The power of abundance can make a startling appearance in your life. You may not recognize it at first. I didn’t.
The most surprising development on my personal finance journey hasn’t been that I paid off my student loan debt quickly, or how freeing it is to live without debt. The most startling discovery has been my feeling of abundance now that I’m confident in my ability to make and manage my money.
It started with a $5.00 monthly membership fee. I’ve been involved with a local arts organization for YEARS now, but I never signed up for their VERY low cost membership. I became a board member recently, which meant it was time to join for real. I signed up to have the $5.00 automatically withdrawn from my account. I mean, I pay more for Netflix. I’ve always been able to cover my Netflix bill, so I’m sure I can find a way to cover my membership fee. I believe in the organization, and for $5.00 a month, I’m a patron of the arts.
It felt good to give. It felt good to give and know that it wouldn’t break my financial security. My needs are met, so I’m able to give my money and time to a cause I believe in.
About a week later, I was hanging flyers to announce a call for submissions. I was on my way to meet a friend for coffee at one coffee shop, but I decided to stop in one across the street and hang a flyer, too. As I approached the door, a young man who was sitting on the stoop asked, “Miss, could you buy me a cup of coffee?” I stopped in my tracks. I looked at him and said, “Sure. What do you want?”
Reader, he was STUNNED. He looked up at me with such surprise on his face. I think he was more surprised that I acknowledged him than he was that he was about to get a cup of coffee. He said, “Just a cup of coffee.” I said, “Okay.” I went in, hung my flyer, and bought him a $1.59 cup of coffee. i also bought a $5.00 gift card, because it was hot out and that $5.00 could buy him time in the shop. I handed it to him, and he said, “Um, thank you.” Still startled.
I walked across the street and bought myself a $1.59 cup of coffee.
I didn’t think much of it until I stopped to buy gas the other day.
I pulled in next to the pump. I got out and slid my card into the reader. A man on the other side of the pump said, “Miss? Could you help me out?”
Now, let me interrupt this story for a minute to tell you another one. A few months before, I stopped for gas at the same station. My debit card wouldn’t work. My credit card wouldn’t work. My debit card wouldn’t work at the ATM, either. My gas light was on and I had to get to campus. I was freaking out. I called my bank, and found out that it had something to do with their new vendor. All the security codes on the back of cards were now invalid. They gave me a new code. It didn’t work. Before I called them back to scream expletives into the customer service representatives ear, the gas station attendant said, “Can I give you $10.00 to get to work?”
I wanted to cry at such kindness.
In the end, I didn’t have to take her up on her offer. But, I remember that every time I drive by that gas station. As a matter of fact, it’s why I still go to that gas station when I’m near it.
I was at that gas station and the man at the pump across from me asked, “Miss? Could you help me out?” He needed gas to get home from work. He looked like he’d been doing manual labor outside all day. I stepped around the pump and slid my card into the reader. I punched in my phone number so I could use my points to reduce the cost per gallon. We made idle chit chat while his tank filled up. It turned out he had been doing manual labor outside all day.
He thanked me, and we both drove away.
On my way to my next destination, I started thinking about how quickly I said, “Yes,” to both people who asked for a little help. In the past, I would have argued with myself about whether or not it was some scam of some sort – even though what scam are you pulling when you ask for coffee? So what if the guy at the gas station had $10.00 in his pocket. I had $10.00 EXTRA dollars in mine. I could give it.
There have been times in my life, though, when I could not.
When I was deep in debt and couldn’t see a way out, I did not feel as generous with my money or my time. When I volunteered, I felt guilty because I could have been using that time to do paid work that would pay down my debt. When I bought myself coffee, I felt guilty because that $1.59 wasn’t really mine because I had debt. It could go to debt. When I was unemployed, or underemployed, it felt like I’d never have EXTRA money. Even a $5.00 a month membership felt like too much to commit to.
After I bought the man the gas, I thought, “What has gotten into me lately?” I even tweeted out the question, without giving it any real reflection before hand.
As I read responses from people telling me I had a big heart, I felt doubt. Big doubt. I can be kind at times. I feel compassion and empathy. I care about what happens to other people. Yes, all of that is true.
But it dawned on me, sometime during that Twitter exchange, that what had gotten into me was a feeling of abundance.
I feel abundant. I feel abundant enough to give. I can now give both my time and my money without the dreaded guilt of debt hanging over my head. Kindness can flow more fluidly when it’s not blocked by the nagging feeling that your needs are not met.
Since I started on my personal finance journey, years before I created Dream Beyond Debt, I’ve gone through a lot of phases. I’ve been humbled. I’ve been scared. I’ve been amazed. I’ve felt connected. I’ve felt immense gratitude.
And now, I feel abundance.
It took a lot of effort, but it is, without a doubt, absolutely worth it. I’ve paid off debt, put myself out there, asked for what I wanted, received it, overcome underearning, developed a deeper belief in my abilities, and connected with a community in which I feel I belong. My needs are met.When you feel like your needs are met, then anything extra can be given freely. Click To Tweet
I can give to strangers who need a quick bit of help, and I can give to organizations that I believe in. For that, I am incredibly grateful.
What’s been a surprising milestone in your personal finance journey?