Monday, August 30, 2010

A Radical Idea

Here's one way to ease money worries: buy fewer things.

I discovered what this means in a very personal way. When I first launched myself as a self-employed writer, I wasn't at all sure I would succeed. As the sole support of a household that included three children and a dog, I knew I had to be frugal. So I began asking a simple question before every purchase: "Is this necessary for life or death?"

Try it next time you go to the store, even the grocery store where impulse items like candy and magazines lie in wait at check-out.

Here's the wondrous thing I learned: although my buying habits changed, my standard of living did not.
We had enough to eat. Household bills got paid. There was gas in my car. I merely gave up impulse items like shoes I didn't need.

I rediscovered the library. And thrift stores. And home cooking. It became almost like a game to discover how little I needed to buy once I asked that question.

"Freedom from want" took on a whole new meaning.
Try it yourself for a week.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

She saves, he spends, He saves, She spends

Do you and your partner have different ideas about money? 

I read this humorous, insightful take on the subject: “There are two kinds of people in this world: those who enjoy saving carefully for the sailboat they plan to buy someday and those who buy the sailboat on credit so they can have the fun of sailing right now. Inevitably, the two marry each other.”

If money is an issue in your relationship, try this prayer for harmony, from my book GRACE ON THE GO: Powerful Prayers to Ease Money Worries:

“Dear God, my partner and I share so many values.
But money differences are driving us apart.
Help both of us realize that our spend-or-save choices
Are neither right nor wrong.
Just different.
Help both of us listen to each other’s point of view, and
Seek to understand it.
Help both of us agree on our financial goals
And help us find a middle way to get there,
Remembering that everything is a gift from our Creator
And must be cared for in harmony.”

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Death and Taxes? How about Prayer and Taxes?

If "April is the cruelest month" as the poet said, then April 15 can seem like the cruelest day. It's the day we pony up and pay our taxes. I had a throwback moment myself--a moment of acknowledging some tough financial truths that made me gulp a bit... but I'm not going to fall into old habits of scarcity thinking.

Instead, I'm going to give thanks for all I have that can't be counted in good health, my family, my friends.
I'm going to consider all those things I tend to take for granted--roads and bridges and schools and programs that help the sick and poor--all those things that my taxes pay for.

And I'll remember this prayer to a benevolent Creator:
Extravagant God! Who scatters the stars like seed pearls across the night sky
You do not hold back form the universe.  I have faith you won't hold back from me.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tempted to do something you can't afford?

Sometimes it is hard to say No to a fun event just because it's not in your budget. I love to bicycle and ten of my fellow cyclists are flying to Paris and then bicycling in France for a week. It sounded so wonderful, I immediately signed on.

But then...the cost of the trip began to go up. Air fare, the euro-dollar exchange rate, hotels in Paris...pretty soon it the cost was $1200 more than originally quoted. Part of me said, "Do it anyway! This chance won't come again!" Another part of me said, "You'll be broke afterward. It will take all your cushion."

So here's what I decided: I turned down the trip to France AND immediately signed up instead for a week-long bicycle ride in Wisconsin with some other bike buddies. The cost is one-tenth of the European trip

Okay, so I won't have Paris...but I'll always have Milwaukee. And Milwaukee is a lovely city with an outstanding art museum

Point being: If we stay flexible in our thinking, we can find ways to enjoy ourselves...and do it in an affordable way. There is always more than one answer. Instead of whining about what can't be done, follow my lead. Figure out what you can do.