Team L.I.F.E., formerly known as the Stewardship Committee, met in February to be mindful of how we continue our dialogue and awareness of stewardship throughout the year. We gave thanks for the generosity we saw demonstrated in the collection of our 2018 pledges and began a conversation about how to be mindful of all that we have been given and how to be faithful in our giving. The members of Team L.I.F.E. all had different impressions and takes on this; but one thing that we agreed to was that using the season of Lent as a time to live simply, be intentional, and seek discipline was something that we wanted to model.

Each of us has created a financial intention for the 40 days of Lent. Below are the commitments of Team L.I.F.E., and under that are the some of the team members’ reflections as to how it is going each week in Lent.

  • I am taking a generalist approach to meet a specific goal. In the 40 days of Lent, I will transfer $15 a day into my savings account. Some days that may come out of my coffee and treats. Other days that may be a revision to my grocery list. And other times it will be tightening up on unintentional spending. Wherever it has to come from, I am committed to set aside 10% of what I have figured out to be my daily income above and beyond my usual giving. — Chris Craun
  • This Lent, I’m focusing on intentionality in my spending fast. I don’t see myself as being particularly disciplined in spending, but I believe it’s like a muscle — I believe the more you do with it the stronger you are, and that it’s more about habits than home runs. Coupling discipline with intention helps even more. With that in mind, I’ll allow myself a weekly grocery shopping budget at or below my average since September (I’ve made a spreadsheet!), and gasoline, and $100 in total for everything else, excluding regular bills. I’m also cutting out on-line shopping entirely, since that’s the only way I’ll keep to a $100 cap. It feels ambitious, but since I’ve stocked up on pet supplies, and can cut out on-line shopping, I think I can make it. Even if I don’t, I expect just trying will help shift my focus away from consuming and back to the things that matter most. — Aaron Gibbons
  • I’m not very fond of thinking about money. Like many people my age, I think, I grew up with the idea that money, how much you had and how much you spent, was a private matter. You did not discuss it. Unfortunately, in my case, that meant I didn’t think about it very much, either. This Lent, I think “Spending Fast” will take the form of “spend less, think more.” I intend to take time exploring my relationship to money and its relationship to me, particularly to my spiritual life. How does my attitude toward money influence my anxiety level, my generosity in general, my physical energy, my choice of activity, my ability to live simply? One small, specific action will be “no ATM withdrawals” where small bits of cash seem to depart unrecorded and unremembered. — Lynda Garner
  • For our Lenten observance, we will be following a plan of Mindful Spending. It’s simply too easy to click on a shopping cart online or whip out a bank card without really thinking about needs versus wants. For us, it will be a discipline of communication as much as anything else. — Nancy Parker
  • My pathway to simplicity this Lent will be focused on how I spend my alone time once my husband has gone to bed. He is an early riser, so it is common for him to go to bed early, around 7:30 p.m. This leaves me and my cat Luke, with our quality alone-time together. Our ritual is he jumps into my lap after I have poured myself a glass of wine, and after I go through my emails, I often times end up shopping online. This Lent, I am going to intentionally change this ritual and not drink wine alone, and not shop online. I will use this time instead to read or do something productive. — Jennie Street
  • For my Lenten spending fast, I plan on not spending any money. Obviously, that’s not completely true. I plan on aggressively budgeting for my monthly expenses and buying pre-paid gift cards this week for groceries and gas (and a small amount for entertainment). I already have my bills on auto-pay, so I won’t have to make a payment on those. I’m hopeful this will be a healthy and worthwhile step toward simplicity. — Jeff Swart

And how’s it going??

Week 1, with Jeff Swart: 

Hello, Friends! Hopefully, you’ve already heard that Team L.I.F.E. (formerly known as the Stewardship Committee) is undertaking individual spending fasts during Lent. Over the next four weeks, you’ll see updates from us here and in the weekly eblast.

In my intention to spend more simply, I decided to strictly budget my grocery and miscellaneous spending. I put $150 on a gift card for groceries, and $80 on a gift card for other non-essential spending. After only a week, I feel like this has been a worthwhile challenge. I’m definitely spending less and being more conscious of my previous spending on drinks and junk food. Right now I’m still on pace to stay within my budget, and I’m making healthier choices. So far, so good!

Week 2, with Nancy Parker:

The Parkers’ interpretation of the Team L.I.F.E. spending fast was to be more mindful of our spending during this season. As I sat down to write this update covering the first two weeks of Lent, I initially felt like a bit of a failure. But upon further reflection, I realized that we are actually being far more mindful of our spending patterns than is our norm. Although we have had a few restaurant meals, we are not simply defaulting to going out just because I didn’t plan dinner (!), and I have not succumbed to any of those pesky pop-up ads that really want me to shop online for things I don’t really need. Overall, I would give us a B+ for the first third of Lent, with the understanding that we can always do better moving forward!

Week 3, with Chris Craun:

While I did not create a structure to intentionally constrain my spending in certain areas of my life, I have been disciplined in moving 10% of my daily income into my savings. After attending Pathways to Simplicity and listening to Rick Parker’s presentation on finance, I also have looked into my student loan debt. I have successfully ignored this debt or just figured I would be paying it off the rest of my life! Not the case! Seeing that I have the capacity to set money aside, I now know that I can pay more toward my student loan and could in fact get rid of that debt in a far shorter time frame with much less interest accrued. I have appreciated this Lenten discipline and plan on utilizing it moving forward.

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