The Financial Impact of Kindness

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.

World Suicide Prevention Day
A Rainy Morning of Restoration
What To Do When Everything Is The Worst

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16 Replies to “The Financial Impact of Kindness”

  1. Great post! Back when I was freelancing when money was so tight, I asked friends if there was anything they needed help with where I could earn a little extra money. I had so many come through from babysitting and pet sitting gigs, to helping out one friend at her office with events she held, to another who hired me for his corporate team building events. Friends knew I love movies, so at birthdays or holidays, they gave me movie gift cards. Even though I worked those events and they weren’t handouts, they didn’t have to do it, so I’m forever grateful! Now when I can I try to hire friends for things, especially if they are freelance and I know they might be struggling.

    1. Yes! Friends hiring friends is so real. I hired a friend to bartend when I was at the nonprofit, and he still helps them out. I’m actually going to be bartending to help a friend out in a few weeks. I love that cycle- help a friend, make some cash, send out good karmic vibes!

  2. When I was out hiking, I experienced the same types of kindness from pure strangers. It was amazing and eye opening. Since the value of my free time outweighs the value I put on my allowance, I tend to give money more than time. Although, I do donate time to our church for things like the fall fest and what not that pop up.

    I like contributing to It’s a site set up for teachers where they ask for funding for their classroom project, and then explain the cost and impact. So you can choose any town, in any state in the US and donate to it. It tells you how much is left to go to fund the project and how many people have donated. You can be anonymous or get thank you cards from the kids in the classroom.

    I like that because I can choose music, like funding a project to outfit the class with ukeleles, or math, or reading, or just fun/creative stuff like starting a Lego club. It’s awesome and you can choose as little or as much to donate, one time, or monthly.

    I also like donating to Trout Unlimited, related to fishery conservation, Sierra Club (although I do roll my eyes at a lot of their newsletter rhetoric, lol) and a homeless/recovery charity out in Denver, the Denver Rescue Mission. They support a lot of different homeless shelters, recovery/addiction centers and Harvest Farm, an addiction recovery place that helps people learn skills and regain a sense of worth, and gives them a stable place to get ahold of their life.

    I hope to have time to give to something similar wherever we end up in our post-Houston life and not just be so money centric with donations. Until then, it’s just easier to write a check and send it off.

    1. Oh my god, I LOVE that Donorschoose idea! My mom is a teacher too, so shout out to helping teachers out. I also love that you can pick projects close to your heart, or fund areas that might get slashed like the arts. I’ve given $50 to Planned Parenthood for the last four years, but mostly I’ve given with time at the girls organization I mentioned. Either way helps!

  3. Wonderful! Fabulous! And I agree so much. Our UK trip was just like this… full of the kindness of strangers that pushed us in the right directions, aided our journey when it needed it, and made my heart full of how great this world is and how I need to help make it greater. Thank you for your thoughts!

    1. Isn’t it the best circle to get drawn into? Someone does something nice for you, then you pass it on, and then they pass it on…the kindness of strangers is a very real power!

  4. This is something I tend to forget as an introvert that also avoids people as much as possible, people can be pretty great, and I do feel the pull to pass it along whenever there’s something I can do concretely to help but with money it’s usually not strangers that I’m assisting. Sometimes it’s hiring a friend for our family photos, sometimes it’s sending a box of kids’ clothes to friends who are expecting and don’t have a lot of family support.

    I donate to causes when I know the money will make a difference, half of my personal spending allowance is dedicated to that sort of spending, like to the local rescue and when natural disasters occur.

    1. It can be easy to forget. I love that you give locally- it packs a punch that way!

  5. Aww, this warms my heart. It’s as easy as smiling at someone who’s having a bad day, saying “I’ve got your back” because we’re in this thing called life together.
    So glad you had all these warm fuzzies on your trip. The next time you’re in Phoenix you can sleep on our couch!

    1. Thank you for the couch offer! See, kindness is everywhere. Random acts of kindness can go so far.

  6. I try to throw kindness out there whenever I can. I absolutely hate being stingy with either my money or my time. I just don’t like the person it makes me become. It’s so easy to end up with either of those traits when hardcore pursuing FIRE. Everything in moderation.

    I’m still blown away by the kindness that you showed me with your time. If I knew I was going to randomly run into you, I would have totally brought you In N Out or something. 😀

    Skype soon!

    1. Hahaha, well I don’t think I can eat anything at In N Out! 🙂 I agree that miserliness and stinginess are slippery slopes. It’s important to remember you’re not the center of the universe.

  7. This made me super happy. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Yay! Thanks for reading.

  8. You got to meet Cait Flanders! I love her! I am doing a shopping ban right now for myself, inspired by her. I like to volunteer my time as well, I find I usually get more in return than I can even give. And whenever I go to Petsmart, and get asked, do you want to donate a dollar to homeless pets, you bet I do! (I now work at an animal hospital and have volunteered lots of time at animal shelters.)

    1. She is the best! I love that you volunteer and donate. I just donated to Standing Rock myself. Looking for ways to give with my time next year.

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