The Virtue Project: March - Money

Mar 27, 2011
I've edited my plans a little bit and designated March the month of money. I've already received my federal tax return, after all, and I still have to file my state taxes. More than that, since I'm working only part-time now but looking for more work, I've been worrying quite a bit about just what I can afford. It seemed like a good time to pay a little attention to that worry.

Money is a terribly fraught topic in our society. There's a little bit of that Victorian attitude still clinging to the subject, the sense that it is something that We Do Not Talk About, while at the same time money is the primary goal of huge parts of our society. That's what capitalism is, after all. And then there's that peculiar American belief that there's no such thing as class.

That's been bothering me a bit, lately. Socially I'm most definitely upper-middle-class, while financially at the moment, well, I could apply for all kinds of government assistance if I wanted to, and I might get it. I'm lucky enough - extraordinarily lucky, I know - to have a family that is helping to support me and can afford it without too much difficulty. As it is, I didn't owe anything in taxes for last year; I didn't make enough.

But between the help from my family and my generally frugal tendencies, I'm ending up with a little bit of a surplus every month. Not much, mind, but enough that I can spend a little money just for fun and not worry about checks clearing before I pay my rent. I still worry. I keep enough of a cushion in my account that I don't have to fret about the balance, but I worry about having to dip into my savings account. I worry about my long-term prospects. I worry about doctor's bills and the fact that I need new eyeglasses and the fact that I haven't been to a dentist in years.

I could probably afford to go. I can afford to pay the urgent care bill from the morning I woke up terrified I had appendicitis. It won't be fun, but I can do it. So I'm trying to teach myself to stop worrying. What else, indeed, is money for?

It's tempting to look at pagan societies' attitudes toward money, but that can only be misleading, because pagan societies were not really capitalistic. Which is not to say they couldn't have been, simply that they weren't, and trying to make a comparison can be treacherous. In modern paganism, money is often looked down upon; one is not supposed to pay for teaching, or supplies, or one is supposed to pay directly without any haggling. I can never keep the rules straight.

The rules do seem, as far as I can tell, to be aimed at reducing the influence money has over the magickal experience. Like any other rules, they can only work that way if the practitioner applies them with that intent, otherwise they're just details that are getting in the way.

My goal for the month has been getting the details out of the way. I don't know that I've succeeded - a month is a short time in which to do a lot of work, after all. I've spent most of the month fiddling around with this post, trying to make it say what I want it to say. This time, I generated the goals after the fact, because I needed a month to get them all lined up. I need to make more money than I do now, certainly. But I also need to remember what it's for: so that I can live contentedly the kind of life I want, now as well as in the future.

One of the points of this project is that the goals should be concrete, so here goes: By the end of the year, I will have another source of income. I will manage my budget so that I put money away in savings every month, so I stop worrying about the future. And I will manage my budget so I spend a certain amount -- a small amount right now, but more when I get that second income -- and no less on things I want rather than things I need. If that means going out for dinner on the last day of every month just to spend out my "wants" budget,'s a hard life, but somebody has to live it.

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