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Pagan savings challenge, week twenty: renewal

Twenty weeks is more than a third of the way through the Pagan savings challenge, so you're either gathering a head of steam, or you're way behind and giving up in all but name.  The rewards for being on track should already be evident, so let's talk about what to do if you're on the other side of that coin.  If your savings challenge needs saving, I'm here to help.

First things first:  this is a no-shame zone.  Not meeting your goal is not failure.  The very act of setting a measurable goal is stupendous success in and of itself.  Goals are measuring sticks, and if you find this one hard to meet, you now know enough to figure out if it's the goal or your effort that needs adjusting.  This is just as important if hitting the goal is effortless -- maybe you're not saving enough!

The instinct when you're falling short is to stop thinking about it.  Don't do that.  Look more.  Look deeper.  This is an opportunity for discernment, if you can push past the urge to spend whatever you've already stashed and deny you ever even heard of the Pagan savings challenge.  To make it a bit easier, I'm going to run through a few different scenarios.  What feels familiar?  Did I miss your experience entirely?

  • I have the money but I never remember to save it before I spend it.  Saving requires discipline, the kind of discipline that involves remembering dates.  If you use a smart phone or some kind of calendar, put in a reminder.  If you have a regular religious practice, incorporate the saving into ritual.  Pretty much any activity that you perform weekly can be tied to the savings challenge.
  • This is much more expensive than I thought.  Savings, especially incremental savings, is going to be a challenge.  Tough choices about what to sacrifice must be made.  In fact, thinking of it as a sacrifice or other offering might make those choices easier to bear.  On the other hand, if you're spending on things you can't cut -- car repairs or medical bills or an unexpected rent or tax hike, for example -- it's okay to ratchet back how much you save.  The flow into the savings bucket is more important than how much is in the bucket already; a savings habit will grow over time if you don't give up on it.
  • I stopped a few weeks ago and I'm too ashamed to try to start again.  Don't be.  Every dollar saved is a dollar saved.  If thinking about how much back saving you "owe" intimidates you, pick it up again from this week.  Saving less is better than saving nothing.
  • I spent the money already.  You need to find a better place to hide it from yourself.  Open a new bank account, and don't get an ATM card.  Give the money to someone you trust (and if that terrifies you, maybe opening a second bank account won't seem so bad now).  Bury it in the poison ivy patch or the litter pan.  Anything to make it hard to get to when desire is strong and discipline is weak.

Those are the only general situations that come to mind, but I would love to know about your challenges with the challenge, and your advice for staying the course.

My week twenty savings:  $210, 9.5% ($20) of which I saved this week.

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Terence P Ward is a business writer and journalist who blogs under the rather cumbersome moniker of True Pagan Warrior.  He can generally be found at home, tending to his gardens and the many demands of his cats; in the alternative, follow TPW on Facebook

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