By Katie Ginn

Can we talk about the Stanley cup for a minute? No, not the golf tournament – the 14- to 64-ounce tumbler that recently replaced Yeti as that most enviable of objects, the Trendy Container of Beverages. 

The tumbler comes in a variety of colors and sizes, and one of them survived a car fire. The owner posted a video – she even shook the tumbler so folks could hear the ice still rattling around inside – and the internet lost its mind. 

At least these high-dollar cups (ranging from $20 to $60 on the Stanley website) have proved their functional worth. When my brother was a kid, Starter athletic shorts were the thing. Then Starter was out and Nike was in, and my brother threw fits if he had to wear Starter. Which shorts were more durable, or comfortable? Nobody knew or cared.

So Stanley tumblers might make more sense than previous trends. (Ugg boots in the Deep South, anyone?) However, predictably, the fad is going too far. According to multiple media outlets in the U.S. and UK, middle-schoolers are bullying each other based on whether one drinks from a Stanley cup. 

It’s easy for me to be critical of all this. Apparently, parents of middle-schoolers have given their kids yet another excuse to be cruel to each other, one expensive tumbler purchase at a time. But that’s an incomplete statement at best.

Also, before I get too judgy, I ought to look in the mirror. No, I don’t really spend money to gain status. I don’t give a rip what people think about my non-Stanley tumbler or the clothes I wear. However, I love spending money to gain comfort, entertainment, and new and improved experiences. 

I have more discipline now than in my single days. After college, I lived at home for a couple years and built up my savings – then moved out and nearly drained it. Instead of curbing my spending to make way for housing and utilities, I kept on buying plane tickets, concert tickets, and way too many plates of takeout. I didn’t really quit until Stephen and I got serious about marriage. 

Today, I still have my moments. Just last weekend I bought a $12 box of eight “keto” peanut butter cups that are not as good as Reese’s and probably not much healthier. That’s a tiny example. But the tiny things add up sometimes, and then I have to tell Stephen we’ve overspent our grocery budget.

Maybe you think $12 for eight peanut butter cups is ridiculous. Maybe you think $1,000 for a plane ticket is no big deal. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, most of our spending or saving habits are not sinful in and of themselves. The sin, potentially, is in our hearts. Are we trying to buy (or Scrooge) our way to happiness? Or are we living with true joy in Christ? And what are our actions teaching the next generation? 

God is the one who gave us the ability to earn money, so it’s really His, and He should be the one who determines what we do with it. I think deep down we all know this. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to tithe, save, stick to a budget, and hold everything with an open hand. 

Maybe we’ll get invited on that couples’ trip that we can’t afford, and we’ll start trying to justify it. On the other hand, maybe we’ll hear about a need in our community, but we’ll hesitate to help financially because it would put us a month or two behind on saving up for a new couch.

If we’re not careful, we’ll wind up like Denethor, a character from “The Lord of the Rings” who governs the realm of Gondor as a steward until “the return of the king” but is none too thrilled when that return happens. Denethor has come to see his stewardship as a kingship and refuses to acknowledge the true king.

Our King is returning, too. Let’s steward His kingdom, and His resources, with that in mind.

Must-reads in this issue:

  • Our cover interview with three financial professionals 
  • Our feature story on Hope Credit Union, providing hope to the underserved for 30 years 
  • Shay Greenwood’s column on how to save money when clothes shopping