Friday, June 12, 2009Back from Europe
If ever an article represented the ethos of this blog and is reflective of my own personal values this piece in the New York Times by the superb writer Pico Iyer does it. Please read the whole article. Excerpt:
"I had been lucky enough at that point to stumble into the life I might have dreamed of as a boy: a great job writing on world affairs for Time magazine, an apartment (officially at least) on Park Avenue, enough time and money to take vacations in Burma, Morocco, El Salvador. But every time I went to one of those places, I noticed that the people I met there, mired in difficulty and often warfare, seemed to have more energy and even optimism than the friends I’d grown up with in privileged, peaceful Santa Barbara, Calif., many of whom were on their fourth marriages and seeing a therapist every day. Though I knew that poverty certainly didn’t buy happiness, I wasn’t convinced that money did either.
"So — as post-1960s cliché decreed — I left my comfortable job and life to live for a year in a temple on the backstreets of Kyoto. My high-minded year lasted all of a week, by which time I’d noticed that the depthless contemplation of the moon and composition of haiku I’d imagined from afar was really more a matter of cleaning, sweeping and then cleaning some more. But today, more than 21 years later, I still live in the vicinity of Kyoto, in a two-room apartment that makes my old monastic cell look almost luxurious by comparison. I have no bicycle, no car, no television I can understand, no media — and the days seem to stretch into eternities, and I can’t think of a single thing I lack."
For Your Education Dept.
"Although we in the West tend to forget, 190 years ago one-third of the world's gross domestic product was in China. But then, rather suddenly, colonial exploitation and unfair trade agreements, combined with a technological revolution in Europe and America, left the developing countries far behind, to the point where, by 1950, China's economy constituted less than 5 percent of the world's G.D.P. In the mid-19th century the United Kingdom and France actually waged a war to open China to global trade. This was the Second Opium War, so named because the West had little of value to sell to China other than drugs, which it had been dumping into Chinese markets, with the collateral effect of causing widespread addiction. It was an early attempt by the West to correct a balance-of-payments problem."
--Joseph E Stiglitz writing in Vanity Fair
Tuesday, April 14, 2009Abundance Mentality
From: A LIFE THAT COUNTS by Dr. John C. Maxwell
Ben Franklin once wrote, "I would rather have it said 'he lived usefully' than 'he died rich.'" More than just words, it was the way Franklin lived his life. One example of his useful nature was the invention of the Franklin stove. Instead of patenting it and keeping it to himself, Ben Franklin decided to share his invention with the world.
According to Dr. John C. Van Horne, Library Company of Philadelphia: "Franklin's philanthropy was of a collective nature. His sense of benevolence came by aiding his fellow human beings and by doing good to society. In fact, in one sense, Franklin's philanthropy, his sense of benevolence, was his religion. Doing good to mankind was, in his understanding, divine.” Even his position as a printer fit this philosophical bent. He did not hoard his ideas, but shared them, and everyone benefited. He had an "abundance mentality."
Instead of seeing the world in terms of how much money he could make, Franklin saw the world in terms of how many people he could help. To Benjamin Franklin, being useful was its own reward.
As I age, I gain perspective on the illusion of wealth and status as forms of fulfillment. I don't want my life to be measured by dollars and cents, or the number of books I've authored. Rather, I want to be remembered by the lives that I've touched.
Here is an interesting take on the American Dream. I believe we will be seeing more of this in the coming years. Excerpt:
The American dream I believe in now is a shared one. It's not so much about what I can get for myself; it's about how we can all get by together.
Saturday, April 11, 2009The Gleefully Frugal
When you attune to the Beloved, you find out that you want to produce unconditional loving and be in that energy field. Those people who are also working in the unconditional energy field start blending together with it. However, if you start to produce unconditional loving with the idea of getting somebody to blend with it, it won’t work. That’s manipulation and you won’t like the consequences. It really has to come from the place of un-condition—no condition. It’s the attitude that however the wind blows is fine with you. And if it doesn’t blow, that’s equally fine. That’s getting into unconditionality. It can be a scary place to be when you are used to being controlling, demanding, and spoiled. But regardless, it is the unconditionality of life that must be lived.
(From The Rest of Your Life by John-Roger, DSS, with Paul Kaye)
Whatever you are doing, love yourself for doing it. Whatever you are feeling, love yourself for feeling it.
Great short article in the New York Times today on the gleefully frugal. Definitely one to read for the times we live in. Excerpts:
...a subset of savers are reducing costs not just with purpose, but with relish. These are the gleefully frugal.
“I’m enjoying this,” said Becky Martin, 52, who has cut up her 10 credit cards, borrows movies from the library instead of renting them, and grows her own fruits and vegetables — even though her family is comfortable.
Ms. Martin is a real estate investor, her husband is a plastic surgeon, and their home sits on the 12th hole of a Cincinnati country club.
“It’s a chance to pass along the frugal lifestyle that my mother gave to me,” she says, noting that her sensibilities seem to be rubbing off not just on her sons, but also on her husband. “We’re on the same page financially for the first time in years, and it’s fabulous.”
Americans’ spending is down and their personal savings are up — sharply. “It’s huge,” said Martha Olney, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in the Great Depression, consumerism and indebtedness. The rapid reversal is even more remarkable, she said, because in recessions consumers usually save less money. Not this time. “It implies a re-emergence of thrift as a value,” she said.
The gleefully frugal happily seek new ways to economize and take pride in outsaving the Joneses. The mantra is cut, cut, cut — magazine and cable subscriptions, credit cards, fancy coffee drinks and your own hair.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009Cats and Cool
God is intention. When you tithe you make God your abundant focus. God’s intention is in that focus, so God will know right whereto find you.
(From God Is Your Partner by John-Roger, DSS)
If you have money to invest and you are confused as to the best place to put it, you are not alone. Richard Russell of Dow Theory Letters gives as good a summary below as I have seen:
So what's the answer to the current unprecedented situation? What should you and I do?
Don't be married to any specific scenario. Anything may happen in response to the current situation.
The best survival plan is to be diversified. Nobody knows who or what will be "the last investment standing." Will it be Treasury paper, high-grade bonds, real estate, diamonds, T-bills, cash, top-grade corporate stocks or gold?
T-bills are the choice of many sophisticated investors. But T-bills are denominated in dollars, and dollars are vulnerable as are bonds or any other items denominated in Federal Reserve notes ("dollars").
Real estate and diamonds represent intrinsic wealth, although they are not instantly liquid, meaning that they cannot be instantly turned into cash.
Gold has been accepted as wealth for thousands of years. When all other forms of supposed wealth crashes (deflates) or becomes suspect, the last wealth asset to stand will be gold. Gold has no counter-party nor has it any debt aligned against it. Gold needs no central bank to ensure its acceptance. Gold is accepted everywhere and in any quantity as a form of indestructible, eternal wealth.
Gold's problem is that it must compete with the fiat paper that is manufactured by the world's central bankers. Gold is the bankers' enemy. Nevertheless, for survival purposes, it makes sense for every investor or family to own at least a small (10% of assets) position in gold. Remember, you don't own gold in the hope of a potential profit, you own gold as a store of wealth -- as a safe haven asset.
Today, investment money is so suspicious of the viability of any given asset that they are placing their money in an item that bears the full faith and credit of the US government -- I'm referring to Treasury paper. The shortest-maturity is the 91-day T-Bill, yielding literally nothing. Yet if one places one's money in a T-bill, it is thought that this is as safe a place for storing wealth as you will find. Actually, one major worry with T-bills is a possible collapse of the dollar.
My own point of view regarding the above is to not try and be an investment genius. Just do your best to preserve your hard earned money without risking it unnecessarily. The biggest losses I have seen people make were those where they tried making high returns. Of course, some succeed. But the real "successes" were the financiers/money managers who just took their percentages off the top regardless if the investment did well.
I love Tim Price of PFP Wealth Management. Here are excerpts from his latest newsletter where he writes an open letter to the Western banking establishment. It's hilarious and scathing.
I would also be grateful if the strategists and economists who work for you could abstain from publishing their unsolicited opinions about resolving the banking crisis within the financial media. I am sure you will agree that hearing from the same strategists who worked for the architects of such widespread financial destruction is likely to irritate those of us who were not actually complicit in the extraordinary and venal credit boom of the last several decades. There is an expression that if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Those of your employees who were the public face of the problem are, I think you will agree, unlikely to represent the solution, unless perhaps they are fired - en masse, from a giant howitzer, into an area where they can do no further harm. Alaska, perhaps. I would further suggest that the high profile commentators who work for you and who have implicitly played their part in marketing and then amplifying this catastrophe might consider quietly entering another field with superior ethics and enhanced value to society at large: perhaps as piano players in brothels.
Perhaps you, like I, find it richly ironic that members of the public still use your investment subsidiaries as a means to protect and grow their private wealth. I think you should promote the activities of these subsidiaries more widely. My idea for an advertising slogan: “When it comes to moral hazard, we’re Number One. We helped trigger the biggest financial and economic collapse in history through our imprudent lending and investment. Between 18 million and 30 million jobs throughout the world are almost certain to be lost. And more than 50 million jobs throughout the world are now in jeopardy. As a result of our investment expertise, we’ve lost billions, and those of us that still exist and aren’t owned by the taxpayer are technically insolvent. Now, how can we help you with your finances ?”
Regarding the last point above I have been reading Barron's roundtable of experts as they make their financial predictions the coming year. They are twelve of the most erudite financial minds you are like to find gathered in one place with the most astute observations. Then you read how they did last year and find that they ALL lost gobs of money--most over 50% and some 80%.
My point is don't be ashamed of feeling ignorant. No one really has a handle on our current situation. Just do your best and follow the spiritual principles of abundance and prosperity.
And if you are a cat lover then forget about all the financial woes and look at these superb photos. (Thanks to Betsy for this).
When I first mentioned frugal living I got feedback that this was "poverty consciousness." Well, in yesterday's Financial Times I found this:
Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker concluded recently that in the US “frugalism is the new cool.” according to Bob Carter, brand head in the country.
It feels good to be cool.
Sunday, January 25, 2009Walking Free
To have abundance in Soul does not mean having lots of things; it means having access to, and communion with, the essence of all things.
Once you are in touch with that, you have all things inside you. You don’t feel any lack. You have fullness and gratitude, and you walk free, knowing that whatever you need will come to you.
(From What's It Like Being You by John-Roger, DSS with Paul Kaye)
One thing is clear, and please be clear about it, too, no one really knows what is going to help the economy. We are in unchartered territory. I have heard this from several well respected sources. Here is one of them, Warren Buffett:
The answer is nobody knows. The economists don’t know. All you know is you throw everything at it and whether it’s more effective if you’re fighting a fire to be concentrating the water flow on this part or that part. You’re going to use every weapon you have in fighting it. And people, they do not know exactly what the effects are. Economists like to talk about it, but in the end they’ve been very, very wrong and most of them in recent years on this. We don’t know the perfect answers on it. What we do know is to stand by and do nothing is a terrible mistake or to follow Hoover-like policies would be a mistake. And we don’t know how effective this will be and how quickly things will right themselves. We do know over time the American machine works wonderfully and it will work wonderfully again.
So don't be complacent. Continue to hope for the best and prepare for the worst, and hopefully we'll shoot right down the middle.
You may find these practical tips on the use of coffee filters helpful. Take a look it is very creative.
Friday, January 23, 2009Health Is Wealth
As my mother says, "Health is wealth." So here is a quote from John-Roger from his Living Love book. (Thanks to Marjorie for this.) I'll be using it in the PTS health class coming up in March.
This physical body is truly the temple of the Spirit, for the Spirit resides in each one of us. And you can build your body so that it doesn't become a heavy body, but a light body so Spirit can work more closely with you.
When you reach a harmony within you, you can take cells that have been out of balance and place a ring of Love around them and hold them in balance for five, ten, fifteen years.
Love and joy and happiness can change the frequency of the cell structure from the doom and gloom of a cell disintegrating to a lilting, joyful quality of a cell lifting into balance and harmony.
Good post by The Simple Dollar on financial success and sacrifice. Excerpt:
What I discovered is that giving up all of those things wasn’t a sacrifice - it was a trade. I gave up all of those bad spending habits, but in return I was able to knock down that scary pile of debt, start saving for my children’s college education, build up a big emergency fund, and buy a house.
In truth, the trade I actually made was swapping short-term gratification for long-term benefits and security. Buying books and video games and DVDs brought me a lot of short-term joy, but really didn’t contribute much at all to the quality of my life over the long term. On the other hand, not buying these things and instead paying down the bills is incredibly boring in the short term, but provides a lot of long-term happiness - I now live in a nice house and know that things are fairly secure financially.
Sunday, January 18, 2009The Grace Track
Because energy follows thought, my advice has always been to hold thoughts that uplift you. Hold images in your mind that you want more of.
Be careful what you ask for because if you get it, you also get what goes with it -- which is fine if, when it does come your way, you are prepared to handle it to completion.
From: The Rest of Your Life by John-Roger, DSS with Paul Kaye
So with the double whammy of the above quote, it is time to place our seed. Remember to see yourself in the picture receiving or being part of what you are seeding for. Make your claim and keep in mind the highest good. And please share with us your success stories.
I was counseling someone the other day and pointed out to them that they were on the "struggle track" and needed to make the switch onto the "Grace track". Not surprisingly they had stopped tithing a while back, ironically when things had been going well. It got me thinking about this quote from a Hopi Elder:
Banish the word 'struggle' from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. We are the ones we've been waiting for.
Grace is there, waiting. All we need do is turn.
Frugality appears to be the new American way of life as this article, Outsourced Chores Come Home, demonstrates.
There is of course a paradox in this. It’s called the Paradox of Thrift. As Americans save more, less money goes into the economy and, in the short term, things get a lot worse for a lot of people. That is what we are seeing right now in abysmal retail sales, from which other consequences emerge (store space for rent), and so on.
Susan Todoroff, a personal trainer in Ann Arbor, Mich., has begun brewing espressos at home and cutting her hair and cleaning her house herself. And Tamar A. Zaidenweber, a health care market researcher in Astoria, Queens, is spending more time walking her dog instead of taking it to day care each week.
All of these consumers could praise themselves for their newfound frugality in the midst of an economic downturn. But every step they take toward self-reliance — each shrub they prune themselves, each cupcake they bake from scratch — hurts the people and small businesses that have long provided these services professionally.
Thanks to Sumi for these Thomas Jefferson quotes. If only we had listened.
“When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.”
“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”
“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes, a principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”
“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”
“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”
Monday, January 12, 2009My Favorite Tool
Here is a Twitter (via Twitterrific) received from my wife Shelley today:
Picked up scissors in pencil cup on desk and lopped off ponytail. Salon appt. over!
Yup, in our home we take frugality and the Bohemian lifestyle really seriously.
The following quote from J-R knocked my socks off when I first saw it:
Creative imagination is not wishful thinking. It is bringing the divine into action. It is bringing the Spirit into the mind, into the emotions, into the physical body, and into the physical world to manifest it.
It keyed me into the importance of the imagination, something I had relegated in the past to the lower levels of consciousness. It really helped me to use my awareness, and the way I move through life, in more creative ways.
And of course it is entirely relevant to the process of seeding as we imagine/envision the seeding scenario, and ourselves in it.
From the I don’t Really Need to Know This But It Is Interesting Dept. (courtesy of veryshortlist.com):
South Dakotans have little use for yoga instructors, Floridians love Cuban food and drum circles, and Californians have the cleanest teeth. That’s according to StateStats — a search engine that shows us who’s been Googling what, from where, across the country.
The site lists the most popular search queries in every state and links them with data (on obesity, income levels, violent crime, etc.) provided by the U.S. Census Bureau: Alaska, which tops Google searches for “guns,” comes in second for suicide; Hawaiians, who devote large chunks of time to “tofu,” have the nation’s highest life expectancy (and an inordinate interest in “breast implants”). Maine is tops in searches for “chocolate labs.” West Virginia, “meth labs.” And Wyoming residents, who lead the nation in “alcoholism” searches, might want to partner up with the New Yorkers who pushed their state to the head of the “hangover remedies” list.
Monday, January 5, 2009True Luxury
How do you know your tithing works? By the results that it’s bearing. And what if it doesn’t bear the results? You didn’t do it out of your heart. God says that He loves a joyful giver. You forgot to smile as you wrote the check. You forgot to say, “Thank you, Lord, and there’s more coming. And thanks for the health and thanks for this and this and this.”
The thankfulness is like a litany, almost like chanting the spiritual exercise mantra. It will start to produce changes in us that are remarkable. And often it also produces changes in other people around us that are equally as remarkable, because with those we love and care for, we share the goodness and the bounty of our spirit.
From God Is Your Partner by John-Roger, DSS
I took a "vacation" today to complete my year end finances, bring our budget up to date, and prepare for filing year end tax returns. I keep everything on Quicken so it was all organized and I could produce a financial statement virtually with a click.
There were some surprises, our grocery bills were down over last year-I think because we did less in house entertaining. Our meals out were a lot of money despite the fact we don't go to restaurants and none of the bills were over $50--except Thanksgiving at Prana! This proves that small amounts on a regular basis really add up.
Overall, things were tighter than I thought and I therefore wondered why I had felt so abundant lately. After chatting with Shelley the key was that we are living the life we want to live. And while we don't buy luxuries and lead a simple, frugal lifestyle, we do buy what is essential to us--food, books, art supplies.
Our saying/focus/affirmation for the year is: "What we need comes forward and we give of the overflow." I like it because it reflects our values--our trust in God and our love of giving.
Sunday, December 28, 2008More Education
When one person becomes free of materiality, it’s like an infection going the other way. Instead of greed affecting honest people, honest people start affecting the greedy. You let go and give to God, joyfully and unconditionally. With people who say, “I don’t have enough to tithe,” I say, “Don’t tithe,” because their feelings of lack are telling them that they’re going to need it. And with that attitude, they won’t have enough anyway. Because they’re hanging on, God can’t supply them with more. They’re holding on to it, scared to death about letting go of it. However, if they let go, they can rise to new heights inside themselves and get freer.
(From God Is Your Partner by John-Roger, DSS)
If you are like a lot of folks and are looking for a book that explains financial and investment matters in an accessible, easy to understand way, The Shortest Investment Book Ever, by James O’Donnell may be for you. I haven’t read it myself but this review was helpful and I intend to buy it. Excerpt from review:
The entire book has a feeling of a conversation, almost one on one with O’Donnell. It begins with him explaining the realities of retirement and investing. The realities of retirement today is that you cannot depend on Social Security, you will run a significant risk of outliving your savings, and you will also likely underestimate how much you will spend while in retirement. Those are just three of several reasons he cites and those are well understood ideas in the financial planning world, they’re just not well understood by many outside of that world.
Read here if you don’t know the difference between a Money Market Fund and a Money Market Account and if you want the best rates on where to park your money in relative safety (FDIC insured). Excerpt:
In the world of banking products, you are always trading off interest rate for flexibility.
Typically the higher the interest rate, the less flexible the account. Take CD rates for example, they are often higher than savings accounts and they are less flexible. You decide how long you’re willing to keep your money locked up and then pick a bank that offers the best rate for that term. If you wish to get your money early, you pay penalty. On the other end are checking accounts.
Checking accounts have the worst interest rates but offer the most flexibility. You can get your cash whenever you want it, write as many checks as you’d like, and visit your own ATM without penalty. For that flexibility, you earn very little, if any, interest.
Where does that leave money market accounts?
Money market accounts are like a hybrid between checking and savings accounts.
If one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to spend less money in 2009, you’ll do well to follow this sage advice from The Simple Dollar. Excerpt:
Focus on just one aspect of your spending at a time. Much like a diet, many people tend to dive into cutting spending with a short-term religious-like fervor, cutting every dime of frivolous spending.
Much like a diet, this works wonders in the short run. Your spending drops significantly and you feel really good about it. Eventually, though, you begin to feel the resistance - and eventually, you lose your grip and fall back into most of those old routines. Right back where you started.
Instead of attacking fifteen different bad habits at once, though, just focus on one bad spending habit.
Do you buy a coffee every morning? Focus on nothing but cutting down (or cutting out) that cost.
Do you often stop at your favorite store and spend more than you should? Focus on cutting down on those trips. And let everything else go. Don’t try to make radical changes in other aspects of your life. Just cut down on this one thing.
Thursday, December 4, 2008How to Receive
Q: It's very easy for me to give and give, but much more difficult for me to receive. How can I learn to receive?
A: You must be open to receive. If I have something to give you but your hands are tightly closed behind your back, I have no vessel in which to place my gift. But if your hands are open and you reach out to receive, I can place the gift in them.
The same is true for those things that are of Spirit. If you are uptight and closed down inside of yourself, how can you be open to receive the bounty that is available to you?
If it's truly difficult to receive, you might begin by receiving in small ways. Let someone buy you lunch, open the door or run an errand for you. Most people will be very willing to give to you. It's you who decides how much you want to receive on all levels.
(From: Q&A from the Heart with John-Roger Journal)
Some nice thoughts from you all on the meaning of frugality. Thanks for weighing in.
Bruce commented: “I seem to remember that the phrase voluntary simplicity can equate to frugality and also to greater choice, creativity and even elegance.”
However, I think this article from the “Cheapskate” column in the Wall St Journal says it all, and we’ll leave it as the last word on frugality:
According to the experts being a tightwad isn’t the happiest state of being. Many cheapskates experience something akin to physical pain when they spend, and are constantly anxious about money.
Spendthrifts aren’t necessarily any happier. Their free-spending often causes stress in their lives and marriages. Indeed, the experts say the happiest people are frugal, which they define as people who are able to spend without suffering but take pleasure in saving.
Maybe it’s because I’m a Londonder that I love these gorgeous overhead shots of London at night.
What a soap opera! I like Elizabeth Kolbert’s take on the bailout of the big three carmakers in this New Yorker editorial. Excerpt:
What would it mean if the domestic industry were allowed to fail?” G.M.’s Wagoner asked last month. “The cost would be catastrophic. . . . That’s why this is all about a lot more than just Detroit.” Together, the Big Three employ some two hundred and fifty thousand people, and, as the automakers correctly point out, millions of other Americans—from the machinist at the tire factory to the waitress at the corner bar—indirectly depend on them for jobs. Were these jobs to be lost, the effect would ripple out through the economy, producing what Paul Krugman, on MSNBC, recently called “a huge anti-stimulus program at exactly the wrong moment.”
It would, of course, be foolish to allow the American economy to collapse in order to make a point. And it’s possible to conclude that the Big Three deserve on every front to fail and still decide to rescue them. But such a decision will itself be a form of temporizing, and will only pass the problems on to the next Administration. Real change—as opposed to the kind in slogans—is hard and, by definition, disruptive. If Obama has any intention of fulfilling his campaign promises, sooner or later he’s going to have to face up to that.
And related to the subject with an extra twist is this, my Financial Quote of the Day:
The Big 3 may get a bailout. Financially the US taxpayer will get a stake - in what will surely be radically reshaped companies. Citibank just got a large infusion from Saudi Arabia's Prince al-Waleed bin Talal al-Saud - just days before a US government orchestrated rescue helped rocket the share price. Maybe these are just coincidental moves. Maybe not.
What we're witnessing isn't finance or investment as usual. We're watching a shift to a managed economic structure, where government officials determine who will live and who will die. It's a shift from investments to agreements, where having access to large pools of ready cash is the ultimately persuasive argument. And lacking access means doing whatever you're told.
-- From: John Maudlin’s Outside the Box
Wednesday, December 3, 2008Sheer Madness
There’s abundance from God, but not necessarily in this world. You can’t have it all in this world, but in the inner worlds you are it all. And that’s what you can trust.
Broadly speaking, in this blog we are attempting to bridge two worlds, the world of the miraculous and the world of the mundane. Although entirely different, the worlds are not incompatible and we take from both what works for us and use it. When we emphasize or focus our attention on one world we make sure we are not in denial of the other.
As long time readers know I have been as direct as I can about what is going on from my pint of view. Sometimes a little too direct, perhaps. Someone implied that a client of theirs was freaked out at my presentation at a ministers meeting a month or two ago and had to go to Michael Hayes to clear themselves. While I await a thank you card from Michael, I would like to say that I have no intention of being a bearer of bad news. However, I do think that we need to look directly at what is going on, taking the necessary practical steps, while always knowing that the miraculous carries the day—God being our Partner.
In the same conversation the person had an objection to the word frugality. He thought it reflected a poverty consciousness. When I asked my wife, Shelley, what she thought of that she said, “How would I know? I am in poverty consciousness most of the time.” (It’s a laugh a minute at our place).
A search of the MSIA database showed that J-R had barely ever used the word frugal, so admittedly it is not part of the MSIA lexicon. However, it is one of my values and I think it is particularly appropriate to embrace it in the times we are living in. In fact, we got in the global financial mess we are in because it was not embraced.
The Financial Times had an article by Bertrand Benoit on the different mentality of the Germans. Excerpt:
US, French, and British officials puzzle over Germany’s refusal to tackle the recession head-on. German leaders, meanwhile, cannot see why their taxpayers’ money should go into encouraging precisely the kind of behavior—reckless lending, careless borrowing and overconsumption—that precipitated the financial crisis.
With morals, values, moderation and solid common sense looming so large in Ms Merkel’s (Germany’s Political Leader) economic thinking, it is no surprise she would see overindulgence and irresponsibility in the way the UK and, above all, the US are treating their own recessions.
The notion that one should tackle a slowing economy by encouraging over-indebted people who stand a good chance of losing their jobs to draw new credits and splash out comes across as sheer madness.
Meanwhile Jason Zweig in his Wall St Journal blog today, The Wallet, talked about his very modest and simple childhood, after someone suggested that he “was a coddled member of the silver-spoon generation.” His post went on to say (my bold):
So I know what it means to scrimp and save, to do more with less, even to do without. The most important lesson that I learned, I believe, is that money is not wealth. Benjamin Graham once wrote that the secret to happiness is learning to live well within your means. Did he mean to “live well” within your means, or to live “well within” your means? I think he intentionally left the sentence ambiguous.
Money should never be taken for granted. Its uses are limited, but it is not a renewable resource; it is finite. And finite resources — love, water, the Earth and, yes, money — are meant to be stewarded and treated with care.
We did not feel poor, we certainly did not feel deprived and, in fact, we would have been furious if anyone had suggested that we were anything other than thrifty. Life may not always have been easy, but it certainly was good.
To this day, I recycle used paper back into the printer, reuse paper clips, put food scraps in the compost, turn the thermostat down and the lights off not because I once was “poor” but rather because I hate waste. Not being wasteful makes me feel good.
Close your eyes and think of the quintessential American. Who comes to mind first? In my mind’s eye, I see two: Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln. Each of them had many virtues, but one of the most obvious was a sense of thrift. In fact, thriftiness used to be one of the central defining characteristics of what it meant to be an American.
After a long and lazy boom, America has become a society that squanders just about everything, including money. If this crisis ends up changing that, we will be a better nation for it.
(Full post here. A recommended read.)
So if you don’t like frugality, too bad. Read another blog. We can’t change the world, and who would want to—it’s perfect as it is, but we can be responsible to our ten percent level while calling upon the miraculous nature of Spirit to sustain us. That way we get to live in abundance, prosperity, and riches regardless of our circumstances.
And as to the world, I like what Anne had to say in her comment yesterday:
I love this whole thing about trust and developing more deeply my inner connection with Spirit. Such a powerful thing to be doing.
More blessings of the meltdown. I love the thing about the caterpillar that goes into meltdown, literally a messy fluid as I understand it, in the cocoon before it emerges as a butterfly.
I think there are a lot of butterflies now in the making...
Indeed. Just let's not get them in our stomachs as All is well and God is our Partner.
Saturday, November 8, 2008To Cut Back or Not to Cut Back?
Well things have certainly quieted down in the financial world as stability slowly returns. However, that doesn’t mean to say that we are not in the midst of one of the severest recessions in a very long while. The word “deflation” has been bantered around and “depression” has also been talked about.
But what does it all mean for us ordinary folks trying to get by in an increasingly complex world?
The blog, Blueprint for Prosperity, has this take:
In times of uncertainty, the prudent thing to do is to save so that you can weather whatever the world throws at you. That rule has been and always will be one of the unassailable ideas in personal finance (unless you’re facing rampant and runaway inflation, fortunately that has never happened in the United States) and that’s the mantra I, and many other people, have started to live by.
The first step is to cut back on spending somewhere and we’ve decided to cut back on eating out as often as we had been. My wife and I are fortunate to have disposable income and we treated ourselves to eating out at restaurants several nights a week. We didn’t go to lavish restaurants or anything like that. We’d go to our local pizza joint for a $20 meal of pizza and calamari or our local restaurant for a $15 meal (those are totals for two). Even at a mere $15 a night, three nights a week, ends up being $180 a month.
We’ve replaced them with more cooking. We’ve made cooking a fun activity that’s part entertainment, part sustenance. Cooking is also much cheaper, makes more (for leftovers!), and saves us on gas (we can walk to our grocery store). A simple, delicious meal of some pasta and tomato sauce can’t cost more than a dollar or two per person and can feed us for several days.
In our case, we’ve “cut back” financially but enriched ourselves in other ways.
But is cutting back the answer? After all, are we not supposed to expand in the midst of contraction? And if we do cut back doesn’t that make the general economy worse, and create an even steeper downward spiral?
We’ll explore this more this coming week, but for now my take on it is to return to your own values (see “Values” tag on the right for past posts on this) and act in accordance with them. My own values lean towards the bohemian (see August 16 & 17 posts) but I do not impose that on anyone.
And Frugal Dad has this to say in summarizing a post on Blaming Parents for Financial Problems":
So maybe your parents weren’t the best example, and you did follow the wrong crowd financially growing up and made a few mistakes. Congratulations. You are human. We have all made mistakes. What separates you from serial failures is that you are willing to learn from those mistakes. You are willing to get smart on personal finance topics by reading magazines, books and blogs. You are willing to work extra to dig out from your own financial hole and change your family tree. Quit waiting on someone else to save you, or someone else to blame it on. Take responsibility for your financial decisions, and start making better ones to provide a brighter future for yourself, and your loved ones.
Friday, November 7, 2008The Best Financial Decision You Will Ever Make
We can help to break the greed pattern by tithing, giving 10 percent of our personal wealth. When we tithe, two levels are activated—a level here in this world and, at the same time, a mystical, invisible level. The mystical is a communication saying, “You are abundant and handle abundance well, so here’s some more.” The other level, in this world, is when we look at our abundance and contribute joyfully through tithing. We are actually cheerful about it. This action sets up a countenance that is a form of glory in the human being, and that glory attracts more abundance.
John-Roger, DSS (From: God Is Your Partner)
This blog is based on the principles, purpose, values, and practices of abundance and prosperity, and health, wealth, and happiness.
So what is our primary principle? Giving. Joyful giving. Because giving opens the space that allows us to receive. Just as our breathing out allows us to receive in our next breath.
Yet, between breathing out and breathing in, there is a pause--a brief moment of rest. Just as our heart beats for 11 hours and rests for 13 hours, so rest is built into the mechanism of our breath. When we give there is a pause between us receiving. We allow for that space, that emptiness, and if we listen and follow closely undoubtedly we will find that it is filled with loving.
In the same way, when we give of materiality, money, and we give joyfully, we pause and allow the loving to fill our being. We give because it is necessary in order to live. We give because it feels good. And we give because it is God’s plan for us. The foundation of our giving is the way that was laid down thousands of years ago, spiritually, for our enrichment—10 percent of our increase.
If that is too much for you, start with 1 per cent and as you gain trust, in yourself and God, build up to 10 percent.
When I first speaking about this around 25 years ago, I said that speaking as an accountant (as I was back then) giving to God in this way was the best insurance, the best investment, and the best financial decision anyone can make. It is as true for me now as it was then. The difference being that I have validated it further, through my personal experience, in those 25 years.
Quote of the Day from Seth, who once again nails it:>
The Sad Lie of Mediocrity
Doing 4% less does not get you 4% less.
Doing 4% less may very well get you 95% less.
That's because almost good enough gets you nowhere. No sales, no votes, no customers. The sad lie of mediocrity is the mistaken belief that partial effort yields partial results. In fact, the results are usually totally out of proportion to the incremental effort.
Big organizations have the most trouble with this, because they don't notice the correlation. It's hidden by their momentum and layers of bureaucracy. So a mediocre phone rep or a mediocre chef may not appear to be doing as much damage as they actually are.
Frugal Living Tip of the Day:
By using less expensive but equally effective ingredients found around the home, you can prepare effective substitute cleaning products.
Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda is an excellent material that can be mixed with water to remove tar, bug juice, tree sap, bird droppings and other organic material that can etch into the car’s paint. Commercial products can cost between $10.00 and $40.00 per container.
For stains on the interior surfaces of your car, try a solution of vinegar and water applied with a tooth brush. Turtle Wax Spray Cleaner costs about $7.00 a can; vinegar is about $1.79 a pint.
Zen Moment of the Day
A student at Tassajara sat facing Suzuki Roshi on a tatami mat in his room. The student said he couldn’t stop snacking in the kitchen and asked what he should do.
Suzuki reached under his table. “Here, have some jelly beans.” he said.
(From: To Shine One Corner of the World: Moments with Shunryu Suzuki)
Sunday, November 2, 2008Great Stuff
I am stilled awed by the Internet. Today I stopped by Mark Lurie's office at Prana where his wife, Julie, and he were facilitating the MSS 1--in Edmonton, Canada! Via Skype. Amazing. It is a pioneering class and it looks like this is a new era for PTS. They were able to see and hear me clearly, and I heard and saw the class of five very clearly.
In the same vein of wowness, I am amazed by how much great free stuff there is out there. If you have a Mac check out this post for 25 items of free software.
And get your pencil out and check out this sensible list of financial skills you should know. Really, make sure you know them, and if you don't find out how.
I think that's enough to keep you busy.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008Feeling Ordinary
You don't have to pretend to be anything. You can just be ordinary. You can just breathe your air in and breath your air out.
You don't have to dramatize. Just be ordinary. That is the prior condition to the energy that you have conditioned. That's spiritual. YOU can't do it. IT does it.
The reason you can't do it is because as soon as you put your mind to it, you condition the energy, and then you can't have it. And as soon as you feel it, you've conditioned the energy, and you can't have it.
So you say, "Well, I might just as well let go and let God." That's right. There's not another way you can get it.
(From The Tao of Spirit by John-Roger, DSS)
For some reason, this whole financial meltdown business and the change in the mood of the country has been making me feel very ordinary. It’s nice to know, from and MSIA perpsective, that it’s a good thing. It’s a wonderful time to re-set, and renew the values I live by, to take stock of the things that are really meaningful to me, and make sure I do what is most important. And to look carefully and see if the way I spend my money reflects those values.
I am going to begin a series of posts re-looking at our finances and their relationship to our values. Of course the first step is knowing what our values actually are. For example, one of my core values is simplicity. Perhaps you can start to write down what yours are. Start with your five main ones, and feel free to share.
(The dictionary defines values as: One’s judgment of what is important in life. The principles a person lives by.)
Frugal Tip of the Day:
Check the air filter in your car
I didn’t even know I had one, and when my mechanic, Jim Matson, said I needed it changed, I just shrugged and put it off. A month later I read in the Wall St Journal that a dirty filter substantially affects a cars mileage--by as much as 10% I checked and sure enough my mileage was lower by 10%. I drove over to Jim’s immediately to get it changed.
Smile/Zen Moment of the Day:
Be here now.
Be someplace else later.
Is that so complicated?
(From Zen Judaism by David M. Bader)
This is a big one. Financial Comment of the Day:
In the last forty years, as relative wealth and freedom have improved, the birth rate has declined. The situation where fewer numbers of working people have to pay the pensions of increasingly large numbers of retirees is simply untenable. However politically unpalatable it is for governments to deal with, there is simply no way future pension liabilities can be paid for under the current system. This probably means that some mix of measures such as smaller pensions, higher taxes, later retirement ages and greater immigration will have to be implemented, and adhered to, in order to deal with this issue.
--David Fuller in Fuller Money
Sunday, October 26, 2008Lovely Stuff
In case you missed it, Nathalie shared this great comment in yesterday’s post:
I had a sharing with John Morton about 14 years ago. I told John that I could not afford to tithe. He answered "pay god first". He then said that everything would change for me. Miracles happened within a year or two I was given a car and a new apartment. The greatest blessing however was the inner feeling of abundance that has stayed with me. I always tithe first, before paying my bills and its always 10 percent.
Speaking of comments, it is an essential part of blogging. Your input is so valuable and it is very easy to comment. Just go to the bottom of any post and click on where it says “Leave Your Comment” and fill in the brief form. As you share your experience all of our knowledge grows.
I’d posted about the magic of percentages the other day and today, at the Ministers Meeting in Los Angeles, I shared that percentages can work for or against us. They work for us tremendously over time when we compound. For example $5,000 invested each year at 10% with the interest being added in yields a tremendous amount at the end of 20 years. Where they don’t work for us in when we are paying the interest instead of receiving it.
The National Debt is an example of compounding in reverse, and boy is it exploding upwards! More relevant for each of us is the interest rate on our credit cards. I mention this because in the last month I have heard of two examples of credit card companies raising their interest rates for no reason and without warning. It really pays to watch and look at your bills and statements.
Finally, if you are into saving money these days, a few of these 1,019 Different Ways to Save Money may be very useful to you.
Sunday, October 5, 2008Frugal Living is Now With Us
Frugal living is in our future, in fact looking at the papers this weekend it is here, now. Frugal Dad (www.frugaldad.com) put together 10 truths about frugal living–some for, and some against, the lifestyle of simple living. Here is my summary of the points I liked.
(For the full article you can go here).
Frugal living is not just about saving money. The most obvious benefit of frugal living is reduced expenses, but there is another benefit that motivates many to live frugally. Those who make a conscious effort to reduce waste are making an impact in the environment around them. Actually, a better way to say that is they are making less impact on the environment around them.
There is a difference in being frugal, and being cheap. Cheap people are often consumed with deals–finding the cheapest bottom line price available. Those following a frugal lifestyle will invest more up front to get a quality product that will last longer, and require less repair and maintenance costs over time. Frugal people will often pass on buying something they don’t need, even if it is a deal.
Frugality and debt don’t mix. It is hard to live a simple existence when you are struggling to keep up with credit cards and car payments. Debt forces us to stay in bad jobs. It drains our mental resources, zapping creativity and inspiration. It cheapens future earnings thanks to interest. It adds unnecessary risk to our lives. One of the very best things you can do for yourself is become debt free.
Frugal people don’t watch a lot of television. Strange, but true. We just aren’t big television viewers. Don’t ask us who won American Idol last season, or who got kicked off the island, because we don’t have a clue.
Let’s conclude this post with my favorite line of all from Frugal Dad’s post:
“I have noticed a general trend that frugal people live 'rich' lives, regardless of their income.”
Friday, October 3, 2008Getting Ready (Part Two)
“In times of crisis, those with psychological fortitude discover opportunities that most people miss. A friend of mine in Houston tells me of unending piles of tree limbs broken down by the hurricane. The homeowner laments his disaster; the tree trimmer and the roofer order a new Mercedes. Most of the world sees a Wall St. meltdown. Buffett takes the opening to deploy billions from his cash hoard. They're all seeing the same thing, but they're reacting differently based on different visions of the future.” John Maudlin “Outside the Box”
Frugal Dad (www.frugaldad.com) looks at what we have learned from the Government’s bailout plan and suggests maybe we should do our own personal bailout, “After all, many of the problems on Wall Street could have been avoided if bankers and government regulators had applied the same common sense approach to money management that many of us out here in the real world apply every day.”
The full article is here. Here is a summary of the main points:
Don’t spend more than you earn. Create a household budget and stick to it. If you don’t have the cash for something then you simply cannot afford it.
Live frugal. If more people lived well within their means there would be no need for this proposed bailout. Now days everyone needs a bonus room, home office, double garage on a one acre lot. To finance this “American Dream” many people leveraged their financial future borrowing over half of their income to support a house payment they really couldn’t afford.
If you have debt, pay it off and fast. There are various ways to pay off debt, but at the heart of all the plans is the basic idea that if you live on less than you earn you will create excess money that can be applied to your current debts. That’s really all there is to it.
Create an emergency fund. With debts paid off, and living a frugal lifestyle, savings should be your next priority. Build a healthy emergency fund of 6-12 months of expenses–the more the better.
Don’t suffer a spending relapse. The government does not get the idea of an emergency fund, because in their mind a surplus is simply money unclaimed by a new spending plan. Do not repeat their mistake–keep money in your personal surplus set aside for emergencies and keep your spending in check so you don’t have to dip into these savings to finance bad habits.
In some cases the best form of education we can receive is to be provided examples of how not to do things. The poor money management lessons from our Congress are a great example of this type of negative behavior modeling. Whatever you do, don’t follow their lead with your own finances.
Saturday, September 27, 2008Practical Advice and Wisdom
With money and finances still very much in the news. I enjoyed this article from the Wisdom Journal on getting back to the basics.
Meanwhile The Simple Dollar has this practical advice on The Twelve Biggest Personal Finance Mistakes People Make Over and Over Again.
And from Being Frugal these wise words
I refer you to these posts from other bloggers because, let’s not kid ourselves, the game has changed out there and we should be emotionally and mentally prepared.
The spiritual principles of abundance and prosperity, however, have not changed. So now is the time to make sure that you thoroughly understand them and can apply them. Having options is immensely freeing. That’s the purpose of this blog.
Sunday, August 17, 2008The Great Bohemian (part two)
Simplify your life. You do not need all the clutter you are holding on to. Get rid of it now because it is stealing your energy.
The clutter in your life takes energy to maintain. Start with the smallest things. Clear away a little and you’ll be amazed at the vast amounts of energy it releases inside of you.
Keep around you only the things that give you energy.
John-Roger, DSS from Spiritual Warrior
Back to Alain de Botton in Status Anxiety:
In July 1845, one of the most renowned bohemians of nineteenth century America, Henry David Thoreau, moved into a log cabin he had built with his own hands on the north shore of Walden Pond, near the town of Concord, Massachusetts. His goal was to see if he could lead an outwardly plain but inwardly rich existence and in the process demonstrate that it was possible to combine a life of material scarcity with psychological fulfillment. Proving how cheaply one could subsist once one had ceased to worry about impressing others, Thoreau gave his readers a breakdown of the minimal costs he had incurred in building his cabin, in all $28.12.
“Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only dispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind,” wrote Thoreau, adding, in an attempt to upset his society’s connection between owning things and being honorable, “Man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can do without.”
Thoreau tried to reconfigure our sense of what having little money could indicate about a person. It was not, as the bourgeois perspective tended subtly to suggest, always a sign of being a loser at the game of life. Having little money might simply mean that one had opted to focus one’s energies on activities other than business, growing rich in things other than cash in the process. Instead of using the word poverty to describe his condition, Thoreau preferred the word simplicity—this, he felt, conveyed a consciously chosen rather than an imposed material situation, a simplicity which, he reminded the merchants of Boston, people no less noble than the Chinese, Hindu, Persian, and Greek philosophers’ had once willingly practiced. As he put it “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”
Leaving Thoreau, Alain de Botton goes on to say:
“An insight of bohemians has been that our ability to maintain confidence in a way of life at odds with the mainstream culture greatly depends on the value system operating in our immediate environment, on the kind of people we mix with socially, and on what we read and listen to.
“They have recognized that our peace of mind can only be too easily shattered, and our commitments challenged, by a few minutes of conversation with an acquaintance who feels, even if he or she does not say, that money and a public profile are ultimately worthy of great respect. Or, by reading a magazine which, by reporting only on the feats of monied heroes, insiduously undermines the worth of any alternative ambitions. Bohemians have in consequence tended to display particular care when choosing with whom to spend their time with.”
Well, I’d like you to share your thoughts on this. Of course, one does not need to embrace bohemian values to simplify our lives, even if that simplicity is about the way we use our time and energy. Nevertheless, in pursuing the spiritual principles of abundance and prosperity it is important to note that simplicity may result in “more” not “less.”
Saturday, August 16, 2008The Great Bohemian (part one)
If you really examine your life you’ll probably find out that you don’t need about 95% of what you have. John-Roger, DSS
"Impeccability, as I have told you so many times, is not morality," he said. "It only resembles morality. Impeccability is simply the best use of our energy level. Naturally, it calls for frugality, thoughtfulness, simplicity, innocence; and above all, it calls for lack of self-reflection. All this makes it sound like a manual for monastic life, but it isn't. Don Juan to Carlos Casteneda
It could be that I have never subscribed to materialistic values for the simple reason that I have not had the resources to pursue them. Coming from a working class family, our richness was found in conversation and in a loving environment. And there was always food on the table despite a scarcity of many other possessions.
It is therefore not surprising then that I chose a vow of poverty in order to work for MSIA in the seventies, and subsequently, upon marriage, a very modest salary. A case could be made for my not changing my beliefs, and being rather limited in my outlook, and while that is no doubt true, I did enjoy the values I was raised with and saw no reason to discard them. In fact, I sought to enhance them.
With this attitude, and having found myself out of kilter with mainstream America, and mainstream MSIA for that matter, I chose to opt out and live a life more akin to a bohemian, than the typical Los Angeleno. Consequently, wife number two is an artist and a drop out herself and we currently find ourselves living in a warehouse in one of the barrios of Los Angeles, and despite factory and street noise a constant, we are deliriously happy and abundant.
The dictionary defines a bohemian as “one who has informal and unconventional social habits, especially an artist or a writer. “ Or, “who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices.” Despite all this, I am not the “Great Bohemian” referred to in the subject header of this post. I’ll leave that for Alain de Botton to describe in the following excerpt from his book, Status Anxiety:
“Just as money cannot confer honor in the bohemian value system, neither can possessions. Through bohemian eyes, yachts and mansions are symbols of arrogance and frivolity. Bohemian status is more likely to be earned trough an inspired conversational style or the authorship of an intelligent, heartfelt volume of poetry.”
So who is the great bohemian? I’ll post more about that tomorrow.
Thursday, August 14, 2008The World in our Palm
In my dream, the Angel shrugged and said, "If we fail this time, it will be a failure of imagination." And then she placed the world gently in the palm of my hand. -- Erica Jong
I had heard the story of the man who traded a red paper clip for a house a while back, but never knew how it was possible. Thanks to Irene Chiu, who sent me this link, I was able to find out:
It is an inspiring 8 minutes.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008Beyond Circumstances
"If I could really get you to understand that you are the source individually of all things around you, you would have the knowledge necessary for your life to come abundantly to you. When you go out there in the world to 'get' things, you are operating from lack. You are saying, 'I don't have this within me, so I have to find someone to give it to me.' If you could know that you are the source, you would not operate from lack. You would be manifesting your natural abundance, and the presence of Spirit would be with you." Dr. John-Roger DSS
To me, wealth and beauty are interrelated. If one is finding beauty in something, there is a feeling of fullness and expansion. I find this even more so when the discovery of beauty has been found in the ordinary, unassuming, or hidden. For this reason I have been attracted to the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi. It helped me find riches when, outwardly, I had little.
“Wabi-sabi means treading lightly on the planet and knowing how to appreciate whatever is encountered, no matter how trifling, whenever it is encountered. It’s about the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get from freedom from things. Things wabi-sabi are understated and unassuming, yet not without presence or quiet authority. The simplicity of wabi-sabi is probably best described as the state of grace arrived at by a sober, modest, heartfelt intelligence. The main strategy of this intelligence is economy of means--pare down to the essence but don’t remove the poetry.” Leonard Koren Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers
I have thought about this a lot, how beauty and wealth cannot possibly depend on the circumstances of life, even though it is easy to dismiss that thought and play the victim. Knowing that the hand we have has been dealt cannot possibly mean anything substantive--for example, where one was born, how much money we have or were born into, that wealth is not about how many things we have, etc.--I have struggled with a way to put it all together in a workable and meaningful way. This year a phrase came to me that reconciled all the opposing and conflicting thoughts I was having on this:
What determines a life are not its circumstances, but the consciousness in which it is lived.
That did it for me. And it has brought me peace, plus many wabi-sabi moments.
Friday, July 25, 2008A Yen for Saving
While you are still digesting yesterday's rather scholarly un-bloglike post on "Making the Claim," I thought today's post should be on the lighter side.
The Financial Times today reported on Japanese television reality shows, of which there are many.
"Just about anything can be turned into a gripping test of wits or stamina. One recent hit is ¥10,000 Monthly Budget Savings Challenge, in which contestants try to survive on impossibly little money ($93). The most creative competitor bought a chicken for eggs and speared his own fish, but lost to an even more frugal opponent."
This completely tickled me and got my imagination in gear. What did the more frugal opponent do? Is the $93 for a week or a month? What other creative solutions were there? If anyone finds out please let me know.
Coming back to yesterday's post for a moment, Marjorie commented, "Are you aware you have also given away most of the message in the movie and book called The Secret?--"Believe that you already have it, etc."
Actually Marjorie I wasn't. I thought I gave it away in my post of July 15, "Hold in your mind what you want more of." I guess there is more than one "secret."
Wednesday, July 16, 2008Frugal Living
I've added a Frugal Living section to this blog. It may seem a bit strange to some since the subject of the blog is spiritual principles of abundance and prosperity. Abundance and Prosperity are such big and expansive terms next to frugality. But I do think it fits here as frugal living to me is living within ones means and not being wasteful on any level--spiritual ecology if you prefer that term.
So if you are a couple living in a 10,000 sq. ft. home, with three cars, and a dog that your maid walks, today's post is probably not for you.
We all have a lot of stuff these days. The question is how to make the best use of it and how to dispose of what we don't need. A recent example was what to do with a wedding ring from a previous marriage. Shelley and I both had them and would shuffle them around from draw to draw.
Fortunately, we still retained affection for our ex-spouses so there was no rancor, nevertheless after coming across them for the umpteenth time I thought we should do a ritual whereby we tossed them in the ocean.
Thank goodness Shelley was far more level-headed. She suggested selling them for the gold content. I laughed as the rings were small and didn't seem to have much gold at all. However gold was approaching $1,000 an ounce and Shelley went online to research. She found what looked to her like a reliable company. They sent us an envelope with insured postage, and off went the rings, with me still giggling expecting to receive $5.00, maximum.
Last week we received a check for $178.82, which we promptly tithed on. Not a fortune but certainly an amount out of the blue and a whole lot better than my idea of throwing them in the ocean. This got me thinking of how many other items do I have of value that I am no longer using that could be passed along for better use, clear some space, and receive a few dollars in the process.
I would appreciate your thoughts on this.