give & get?

homeless_man_2

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I have come full circle on the art of giving over the last few years. In my mind everything is very calculated, especially when it comes to the money that I have earned. In all that I do, I like to feel confident that I have received the most bang for my buck! Of course, having this mindset easily transfers to how I decided to help others in need.

I wanted to see IMPACT. Unless your organization could show me results, and a direct link to my dollar, I was not interested. Otherwise, how would I know that my hard earned money was being spent wisely?

One of the most difficult challenges for NPOs today is the ability to publish sound metrics that prove the value of their organization. If you are a school in Uganda, how many children are served, what percent of children move on to secondary education, how many meals and uniforms have been provided, what subjects are being taught, was there an exponential increase in the cognitive abilities of the children, is the faculty qualified (i.e., have valid degrees from accredited institutions of higher learning), and would my money be better spent going to an inner-city school in Montgomery, Alabama? If an organization is fighting to stay afloat, usually the more marketing accomplished and metrics produced the better chance it will have at survival.

More marketing and more metrics take more time and cost more money, taking away from the focus of the organization’s mission.

 

In our society, it is apparent we have become selfish consumers instead of selfless givers. Which makes me ask, when did consumption become a part of giving? And more importantly, when did the money that I choose to give become mine?

One of the most challenging things I have had to do, as a giver, is decouple my giving (i.e., time and/or money) from any expectations whatsoever. With that decoupling came a massive increase in faith. Faith that the money and/or time I give would be used appropriately regardless of the presence of the associated impact.

That being said, it is never wise to blindly give to any old organization. I do believe, in most cases, some form of calculation should exist when choosing where to invest valued resources and time.

2 Corinthians 9:7 states, Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

When you do give, which I encourage all of you to do in some form or fashion, give without consuming anything. We have to remember we are not paying for a product, service, or even a calculated result when we give. If you expect a product, service, phone call, letter etc. you could inadvertently be taking away from the true purpose of your donation.

This does not mean organizations, family members, and charities alike are free from providing results to their benefactors. On the contrary, hopefully the beneficiary will provide some results, as it will usually encourage more giving. However, in most cases, impact can take a long time to come to fruition and even compile / properly quantify, and for this reason alone it should never be “expected.”

It is your choice to give, and it will be solely your decision to stop giving. But I encourage you never to stop because your expectations were not met. Instead make the decision to give or stop giving based on faith. No matter what you decide to give to (e.g., family, a charity, the homeless, or an organization), give quietly and walk away cheerfully without an expectation to receive (consume) anything in return. This is not easy, and it will be a challenge. But it is the challenges that help us to grow.

Let’s remove the idea of give & get, and progress to give & go.

Be Wise.Rugged.Brave.

-Scott

picture used from http://firstdayofschool.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/homeless_man_2.jpg

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A shave and a haircut that pays you.

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Image

A shave and a hair cut for free, or better yet, one that makes money for you! When I look back on some of the best financial decisions I have made over the last 12 years (since I was 18), I have found that there are some pretty simple decisions any man can make when it comes to being thrifty and smart with his money, and that are guaranteed to pay off somewhere down the road. Being smart with one’s money is not as complicated as rocket science. I would compare it more to concrete mixing or shoe shining; a simple repetitive process that requires a little bit of elbow grease and discipline. The problem is, society seems to be through with elbow grease and self-discipline, unless it has to do with sculpting your body for the purpose of…well picking things up and putting them down of course.  Just kidding, I do cross-fit too. Here are some simple lessons and values that I believe every man should adhere to:

– The first lesson a man needs to learn is not to become ensnared by the latest and greatest, but instead be captured by the value of a lifetime warranty. You may pay a little more up front, but you will never have to pay again. Therefore, before you buy, look to see if the product you are purchasing comes with a lifetime warranty. If there are no products within that “product class” which comes with a warranty, pick the company that has been around the longest and is known for their quality. If something happens to that product within its lifetime, write a hand-written letter to the company explaining what happened and why you would like a replacement. I have done this a handful of times and have always received an equivalent replacement or an upgrade.

– The second lesson which will not only save you money, but I have found helps to make money, is learning to cut your own hair. The investment is $20 (for the clippers) the return is $4000! In the last 12 years I have saved over $4000 on haircuts (1 haircut every 2 weeks for 12 years, average haircut price $10-$15). I have since taken that money and invested it to increase my rate of return. It is simple math, and a simple decision. Sure I have had a bad outing with the clippers once or twice, but I swallow my pride, and thank to God the hair grows back (for now anyway).

– The third lesson is to understand that the price/size of an engagement ring will not make your marriage better. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but they are not your pocketbook’s buddy. The average price of a wedding ring these days is almost $5300! By spending less on your wife’s ring you can use the extra money for travel, to invest, or to pay off your college loans. I didn’t spend a penny over $1500; an instant savings of $3800. What I did do is spend a lot of time to make sure I purchased the perfect ring. The diamond is less than .30 carats, and to this day it is my wife’s favorite piece of jewelry. Not to mention she receives countless comments on its simplicity and beauty. The funny thing is, we both very rarely wear our rings anymore. After a few years, we realized our active lives had us always removing the rings, so we decided to get tattoo rings. If I had only known…I could have saved another $1400.

– The fourth lesson a man needs to embody is to never impulse buy, and be proactive. This is a tough one, but over time, it can save you a lot of bread. Unless the item is on sale (final clearance), chances are there is a better deal out there somewhere else. Today, with the power of patience, and the internet, you will be able to most likely find a steal on the product you have been waiting to purchase. To paint you a better picture, my old pair of running shoes are on their last leg. I want to purchase the same pair (New Balance 730’s, sz. 11) but the average price right now for the size and color I want is $50. I have seen them before for under $30 so every few days, for the past 4 months, I do an internet search to see if they have come down in price. I will let you know when they do.

–  The fifth lesson that should be taken into consideration is, never spend more than 15-18% of your monthly income on a place to live. Although a bit tricky, it is possible. I learned the hard way with this one, and late. If you think about it, you spend over 75% of your day at work or sleeping. So why are we (society) paying so much for a big, new, house/apt in a “hip” location that we are hardly in? Since, learning this lesson, I have been able to allocate the additional money I would have been spending on a larger/nicer living space and earmark it towards diversifying my portfolio by investing in land. I hope this decision will help me to someday pay for a future house with cash; never paying upwards of 20% of my monthly income again for a home.

– The sixth lesson is one that I have found to be invaluable. When buying a vehicle, consider purchasing a fuel-efficient used truck. My Toyota Tacoma has manual roll up windows (yes they still have those), is two-wheel drive, and has a hummingbird 4 cylinder engine! Needless to say, it is all that is MAN. This bad boy tank gets me 24-28 MPG and has the ability to tow a boat, carry couches, motorcycles, and other miscellaneous garbage. It has aided in helping others to move from one home to another, and has cost me almost nothing to maintain. In the past 3 years, I am on track to save close to the overall value of the truck on moving costs, and discounts on furniture etc. (which I can pick up and haul free of charge). Not to mention, I took my time to purchase it and bought it for almost $4000 under the kellybluebook value.

-The seventh lesson will be the last lesson I share with you today. In my eyes, it is one of the most important lessons I have learned, through my own experience as well as through others.  Never be in debt to anything for longer than 7 years (even a house payment if possible). Now there is something to be said about “good” debt (i.e., buying a home which could make you a profit). But the key word is “could;” some are more willing than I to take the risk and endure 20-30 years of paying off a fixed or variable home loan. In the Bible, Deuteronomy 15:1 talks about how at the end of 7 years all debts should be canceled. Now let me be clear, by no means am I saying it is unbiblical to carry debt longer than 7 years, I am only attempting suggest a good practice not to, based on my interpretation of biblical guidance. Since we live in a day and age where a cancelation of debt by creditors would almost never happen due to the “free” market and lack of regulation on interest rates, I have decided to master my own finances and do my very best to make financial decisions which will not allow debt to master me, longer than 7 years. My thought behind this is simply;

By not carrying any debt, it allows one to more freely give to others in need, live in the present, and invest in the future. 

– Be Wise. Rugged. Brave.

Scott