This year has been one of careful financial consideration for us.  We have been cognizant of what we spend, and where it goes.  We have been thoughtful about not wasting money, giving to charity in the right proportion, and how to move into the direction of being debt free.  We have been working on fixing up our house in the most economical way possible, for the purpose of trying to find a way to walk to shul, without compromising financial security.  I am always aware of what is being discounted for our financial situation, and try to make up for any of that by providing our physical services or help in any way that we can to those institutions/organizations. 

This year, our expenses have increased a lot. The Crappy Red Van died, and we now have a car payment on a ten year old vehicle.  Our private school tuition increased by more than our car payment.  We had to start paying for part of our health benefits through work.  Chandler moved back in with us and that means more food costs and therapy. And, I increased our charitable giving because we were well below what we should be contributing percentage-wise. 

How, then, is it possible that ends are meeting?  I have no idea! Somehow, we have been blessed with being able to stretch our dollars further than I previously thought possible.  Also, it helps that some recent medical bills were able to be stretched over 12 months in a payment plan.  Regardless, I seem (at least) to feel better about how things are going, despite having less and less with which to work.  Rob has done a great job shaving hundreds of dollars off our grocery bill (although it does get to be slim pickings around re-grocery shopping time!).  We also are entertaining (like on Shabbat) a whole lot less because that ends up costing a bunch of money, and always blows our budget.

There is a type of freedom in feeling the financial hurt due to doing positive things, like becoming debt free, paying fair share, giving to charity.  Parshat Ki Tavo reminded me that there are blessing to be had from testing this out.  The message is clear. Yes, we worked hard for this paycheck – but we cannot forget who stands behind the scenes: G-d. And whatever G-d grants us, part of it belongs to G-d, to our community (both by supporting our synagogue through dues and other giving, and also the community at large through taxes), and part to those less fortunate or in the business of helping to empower others who are less fortunate.  

It is all good, friends. It is all good.