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The Pentacles Path to Stability by Paul Fenton-Smith

To Some of us, stability equals boredom, or at least it does until upheaval arrives and stability is suddenly a distant memory. pentacles people are aware that stability offers peace of mind, because it allows them to plan a secure future. The pentacles suit is the last of the four suits because the lessons of the Wands, Cups and Swords suits need to be mastered in order to make the most of the opportunities available to us on the Pentacles path.

A pentacle is a five pointed star contained within a circle. These five points represent the outer points of the body if you were to stand with feet apart and arms outstretched horizontally. The tips of the star are the head, the hands and the feet.

The upright pentacle represents the ability to keep your mind in control of your desires. These desires might be for money, for a lavish lifestyle, for fame, achievement or power. Taking the financial approach, an upright pentacle suggests that you are able to live within your means. You are spending less than you earn. This means that you may have money left over at the end of each month to invest.

Pentacles people tend to take the longer view. They are usually aware that the day will arrive when they can no longer work to earn a living. To prevent poverty in old age, they seek viable investments which offer a long term source of income in retirement. These investments may take the form of rental from investment properties, an income stream from a business, dividends from a share portfolio or interest payments from a savings account.

By keeping within their budget and investing wisely, pentacles people are able to secure a comfortable old age, financially at least. This is not so for those who live a life symbolised by the reversed pentacle.

When reversed, the pentacle shows that your desires are greater than your financial means, and to continue to live this way you will need to borrow money. Because a reversed pentacle lifestyle takes a short term view, no thought is given to how you might repay the monies borrowed along with the interest charged without increasing your income. This means that you effectively increase your expenses (the current expenses and your loan repayments) in order to maintain your lifestyle.

Mature pentacles people understand that to ease financial hardship there are only two real choices.

These are

  • to decrease your expenses while maintaining your income
  • to increase your income without increasing your expenses.

It is easy to slip into a downward spiral when the pressure of debt is constantly weighing upon your mind. As a result of feeling burdened by the need to work hard without apparent reward, you buy a trinket – to cheer yourself up. Maybe a candle, a pair of shoes, a bottle of champagne or a mobile phone; no pain is experienced after the purchase because it was paid via your credit card. This is the same credit card which is causing you to have to work so hard for past, long forgotten purchases, which were also supposed to cheer you up.

Often this spiral of debt is the result of poor training around money, coupled with the ‘have it all now’ mentality. When Susan selected four reversed pentacles cards in a seven card layout regarding finances she admitted that she owed $33,000 on credit cards at 18% interest per annum. Interest payments alone on this debt were $5,940 per year or $495 per month.

Unable to survive on her current income, Susan was increasing her credit card debt every year. As her debt levels increased, her stress multiplied until she was unable to sleep at night. She was a burnt-out 34 year old, biting her short brittle nails between selecting cards. Taking the short term view, Susan sold her low mileage four year old car, replacing it with a 12 year old model to use the difference to reduce her debts. When the second-hand car began to break down, repairs were charged to her credit cards. Soon repairs to her car were costing more than car payments for her four year old car which had only seven monthly payments to go before she owned it outright.

There’s obviously a fortune to be made by renting money to those who cannot live within their means. The less reliable you are with repayments, the worse your credit rating. The worse your credit rating the more interest you have to pay when borrowing money. The more interest you have to pay, the less money you have left over for living.

While working part time and studying at university, Nathan had rent and bills to pay, which made him feel trapped. Although he knew that it was only a temporary situation, he regularly spent money on electronic gadgets to cheer himself up. He had the latest mobile phone, MP3 recorder, palm pilot and yet he still felt stuck.

An aunt died and left him a sum of money and overnight his attitude changed.

“I can walk into an electronics shop and walk around without the desire to buy anything,” he explained in amazement. “I like what I see but I don’t actually need to own it all.” Nathan had recognised that his need to purchase gadgets had previously been based on his fear that he was powerless. Suddenly having enough money to purchase anything he desired negated the fear and diminished his desire. He had discovered one of the secrets which Pentacles people instinctively understand; the secret to money is to have some.

He then needed to learn another financial fundamental; that your hard earned money needs to be put to work to earn more money. In the ensuing 24 months Nathan lost $22,000 to wild ‘investments’ which were essentially unsecured loans to friends and acquaintances. In doing this he learned another secret to keeping money; that money which arrives without you having to be disciplined will leave without you being disciplined. ‘Easy come; easy go.’

“Perhaps the wages of sin is debt,” I mused as he detailed the outflow of money from his pockets.

To see if you are living a financial life which resembles an upright or a reversed pentacle ask yourself the following questions.

  • Looking back over the past 24 months, how many ‘had to have’ purchases seem pointless now?
  • How many of those major purchases might you have lived without or bought when they were on sale?
  • Do you regularly pay full price for towels, bed linen or clothing when these items are routinely sold at 35 % off during bi-annual sales?
  • If you were unable to work for any reason, how long could you financially sustain your current lifestyle? For many people this is measured in weeks. For those who have mastered financial discipline, it can be measured in years.
  • Do you have any positive ways to reward yourself for working hard which don’t involve spending money? These might include an afternoon spent snorkelling, watching a favourite DVD borrowed from a friend or a luxurious soak in a hot bath.

Living within your means needn’t restrict you to a life of denial, especially if you take the longer term view that small sacrifices now can make for financial stability in years to come. In retirement it may mean the difference between renting a small villa in a retirement complex, or owning the entire complex and living well on income from the rented villas.