On my recent travels, I encountered more kindness than I ever expected. Just two hours out of Austin on my first day, my check engine light came on. I pulled over to a gas station and approached two men to ask if they could help me out.
These two men spent about an hour looking over my engine, topping off my coolant for me, and walking me through common problems with small cars. One even gave me his business card and told me to call if I got into more car trouble down the road. They were total sweethearts about it, and I was so thankful to them both for their time and help.
They were only the first strangers to extend kindness to me. From food to housing, people showered me with kindness on the road. I found myself wondering about the financial impact that all this kindness had on my trip.
People have studied the effects of kindness for a long time. It makes people happier, and it breeds a wonderful circle. Happiness makes you kind, and kindness makes you happy.
I found that to be true on the road. I’m a chatty gal, but I found myself even more willing to talk to people on the road. I was consistently having great interactions with people, and it made me want more!
The kindness was everywhere. My friends lent me couches and spare bedrooms to stay in on the road. Cait Flanders bought me brunch at FinCon. A couple in Boise offered me their spare bedroom so I wouldn’t have to camp (I camped anyway, but so kind!) A stranger took a photo of me and the boyfriend at the Golden Gate bridge. Kindness manifested in ways large and small.
People’s generosity had an impact on my wallet. Leisa Peterson, for example, saved me money on food and campground fees by letting me sleep on her couch and eat her food for two days. And we had never met before! She and her family welcomed me with open arms, and Sedona ended up being one of the most beautiful places I saw on my trip.
All of this kindness meant that I spent less than I planned on my road trip. It opened up my heart. This kindness was a reminder that people are amazing. It was also a reminder that I need to do my part.
Kindness is not something that you only receive. You have to put it back out in the universe. With that in mind, I opened up my wallet recently and gave to a few causes that I feel strongly about.
For the past few years, I’ve limited my financial gifts to nonprofits because I was so focused on getting my own financial situation in order. I wasn’t able to see past my fear and anxiety surrounding money. My life revolved around debt payoff, and then it revolved around building up my savings.
Well, both of those things are done. While I will always be saving, I’ve hit the goals I set for the year. I hit last years goals. I have every faith I’ll hit next years goals. In the meantime, I can use part of my finances to continue the kindness circle.
Now, I’m also aware that kindness doesn’t have to come in the form of money. For the past two years I’ve volunteered my time with a group that I care deeply about in Austin. Being generous with your time is also a huge way to be kind.
As I move into the world of entrepreneurship, time is becoming more valuable than money. I don’t want to become stingy with my time. And I do want to give more, financially. I do have a little money that I can give away, and I know from personal experience how much a few dollars matters.
I want to align my kindness with my work goals. I don’t think that the two are mutually exclusive, and I’m looking for ways to enact that belief. One that’s worked well so far is co-working with other freelancers at coffee shops. I spend time with friends and I get work done. Win-win!
Kindness, and living a happy life, isn’t just a goal for me. It’s a fact of life. I don’t think that I’ve been unkind over the pas two years. But I do think that I’ve let this fact fall off the priorities list a bit. I want to bring it back to the top. Even as I dive ever deeper into the world of finance, kindness must remain a priority.
What financial impacts of kindness have you experienced? And how do you incorporate kindness into your finances?
For ways to give and things to think about check out these other articles.
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.