The oxygen mask on an airplane analogy is a cornerstone in life lessons. It essentially boils down to the notion that we need to help ourselves before we can effectively help anyone else. I get it. What I don’t understand, though, is the fact that so many people feel that they not only have to have their masks positioned just so, but they must also upgrade to an elite model and make sure that they can use their own masks in perpetuity before even deigning to glance at struggling passengers. Some of whom are seated in the very same row.
My fear is that far too often we allow the notion of personal finance to become insular. Yes, personal finance is about arranging your own finances in such a way that your money is ultimately able to work for you. Not the other way around. But to what end?
Is the endgame of personal finance a world in which we stop considering others? I hardly think so. But I can’t help but wonder if the path to that freedom is sometimes paved with overlooked opportunities to help. If that’s the case, how much of the misery of others are we willing to accept in order to ensure a more comfortable existence for ourselves? What’s the ratio? What’s the percentage for that?
Tell me this. How can someone devote countless hours to planning for a future that might possibly include subsidies of some form and not give an ounce of consideration to charitable giving? How can someone object to the notion of working for a corporation for the next three decades but firmly subscribe to the belief that it is fine to wait that long to begin problem-solving for others? It’s true. Charitable giving doesn’t always come with a tax benefit. But I didn’t realize the notion of charity meant finding another clever way to ensure one’s pockets are always lined.
Sometimes we have to stop and do whatever bit of good that we can right now. Call me naive, call me young, call me liberal. But those long-term goals upon which I am so fixed will amount to considerably less if that future is a world in which more sickness exists, illiteracy rates never ebb, and hunger continues to flow. And while I like to think that my current hard work and dedication to my finances will guard against myself or my family ever truly experiencing poverty, I cannot say the same about disease or disaster.
It’s time to abandon the every-man-for-himself mentality. Finance doesn’t have to equate to “me or them”. Balance is possible. And I bet there are quite a few people who have this balancing act well crafted. In fact, my guess it that there is a lot more charitable giving going in the personal finance world that we let on. I’d love to hear about favorite charities, gifting strategies, and more. Beyond that, I’d like to celebrate those milestones — not just personally, but across the blogosphere.
It’s true that giving is optional. No one is going to force you to make monthly or yearly charitable donations. It is not a requisite line item in a universal budget plan. You don’t have to give, but you absolutely should. Volunteering your time and talents are vital, but so is charitable giving. We all see how powerful it is to have money working for us. Why not unlock that same power for someone else?
Note: I promise to offer up a sneak peak of our giving in the next post. It isn’t perfect, but it is a priority for us.
So Tell Me…How do you feel about charitable giving? Care to share your personal plan or favorite charities?