I find it rather fitting that the 4th and last of my daily motivational mantras is being written about today. Today the check cleared for what I believe is the largest check I have ever written, made out to my church. Keep in mind that when I was working my debt snowball to pay off my student loan it was all done with online transfers and payments. There was something spiritual about writing out the amount and filling in that check at the time I wrote it.
Dave Ramsey is absolutely right when he says that giving is the most fun you can have with money. I didn’t know it at the time, but when I was setting up my walls to build financial security I was also setting myself up to have the opportunities to give in ways I could have never imagined. In my pre-Ramsey days I gave nothing. No causes or organizations “motivated” me to give and I was incredibly self-centered only feeding my own perceived wants and desires that perpetually put me in debt and left me trying to keep up with the joneses.
Those days are long gone. Slowly over time as a household we have increased the amount of money we regularly give to charities. At the start it was a hundred bucks or so and now we give a tithe of our net income, split between our church and Compassion International. But I’ve also been more inspired to lead with my time and talents. In my post-Ramsey days I have found myself leading FPU classes, sitting on a church committee and participating in service events. These were not things I did before I got my financial act together. I had the time but I just didn’t prioritize it.
When it comes to the dollars and cents, going beyond our monthly scheduled giving has truly brought joy into my life. When birthdays, weddings and friends/family are in need we have the resources available to help without any strings attached. And the random and spontaneous opportunities to give always seem to present themselves just at the right time (or maybe I’m just more aware of them). One instance that comes to mind was this past Christmas. After having celebrated the holiday with my in-laws, we were on our way back to Chicago when we stopped in for lunch at a restaurant. At the end of our meal I had happily noticed that we were under our allotted budget for the trip by a few hundred dollars. In walked an active service member of our armed forces in uniform, and after approving with my wife, we anonymously comp’d his meal on our way out!
Giving has been one of the best things I think I have ever done with money. Yes we have superstar mutual funds, are consistently saving for retirement and have the right insurance plans in place, but if I was not actively giving I would not be living a complete life. The saving piece of money management helps me secure today and tomorrow so that I can meet day to day needs and buy the value of time later. Spending helps me enjoy (and have) this thing called a life. But giving blows everything else out of the water.
Giving has really unleashed a passion in my life that can’t really be measured because nothing else has come close to single-handedly transforming my life like giving has. Its let loose creativity, (more importantly) empathy and compassion from within me that I didn’t even know I had. Giving is without question a central part of any financial game plan.
Slowly we have been building and growing the way we save, the way we spend and the way we give. With giving we have grown from giving nothing to giving a tithe of our net income. We plan in the future to give in even bigger and better ways. For me I would love to live off our investment income and teach a high school personal finance class part-time pro bono, as well as work a short term mission and establish a college scholarship fund. With goals like that in mind I’m happily continuing to baby step my way there. Doing a little more saving, a little more spending and a little more giving as I move along the way.