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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in intentional spending
Saving money as a community:  the sou-sou

As the Pagan savings challenge progresses, I'm aware that there are Pagans who are not participating because my weekly (and impersonal) posts aren't motivation enough to keep it up.  The pressures are many, and my voice is small.  But my belief in the power of savings is strong.

  • Savings is a discipline, as surely as devotion and magic are, and discipline is its own reward.
  • Savings transforms one's relationship with money, changing it from one of reaction to one of intention.
  • Savings results in a pile of money that literally wouldn't have been there if it hadn't been saved, which is the sort of reward that even the most right-brained among us should appreciate.
  • Savings requires the right mix of patience and attention, which in proper measure can nurture virtually anything.

So in keeping with my sincere belief that each and every Pagan should have a savings plan as part of their spiritual practice, I present an alternative for working groups:  the sou-sou.  It is one of the simplest savings programs to understand, but challenging for the typical American to participate.  It came to the United States from West Africa, and is most commonly used in this country by populations who are on the edges -- or outside -- of the traditional money system.

You know, kind of like some Pagans.

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This 2-dollar bill tells the American story

I'm a bit of a currency naturalist:  I round bills up, mark them, and release them back into the wild.  That even goes for two dollar bills, which many Americans believe are no longer made (they are; in fact, series 2013 is in print now).  Because the two is in such low circulation, if you ask for them at the bank like I do, you will see some very old, very well-preserved currency.

Only on a two did I have much of a chance of finding this story.  Everything I know for a fact comes from that very bill, which I have pictured here.  A two from series 1976, in fairly crisp condition, with a note scrawled across it in black ink.  The handwriting crosses over dark portions of the bill's design, there's at least one word crossed out, and it's not very legible in the first place, but this is what I think it reads:

"To the [Checkers or Cheeses or Russo or something] Deli
Congrats on Year #1
Best of Luck For the Future"
[squiggle or signature]

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Driving my debt

With a mix of emotions both rich and deep, I spent the waning hours of 2013 acquiring a new automobile.  It's been ten years since I have bought a car, and I still think that 179,794 miles is only a fraction of what my Civic Hybrid is capable of driving, bought the deed is done, and now I can savor the many feelings it has evoked.

  • A few days in, the overwhelming winner is joy.  My new bug is just three years old, handles like a dream, and makes me feel safer and more confident on the road.
  • Sadness that I am parting company with a machine that has been with me for longer than any other comes a close second.
  • Then there's relief that I got out of the negotiation and credit process intact.  It's still possible to buy a car without credit, but it's becoming less and less common.
  • Let's not forget the angst over getting a vehicle that gets slightly worse gas mileage.
  • Countering that is the happiness that comes from giving my old car to a loved one, improving his life and keeping it out of the landfill.
  • And of course, there's apprehension over this $12,000 of debt I have brought into my life.
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
'Tis the season to move money around

The beginning of shopping season may be blurry, particularly for those whose traditions include portmanteau neologisms, but it's safe to say that it's in full swing as I write this on December 2.  The convergence of the gifting culture and the end of the tax year in many locales also makes this the time when many charities make their year-end pitches.  Likewise, this is when tax-free gifts to family members are often delivered, stocks bought and sold to maximize profit or minimize taxable gains, and people who participate in pre-tax health savings accounts and the like are making sure that they've spent everything they're required to.

So there's a lot of money on the move right now, a lot of energy flowing.  I'd go so far as to say that December is to money what October is to the spirits of the dead:  if you want to work with money, this is one of the best times to do so.  Spells and prayers for abundance and prosperity, as well as workings and offerings which are released through the movement of money, are worth incorporating into one's practice at this time of year, when the secular cycles are so strong that they reveal the unseen powers which shape them.

When I read about holiday shopping madness, I liken it to someone who draws down a deity without training or preparation, insofar as the damage comes from a lack of respect for, and comprehension of, the powers involved.  We presume that, because we invented money, that we understand and control it.  Perhaps if we approached the "holiday season" with the same deference and study that some Wiccans apply to preparing for ritual possession, we'd all have a healthier relationship with the stuff.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, Thanks for sharing your thoughts, as well as the links! Some of the suggestions were just great.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Power of pocket change

Spare change is one of my favorite forms of money, because it's just so obviously pulsing with energy, the elemental energy of earth.  Coins are often shiny, they have a weight that conveys value, and there is power in the jingling of money.  It's solid enough to decorate a bathroom, but it's also liquid enough to imagine swimming in it.

And pocket change seems linked to its own pocket universe, too.  Who hasn't searched the couch cushions for some?  A good cushion-hunt can mean clean laundry or a week's worth of ramen dinners for a college student.  On the other hand, coins can definitely burn a hole in your pocket; research shows that we don't like to spend big bills, and coins are the other end of the spectrum.

I don't like carrying change, but I don't spend it, either.  I walk with the Fellowship of the Change Jar.  My pockets are emptied for stealth and speed, and my hoard grows nightly.  Our nemeses, the Clan of the Exact Change, take a sadistic pleasure in getting in front of me at the checkout counter and saying, "Oh, I have the eighty-seven cents at the bottom of my purse!"

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, Thanks for posting this! As a Yankee skinflint, I have a jar of pennies I've accumulated over the past 25 years from si
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    Jamie, your last thought reminded me of this: my wife is a teacher, and one of her continuing frustrations is the idea that child

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Charity as religious community

Some time before I started this blog, I began asking myself the question:  where are the Pagan charities?  Doing good deeds is good PR, and generally Pagans are good people, so didn't it follow that there was a place for Pagan charities to help that along?

The real problem is that I was asking the wrong question.  What I should have asked was, "To what causes do Pagans donate?"  Charitable donations can be a good thing, but as Elani Temperance wisely pointed out, there is value to Pagans giving publicly, too.  Our disparate community doesn't have any meaningful charities of its own, so how can we maximize the value of public giving?

One of the readers of the aforelinked Baring the Aegis suggested a way that the Hellenic polytheist community can do so, an idea which has quickly been formed into Pandora's Kharis, a charity circle that will make a monthly donation to a cause of the group's democratic choosing.  

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  • Jay Logan
    Jay Logan says #
    My coven Chalice Hart - ATC started what we call the Healing Hearts Fund seven years ago, the monies of which go towards helping t
  • Jay Logan
    Jay Logan says #
    \ Shameless plug. lol
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, Thanks for sharing this with us!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Local spending is intentional spending

Whether it's your local metaphysical shop, farmer's market, or hardware store, buying local is an easy path to intentional spending.  The 3/50 Project is my preferred method of encouraging local spending, because once you get past the sometimes-confusing name, it's an easy way to redirect existing money to local businesses.

The 3/50 concept is this:  take fifty bucks each month, and spread it around three local businesses instead of using it at chain stores, franchises, or online.  The project has a pretty specific definition of local business that focuses on the amount of money which stays in the community.  One thing I like about the concept is that it stresses balance -- don't avoid big-box stores entirely, if that's where you get the best deals on some items, but do spend some money in businesses owned and operated by your neighbors.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you! A wonderful way of remembering that our spending is a spiritual practice!
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    Thank you! We spend all the time, and I'm sure that's the mystery of money: turning its flow into something more powerful than t
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    This is an absolutely wonderful idea! Helping our local businesses makes the world where we live a better place. Thank you for sh
Dental hygiene and the wheel of the year

The equinox is upon us, bringing light and dark again into balance, so it is again time for us to turn our minds to our toothbrushes.

That's right, toothbrushes.

I'm a big believer in using visuals to honor the change of seasons, and changing my toothbrush has long been part of my personal practice.  Dentists think it should be changed every three months, and what do you know, seasons happen every three months, as well!  My hygienist friends are pleased because I remember a task that many people don't, and it's also helped me remember that I really ought to respect the cycles of nature as the flow past me, so it's a win-win.  And if you factor in the environmental and social factors that I lay out below, it's either a win-win-win or a win-win-win-win.

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    I like it, Terence! Thanks.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    That's a really great idea! I never knew about that company. Thanks for sharing.
  • Don Kraig
    Don Kraig says #
    Indeed, getting a new brush every 3 months is a great idea. Just as important, IMO, is to use the toothbrush daily. You should als

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Dispelling grey charges

The term grey charges is new to me, but the concept isn't:  these are financial parasites that suck off your bank or credit card balance for as long as you don't notice them.  Like living parasites, they succeed by staying small and not hurting you too much at a time, costing the average consumer less than $350 per year but banging the entire economy for about $14.3 billion in 2012.

Grey charges depend upon us not spending with intent.  Some of us can't be bothered to look at our statements, but it's just as common to be afraid to look at our financial situation.  Either of these extremes is the opposite of living a life of intent, because earning and spending are part of the intentional life.

For those who find visualization to be a powerful tool, I have used the mouth of a parasitic lamprey to be used when imagining grey charges.  These are the free trials that turned into charges because cancelling turned out to be harder to do than signing up; the innocuous little subscriptions that you don't use anymore; the official-sounding charge you're too embarrassed to call about because you don't know what it was for in the first place.  They exist to slowly suck you dry.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Thanks for bringing a focus to these!
  • David Dashifen Kees
    David Dashifen Kees says #
    If you see such a charge on your statement: call the bank. My bank (Chase) was actually helpful (for once) in correcting the sit
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    "A fool and his money are easily separated," P.T. Barnum.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The power of cold, hard cash

Debt counselors like it when their clients use cash for all of their transactions.  That's because they understand that physical currency connects us to the power of money.  If you've noticed that most money-drawing and prosperity spells use a couple of bucks as a material component, rather than a checkbook entry or ATM receipt, you're seeing the same idea in action.  We don't fully realize the power of money if we keep it in the realm of bank balances and automatic bill payments.

This is no accident:  money is the earth element, so by definition it's a material component.  The fact that we've made various representations of money, from bills of credit to checks to a jumble of electron, obfuscates this fundamental truth.  Money is physical, and forging a relationship with it is going to be much more difficult if you can't feel it in your hand, hear its clink, or smell its peculiar, musky odor.

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  • Wendall Mountain Runner
    Wendall Mountain Runner says #
    All of my everyday spending is cash only, the larger financials (mortgage, utilities...) are web based. I try and budget my expen
  • Penny Lloyd
    Penny Lloyd says #
    Just wanted to tell you how much I'm enjoying your blog! Your insights are helping me to change my perceptions on money and all th
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    Penny, thank you -- this comment definitely made my day, which is quite hot and sticky, otherwise A-OK.

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