Financial building blocks: paying attention

It really didn’t take much to turn my financial world around.

The job paid well, and my expenses were low because I never felt inspired to spend for the sake of showing people how much money I had.  I certainly wasn’t wealthy, but I was able to live well within my means and save money for investing and retirement.  I had my finger on my financial pulse constantly, maybe even obsessively, and I was headed in the right direction.

As I said, it really didn’t take much to turn it all around.

Much like the Great Recession itself, the causes were varied and deep.  The job increasingly was a worse and worse fit, and working for myself seemed a good idea.  Some bad business decisions and a tanking economy had me working (“consulting”) for others before long, at least part-time, while I tried to figure out how to increase cash flow and not live off my savings.  There was enough left, thankfully, for me to be able to partner with my wife to buy a house; she had the income to qualify for the mortgage, and I just barely had enough to get us the down payment.

And so we headed into this country’s economic downturn:  getting by, living in a house which somehow managed to stay worth more than what we owed on it, looking for better ways to bring in money and not paying attention to where it was all going.

That’s right, not paying attention.  The greater the money problems, the less you want to think about them.  You don’t want to check the bank balance, you certainly don’t want to see how your retirement funds are doing in an endless bear market, and overall, the word of the day is struthious.  (In the present economy, maybe the operative word for what many people think about their money is santorum, but that’s entirely too offensive to discuss here.  I’m only linking to that site so it stays atop the Google rankings.)  It’s easy to stick your head in the sand and simply hope the money problems go away.

It may be ironic, but in order to honor Ploutos, the blind god of wealth, I’m heading into this year with my eyes open.  I want to see what I used to see:  all the financial information and trends in my life.  I’m not interested in worries, mind you; I find thinking like, “Oh, we won’t have the money to pay all the bills!” to be completely counterproductive in all circumstances.  You don’t look at money to worry about it; you look at money to control it.  If you worry, you start to fear again, and then you look away.  The only way money will be one’s ally is if one can look upon it dispassionately.

The shiny new tool in my toolbox is Mint.com, a service that allows me to view the family’s full financial picture in one place.  Mint.com is a free financial tracking website which is safe and secure.  Part of the security comes from the high-end encryption that they use, but it’s also safe because you can’t actually move money around from within that site; you have to go to your bank or other financial site to handle the transactions.

The site has pre-figured budgets based on your current income and expenses, which can be tweaked and modified very easily.  It can send you alerts about things like low balances, overdue bills, and suspicious activity.  They make their money on referrals, recommending things like credit cards and mortgage refinances from their partners if you could use something like that.  I haven’t found the marketing to be intrusive.

Peeling away the film of ignorance and taking a hard look at your finances is the prerequisite to taking control of money instead of letting it control you.  I firmly believe that compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe (even if Einstein didn’t really think so), and that it works on people whether they pay attention to it or not.  In future posts I’ll look at the ways that compound interest has positively and negatively impacted my life.  Insofar as money is, indeed, congealed energy, compound interest shows that it follows some sort of rule of abundance.

The question to answer, of course, is abundance for whom?

Money: walking the walk

Drawing money to make a better world!

I’ve decided to enable advertising on this site, because promoting the movement of money is important to me.  Money inspires a knee-jerk reaction of “don’t look” in a lot of people, perhaps because the god of wealth is blind, but I want to shed light on the subject and talk about it more, both for my own life and to facilitate it in other Pagans.

Money is linked to the pentacles tarot suit, and I think it’s no accident that the symbol has widespread use among earth-worshiping Pagans.  Money is congealed energy, the essence of the solidity of the earth element.  Pagans don’t typically tithe and are often dirt-poor, and I have always gotten a sense that many of us think that wealth accumulation is somehow bad.  Maybe that’s to make us feel better that we haven’t gotten filthy rich?  (And how many earth-dirt-money references can I make to drive home the point that the earth and money are inextricably linked?)

So, there is advertising, and of course I’m hoping you’ll click on some of it.  I also have affiliate links here and there, so if you’re inspired to buy something, I’ll cut a tiny piece of whatever you pay.  The energy keeps moving into the hands of someone who is trying to make the Earth a better place.

Hail Ploutos!

Honoring Ploutos

I’ve been giving some thoughts on how to honor Ploutos, god of wealth.  The youth was blinded by Zeus so he would distribute more indiscriminately, but that method of wealth distribution isn’t exactly working out for most of us.  I think it’s our fault Ploutos doesn’t pay as much attention as we’d like.

Hellenistic gods like offerings, and Ploutos is the blind guardian of shiny things, so I’ve come up with some ways to honor him.  I believe that, living in darkness as he does, that he is appreciative of offerings he can hear, as well as offerings from under the earth and things that grow from the earth.

Offerings to Ploutos in a dark corner

  • I wrote a hymn to Ploutos, the first hymn I have written to a god.  Both the writing and the reading of a hymn is a votive offering.
  • Libations with beer, both because it is made of grain and because opening the bottle has is audible.
  • I started a small altar to him.  It’s in a shadowed corner, symbolizing both his blindness and the subterranean source of precious metals and gems.  The offerings are stones and coins.  I still need a proper god figure for him.
  • I’m still researching what kinds of incense might be pleasing.  Myrrh symbolizes wealth and is earthy like this god.  It’s hard to go wrong with frankincense for any god in this pantheon.  There are, pardon the pun, a wealth of recipes for incense intended to draw wealth to the user, but I need to figure out which ones Ploutos might like.
  • I’m making a commitment to avoid mistakenly calling him Plouton, or writing his name that way.  I’ve caught myself several times just in writing the hymn and this post, so I am going to take extra time during my devotions to get it right.
Ploutos seems to help me draw my many polytraditionalist beliefs together.  As a classic earth-worshipping Gaiaped, I honor the relentless patience of the earth, in the form of plate tectonics and other slow changes.  The sound principles of investing are all based on long-term planning and patience.  Sitting in Quaker meeting is all about waiting, and this morning in that waiting I realized I need to write more posts about money, because this is my ministry.

Rich: not a four-letter word

I’m beginning this new year mindful of the Ploutos, god of wealth.  Child of Demeter, he was blinded by Zeus so he would not discriminate when dispensing his gifts, conferring them upon good and wicked alike.

I’ve long recognized the power of money.  Three years ago I promised to make Pagans and their money the focus of this blog.  I got sidetracked then, going into a space that made it easier to avoid thinking about money.

I’m thinking about money now.  Since I committed to Hellenismos, it makes sense to consider wealth from that perspective, too.  Wealth was initially an agrarian concept, and Ploutos was indeed son of Demeter, conceived in a thrice-plowed field.  Perhaps as the idea of riches became associated more with precious metals, he became conflated with Hades (Pluto to his Roman fans), whose underworld kingdom is understandably linked to gold and other precious things scratched from beneath the earth.

Gold is more durable than grain, and so it’s a better conduit for congealed energy (that’s what Joseph Campbell called money, and it makes a lot of sense).  Now our money is more often than not simply magnetically-charged electrons, making it more like bound energy than congealed.  Nevertheless, money is and always shall be a form of energy, and should be respected as such.

I haven’t been respecting money since the Great Recession smacked me down . . . I’ve been fearing it.

But now, finally, I am feeling the pulse of the energy within money, and starting to remember that it can be channeled and focused, as much as any other energy can be.  It’s time for me to honor Ploutos, perhaps by tithing in some form like contributing to charity or dedicating a certain amount of money to things which will make the world a better place.

Because I’m becoming more polytraditionalist with every passing year, I’m going to think on Ploutos and wealth when I attend Quaker meeting in the morning.