Caught in the Current of Excess

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Curtesy of www.freedigitalphoto.com – by Maggie Smith

If you’re in a flowing river, you’ll likely get swept along with the current, even when you’re trying to stay put. 

 Seeing the obvious excesses can be difficult when you’re in the middle of it all. If we’ve fallen victim to these extremes, we might find ourselves defending them. Let’s look at two, which impact our finances.

Obvious Excess number 1.

This excess begins with something good – I follow Jesus. He is an important part of my life. I like learning about His life, wisdom and His love for me is wonderful. Celebrating his birth, could be such a great thing. Instead I find myself busy with all the peripherals.

I find myself overspending at Christmas. Most of us realize the materialism of the season, but find it difficult resisting. We want the focus to be on Jesus, his humble birth and majesty. However, we are swept along with everyone else. Before I know it, I’m consumed with finding the right gift, worried if I’m spending too much on one person and not enough on the other. Crazy as it seems, the solution becomes spending more on the other person. Jesus and the reason for the season is left buried under a pile of presents and in some cases debt.

Obvious Excess number 2.

This excess begins with something good – The love of a young couple, newly engaged, committing to marriage and a shared life together should be celebrated. It’s precious and beautiful. The moment memorialized in a ring, a very special ring is so romantic. The ring is just so very expensive.

The young man on average will spend $4,000 on that ring. The diamond company who has so successfully, equated engagements with diamonds, has even recommended that the future groom, should devote 2 months of his salary to this investment. Corporations can be oh so helpful in guiding our purchases.

Investment is used loosely. When the $4,000 ring leaves the showroom it will be worth around $1,500, maybe less.  If the couple invested the $4,000 in an IRA, it might grow to as much as $100,000 by the time of their retirement. Not a very romantic thought, I know, but worth thinking about.

How did this all start?

Why do we feel like we must give and receive an expensive diamond in association with a marriage proposal? The answer is actually less romantic than a $100,000 IRA.  It’s because a monopolistic diamond company back in the late 1930’s and all the way through the 1960’s has conducted one the most successful marketing campaigns ever.

Diamond engagement rings are a recent invention. Americans have swallowed the marketing talk, hook, line, and sinker.  Would a used diamond ever be considered from a pawn shop?  The ring would be tainted regardless of value and the marriage would likely be cursed to failure for such a faux pas.

Giving an artificial diamond, which is indistinguishable from a real one, wouldn’t go over so well either. How could a real marriage be sealed with such a fraud. It too would doom the marriage. I have a related story about this, which I might share in a future post someday.

Celebrate Jesus at Christmas and honor your future bride with love. Buying gifts for these events can be a beautiful act, but let’s not get too caught up into the excesses. Excesses that have little to do with love and honor but more to do with corporations and successful marketing.

In my book, Modern Parables for Financial Freedom, there is a story A Christmas of True Value that touches on this subject. Give it a read and enjoy.

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