Saving money can be pretty hard, especially if you need to actually hold physical cash in order to manage it. Personally, I know that unless I have cash in my wallet where I can physically hold on to it, I’m definitely prone to impulse spending–you know that moment of, “Oh yeah, I can totally afford that” even if I can’t tell you my exact bank balance. It’s not an uncommon mental phenomenon, and lots of financial advisers counsel their clients to lead a “cash-only” lifestyle (basically no credit cards, debit cards, or checks) until they have a solid saving habit established.
I’m a bit more in favor of learning how to use bank accounts myself, and that was confirmed to me last week when a cash-only friend of mine lost her purse. Now, this friend has been having such a problem managing her money that she completely closed out her bank account. Unfortunately, she doesn’t feel comfortable leaving her money in her home alone because she lives with housemates and doesn’t trust that they or their friends will leave her stuff alone. So she carries all her money on her all the time, all separated into a series of different envelopes, each marked for a specific purpose. When she lost her purse, there was several thousand dollars in it. And it was ear-marked for really important things like dental work for herself, birthday presents for her teen daughters, rent, groceries, etc.
Luckily, my friend did get her purse back, and all the money was still there. However, it definitely brought the importance of managing bank accounts up to all of us. So I devised a bit of a spell that combines the “gotta see it stack up” mentality with the abstractness of a bank account.
First, though, you’ve got to get an idea of how much of each paycheck you should be saving and how you should be budgeting. A good place to begin is with the 50/20/30 rule, which divides your monthly budget into three distinct categories of expenses, and ranks them according to importance. At least 50% of your monthly budget should be reserved for essentials, such as your rent/mortgage, food, staple clothing, transportation, and utilities. At least 20% should go towards “financial priorities” such as savings, debt payments, retirement contributions, etc. Finally, no more than 30% should be allocated to “lifestyle choices”, such as nights out, a million cable channels, that cute sweater you saw in a boutique, etc.
Now, if you follow this rule alone, you are on track…but you still really aren’t saving enough. After all, you actually need to be socking a quarter of your pay directly to a savings account–that way, at the end of a year you’ll have saved up approximately 3 months of salary, which is the minimum advised to have just in case you lose your job. Then you still have retirement to think of, as well as saving up for specific things, such as home and auto maintenance, vacations, etc. If you’re going to be fiscally conservative, you might actually consider a break down of something closer to 50/35/15.
To put this latter proportion into an example, if you are paid every 2 weeks and each paycheck is $850 after taxes, your monthly take home pay is about $1700.** Of that, $850 is reserved for essentials, which gives you roughly $400 for housing, $150 for bills and gas, and $300 for food and clothing. Then, at least $595 should be saved in some capacity, which leaves $255 for discretionary spending.
Once you’ve set your proportional budget for how much you should be saving, go to your bank and set up some savings accounts. Yes, that was plural. At the very least, most banks allow you to set up multiple “Christmas accounts” in addition to a primary savings account. Your primary savings account is going to be the “never ever touch unless it’s a dire emergency” account. The bulk of your savings are going to go there. The other accounts will be for things like Vacation, Auto/Home Maintenance, Moving Expenses, Tithing/Charity, etc. Figure out how many of these accounts you need, and how much money you are going to divert to all savings accounts every paycheck.
Once all that is said and done, the spellwork begins.
On a payday, get yourself two lidded jars or piggy banks, and two squares of green fabric and some string. In the center of each fabric square, add a few juniper berries (to prevent theft, either from others or from yourself), a cinnamon stick (for success), and a few clove buds, dried mint, and old fashioned oats (to obtain wealth). Write your savings account numbers on a scrap of paper and add it to the pile of herbs. Bundle the fabric around the herbs and paper, and tie the bundles off with the string. Set the bundles aside.
Gather up all the loose change you’ve accumulated since your last payday. Cast circle, and charge the bundles to your intent of attracting and holding onto wealth. Envision yourself setting aside money every payday into your savings accounts. Envision the balance in those accounts growing. Push that energy into the bundle, and put the bundles in your jars. Separate all the pennies out of your loose change, and put those into one jar. Put all the silver coins into the second jar. Envision these jars filling up with every pay day. Give thanks and close circle.
To live in accordance with this spell, do not spend any money on your subsequent pay days until you have taken your money and divvied it up into your different accounts accordingly. Once that has been done, take all the loose change you’ve accumulated since your last pay day, and divide it up into your jars, envisioning them growing as your accounts grow.
When the silver coin jar is full, take it to your bank and have them deposit it into one of your savings accounts. When the penny jar is full, turn in the pennies for cash. Use this money as “sacrifice.” Give it to a homeless person, buy some charcoal or salt for the covenstead, give it to a kid who looks like he could use a treat…whatever floats your boat. As you have enriched yourself, pass the seed of that enrichment onto another.
Continue your payday ritual as long as it helps you.