Many years ago, during travel to Jamaica, I stayed in the home of a gentleman who was 65 years old. This man’s major focus at the time was saving coins to give to his child to buy a mule. His son needed $175 in Jamaican dollars to buy a mule to expand his $700 annual income to $1,400. The father’s dream was to save enough coins so that one day his grandson could buy the mule!
Five of us chipped in $7 each and gave him 35 U.S. dollars, which was enough in Jamaican dollars to buy the mule. We saved that man two generations of work and all we gave was $7 a piece. I’ve never missed that $7. That $7 would have bought me a burger at a fast-food joint. But the joy I know from helping that man is immeasurable. And that’s not where the story ends.
I shared this story as I was speaking at an event in New York. After, a woman walked up to me and asked if the man’s name was McCain. I said that was his name. She said, “I’m his granddaughter!” You can’t imagine how good I felt knowing that this young woman was the beneficiary of the blessings received from a $7 gift to a man in Jamaica. It truly is better to give than to receive.
Before I took my journey toward financial freedom, I wondered how I would increase my income. I had dreams. I had plans. I had activities. My income did not begin to increase the way it has until my giving also increased the way it has. I believe God blesses us to be a blessing to others. When we invest in others, God trusts us and invests in us.
Knowing we’re going to support someone else’s efforts with our personal resources is one of the most powerful acts we can perform. Yet, even after all of the hard work is done to get on the right financial track, it’s easy to slip off. That’s where focus and discipline enter. It’s not enough to invest in others. You have to make the commitment to stay healthy enough, strong enough and fit enough to be a blessing to others. You have to make sure you don’t lose all of the work you’ve put in, all of your steps toward financial freedom.
First, you have to make a commitment to yourself to spend time on your financial health daily. Second, you have to identify someone you trust and admire who can help guide you in your times of need. Third, you need to identify what you’re determined to do in the way of giving.
Spending time on your financial health daily doesn’t mean just spending the seven minutes per day that I recommend spending on reviewing your investments, bank accounts, etc. It also means: learning about new opportunities; taking time to pray so you’ll make sound decisions and stay on track; and, having financial conversations with others so that making finances a priority becomes ingrained in you.
Finding a financial mentor is important because not only will this person advise you but this is someone who will hold you accountable to your own commitments. Don’t just think of someone you can go to if you need advice. It’s specificity that brings success in this area. Pick someone before you have a need because then it will be more likely that you’ll pick the right someone. When I was going through this process, I talked to a fellow in my neighborhood who I had greatly admired for his success. You can find someone by joining the Billion Dollar Challenge.
Also be specific in determining, in advance, your giving strategy. Will you focus on individuals, organizations, giving through church? Once you have picked someone or some avenue or organization, reach out to them and let them know your future plan so they will come back to you in time to hold you accountable.
This is a marvelous stage in our development because it has less to do with how we treat money and more to do with how we treat people, including ourselves. It’s critical that we understand that dfree® is not really about money management. We don’t manage money; we manage our lives and we use money strategically to reach our life goals. Our life goals should always be inclusive of helping others reach their life goals, because it is truly better to give than to receive.