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What We Do WIth Our 90%

By Michele Hermansen, 09/13/12, 5:00PM CDT


God cares as much about what we do with the 90% as about any percentage set aside for the church.













Move over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Back-to-School Saturday has arrived - and it's targeting your children.

As we journey further into practicing a life of abundance and gratitude, we gain better understanding of the scope of God’s generosity. We recognize that we are stewards of God’s creation, which is more than just the earth and nature; God’s creation includes us and all we have. 

I was energized and enlightened by the 12 speakers at the recent “Rethinking Stewardship” seminar at Luther Seminary. They represented many professions plus Presbyterian, Catholic and Baptist churches in addition to our own. One of the themes several speakers shared is that God cares as much about what we do with the 90% (of our money, possessions) as about any percentage set aside for the church. In other words, as stewards we are caretakers of all with which we have been entrusted.

Much has been written and said about our consumer culture. William Cavanaugh is a researcher who spoke at the seminar and he called consumerism “organized creation of dissatisfaction.” He said, “We are marinating in marketing.” Notice our advertising – it tries to associate with feelings and get us to imagine the pleasure we will feel when we buy a particular product. Consumerism encourages us to never be satisfied, as the pleasure is derived in the pursuit of new things. It’s not just about having, it’s about consuming and pursuing something new.

We get better at anything through practice. So, too, we become more aware of our abundance by practicing gratitude. We become better stewards by using sound financial practices in our total life. Stewardship is not a church program or an offering; it is a way of holistic living in joyous response to God’s generous love.

We will continue to share resources that help us all practice living life as God has intended – with abundance, gratitude and generosity. The timely article that follows was written by Nathan Dungan, founder of Share Save Spend, who helps youth and adults align their values with their money decisions. He asks, “What does it mean to vote with your money? Focusing on [what we give through] philanthropy is the wrong thing – we should focus on the portion that is spent.”

When it comes to shopping, marketers and retailers live by a simple rule of thumb: Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd. Just think about Black Friday, Cyber Monday, 4th of July and President’s Day sales when hoards of people literally camp out overnight in front of a store to get the best deals.

It should be no surprise then that a new annual shopping experience is being created to target a younger crowd. Complete with the catchy campaign slogan, “Get ready, get set, get shopping!” Teen Vogue magazine is promoting August 11 as a national day of back-to-school shopping. Dubbed “Back-to-School Saturday,” dozens of retailers—many of whom also happen to be magazine advertisers—including Aeropostale, American Eagle, Express, Guess, Cover Girl, Maybelline, Pantene and Staples will offer massive sales, free samples, and in-store events. They’ve even got their own hashtag, #btss, and will rely heavily on social media to fuel the frenzy.

From a marketing and retailer perspective, targeting our nation’s young consumers is a no-brainer once you take a look at the staggering statistics. According to the United States Census Bureau:

  • 55.5 million students were enrolled in pre-kindergarten to 12th grade in the fall of 2011
  • 19.7 million students were enrolled in colleges and universities in the fall of 2011
  • $7.4 billion was spent at family clothing stores in August of 2010

That’s a whole lot of young customers and mom and dad’s cash up for grabs. And if history is a guide, Back-to-School Saturday is here to stay. But before you open up your wallets, make sure you and your child have a solid plan in place. 

If you are going to participate, here are a few tips to help you prepare:

  • Create a budget. Discuss the amount that both you and your child are willing to contribute to the back-to-school budget and work with them to establish healthy boundaries between needs and wants. It is important that your child make some contribution to the budget to ensure they are invested in the process.
  • Put the plan on paper. Help your child complete a back-to-school spending plan, a thorough list of things they would like to buy and how much each item costs. Work with them to make sure the plan aligns with the budget you agreed upon.
  • Cash is king. When it’s time to “Get ready, get set, get shopping!” think about using cash as a way to cut down on impulse purchases.

As retailers continue to ramp up their targeted marketing efforts, parents need to be even more diligent and intentional about boundaries around their child’s spending. Consistent, honest communication with your child about money and budgeting is key to helping them develop healthy spending habits.

Reprinted with permission from Share Save Spend®. ©2012.
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