Fundraisers and requests from charities used to bother me. So did the collection plate at church. I felt guilty because no matter how much money we made, there was never enough to give any of it away. And with all the debt we had (It was plenty!), how could I be expected to help others when I couldn't even help myself?
Then our financial house of cards came tumbling down. It was ugly. Losing our business and income and getting notice that our home was scheduled to go into foreclosure was a huge wakeup call. When I was at the darkest point, I made a promise: If I ever see another dollar, I'm going to give some of it away out of gratitude for having anything at all. Then I will do the best I can with the rest. And I meant it.
Giving from a heart of gratitude — not a sense of guilt — was the catalyst for turning my life around. Coming this close to losing everything made me really appreciate what I didn't lose: my family and my home. I was shocked by just how good it felt to give to others — not because I had to but because I wanted to experience that joy again and again. Giving gave me a grateful heart.
Gratitude gave me the stamina and discipline to keep going all the way to paying off the very last of our debt. Giving felt so good it made paying off debt and living on less possible. I never could have made it without so many blessings along the way.
Giving Makes Us Happy
It's a fact! Givers are happier people than non-givers. A Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey of 30,000 American households revealed that people who gave money to charity were 43 percent more likely than non-givers to report being "very happy" about their lives.
Giving Makes Us Healthy
One study conducted by the nation's top universities — Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Stanford — as reported in The Christian Post, revealed that people who are givers see the benefits of delayed mortality, reduced depression, increased well-being and good fortune. "Give daily, in small ways, and you will be happier. Give and you will be healthier. Give, and you will even live longer," writes Dr. Stephen Post, bioethicist and co-author of the book "Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life by the Simple Act of Giving."
Giving Makes Us Rich
The Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey provided credible results: People who give charitably make significantly more money than those who don't. More giving doesn't just correlate with higher income; it causes higher income. And when people earn more, they give more, so the wealthier they become.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.