Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

October 15, 2009

But Not A Real Green Dress; That's Cruel

Last night I broke the shopping ban and bought a green dress. And a pair of yellow leather gloves. (The gloves were, technically, a gift, since I had a gift card.) I have to tell you all this because I should admit my faults to all of you, especially when I broadcasted that I was going on a shopping ban for Life, and because it is an excellent segue into a question Julian brought up last month.

Bills. Money. Taxes. These things really suck. And we might as well work on making them suck less by mastering them now. I don't have any good answers to this (I haven't saved a dime the entire 5 years I've been in the workforce), but I would like to offer a few suggestions that seem to make sense to me.

1) I never ever think of my paycheck as it's full amount. Let's say I make $1000 every two weeks. Every two week period I also have a set amount of bills--for example $500 rent, and $100 school loan payment and $50 in credit card bills--for a total of $650. That means, for the first half of the month, I don't get $1000 with my paycheck--I only get $350. The second half of the month is the same thing: $100 for my metro fares for the month, $150 for other credit card payments, $200 to savings, totalling $450, which means I only have $550 in left in my paycheck. Since all my regular bills are accounted for in this figure, that $350 and $550 is mine to do with as I find necessary: groceries, clothing, entertainment. When a dress is $40, and you only have $350 to spend on everything you need, suddenly the dress doesn't look like such a good deal. (Unless of course it is green and therefore perfect, in which case I buy it...)

2) Always tithe. It's awfully awfully hard to manage the full 10% when we're paying off college loans, and so forth. A priest in confession once told me that I shouldn't worry about the 10%, but that perhaps I could volunteer some time to a cause as well as tithing what's possible. This is a great idea, but I do think giving to the church is incredibly important. Rather than give a full 10% of my income, I try to give 15% of my spending amount. (Using the examples above, that's approximately $50 in the first half of the month and $80 in the second.) If I can give more in a given month, I always try to.

3) The most important thing about tithing is not giving money to God and his church, but the attitude it forms in you. Your job, your salary, your savings, are all there by the grace of God, and they are all a gift. So if you major attitude towards money is "the Lord will provide" (and attitude fostered by giving), then you'll manage, no matter how hard things may be. This also means that sometimes you can indulge, or do something that seems extravagant, for the sake of something more important than money in the bank. For example, it doesn't matter that I have plenty of things I could spend $300 on--I ought to, and want to visit my grandmother, and so I'm going to buy a plane ticket to go see her next time I get paid.

These are my three tips, then:
1) you have less that what your paycheck says. Know how much less, and plan accordingly.
2) always tithe.
3) the Lord will provide.

These aren't exhaustive, but they are a start. And when you're trying to balance so many other things, a start is about all I can do when it comes to my checkbook.

1 comment:

Julian said...

Good thoughts, Agatha. I like thinking about tithing..a much needed kick in my financial pants. you use Excel or any other program? I want to literally know my pennies coming in and going out....

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