The Golden Rule of Shopping

We’re all familiar with it – The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. This sentiment appears to be universal. It’s golden in its simplicity, that we would treat others as we would like them to treat us. Here are several Golden Rules that span both time and cultures:

The Golden Rules

• Secular: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”

• New Testament: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12)

• Old testament: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18)

• Islamic: “No one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself” (Al-Nawawai, 13)

But, what does the Golden Rule have to with shopping? In a word (okay, two words), a lot. Consumption and ethics can’t be separated. Consumption is a moral matter because it “raises issues of fairness, self versus group interests and immediate versus delayed gratification” (Wilk, 2001).

Let me demonstrate how the decisions we make as consumers reveal a lot about who we are. I call this The Golden Rule Acid test. Psychologist, Clayton Tucker-Ladd, has asked hundreds of college students over the years the following question which I would now like to ask you:

                                        The Golden Rule Acid Test

Is it morally just and fair to be free to have plenty to eat, nice clothes, luxuries, time and money for fun, TV, and comforts, while others in the world are starving, uneducated, and in poor health?
Circle one: Yes No

This question hit me like a ton of bricks. Maybe we all need to step back and reconsider what our spending says about us as human beings. For many of us, it appears that the Golden Rule of Shopping has taken a back seat to our desire for money and Shiny Objects. It’s time we all start practicing checkbook morality.

Consider Shiny Objects as a Christmas gift for someone you love.

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9 Responses to The Golden Rule of Shopping

  1. Rebecca Malzahn says:

    In regards to the Golden Rule Acid Test, I believe that if you have an equal balance of luxury and charity, there is nothing wrong to treating yourself to luxuries. As the Christmas season approaches, I find myself invovled in multiple service events, all the while searching for gifts for my family and friends. I work hard for the money I have, give a weekly tithe and donate much of my time to different philanthropies. Give unto others as you would have them give unto you. Consumption in moderation is not a bad thing, but lose sight of why we are here, and you may turn into Scrooge!

  2. Brittany says:

    I don’t necessarily consider myself to be a heavy shopper, but I definitely have bought things that are completely unnecessary. When someone finds something they want, they don’t think about the people that don’t have food, or water, or shelter to provide for their families. This post has made me open my eyes as to what I’m spending my money on. I need to be more cautious of necessities vs. wants. I think reading Shiny Objects would be a real eye-opener as to new budgeting techniques and where all my money has gone.

  3. Jordon says:

    I agree with Rebecca, I am a full time student and work 25 hours a week. I donate money and time and sometimes I like to splurge. I work very hard for my money and believe that it is okay to treat yourself to nice things occasionally. I can see where you are coming from though. I think it is easy to forget how things are around the world when we live in a nation where anything is possible. This post will defiantly make me stop and think next time I am going shopping.

  4. Celeste_Ligon says:

    I agree with the previous comments. I think it is okay to treat yourself every once in awhile if there is a good balance between luxury and charity. However, I do not see the point of buying overly expensive items such as designer clothes, purses or cars. I think expensive spending can be justified if the product you are getting is truly better quality. This post makes me think that I need to be more cautious about spending. I need to spend my money only on what I’ll actually use and act more charitably.

  5. Kristen Frederick says:

    I also agree with the previous comments. As long as there is a balance, it is ok to treat yourself occasionally. There is a fine line between the two though that shouldn’t be crossed. I know that I do sometimes spend my money recklessly on things that I probably shouldn’t have purchased.

  6. Amber Owens says:

    I also agree with the previous comments. I too am a full time student that works. I work very hard for any money I make. However, I do realize that not everyone is as fortunate to even have the opportunity to make money. Personally, I feel it’s important to make sure that I give a portion of what I’ve been blessed with to others who necessarily wouldn’t be able to have the same opportunities. With that being said, I do think it’s okay to splurge every now and then on certain things. We just have to realize that there should be limit and line that shouldn’t be crossed.

  7. Jordan kelley says:

    I think that someone who works hard to earn their money has no obligation to give to charity. If someone works full time and wants to spend ALL their hard earned money on expensive electronics and or nice clothes then they should be able to do so without being judged by other people who might give to charity often. Is it nice to give to charity? I think so, it makes me feel good to dish out a few dollars for people less fortunate but I do not think it is required and should not be looked down upon if someone chooses not too.

  8. jim_roberts says:

    We should not feel obligated to give. As the Bible suggests, we should give with a cheerful heart of our first fruits. The Bible is very clear that we are to serve others. To whom much has been given much is expected. And, as surprisingly as it may seem, research shows that we feel better when we spend our money on others than when we spend it on ourselves.

  9. Drew Carini says:

    This is an interesting question. Especially when the idea of purchasing and consuming material items is mixed with personal beliefs about what is right, or what is just. I don’t think that owning materials is wrong. However, much like everything else, the way you handle the excess amount of whatever material you have, is the key. To just say that it is morally off to obtain a large amount of money, or clothes, or food doesn’t line up with working your hardest. If you work the hardest you can your entire life, and eventually obtain what society defines as “a lot”, I don’t think that goes against the Golden Rule. Again, it is what is behind your purchases that can potentially make them go against the Golden Rule. Overall, this is a very interesting question that I think needs to be addressed.

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