September 4, 2017
If you've turned on any news channel in the last 10 days, you've certainly heard about Hurricane Harvey and the havoc he has wreaked across southeast Texas. From Corpus Christi, to Beaumont, to Rockport, to Houston, Harvey has left a tremendous amount of devastation in his wake. It's a weather performance that they're calling potentially the worst flood event in US history -- and one that we will never forget.
It started on the evening of Friday, August 25, and as soon as the sun finally broke through the clouds on the evening of Tuesday, August 28, it was evident that recovering was going to be an all-hands-on-deck mission.
Since beginning my Financial Peace journey, I've heard the famous Dave Ramsey motto over and over again. "Live like no one else, so later you can live and give like no one else." It's the war cry of the budget-making, debt-dumping, baby-step taking folks that are eagerly trying to work their way out of the financial hot mess that they've found themselves in. But it's also the fight song for those folks that have already made it out, or have never been in debt and are implementing smart financial decisions into their lives. Either way -- I've heard it a ton, and while it is always a chant in my mind, it has become so much clearer and louder in the wake of the devastation that Harvey has brought us.
For the last 10 days, I've heard nothing but of people giving. Left and right people are giving away their hard-earned money to causes in need. I've seen GoFundMe page goals being met and exceeded for families that lost everything to the flood waters. I've seen thousands of dollars being raised by my sweet friends and the schools they work at, and I've seen millions being raised by our favorite football players. I've heard of business owners paying their employees to go do relief work day in and day out, instead of their normal jobs. I've seen people generously step up to support various financial needs that churches and volunteers are requesting. I've seen people donate funds to feed volunteer relief workers and first responders, or even go out and personally purchase meals for them. People are literally giving away all that they can to help piece each other back together.
All of this giving is nothing but inspiring and encouraging, but can also feel a bit overwhelming when you're still living life on a budget and aren't quite to the "so you can live and give like no one else" part of the process yet.
So how can you live and give like no one else while still living on a budget?
Give What You Can - For starters, know what you can give, give that, and be proud of it. When I was stuck in my apartment for 4.5 days, going crazy that I was not able to get out and physically help anyone yet, I donated $25 to the Houston SPCA. It was all I could afford at that moment as my August budget was almost over and had every dollar accounted for. While I'd love to be able to give $250, I have to figure that my $25 will get used just as easily as someone else's $250 will. Give what you can. Be proud of it.
Give Your Time - Everyone has a different set of giftings and resources. Someone that has the opportunity to give a lot of financial resources away, may not have a lot of free time to spare. And someone that has a lot of free time to give away, may not have a lot of financial resources to spare. While I am obviously not rolling around in the dough over here, I do have two hands and some time. I, along with virtually every other human out there it seems, have been in homes that were swallowed up by flood waters, pulling up wet carpet, removing water-logged furniture, and crowbarring our way through baseboards. (Seriously, crowbars are amazing...why don't I own one?). You can turn any corner and see the helpers. They're in shelters bandaging up wounds, they're in homes ripping out sheetrock, they're in ruined neighborhoods passing out meals, they're in churches sorting out donations, they're in yards removing trees. People left and right are giving their time -- they're everywhere and they're needed just as much as the financial resources.
Give Your Resources- So, maybe you don't have a heavy cash flow in the bank to utilize, but I bet you've got other resources and talents you can tap into. I've seen people opening up their homes for out-of-state relief workers to have a place to stay. I've seen dear friends that are professional photographers offer to salvage photos and negatives that were damaged by flood waters. Maybe you've got some gift cards lying around that you could use to buy someone a meal or a wet vac (I don't know your life and where your gift cards come from). Don't let a strict budget keep you from figuring out a way to give away the other resources you do have.
So -- how do you live and give like no one else while still living within your budget? You find a way to simply give. This is a recovery process that will be ahead of us for a very long time. It will be a marathon of giving. Whether it's a small donation, the use of your two hands and your free time, or the other resources and talents you possess -- give what you can, be proud of that, and keep on giving.