I’ve been on a journey to pay off my debt since September of 2017. I’ve made budgets, scaled back, sold things, walked dogs for extra cash, and said no to a lot of things.
Of all the things I’ve said no to, giving has been the hardest. Prior to my financial journey I was always emptying my pockets for homeless people, picking up tabs for dinner or drinks, and even giving away the gloves I was wearing to someone I thought needed them more. (I’ve gone through a LOT of sets of gloves….)
But with my budget, I didn’t leave room for these things. On purpose.
This didn’t bother me a whole lot until one day this summer. I was exploring downtown Denver for the first time as a resident. I made my way down 16th Street and quickly felt like my heart was being ripped out over and over again. There are a lot of homeless folks that live in the downtown area, and I wanted SO badly to give money and kindness to each of them, even if it took me all day. I’ve had a soft spot for the homeless ever since middle school (I have no idea where this comes from). I stuck to my budgeting guns and stoically walked past everyone in need…. and felt like total shit about it.
This afternoon I was walking my dog along Bear Creek, savoring the brisk weather, and listening to a podcast interview with Ben Feder. (I just stumbled across his book Take Off Your Shoes – One Man’s Journey from the Boardroom to Bali and Back earlier today.) In the interview has talked about his need for the habit of compassion in his life. He also talked about the homeless and how people say you shouldn’t give them money. But he looks at it as an act of compassion. We are all deserving of it. So he chooses to carry a wad of one dollar bills so he can give money to any homeless person he wants.
Now I’m not just talking about compassion for homeless, I’m talking compassion for anyone. I bought a book for a friend last week that I knew she’d love. As soon as I saw it I had to buy it for her. Ever since I bought it I was excited about it! And today I was able to give it to her in person. I experienced happiness and joy from the time I bought the book, through giving it to her, and still feel that joy even now, hours later. A $25 purchase brought me all that happiness.
These are just a few of the reasons why I’m changing my budget. Starting with this month, I will budget $50 dedicated to kind acts. Buying someone coffee, giving money to someone who needs it, paying someone’s bus fare – whatever feels like the right thing.
Just knowing I am doing that is already having a very positive impact on my thoughts! It is fun to think of all the ways I can do nice things with $50. Even just budgeting $10 would have the same effect!
If this inspires you to do something similar, I’d love to hear about it!