviction, wanting to start my own fast that day (God has spoken!), to laughing at the prospect of eating only seven foods (absolutely ridiculous!).

With a clearer, post-vacation mind, I decided I definitely needed to fast. I needed a kick in the pants, more clarity in my relationship with God, and an opportunity to grow. And that's what fasting, and other spiritual disciplines, can offer.

I began weighing my options. A food fast? Maybe I could limit myself to 77 foods.

A stress fast? I'm not waking up in the middle of the night for a scripted prayer!

A clothes fast? Two words: cold sweat.

After much deliberation, I decided on a spending fast. I would pay any bills that came in, and I would continue to tithe, but I would only buy things at four places: our local farmer's market, Trader Joe's, Target, and the neighborhood gas station (but only for gas).

Now before you giggle too much at including Target on the list, I did place further spending requirements on myself. Target would be a last resort. If we needed something, the first place to shop for it was the farmer's market. If it wasn''t available there, we could get it at Trader Joe's. And if it still wasn't available there, I could shop at Target. In other words, no going to Target just to shop around for clothes, home decorating, or electronics.

Now I'd like to point out a few things about this fast (because I am still in the midst of it, and I want you to know how much I'm suffering). No Starbucks. No trips to JoAnn Fabrics or Hobby Lobby or any other crafting store to get supplies for that Pinterest project. No waiting until the last minute to fill up the tank (because I probably won't be close to home and my approved gas station). No quick trips to the neighborhood grocery store when I forget an item for a recipe.

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From Issue:
Today's Christian Woman, 2012, September
Posted September 4, 2012

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