Tag Archives: donations

How a piece of construction paper shifted my money habits

When I was in the early years of my first network marketing business, I found myself giving away money to various charities… gladly. A documentary about a historian, meal-for-the-holidays, etc.

That all changed when my husband lost his job and we had to move in with his parents.

The small Colorado town we landed in had a vibrant community life. Nearly every week there were opportunities to volunteer one’s time or to donate money to local and national charities. I donated my time to various events and had fun being part of the action. My husband took a job in the grocery store, and I went to work as a mortgage loan officer, to pay the credit card debt and our share of food and utilities.

Meanwhile, every penny was precious. We discussed every purchase above $5, and when the bank account was continually hovering a mere handful of dollars above zero, we agreed that we would stop all financial charitable contributions and selectively gift our time instead.

The change in my attitude came in early December of the second year.

In the town’s annual tradition, one of the local groups set up a poster in the entryway of the grocery store, which held “Santa” wishes for people in need. Instead of CDs or the newest toy, these were requests for newly-purchased basics and were written on pieces of red or green pine-tree-shaped construction paper. A winter coat. Mittens. Boots. Socks. And where to drop off the items at the county fairgrounds. (The previous year, I bought and donated a new pair of girls’ boots to match one of the requests.)

Each item had the appropriate size listed, along with a basic descriptor of the receiver.

The item that stopped me in my tracks was: “11 year old girl needs 7 pairs of (size) underwear.”

I also realized that my own underwear was nearly in shreds, the elastic so stretched and ineffective sometimes they slipped off my hips but were caught by the slacks I was wearing. (I think you can imagine how that worked.)

I pulled out the pushpin and freed that red slip of paper from the display, promising myself that I would remount it the next day, intact, if I could not provide the item.

My husband and I had a discussion in our bedroom that evening. In the end we decided to spend money on both of us women. Seven pairs for her, and likewise for me.

As I gently placed the requested item on the intake table at the fairgrounds, I realized this was a turning point in recognizing the difference between poverty consciousness and prosperity consciousness in my own life.

Since that time, I have observed when I have an urge to donate goods or money. I ask myself, “Am I also taking good care of myself and our household?” And nowadays when money is much more plentiful: “Have I been creating artificial lack in my head, denying myself a similar purchase?”

Each of us wrestles with different aspects of money behavior.

Sometimes we need an outside reason to spur us to take care of our own situation.

And sometimes we need an outside influence to go earn the money in the first place.

Regardless of your personal situation, I suggest you watch the video regarding the second situation. Randy Gage has some insightful ideas, which might come in handy for one of your teammates.

–LYnn Selwa, “The Rocket Science Coach”

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