Giving money, time to others

Posted Dec. 20, 2009, at 6:25 p.m.

Giving back, as you know, is one of the key elements of debtproof living. I’m not talking about giving from what is left over at the end of the month. I’m talking about giving right off the top as an act of gratitude and a leap of faith. That kind of giving is like a magic bullet. It allows gratitude to pour from our hearts in a way that stamps out greed. It allows us to acknowledge that even though we may not have everything we want, we really do have enough. Giving to others proves the condition of our hearts.

Giving money is, for some people, a lot easier than giving time. After all, we always can get more money, but our time is finite. It cannot be replaced, which arguably makes our time even more valuable than our money.

Every week, volunteers give hours of their time to serve others in hospitals, libraries, churches, schools and shelters. For many, I’m sure, writing a check would be a lot easier, but they opt to give what money cannot buy: their time.

Take Kate Rhoad, a longtime member of Debt-Proof Living (www.debtproofliving.com) who lives in The Woodlands, Texas. A certified professional organizer, Kate has built a unique business as a residential organizer. She tackles every possible organizational challenge, from attics to garages and everything in between, including home offices, kitchens, closets, playrooms and craft rooms. Since founding her business in 1980, Kate has added another service: personal money management. Kate helps her clients learn to manage their bank accounts, household bills and personal finances.

I can’t imagine anyone who is busier than Kate. Yet once each month without fail, you’ll find her at the local women’s shelter, teaching women how to manage their finances. She doesn’t get paid for this gig. It’s a gift she gives out of the gratitude of her heart.

Recently, I learned of a unique situation in which individuals who work as residential house cleaners are giving their time to help cancer patients. The foundation Cleaning for a Reason is a national cleaning service that provides free housecleaning for women who are undergoing treatment for any kind of cancer. Fighting cancer is difficult enough, but living with it is even tougher. If you or someone you know is a cancer patient, submit an application to receive this service at the group’s Web site, www.cleaningforareason.org.

Do you give your time to help others who are less fortunate or are in need? We’d love to hear about that. If you are part of an organization that counts on volunteers, tell us about that, too. Just leave your comment on my blog post today, at www.moneyrulesdebtstinks.com.

Imagine what a difference it would make in our world if all people gave back part of their income and some of their time, as well, without any expectation of receiving something in return, out of gratitude for all that they enjoy. What a wonderful world it would be.

Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com and author of 18 books, including her latest, “Can I Pay My Credit Card Bill With a Credit Card?” You can e-mail her at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, CA 90723.

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