Let’s take a break from the usual penny pinching, money grabbing Cash Cow madness. Today I want to talk about my personal story and the priceless concept of generous giving.
It would serve you well to first understand my background. I grew up in a lower middle class home. My parents struggled financially for many years and money was often a source of tension. They probably earned enough to live a comfortable, debt free lifestyle, but they were neither frugal (by Cash Cow standards), nor meticulous in their financial choices.
My absolute devotion to frugality and money management grew out of that scenario.
I don’t know why I have always been bent towards saving and being frugal, but that has been the case since I was a young child. My family can vouch for that fact. As as kid, I refused to purchase anything without first “running the numbers.” I couldn’t order fast food without figuring out the best deal! Weird, huh?
Part nature, part nurture, without a doubt. I’m a numbers oriented, analytical guy. At the same time, my families financial stress probably accelerated my tendencies. As a result, it has always been about saving and trying to avoid “being broke.”
With that in mind, I’ll bet you have no problem believing that I never enjoyed giving anything away. Somewhere along that path, giving up anything of my own became extremely difficult. I hated the idea of relinquishing control of anything related to money (toys, video games, trading cards, allowance money, etc.).
That mindset has plagued me ever since. What I earn is mine, and I want to keep it. After all, if I give too much away, I’ll end up broke and stressed like my parents were, right?
Wrong, generous giving is liberating. This I’m slowly learning.
Giving up anything of value is still difficult, but luckily I married a woman who is encouraging and extremely giving. She has taught me a crazy amount in the short time that we’ve been together.
Maybe the other factor in my growth is just growing up. Since we’ve moved a thousand miles from our families and loved ones, life has drastically changed. I’ve realized that although amassing a huge amount of wealth is enticing, it really won’t solve any of life’s ongoing problems. It might actually create more.
It’s just paper, and it will pass away.
Don’t mistake this sentiment for frugal softness. I’m every bit the anti-waste Nazi that I’ve always been. And I darn well intend on making millions through honest work and great ideas. But if I don’t, oh well.
On the other hand, relationships matter, and they last. They might even be eternal. Giving generously and doing good for someone else is meaningful, and has lasting consequences. It’s a source of real joy.
From Grinch to Giver – A Real Life Story in Generous Giving
This past week, we had some mobile home frustrations (yes, we own a mobile home). We have had a faucet issue since moving in, and it was not taken care of like the contract promised. I communicated with the plumber who was in charge and he informed me that the previous owners, who were contractually obligated to pay for the problem(s), refused to pay him for previous work done on our house. As a result, he wasn’t sure if the work would be reimbursed unless he took them to court, which he felt might not be worth the effort, money, or time.
After a few friendly chats, he decided to do the work without knowing for sure if he’d receive reimbursement for the work. Even though that was his job and he was required to do so, I was truly thankful.
He called afterwards and said that he thought it was taken care of, and that it was an easy fix with parts that he had laying around. I said thanks and went on with my work.
Later that night, my wife informed me that we should think about saying thank you for his willingness to help. Keep in mind my normal (past?) thoughts would have been along the lines of: “He just did his job, and this little fix was in our contract. Why would I pay him anything other than a thank you?”
Instead of that selfish nonsense, I agreed with her. So we put together a package that was probably worth more than his labor, and immediately hand delivered it.
The response was overwhelming. He called and texted me multiple times to say thank you. In addition, we made a friend who promised us help in case anything breaks in the future. How is that for an unexpected return on my investment?
This story isn’t about me, or my big ole’ generous giving heart. I’m a failure when it comes to generosity. But I’m learning every day. And the more I give, the more I want to give.
This past year has taught me much, but nothing more important than the joy of generous giving. Heck, I’m thinking about ways to appreciate other people I know right now. I’ll be dropping gift baskets on every door step in this mobile home park!
I’m working towards a new (financial) life motto. “Make it, save it, give it, grow it.” Is that trademarked yet?