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Pagan savings challenge, week forty-seven:  rising tides

I just finished writing daily hymns to Poseidon for the past month, so I hope readers will forgive a tendency to use oceanic metaphors as I ponder this week in the Pagan savings challenge.  Some economists love the idea that, "a rising tide lifts all boats," although some have questioned whether the sentiment -- which is attributed to President Kennedy, but was actually borrowed by him in turn -- is more grounded in reality, or just a recipe for grounded boats.

With just a few short weeks left, I certainly feel that this tide, crafted of my will, is lifting my boat just fine.  The growing pile of cash I see before me each week is a testament to my will and my relationship with the spirits of money.

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Pagan savings challenge, week forty-six:  consumer alert!

Friends, let us be frank in admitting that we are weak and vulnerable, if only some of the time, and marketers get paid very good money to encourage you to make purchasing decisions at those times.  And can we also agree that we are entering into a period of high-pressure opportunities to spend, spend, spend away our shortcomings?

This period of gift-giving, for all its ancient roots and cultural value, can exert terrible pressure to dip into our savings -- let's call it "borrowing."  By any euphemism, the pictured pile of cash could be taken from me faster by a retail clerk than a thug, if I am not careful.  That's one of the benefits of my choice to save in the smallest bills possible -- it's annoying to make big purchases with large piles of notes -- but there are other safeguards to consider.

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Truth of the matter is, while this week's portion of the Pagan savings challenge was met, no visual proof of that fact exists. 

My savings so far:  $1,035, baby, four digits of cold, hard cash, 4.3% ($45) of which I saved today.  Which is completely badass.

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Pagan savings challenge, week forty-four:  it gets harder

Rattling around in my head is a story about a young boy who is given a newborn calf, with instructions to lift the animal up over his head ten times each day.  As the calf grows into a cow, the boy does his duty, and so grows into a man of incredible strength, able to lift his full-grown steer overhead ten times daily.

As romantic as the notion is, that has got to be pretty hard to do, or cow-lifting competitions would be so common and state and county fairs that animal activists would be screaming for the practice to stop.  Eventually, it gets harder than the body can endure.  That's how the Pagan savings challenge is starting to feel for me:  I'm breaking a financial sweat as I force myself to live in a smaller and smaller financial world.  Each week, there's less money for things like birthday gifts, gas for the car, offerings for my gods.  By setting a greater amount aside, I'm constraining what I can do right now, and it's really, really starting to suck.

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Pagan savings challenge, week forty-three:  not a dollar short

A day late, yes, but never a dollar short!  That's what I get for making my weekly savings contribution on Sundays; it was a relaxing day when I picked it, but now it's packed full of worship and a nine-hour work shift.  I performed my duties to the money spirits, but did not record that fact here.

Speaking of worship, mine yesterday was occupied by Poseidon Asphaleios, since I'd just written a hymn honoring Poseidon the Securer.  Building a stable foundation is what the Pagan savings challenge is all about, at least it is for me.  It's working, too:  while I save for a fireplace insert, other factors are at work to make my family more secure in its heating.  Thanks to a state loan program, our house will soon have insulation, after spending its first ninety years without any.  Pretty amazing for a home in the northeast.

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Pagan savings challenge, week forty-two:  towel

Forty-two weeks of saving -- that means only ten weeks left!  These next ten weeks -- nearly 20% of the time spent raising this energy -- is going to account for $475, or more than a third of the total by year's end.  That's kind of like my mortgage, but in reverse.  Compound interest, working for the common good.  How about that?

It's how compounding works with money:  it adds upon itself.  When you owe a lot, like my mortgage, the interest I'm paying is based on how much I owe.  My monthly payment doesn't change, and when we started paying it was barely over the amount of interest the principle racked up in a month's time, leaving only a tiny bit to pay off the original loan, which is what the principle is.  Over time, that amount does go down, let's say by a dollar at first.  Next month, when they calculate the interest I owe, it's owed on one dollar less, so maybe I get to pay a penny less in interest, and a penny more in principle.  As the principle goes down, the amount of interest I'm paying each month drops faster and faster, until that blessed last payment, which should be pretty much all principle.

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Pagan savings challenge, week forty-one:  sacrifice

Now that I've obtained a bigger basket, let's talk about about sacrifice.  Over forty dollars a week is now going into this work, and I'm definitely feeling the pinch.  I've got to think twice about choosing a slice of pizza over preparing a sandwich at home.   Not only isn't there as much money for little treats like that, I can't make shopping decisions on the fly like I did a few months ago.  If I need kitty litter, I can't just grab a bag when I'm in the neighborhood, because it costs as much as my weekly savings nut (I get the wheat-based litter, because trust me, clay may be cheap but it's far more costly to us all).  Instead, I must plan ahead, budget for cat litter, and watch for sales.

This is the toughest part of intentional spending for me -- planning ahead.  Letting go of the impulse, rather than acting upon it.  Looking to the future, instead of living in the moment.

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