Pagan Living on a Budget

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Magical Living When Times are Tight

When times are tight, you may find yourself wondering how you'll afford magical items. Image by malerapaso/E+/Getty Images

In tight economic times, people are cutting way back on their spending. Most folks are eliminating the expenses that they consider unnecessary or frivolous. After all, no one wants to have to choose between paying the electric bill or buying food. One of the first places that Pagans tend to cut back during a financial crunch is on their magical supplies. After all, how can you justify spending money on a new set of Tarot cards or a pretty new piece of jewelry, when you don't know how you're going to afford your car payment next month? Fortunately, it is possible to still maintain your comfort level of supplies without going into debt. Here are some tips on how to still have the things you need to practice your spirituality, while living within your budget.

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Make a Budget

Make a budget, and stick to it. Image by JamieB/RooM/Getty Images

If you haven't done this already, you should make a budget. Figure out how much money comes into your home, and how much has to go out each month. Be sure to set some aside for savings, in the event that you find yourself unemployed or facing unexpected debts. If there are things you can cut back on, then do so. Once you've made your budget, take a look at what's left over. The amount left over is what you can spend on non-vital things. In some situations, there may not be much. Whether you have a lot of extra cash left over or just a little, the key here is to only spend within your means.

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Stop Buying Things You Don't Need

Just because something is available doesn't mean you need to buy it. Image by Hero Images/Getty Images

Okay, so the big silver pendant with the dragon and the giant amethyst is really pretty. Do you have to have it? Is it something you can't live without? Chances are that if you step aside for a while, and take some time to think about your purchase, you'll realize that the money spent on that pendant might be better used somewhere else. Don't buy things that aren't essential -- and a good way to avoid buying stuff you don't need is to train yourself not to impulse buy. If you go into your favorite Witchy Shoppe to buy one book, don't come out with three just because some of them were on sale. Buy what you need, and no more. If you really need the other items, you can go back and get them later, once you've thought about it.

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Make Your Own

Our Pagan ancestors made their own stuff -- so can you!. Image by Peter Ptschelinzew/Lonely Planet/Getty Images

There are a bazillion and one different Pagan and Wiccan shops out there, all catering to the notion that it's far easier to plunk down some money and buy something than it is to handcraft it. In tough economic times, you should make your own stuff whenever it's feasible. If it's more cost-effective to gather your own twigs and make a besom yourself than it is to go out and purchase one, then why not do it? The added bonus of making your own ritual and craft supplies is that with each piece you make, you infuse a bit of your personal energy into the item.

To get started, try your hand at making some of these:

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Let Nature Be Your Shop

Go for a walk and see what found items you can bring home for your altar. Image by Patti Wigington 2014

As Pagans, many of us take time to celebrate the earth and the gifts it gives us. Why not take advantage of that, and use some of the bounty of the natural world in our practice? Need a new wand? Go for a walk in the woods and find a branch fallen from a tree that you like. Looking for some altar decorations? Instead of spending half a paycheck on a statue of some goddess you've never really heard of, hike on the beach and gather some rocks, some driftwood and shells. In the spring, put a pot of freshly blooming flowers on your altar. Get outside, and connect to the elements of earth, air, fire and water. When you need herbs, try wildcrafting instead of buying a baggie full of dried plants online.

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Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle

Swap books and other magical items with your friends to save some money. Image by Gary John Norman/Taxi/Getty Images

Okay, so you've read every book you own. You've read some of them twice. Guess what -- so have your friends! So instead of going out and buying more books that you're only going to read once or twice, organize a magical swap. Let all your friends know what you're doing, and invite them to bring theirs over too. You could even expand the swap to include Tarot cards and altar tools. Arrange it so that each person can take home the same number of items they brought, or set it up like a metaphysical garage sale and sell each item for a dollar or two, with the cash going back to the person who donated the item.

If you've got a lot of folks bringing the same books in, consider using them for a Pagan Book Club or study group: Starting Your Own Study Group.

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Understand That "Stuff" is Just Trappings

What matters most is your intent, rather than the material goods. Image © Photographer's Choice/Getty; Licensed to

One of the biggest misconceptions that people new to Pagan spirituality seem to develop is that they need to have a whole bunch of Stuff, or they're not really a Wiccan/Pagan/Druid/Treehugger/Whatever. Here's the thing. You can spend a small fortune on knickknacks for your altar, shiny silver necklaces, and brightly bejeweled athame. But the fact is that your belief and your abilities to process those beliefs come from within. The gods don't care if you have the most expensive ritual robe in the group. The universe couldn’t care less that you have a bigger wand than everyone else. Magic comes from inside you, and you should be able to perform just about any ritual without the use of Stuff. If you've got a finger to point with, there's your wand. If you can close your eyes and feel the sun on your face, there's your element of Fire. If you can raise your hands to the sky and open your heart, there is your offering to the gods. You don't have to have the Stuff. Sure, the Stuff is nice to have, but it's not required.