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On sneaking candy into the movies (+ general thoughts about honesty)

The thoughts I’m going to share today have been sort of percolating in my brain for some time, but after reading the comments on one of The NonConsumer Advocate’s recent posts, I was inspired to actually get the thoughts down into a post.

Those of us who are trying to save money frequently encounter the temptation to do unscrupulous things. Sneaking candy into a movie is but one in a sea of temptations…fudging on taxes, sneaking in an expired coupon, using a coupon for a product it’s not meant to be used on, downloading free music illegally, copying CDs or DVDs without buying them, or lying about a kid’s age to get a discounted price, to name a few.

I’m no stranger to these temptations, certainly…frugality is in my very bones, and I have to be careful not to let frugality trump other things that are more important, like honesty.

The way I deal with this temptation is most definitely tied to my faith, so my apologies to those of you for whom this won’t be helpful.

For me, these temptations come down to a matter of whether or not I trust God.

Do I think He’s going to provide for my needs?

(If I don’t, I’m tempted to use my own means to provide.)

Do I trust that the way He’s told me to live is the best way?

(If I trust that God is wise and loving, then I can be sure that when He tells me to be honest, it’s for my own good.)

Honesty is not a way that I earn God’s favor (because of Jesus, God couldn’t possibly love me more than He already does), and that’s a good thing, because I don’t find that to be particularly motivating. And even if I did, trying to be honest for that reason would be exhausting and stressful.

Realizing that God’s directions about honesty are for my good is very freeing…I know that I ultimately will be better off doing what He’s told me to do, even if I’m not actually better off financially.

Seeing my temptations to dishonesty in this new light was quite a revelation to me a number of years ago. I guess I hadn’t quite seen them for what they were before…not just a temptation to sneak candy into a movie, but a temptation to not trust God.

When I see it for what it is, it suddenly seems so dumb. How could I possibly expect God to bless what I’m doing when it’s the opposite of what He’s told me to do? And how silly to think that I can bless myself more by disobeying God than by obeying Him and enjoying the blessings that come along with that.

So, because I know God loves me and wants what is best for me, I try, by His grace, to live honestly.

That’s why I don’t sneak food into movie theaters (incidentally, if you have to use the word “sneak” in front of an activity, you might want to think twice about what you’re doing.)

It’s why I report my self-employment income on my taxes, even though it would be nigh onto impossible for me to get caught if I didn’t.

It’s why I follow the rules for proper coupon use, even if the cashier/machine wouldn’t catch me doing otherwise.

It’s why I don’t copy CDs or DVDs or share digital downloads with people outside of my household (This IS illegal, even if you’re not copying it to sell it. Copying material for your own use is wrong if that material was purchased by someone else for their own use.)

It’s why I let stores know when they undercharge me or give me too much change (of course, I also let them know if they overcharge me!)

One other thing that motivates me to live honestly is love for other people. A lot of temptations to be dishonest appeal to our selfishness, and so if I love other people more than myself, those temptations will become less, well, tempting!

If I love other people, I will not take a sale away from a musician/author/artist by copying their work instead of buying it.

If I love other people, I will let the cashier know when they give me too much change, so that their register doesn’t come up short.

If I love other people, I will not do things that hurt their company, like using coupons in a manner not intended, sneaking in food instead of buying it, or taking more of a loss-leader sale item than they specify.

So! Those are the two main factors that influence my thinking about honesty vs. frugality (my trust in God and my love for other people).

Honestly (hee), in the face of these two factors, I haven’t come across a justification for dishonesty that really holds any water.

What do YOU think? How do you handle the temptation to be dishonest in order to save money?

(edit: I forgot to mention that where I live, movie theaters prohibit bringing outside food and drink. If your movie theater doesn’t prohibit it, then by all means, stuff your pockets with candy! 😉 )


Today’s 365 post: So, yes, some wax got on the cake.

Joshua’s 365 post: More Birthday Spoils

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Holly Larsen

Saturday 2nd of February 2013

Thoughts - Here's my thing. The only reason the movie theater doesn't want you to bring candy in is because they plan on raking you through the coals themselves. If you take in your own, they can't screw you. So screw them. CD's and DVD's? Someone actually spent a lot of time creating and working on a movie, music, etc. And I feel like they charge a pretty fair price for the most part. That is their work, so they should be paid. So I don't download. If they want to become like the movie theater and start charging THOSE prices, like $100 a movie ticket? Yes, I will just download. People need to be fair. Movie theaters are not even close to fair on snack prices, especially after you pay for a ticket.


Wednesday 14th of September 2011

We use all the canned food donations to cook with at the soup kitchen and many of the homeless in our town come and eat breakfast, lunch, and then get to take home a bag of groceries. Mon thru Fri they can get all 3 meals if they want and sometimes we do a Sat and holidays of course. The Christian Mission up the road has alot of canned goods and other non perishables for people who have homes and we have meals for the elderly that does bring premade food and sandwiches which we can give out to someone outside and they could eat it right there.


Tuesday 13th of September 2011

Oh it was over 98 degrees here and we are talking leftover hotdogs and potato salad and not a big amount either, I cannot imagine wandering around town trying to find someone to give it to, not without a block of ice and a cooler anyway. Plus the homeless come to the soup kitchen in our area, that is why I volunteer, for them. We would never be offered or accept canned goods or things that can be used in a future meal. I think the soup kitchen managers appreciate our cooking and cleaning and want us to get a lunch too, I feel good about the whole thing, it is such a blessing to be a part of it.


Wednesday 14th of September 2011

Katherine, thank you - and I would sincerely like to apologize for being overly zealous. Indeed, the foods you mentioned would be hard to distribute outside of the soup kitchen. I was thinking more about staples like bread, cheese, meat - sandwich stuff. And that is ONLY because the vision that my husband and I have taken on recently. It is my own tunnel vision that is the issue here. Not you :)

Just one comment though - people who are sitting on the side of the road, needing food (and fast) - cannot really use canned food. In the first place, they probably don't have a can opener, not to mention pots/pans or a stove to heat canned foods on. People who are truly homeless and *living on the streets* need food that is non perishable, that they can easily eat. Canned goods do not help - I hope that no one hands a homeless kid on the side of the road a can of tuna. Not helpful.


Tuesday 13th of September 2011

Well I went to the movies and wished I had bought candy at the drugstore because our theatre has no rules about bringing outside food so I am super happy and lucky! No more getting ripped off or having to be sneaky either! I think it is fine about the church clothes, I work at a soup kitchen once a month and they always give me and the other workers some food to take home, after everyone who has come has eaten, taken left overs, and gotten groceries. It would be pitched if we didn't get it so I don't feel it is always wrong to get something for free. Plus the tshirts being on the blog brings alot of attention to your friend so that is awesome, I hope it happens fast for them, sweet family!


Tuesday 13th of September 2011

This is not meant as a criticism of the soup kitchen or taking the leftover food home, or anything like that. As a person who is intensely concerned with poverty in our nation, I would be very sure that the food that was leftover could not be distributed to others. I am thinking specifically of those who live on the streets.

Just as an example, my husband and I have committed recently to *always* taking sandwiches with us when we go downtown, along with a cooler of water. At any overpass, exit, corner - or whatever - where someone stands with a sign asking for money (or food), we give them sandwiches/water. MOST of the time, they are so intensely thankful. So, in regards to leftover food, I would wonder if the bread could be used for sandwiches, if the leftover meats could be used in sandwiches - could the leftover fruit be added to the "meals" that we hand out from our car... stuff like that.

There is *always* someone who needs food more than I do, and in good conscience, I can't accept "free" food, because we make more than enough money to supply all of our needs. There are way too many people who need help.


Tuesday 13th of September 2011

About those of you who buy the extended warranties with accidental protection for you electronics and break them purposely the month the warranty is due. Hey, you are not breaking any rules, but are you really being honest?


Tuesday 13th of September 2011

I would certainly never condone that kind of thing. I think that's patently dishonest.

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