As I was doing my money work this morning at my outdoor altar (pictured), I wondered how I could incorporate Father's Day into a Pagan savings challenge post. Since I just published a reflection on shaving and fatherhood in a paper I write for, I'm opting to tie my experience with razor shaving into the process.
I know that not everyone is following the savings plan I laid out at the beginning of this challenge, but if you are, you're putting away $24.00 in this, the twenty-fourth week. That's just about a third of my weekly allowance, which is starting to crimp my style! To continue this pace, finding ways to cut expenses is becoming a more and more important priority.
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!
Discovering what other people are saying about the Pagan savings challenge is a source of joy for me. Case in point: this PaganSpace.net discussion about different savings strategies.
The original poster says, "I'm not going about it the same way he did just because I don't think it would work for me to be putting more than $5 a week away into savings is practical for my low income family." I agree! The level of savings should be challenging, but not impossible. I'm glad e is adapting the challenge to fit eir own circumstances, because any savings is better than no savings, and developing a saving habit will serve you for life.
I've imposed some rules upon my own interpretation of the Pagan savings challenge, some of which are probably going to fall before long.
I'm using the smallest bills possible, because I'm posting a picture each week and want that image to express abundance. The envelope I use is pretty much maxed out as of this week, and my money shrine isn't large enough to support a larger one, but I still like the look of the growing pile of singles.
I'm also replacing the cash entirely each week before I add new, to keep me mindful of the flow of money. As the numbers grow higher, the practicality of doing so will drop, because . . .
I am performing this savings challenge in cash, because talismans are powerful. While there are security concerns for this practice, I have put sufficient safeguards into place that I feel confident continuing in this manner, even if I can't comply with the first two for much longer.
These rules are part of ritual which surrounds my savings, the ritual which places this work into religious context. While I won't be dogmatic about them, I do believe that rooting work with money in one's faith practice will make it more powerful, more successful, and more valuable to the whole person than a wad of cash can be in its own right.
This past week has been a tough one on the household budget. If money flows, then my household was at the top of a hill watching it flow down and away at an alarming rate. When money is leaving faster than it's arriving, it can lead to some interesting reactions . . . such as a stronger urge to spend what you've got, to stock up for bad times. Or to choke off the flow entirely and preserve what you've got, even though this will also likely stop the inward flow as well.
It's hard to save money when it feels like you don't have any.
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.