Proverbs 31:18 challenges women seeking to please God to refrain from wasting time, money, fuel, or any other resource. Application of this verse insures that she operates her home on a budget (a plan for spending), that monthly it balances (not too much month at the end of the money), and that she consistently makes wise consumer decisions (she “perceives that her merchandise is good”). As an educated seamstress and nutritionist, she recognizes quality. With practiced eye, she seeks out a bargain that reflects excellence. At the same time, her knowledge and skill allow her to make the best decision of whether to make the purchase, pay for the service, or personally perform the task.
According to She-conomy (www.she-conomy.com/facts-on-women) the majority of the consumer decisions are made by women from autos to health care. Clearly, we play an important role in the economic system. When we work we are a producer, helping to fulfill the wants and needs of consumers. When we save our money in a bank or invest in stocks and bonds we are an investor. When we spend money we are a consumer. A consumer is anyone who buys goods and services.
One of the most important strategies leading to sound consumer choices is comparison shopping. Comparison shopping involves evaluating a number of competing products. Kelsey’s Corner provides you with some very practical tips on how to use this consumer strategy. Complementing her tips are criteria to consider when prayerfully (Eph. 6:18) making a purchase:
- Confirm that the purchase is good stewardship. Remember that our heavenly Father promised to meet all of our needs, not all of our wants (Phil. 4:19).
- Quality of workmanship.
- Ease of use.
- Conditions of the warranty (the manufacturer’s terms of repairing or replacing the item if it does not perform according to its advertised expectations).
- The features that are most important to the consumer.
- Cost of the item.
- Ability to pay cash for the item.
- The importance of purchasing a name brand.
- The best place to purchase the item. Many choices are available such as retail and discount stores, catalogs, the internet, thrift stores, and garage sales.
- The reputation of the place you choose to purchase the item.
- The season of the year. It can affect what is available to buy and how much you will need to pay for it.
While all of the criteria on our list, are important, the process of comparison shopping should yield a satisfying purchase. However, it is not a good choice if the consumer really does not need the item. Keeping this thought in mind ensures that your purchases are wise.
What do you do when you have a challenge with something you bought? A first response is to seek our Lord’s wisdom on how to graciously respond to the issue. Proverbs 16:11 is a reminder that “a gracious woman retains honor.” Next review the labels or instruction book to confirm that you are using the product properly. If you are, then return it to the store and ask for the person who handles consumer concerns. Take the sales slip, tags, and labels. If possible, the product should be returned in its original bag or box. Refuse to “shoot the messenger” when you are discussing your concerns with the Consumer Complaints Representative.
If the store is unable to resolve the problem write to the company that manufactured the product. Some companies have a contact feature on their web-page. If so, use it. If not or if you do not gain satisfaction from the website you may need to craft an official Consumer Complaint Letter. Guidelines for developing it include:
- Pray before beginning the letter (Phil. 4:6; 1. Thess. 5:17).
- Address the correspondence to the person in charge of complaints at the company headquarters. More than likely you can locate the name of the correct person to write to by contacting the company (this information is usually on the product label).
- Word process the correspondence. Be sure it is free of spelling and grammatical errors. If using the “contact” feature on their website word process the message in your word processing program, check the grammar and spelling, then copy and paste it into the contact portion of the website.
- Keep the correspondence brief, but make sure it contains:
- What you bought.
- Where you bought it.
- When you bought it.
- How much you paid for it.
- How the product is falling short of its advertised performance.
- To whom you have already complained.
- A copy of the original sales receipt. Do not send the original.
- Your name, address (with the zip code), and phone number.
- The tone of the correspondence should be businesslike and polite.
- Keep a copy of the correspondence.
- If you do not receive a response in a reasonable amount of time, follow up with a second inquiry.
- If the situation is not resolved to your satisfaction you may contact one of the federal agencies responsible for enforcing consumer laws. An internet search will give you contact information for the Office of Consumer Affairs (a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce), the Federal Trade Commission, and your local Better Business Bureau.
Keep focused that you are a Christian first and a consumer second when dealing with the poor performance of a product of service. Ephesians 4:15 is a great reminder that we need to represent our heavenly Father in a positive way at all times.
Transitioning from a dependent student to a responsible adult is a daunting shift—there are decisions to make, groceries to buy, insurance companies to choose from, and never ending bills to pay. With a very small income and hardly any “real world” experience sometimes it seems like an impossible feat! Practicing good consumer economics is the critical key to success. Here are a few tips to make your transition a little smoother:
- Practice comparison shopping.
- To save money, begin eating in and shopping smart! Compare the prices of a few local grocery stores and begin shopping at the ones that provide the best quality for the best price. Download the store’s app and take advantage of their weekly sales, planning your meals around what is on sale for that week. Use your Amazon app to scan the barcodes of expensive but necessary items, such as razors, to see if you can get it cheaper online. Is there a weekly sale at another store? Bring the weekly ads from that store to your normal grocery store—most stores price match.
- Do your research to find the best deals for insurance, utility companies, internet and phone companies, and more.
- Search the web for consumer complaints and reviews.
- Ask older people that have lived in the area a while what they recommend.
- Remember—we don’t need it all! If your new apartment is a little bare and simple, that’s ok! Being a wise steward of your money is much more important to the Lord than having a fully decorated home.
- Don’t neglect to tithe. Despite having a small income, tithing is a way we can show not only our obedience to God but our understanding that all our resources are His and our gratefulness that He has entrusted so much to us! Like the poor widow in Mark 12:41-44 who, although her offering was small, gave all she had from a joyful heart, so she is an example to us of a cheerful, obedient giver, despite her small means.
- Saving now is more important than saving later. The earlier you begin saving (and the more you save early) will have an almost unfair monumental impact on your retirement future. Read this article by Dave Ramsey to understand the benefits of compounding interest. http://www.daveramsey.com/blog/how-teens-can-become-millionaires. Create a very tight budget and place the remaining in savings, whether that’s only 10% or as much as 50%. Save as much as you can!
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
God has said, “Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Therefore, I may boldly say, “I am under God’s constant care.”
If you are seeking a higher education degree focused on the teachings presented in “The Everyday Homemaker” you might consider the College at Southwestern or Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. A Certificate, Bachelors, and Masters degree is offered in Family and Consumer Sciences.
If you would like information about Southwestern’s Family and Consumer Science programs or a sample chapter of The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook simply click on “Contact Pat” and request your copy, and if you are in the Fort Worth area do drop by and say “hi!”
Blessings on your day as you focus on making your house a home!