Browsing Category "Money"
3 Jul
Posted in: Money
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Really Looking At It

It’s the start of a new month and I’m looking carefully at where I’ve spent my money–which is to say, where I’ve spent my life energy…because money is really just a way to measure the time and energy I have exchanged for it.

I’ve been keeping a list with separate categories of things I buy over and over. At first, I just listed “groceries.” Then I broke it down into “food” and “household items” (for example: toilet paper and laundry soap). But then I went even further, and now instead of “food,” I’ve made a category to track how much I spend on “Italian mineral water” and “extra dark chocolate.” Believe it or not, these items are a significant portion of my “food” expenditure. (We all have our addictions.)

The idea here is not to make myself feel bad about how much of my income is going for these things. The idea is for me to get clear on what it is that I’m spending my life energy for.

And whether or not I’m getting value for it.

At the moment, I’m not sure.

I may decide that it’s not worth what I’m spending — of myself — on Italian mineral water and extra dark chocolate. Then (I believe) it will be relatively easy to start making different choices. Or I may decide that in fact, I AM getting sufficient value. At which point the received value will actually increase, because I’ll be AWARE of it!

Stay tuned.

(image from GOREY CREATURES by Edward Gorey)

21 Jun
Posted in: Food, Money, Practice
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What’s Hidden Within

One of the DPP homework assignments for this week’s sitting practice was:
“Notice when thoughts arise connected to spending money or finances. What are the feelings associated with these thoughts? What is the response in the body? What happens when you imagine buying, then imagine not buying, that item? ”

For me, “that item” was an Iced Latte Grande With One Raw Sugar.

The “buying” was kind of neutral. OK, there was some grasping. But when it came to “not buying”…..that’s when the beast-that-I-didn’t-want-to-see made itself known.

Rebellion was there. Defiance. Entitlement. Then Justification. Rationalization. Defensiveness. Then Anger…at the unfairness of it all. Humor, thankfully, kicked in. Then Relaxation. Followed by Sadness. A feeling of Unworthiness. Depravation. Abandonment made an appearance. Impoverishment. Not Having Enough. Not Feeling Safe. Being All Alone.


All of that, disguised as a latte.


(image from “The Utter Zoo,” illustration by Edward Gorey)



12 Jun
Posted in: Money
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I Took Back the Socks

I went to REI the other day because I needed a new pair of shorts and I had gotten my “dividend check,” basically a store credit they send every year based on how much you’ve spent the previous year. So it was free money. Sort of.

None of the shorts I tried on really fit (always the problem), but I was there in the store, and I had the “check,” so I looked around a while and then I remembered a favorite t-shirt I’d bought there before and thought it would be nice to have another one of those. I found one I liked, in my size, so I was set. But the price of the t-shirt was a little less than the “check,” so I browsed around a bit and ended up next to a rack of very cute socks.

It’s June, so I have no real need for socks. But it won’t always be June, and I go on a lot of retreats (where socks are a significant wardrobe item), and these socks were extremely cute, and not that expensive…in fact, the t-shirt plus the socks just about equaled the “check.”

Perfect. But then….and here’s where my old spending habits kicked in…..I saw ANOTHER pair of socks. Almost as cute as the first. In fact, the more I looked, the cuter they got. And I thought, I really should just go ahead and get them both. They’re not “that expensive.” And I’m getting the first pair for “free,” and most of the other socks I have are heavy, and these are light, and the first pair would go with black pants and the second would go with tan….etc, etc, etc.

So I went home with a new t-shrit and two pairs of socks.

But then, because I’m doing this new practice of writing down every single thing I buy, every day, I took another look at those socks. Did I really want to write down that I paid $19.64 for a pair of socks that I didn’t need and couldn’t possibly wear for at least three months?


So I took them back. But just the second pair. I thought about taking everything back and keeping the store credit until I could find shorts that fit, or maybe give up on the shorts and buy something later, when there was something else that I’d really need. But I knew that the t-shirt would get a lot of wear, that it was good quality, very comfortable, a nice color, and would serve me well. I also knew that the first pair of socks were a luxury, but that I would get a lot of pleasure out of wearing them. They are kind of fashion-y and would look good with black pants, which I wear a lot, so I could wear them to work when it gets colder. And they’d be comfy — and fun — to wear on retreat. They aren’t a necessity. They’re a treat.

But not the second pair.

The second pair started feeling like a burden. The idea of not having them was starting to feel like a treat.

So I took them back.

Not from a sense of guilt, or duty, or how I “should” behave. Not from a feeling of scarcity. Or of needing to “cut back.” But from a feeling of having the power to chose what’s valuable and what’s not. It was a very liberating feeling.

A palpable sense of relief.

(image from “I Told You So,” by Daisy de Villeneuve)

8 Jun
Posted in: Money
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One of the DPP homework assignments for this month is to keep a written record of every time you spend money and to note what arises as you bring attention to your spending habits.

I’ve already been doing this since I came back from retreat with the intention to get more clarity in relation to money. And one of the first things I’ve noticed is….I spend more money than I take in! How could I have missed that? I’m sure that at some level, I already knew it. Which is why I was so fuzzy about the whole issue. I didn’t want to have to look at what is clearly an unsustainable way of living.

So now I’m waking up and I feel a little ashamed. And frightened. But also liberated! Because now I feel like I can actually do something about it. Not go on a spending diet — because we all know, diets don’t work! But I can look carefully at what my habitual spending patterns are, learn what drives them, what feeds them, and where it’s possible to break the chain. And then….little by little….I can start to form new patterns of behavior that are more in alignment with what my true values really are.

This will help me get a clearer picture of what my true financial needs really are….that sweet spot of having enough, of “sufficiency,” which Lynne Twist talks about in The Soul of MoneyAnd then I can start to think more expansively about how much time I need to “spend” in order to earn that money…and THEN I can start to answer one of yesterday’s questions: “what would have to happen for me to be able to manifest my ideal work/life situation?

(image from Q-Cards)

7 Jun
Posted in: Money, Practice
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What Would Have to Happen?

The theme for this month’s Dedicated Practitioner Program is Right Livelihood, Money and Renunciation. The homework assignment includes readings, reflections, daily life and sitting practices.

In one of the assignments, we are asked to: Reflect on your current livelihood, or how you spend the majority of your waking time. List at least three reasons for this choice, and whether or not it feels like it is a choice.


In another reflection, we are asked: What would your ideal work / life situation look like?


And most provocative of all: What would have to happen for you to be able to manifest your ideal work situation?

What, indeed.


(image from “A Whole World,” by Katy Couprie and Antonin Louchard)


30 May
Posted in: Books, Money
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Spending Life Energy

“Money is something we choose to trade our life energy for.”

I read this in Your Money or Your Life, by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez, and have been thinking about it a lot. The book gives a very detailed process for discovering just how much money someone is actually getting for the job they are doing (after accounting for the actual number of hours worked and subtracting all the things they wouldn’t have to buy, if they didn’t have that job). Then it offers a structure for getting exceptional clear about where all that money (life energy) actually goes. And then it asks:

* “Are you receiving fulfillment, satisfaction and value in proportion to the life energy you spend?”

* “Is this expenditure of life energy in alignment with your values and life purpose?”

* “How might this expenditure change if you didn’t have to work for a living?”

I’m only about half-way through the book, and haven’t sat down to do all the calculations, but I can already feel these questions taking root in my mind. I have a feeling they will produce significant fruit.

(image from Steampunk Tarot)

25 May
Posted in: Money, Retreats
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Staying Alive

I loved the talk Tempel Smith gave at the DPP retreat on “Right Livelihood.” He explained that the Pail word “samma-ajiva,” which is traditionally translated as “right livelihood,” can more literally be translated as “right fire-of-life.” So it’s less “right career,” as I’ve always thought of it, and more “right way of feeding our fire, of sustaining our vitality.” The issue not so much what job do we have, but more what do we do to keep ourselves alive.

The talk offered questions, rather than answers. (As most great talks do.) For example:

“What is the impact of your work on your heart and mind?”

“How can you practice in your work as it is today?”

“Does your livelihood support your awakening?”

I leave these for you to ponder.






(image from Phantasmagoric Theatre Tarot)

24 May
Posted in: Money
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10 Things

I’ve just finished an interesting exercise on Cultivating Contentment, from Mindfulness and Money, by Kulananda and Dominic Houlder.

Here’s the exercise. First:
“List the 10 most significant things you’ve acquired or done in the past 3 years. By significant, we don’t mean only the things you spent lots of money on, though you should include those, we also mean the things that have been important to you and made a difference in your life.”

Here’s my list (in no particular order):
* Enrolled in the Dedicated Practitioner Program (DPP) at Spirit Rock
* Bought a new Fiat 500 — convertible!
* Found Benedetto, un bravissimo Italian tutor
* Started
* Took a trip to Wales
* Went to Barre, to meet with Mirabai
* Put replacement windows in my almost-100-year-old house
* Subscribed to Fair Shares, an awesome CCSA (Combined Community Supported Agriculture)
* Cleaned out all my closets and de-cluttered my entire house!
* Organized the Cafe Sangha, Maplewood Metta and 3 Kalyana Mitta groups


Then: “Rank them in order of cost.”

Then: “Rank them in order of value.”

And then: “Graph them on a chart relating cost to value.”

This makes for an interesting, but not too surprising graph.

But then: “List the 10 things that are most important to you at this moment, and their cost.”

Here’s where it becomes clear that the most important things are impossible to put a price on. Which is where we discover our hidden wealth…whose “value is infinite and economic costs are low.”

For the last part of the exercise: “List your hidden wealth. Write down why the items on the list are valuable to you.”

Give it a try.

23 May
Posted in: Money
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Kitchen Dharma

I’m not a graphic designer. I used to be a graphic designer, but that was back in the days when we did things with X-Acto knives and Rapidograph pens. I still think like a designer though, so when I got the idea to do this DharmaTown website, I knew exactly how I wanted it to look. But I also knew how much time it would take and how much money it was going to cost.

I didn’t have the money.

I’m not a designer, but I do work for a graphics company and we design web sites all the time. But it didn’t feel right to ask for a freebie. I’m friendly with one of the designers who does work on the weekends, but even at freelance rates, I knew it would cost more than I had.

Then I thought….hmmm….I don’t have money, but I do have time. And energy.

And I can cook!

So we made a deal. She would build the website and for every hour of design time she put in, I would spend an hour cooking for her family. (I also offered babysitting time, but the cooking deal seemed to work out better.)

It needed to be food that I could bring to the office, that she could heat up when she got home, so I made New Zealand Sweet Potato Chowder, Four-Alarm Veggie Chili, a double batch of Sicilian Caponata, Wild Mushroom and Barley Stew, and a ton of Rafael’s Pasta Sauce with Artichokes Hearts.

And now we have DharmaTown.

Bon Appetit!


14 May
Posted in: Money
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The Flow of Money

I finished The Soul of Money over the weekend. I couldn’t put it down. And then this morning I picked it up again…thinking I’d post a few quotes…and I realized I’ve highlighted just about the whole book!

Here are a few from a section titled, Know the Flow: Truth Telling About Where The Money Goes.

“Are you consciously allocating where you want your money to go?”

“If you want a clear picture of your priorities in life, who you are and what you care about, look at your checkbook, your credit card bills, and bank statement.”

“The way money flows to you and through you to other purposes isn’t unrelated to your life.”

“An unhealthy relationship with the way you acquire money is something that can suppress your life.”

“Knowing the flow is an examination without blame…..Without a judgment of good or bad, when you know the flow, it gives you the necessary self-knowledge to make conscious choices that align your spending with your vision of yourself and your highest commitments.”

“We can consciously put money in the hands of projects, programs, companies, and vendors we respect and trust, and even approach paying taxes as a way of expressing our commitment and investment as a citizen.”

“It takes courage to direct the flow, but with each choice, we invest in the world as we envision it.”

(image: Phantasmagoric Theatre Tarot)