a paycheck

How much do we really need in order to “make a living”?

For three pay cycles toward the end of summer, the accounting department at my work overpaid me by about a third.  When we all realized the error, I took a 1/3 cut for the next three checks (which worked out to more like 1/2 of what I’d been making for the previous six weeks).

Because clergy are in a strange tax situation, we took the extra and put it away in our account for saving to pay our taxes–ours aren’t taken out check-by-check–so we’ll be set a little bit earlier this year.

The wild-and-convicting thing?  My husband and I didn’t much notice the difference.  Sure, we spent less and kept closer track of our spending decisions, but our lives didn’t look or feel significantly different; indeed, now that the first “normal” check arrived in our account, I realize how much more we could (and probably should) be giving away.  Have you ever tried to live on less?  What did you notice–anything?

Since January, I’ve been on a clothing-spending-freeze.  You see, there’s an intentional living community in Durham, NC (the Community of the Franciscan Way) that fostered my adoption and growth in the Anglican tradition; this group reminded me how to be Christian again.  My heart longs for those people and the way God is present in them, but my work is elsewhere now.  To stay invested and connected with them this year, I decided to give to them monthly, and since money doesn’t grow on trees, I looked at my budget (and my closet) and decided I really didn’t need any more clothes.  I’ve been sending them my clothing budget this year, and though I’ve missed the numbing sensation of retail therapy (I hadn’t realized till this commitment what a “therapy”–perhaps in a bad sense–it really is!), my closet is plenty stocked to accommodate my fashion whims.

Full disclosure: after ripping my one set of jeans on a recent grocery store trip, I did buy a new pair.

What sorts of habits have we fallen into with our money, mindlessly spending rather than intentionally enjoying, and sharing with others?