Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Year's Resolution: Be Generous

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions – I’ve never felt a big pull for that “fresh start.”  I think it’s typically because I’m relatively satisfied with where I’m at – and that cliché resolutions always seem to fail.  So, this year I had no intention of setting a resolution until New Year’s Day -- when I realized I needed to.

My husband and I were out eating dinner when he came up with an idea – he wanted to leave the waitress a tip equal to our bill as a great way to start her new year.  “How sweet and generous you are!” – maybe should have been my reaction.  Instead I felt my chest tighten with the reaction that matches my budgeting/saving/often frugal self.  Prudent Lauren needed a moment to think about this and that’s when I realized that I needed to become more generous.  Don’t get me wrong – I always want to help and am actually quite a softie.  However, getting me to part with large amounts of money can be a struggle.  So, I decided this would be my resolution – to be generous beyond my comfort zone.  It started with that big  tip for our waitress.

Then, I got excited – I needed to give more.  So, I signed up with Kiva an organization that helps arrange micofinancing for people around the world in an effort to alleviate poverty.  Essentially, you are loaning your money to others.  So, I found Noeda in the Philippines who needed a loan to buy supplies to expand her farm.  Then, I found Mrs. El in Cambodia who needed a loan to buy a feather plucking machine that would help her to sell chickens at market at a greater volume.   I pulled out my credit card and made a couple of loans.  It felt good – I loved the idea that I was giving to people in countries I had recently visited – I had fallen in love with these countries and their people.  More than that, I had seen the poverty first hand.  I was amazed how in 24 hours these women had their loans fully funded by generous people around the world.  Once the loans are re-paid, I can lend again – what a great, sustaining idea. 

Now, I don’t expect I’ll be throwing cash around at every corner.  And, I fully expect to feel my chest tighten with the feeling that I must save my money – but I can overcome that for a greater feeling of giving to others who need the money a lot more than I do.