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Such a small amount, yet I was giddy about the unexpected windfall for days.

The check for fifty dollars, printed on carefully patterned, possibly watermarked, paper arrived in a standard issue Number 10 window envelope, the kind used when a government department has a big mailing list.

The check, easily torn away from the bottom of an 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper, was accompanied by a short form letter from the state controller’s office. Basically, it explained that I had made a small over-payment on last year’s state income tax bill.

Oh, it was a reFUNd check. I thought about the word. The unexpected money was a reminder for me to have FUN.

This special delivery felt different than when I receive a rebate check for buying a favorite brand of spirits at the liquor store, although waiting three months for my “show me the money” moment can feel like a surprise as well.

Receiving a federal income tax “return” is also different.

No surprises are involved. People who overpaid know how much they can expect. In many cases, “return” money has already been spent.

No. This felt different.

The amount was not so small it could be mixed in with change that collected on top of my dresser, nor so large it would get earmarked for an overdue household project like a kitchen refresh.

The amount was perfect for treating myself without an accompanying dose of guilt.

A dinner out? A hardcover book?

It seems to be easy to spend money on a gift. Some type of calculations might take place around the history of the relationship. Yet, it’s often easier to justify spending money on someone else.

I remember a workshop I took many years ago about the different energies of money: earning, saving, spending, investing, and giving it away. I’d like to have a good relationship with all of them.

It is important to ENJOY your resources.

Fifty dollars is an amount that doesn’t demand deep psychological attention. I considered that spending fifty dollars simply on something FUN did not invite self-judgements. It was not an amount that robbed funds allocated for something I needed.

It was merely about treating myself to something I wanted, something I could enjoy —  at a time and place of my choosing.

Whether money is hard-earned or gifted, whether the amount is large or small or something in between — it seems that any spending gesture should be accompanied by joy.

Receive, Spend, Enjoy. Repeat.

Not forgetting the FUN in ReFUNd is no small thing.

Re-printed with permission.

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  • Deborah Hawkins

    Deborah Hawkins has been blogging on gratitude and mindfulness for over a decade, posting over 500 essays. In December of 2019, she brought out two books, The Best of No Small Thing — Mindful Meditations, a collection of favorite blogs, and Practice Gratitude: Transform Your Life — Making the Uplifting Experience of Gratitude Intentional, a workbook on her process. Through her books, classes, and coaching, she teaches people how to identify things to be grateful for in everyday experiences. New blogs are posted every week. Visit her website: Follow her on SM.,

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