For the second straight year, Mrs. T and I decided to help out a family in need by providing a Christmas meal for the family and toys for the kids. We both feel this is a small gesture we can do to help out people in our community. Through a local charity, our family was matched with a single-mother family with a 7 year young daughter this year. After learning what the family wished for, we got a gift card from a local grocery store for the Christmas meal and some craft toys and a dress for the little girl.
Yesterday we drove for half an hour to drop off the gifts. Because it was pouring rain outside, only Mrs. T got out of the car to drop off the gifts and I stayed in the car with Baby T.
After about 10 minutes, Mrs. T came back to the car, eyes a bit teary and slightly choked up. I knew something was up.
"How was it?"
"I feel so fortunate that we can help out. I talked to the mom briefly while dropping off everything. The dad had passed away last year and the mom got laid off work about a month ago. The family was forced to move out of their house. They were very lucky to find a cheap place to rent. The mom was not sure how she could afford any Christmas presents for her little girl this year. She was very grateful and the little girl put the presents underneath the Christmas tree right away..."
"Wow that's hard... is there something else we can help them with?"
Both of us were happy our little gesture has provided tremendous joy for this particular family. It brought smiles to my face to think that we've made a difference in someone else's life.
Writing a personal finance blog and focusing on becoming financially free in our 40's (in roughly 10-15 years) have conditioned both Mrs. T and I to think about finance and investing regularly. We have a frugal lifestyle, we live below our means, we try to save as much as possible, and invest money that we saved. We often hear people with high income living pay cheque to pay cheque and wonder what these people are doing differently since they are not headed toward early retirement. However, we sometimes forget that people are struggling financially because of things got out of their control. Yesterday's experience is a reminder. The family is in this unfortunate financial situation because bad things that are out of their control happened. I think it's extremely important for all of us to reflect on our lives and be appreciative and be grateful. Personal finance bloggers often pay close attention to savings rate, net worth, and passive income. We try to do better and better over time to improve our financial lives. While we may have many different reasons to reach financial independence, when analyzed, we just wanted to create better lives for ourselves by having more freedom and options in life. Because we pay so close attention to these financial factors, we sometimes forget that we're doing quite well already. Driving back home, both Mrs. T and I talked about how we feel extremely fortunate to be where we are in life - we're doing well financially, receiving dividend income each month for doing nothing at all, our net worth has increased by ~300% in 4 years, and we're on track to receive over $10,000 in dividend income in 2015.
Mrs. T has been reading Living the Wisdom of the Tao: The Complete Tao Te Ching and Affirmations by Dr. Wayne Dyer lately. Interestingly, she happened to read a chapter about giving last night which she read to me before I fell asleep.
All the world talks about my Tao with such familiarity – what a folly!
The Tao is not something found at the marketplace or passed on from father to son.
It is not something gained by knowing or lost by forgetting.
If the Tao were like this, it would have been lost and forgotten long ago.
I have three treasures, which I hold fast and watch closely.
The first is mercy.
The second is frugality.
The third is humility.
From mercy comes courage.
From frugality comes generosity.
From humility comes leadership.
Now if one were bold but had no mercy, if one were broad but were not frugal, if one went ahead without humility, one would die.
Love vanquishes all attackers, it is impregnable in defense.
When heaven wants to protect someone, does it send an army?
No it protects him with love.
Dr. Wayne Dyer interpreted the teaching as that being satisfied with less rather than more will result in great generosity. So we all need to be willing to take only what we need. There's no need to accumulate unnecessary items. We should not be attached to our stuff. If we can do that, we can be more generous to others. The more we cling onto our stuff, the more we feel that we need them. When we do this, the less concerned we will be with the welfare of others around you. We all should learn to see the hidden strength of simplicity and humility in everyone around us.
If you are reading this blog, I would assume that you're doing OK financially and you're trying to make your financial life even better. Like us, you're probably striving to achieve financial independence early in your life. Perhaps we are guilty focusing too much of our time on ourselves? Perhaps we need to step back from time to time, to realize that we're doing well, and instead focus on how we can help and serve others in need. We all need to realize that we are part of the community and that there are more important things in our lives than becoming financially independent. No matter where we are on our journey to financial independence, I truly believe it's important to reflect and help people in need.
So, dear readers, I would like to challenge you to provide a helping hand to a family in need in your community this Christmas season (or being politically correct, this holidays season). Let's all step outside of our comfort zone, donate money, donate food, donate your time, or even better, do it face to face and help out people in need in your community. If we can all do this, we can make this world a better place.
On a side note... hearing this story further enhanced the importance of having sufficient amount of life insurance coverage. We just don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. We must make sure our loved ones are covered if the unthinkable were to happen...
So when you are enjoying your Christmas dinner this year, feel good that you also helped someone else to have a wonderful time with their family, that might not have been possible without your help. So I challenge readers of this blog to provide a helping hand this Christmas and make this a tradition. So every year you will extend your help further and further because you can financially. I believe it is our duty to do so 🙂
PS In case you're wondering about the picture, it's a card the little girl made for us.