Magical Green Elephants: Pagan Finance

It seems like pagans only talk about money when someone is attempting to raise funds and, quite frankly, that isn’t enough. Many pagans are on low incomes, one income, or no regular income, but still need to find ways to build assets, achieve some form of financial security, and, with time, create something they can pass on to their children.

Please bear in mind, I am not a finance professional. I’m just a chick with a love of finance and markets who started seriously looking at where her money was going on $24k a year. I had bills to pay and was, often, barely able to put gas in my car, but I had to nail down sound financial habits fast. I got the thumbs up from a friend on Google+; should I write blog posts about basic finance aimed at the pagan community, he would read them.

This one’s for you love.


First things first, if you do not have a savings account stop reading right now and open one. I have one with ING Direct, but there are a couple of great banks that offer passable interest rates on savings and allow you to automatically debit savings from your checking account.

ING Direct

Ally Bank

These are just two examples of online-only banks that provide FDIC insured savings accounts. ING often has some kind of deal where, if you open an account with $50, they will deposit $50. That’s a 100% match y’all and it’s free money. It’s also not a sham. I did, in fact, receive my $50 bonus for both my savings and Sharebuilder accounts with them. (A total of $100)

If you want to do your own investigation (and you should) to find an online bank, or local one, that will best meet your needs check out Bank Rate for objective comparisons of what banks have to offer. If you’re interested in joining a credit union, A Smarter Choice can help locate a union you qualify for.

If you’re like me and sometimes can’t resist the urge to buy that one little thing just because you have the funds, a savings account with an online only bank may be a good set up, especially since it can take upwards of 3 days to get your money back into your checking account. (Which gives me plenty of pause to wonder if the transfer is actually WORTH dipping into my savings.)

Even if you only have $5 in your account, to your name, put $1 in savings and pay yourself first. My Wells Fargo Way to Save account puts a dollar into savings every time I swipe my debit card. Not only is this relatively easy, but it quickly adds up; especially if you’re one to do a lot of swiping.

The next step I had to take was the nasty B-word. Budget. This is an ever changing process, so once I started budgeting I became very aware of when I let my budget slip…a little. In my opinion, one of the things that dooms many people is the desire to over budget, every penny, of every waking moment and this just isn’t realistic. Give yourself wiggle room and be honest about your expenses. The best way to do this may be a spending diary. For me, it was keeping receipts. One little stop at Barnes and Noble, another at Game Stop, a third at Microcenter and next thing you know I have a purse full of receipts that I have to look at and plug into software when I get to my desk.

This is, often, easier to overlook when purchasing online, but printing your orders and accounting for them may divulge impulsive spending habits, emotional spending, or just plain bad money management.

A few of my favorite, personal, finance websites are Budgets Are Sexy, Money Ning, and Get Rich Slowly. The posts are informative and written in lay person; so no calculations are necessary when reading. Don’t get me wrong, I like math, but I don’t like math that much.

Money Ning, and many other sites, offer free budgeting templates for most software platforms, so there really is no reason to not get a handle on one of the main things we consumers tend to have an issue with; our spending. Finally, planning for the future, emergencies, and even retirement is not just the privilege of the upper middle class. Putting away for a rainy day could, ultimately, be the difference between a small bump and a major pothole should an emergency arise.

Now I’m sure someone is looking at this post and saying “What the hell does this have to do with paganism, or the pagan community.” and I’ll say “everything.” It’s the giant elephant in the room we so often sweep under the rug. It isn’t until a scandal comes about that the discussion of pagans, and our attitudes towards money and financial involvement, are brought up for conversation. It’s amazing how much money will be put into a community center, but mention a pagan credit union and you can hear the crickets chirping half way from Omaha; despite there being a Christian credit union in my immediate area.

Imagine the advantage members of that union have. Not only are they linked economically, but they are personally vested in insuring members of their religious community are able to obtain affordable lending, etc.

And what if we are not making good use of our resources? Why not form a network of pagan finance, mortgage, savings and loans professionals; who could become known for their ethics, understanding of social-economic diversity, and even socially responsible investing? Why not help real people evaluate real issues involving a world they live in which is becoming, increasingly, complex with each new regulation, term, or form of investment?

So this is just the first in a series of posts I’ll probably do, sharing my experiences, showing my screw ups, and hopefully, showing other pagans that there is nothing wrong with talking about money and how an individual can benefit from it while helping to sustain a religious, local, and global economy.

*I was in no way compensated for any of my blurbs. For in depth savings and loans information please contact a finance professional. This post is based, purely, off of anecdotal evidence. All recommendations are personal and for entertainment purposes only. Insert more legalese here.


About Pythia Theocritos
  • Kim R

    I would be interested in such a series of blogs. I have a savings account and two checking accounts. One of the checking accounts is set up for automatic bill payments, house and insurance payments and online purchases. I did this so that if the account were compromised, I wouldn’t be totally wiped out as my personal account for groceries, etc., would still be intact.

  • thalassa musings

    I have an account with Mint which lets you add all of your bank accounts and credit cards, car loans, etc and will track them for you, automatically categorize your expenses, alert you if you overdraft or if you are late with a bill, etc.  It also lets you set up savings projections for different ideas and projects.  

    Best of all…its free.  

  • Ed Hubbard

    Wow…I am in love. I am starting a Blog/Site in a few weeks called to deal with this issue on a level of community. This is very much needed. 

  • Shakti_Mandrake

    I agree this is an issue impacting many of us. I have had to start hard core budgeting because things simply cost more. I am a single mom and pay daycare and bills on my own. I cancelled all my credit cards save for one emergency card and that was a good decision. I worked for citigroup.for years and the points cards are strategies to make you spend more while ignoring the apr and low equivalent of points to spent money. I.also keep an emergency savings and its only for emergencies. Something I found helpful is setting my bank up to automatically put $30 in my savings each pay check.

  • Crystal Groves

    Testing to see of comments are moderated.

    • Star Foster

       Every blog on Patheos is moderated differently, because every blog is different.

      • Crystal Groves

        Ah okay.  I had posted a comment and it was here one moment and then gone so I wasn’t sure if there was a time lapse for moderation approval or not :)

        • Star Foster

           Sounds like a technical glitch. It will always tell you if a comment is held for moderation. :)

  • Alex Z

    A few suggestions from some old guy.

    1. Credit Unions are generally better for folks that don’t need all the services that most banks offer.

    2. Few folks get comfortable or rich enough to really benefit their community by being a employee, so become a business, even if it starts out small. Great small business ideas for Pagans are:
    - Organic Herbs that you sell to local restaurants. Even a small lot can be real profitable if you grow and sell herbs that are less common but in high demand,
    - If you are artistic, sell your art to those in the Pagan community and the community at large.
    - Profit from your crafts. Incense, Candle making, Essential oils, soaps, salts, tinctures etc., carvings, clothing, leather working. etc.- Look for great deals and flip for profit. Believe it or not, I learned how to work live and online auctions through my Bank Character in World of Warcraft. I now buy antiques, jewelry, precious metals and gems at auction then sell them for profit on eBay and Craigslist. With a little luck I’ll never have to spend another day in a cube farm!

    3. Never finance anything that depreciates. Autos are the biggest area for real savings. If you finance a new vehicle, you lose 30-40% of the vehicle’s value as soon as you drive it off the lot, then pay thousands more than the full purchase price. Plus you are typically responsible for repairs and maintenance on top of your monthly payment. And worse case scenario, you get behind and lose the vehicle altogether.I’ve purchased my last few vehicles at auction or from private parties knowing full well that I may have to put money into them for repairs. Examples – F150 $3000.00, Ranger $50.00(!), Pontiac Aztek $2500.00. Because I’m self employed I keep track of all vehicle expenses and my monthly cost of ownership for these vehicles based on initial costs plus repairs works out to about $100.00/month – compare that to your monthly payment – and I never have to worry about a tow truck taking my truck in the night.


  • Tchipakkan

    Thanks, I love the idea of a Pagan credit union. 

  • Sophie Gale

    I definitely want to read more.  I’ve know for some time that if I ever organize my own tradition that the autumn equinox will focus not on the harvest but on the granary:  “storing up seed corn”–creating wealth for the next generations.

  • Linda

    I agree! I’d definitely join a Pagan credit union and as someone in the mortgage industry I’d join a Pagan financial network. :)

  • kadiera

    I’d say it’s not just things like credit unions though – money impacts our community in a lot of ways. There are Pagan business owners that don’t own witchy shops – do we go out of our way to support them? What about Pagans we know who wait tables at local restaurants, or who offer other services where we can specifically ask for them rather than another random person?  All the little things involved in keeping money in our communities that add up.

  • Debra

    bank accounts are fine – I have several. But if you can find as little as 50 bucks a month, you might be able to open mutual fund account. Assets are where you keep your money. They do a much better job of rising with inflation – where bank accounts spending power just gets smaller.

    If you sign up for the auto deposit of 50 per month, several of the large mutual fund companies will exempt you from the minimum deposit. IRAs (Roth) are also a good bet.

    Get educated. This isn’t rocket science, even if a little math is involved. Books like “The Wealthy Barber” (if it is still in print) are easy to understand and cover most of how to get started.

    Sooner is better than later. Start young. “Time is money” is all about compounding of returns.

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    When I make a purchase, in my little transaction register in my cheque book (which is where I keep my debit card —in the little slot designed for it), in the column for maths, I always round up to the next dollar.  If a purchase is $13.85, I write the actual price in the debit column, and then in the far-right column, I do the maths for $19; even if the purchase was only $11.04, I’ll do maths for $12.  It’s not much, usually, but on average, I save about $60 every nine months —which is usually about the time some emergency comes up where I need to dip into my cushion.  I really should start putting that into savings for *a lot* of reasons.

  • DalaiLamaPoo

    let u in on a little secret… all of wall street runs on some Pagan ideas.  Astrological stuff, Moon things.. its all about cycles and timing…  and the moon cycle and other universe happenings.. high tides etc.. are a better Calendar (more natural) than the one humans created.   

    • Ruadhán J McElroy

      let u in on a little secret… all of wall street runs on some Pagan ideas.  Astrological stuff, Moon things..