We can't do it all...and that's ok

A few days ago I had a wonderful conversation with a dear friend. We talked a bit about Bought Beautifully.  I have thought about one of her comments, and wanted to share with you all about it in greater detail. Here it is:

"I want to be intentional with my purchases, but am often discouraged by the time and expense that this involves."

She is so right. Being intentional with our finances is hard and often times overwhelming!  We have so many demands in our lives and pocketbooks, not to mention options. Buying local, organic, natural, sustainable, fair trade, etc., combined with meeting daily needs and saving for emergencies, college and retirement. PHEW, just thinking through all these things can be draining and guilt ridden, and acting on them is time-consuming and expensive!!

So, how do we choose where to spend our time, energy and finances, when the reality is - we can't do it all?

First, I think it is really important to acknowledge and accept that when it comes to ethical shopping (and life in general) we can't do it all AND that is ok!  We are covered by the GRACE of an amazing savior who has already done it all.  All we have to do is respond to the gifts that He has given us with love and the rest will fall into place.  I expanded more on how I learned this lesson in my post Confessions of a Chocoholic.  Ultimately, in this journey I have learned that:

Being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the world's problems is from the enemy.

Small thingsBeing moved by our ability to make small choices that positively impact those in the world and around us, is exciting, empowering and joyful!

  When deciding how to use our finances, it boils down to doing small things with great love and trusting that the love in which that action was done will go out into the world with a ripple effect.   This week I will share a series of posts explaining how we try to purposefully apply this concept to our shopping.  I'm calling it How to Shop Beautifully.  This is by no means a comprehensive guide on ethical shopping ,but rather me sharing how our family has decided to approach these challenges and how we guide our shopping decisions.  Like all great conversations, this one will be so much better if it is two-sided. We have so much that we can learn from one another. So, please teach me along with other readers!  Share what you do and the ideas you have with us in the comment section!


Let's start at the beginning, the First Step we take before buying something new is to run through this series of questions. I made this sweet flow chart for your viewing pleasure, but keep reading because I elaborate on these questions below.

How to Shop2

1. Do I need this?

We have found that asking this question reminds us of our priorities and helps us keep perspective.  Many of the things we purchase aren't basic necessities (food, water, shelter). They might be important or nice to have but they aren't necessary for survival.  Answering no to this question does not mean that we won't buy the item, but it reminds us of our good fortune and helps us stay motivated to buy it beautifully.

2. Can I find it used?

Buying used products is a great way to save money and be environmentally responsible (recycling at it's finest!).

3. Can I borrow it from a friend?

This is a great solution for items that you use for limited amounts of time; such as baby items, one time events (weddings, showers, trips), house projects, etc..  I will be the first to admit that this one is harder to do. It is humbling to ask, and borrowing isn't a cultural norm (but we can change that).  However, I urge you to give it a try as this has probably been one of the most impactful financial changes we have made. Borrowing car seats, infant toys, power tools, etc. from friends has freed up the money we need to meet some of our other financial goals; saving more and buying Birthday presents beautifully.

4. Can I buy it Beautifully?

Once we decide that we are going to buy a product, we strive to buy it beautifully.  This doesn't look the same for every product, as we know, all too well, that you can't always find a fair trade, green, purchased locally Basketball Hoop/Coffee Maker/any product here.  In general, we look for our products to meet at least one of the following criteria: Fair Trade/ Living Wage, from a company we respect, a product that is built to last, or that is Made in America.  Your list might look different based on your values and what you are prioritizing in your life at this time.  In the next posts I will explain and give examples of how we actually shop.
What steps do you take to be more intentional with your purchases?

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