I flew to Minnesota this past weekend to visit some friends. We spent hours at the colossal Mall of America in Bloomington. As the largest mall in the United States by number of stores, MOA is home to more than 520 stores, as well as an amusement park (Nickelodeon Universe), an aquarium (Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium) and a Lego play area.
To throw that experience on top of the relentless societal advertising pile, I feel like I’ve reached the pinnacle of commercialism this holiday season!
Walking around the MOA created a sense of need (or at least strong desire) for all the shiny, cute, fancy you-name-its out there for display and purchase. Thankfully, I only brought carry-on luggage, so that helped keep my number of purchases low. Even though I’m not a big spender, I still felt the tug for the stuff I wouldn’t really use or need. When would I ever be going to all those fancy parties that require the attire the window mannequins love to model?
If you don’t see something frivolous, chances are you won’t miss it. But when it’s on display in the malls and TV commercials, you start to feel like you need it. Women are drawn to the mall atmosphere and the chipping away at the credit cards during a day of shopping. Men are seduced by fewer but more pricey purchases, courtesy of the Almighty Electronics: sound systems, large LCD HDTVs, and gaming systems.
So what are we supposed to do? Stay away from malls? Avoid people with the cool new gadgets? Only if you think it best. But another possible option is temperance. It’s self-control and going in with a plan you intend to stick to, should you find yourself able to master your desires. It’s the mental equivalent of bringing only your carry-on.
If you struggle with over-spending, remember this line from the Act of Contrition:
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.
If you’re planning a trip to the mall, arrange your outing an hour or two before you have something else scheduled. Then you’ll know you don’t have a lot of time to linger. Or choose just one store to stop in per mall trip. It can help you from finding an infinite number of amazing items you didn’t realize you just couldn’t live without.
If your kryptonite is technology, keep a separate savings for the electronics. That way you won’t go into debt over the mega purchases. It’ll also give you something to work toward, and you’ll feel even better about your cool new thing.
Resolution time is coming up, right? Here’s one for your new year — self-discipline in materialism.
What helps you keep your spending in check?