Being frugal and charitable

We focus so much time here on making it to early retirement that we forget sometimes that being frugal doesn’t mean that we can’t be charitable as well.  A recent excursion to the grocery story reminded me how truly blessed we are in the financial freedom community and how so many others are challenge to get by day to day.  A couple of days ago I was at the grocery store and experienced this first hand.

The woman in front of me was buying a lot of the basics and had a lot of inexpensive, but necessary items on the belt.  The one thing that I kept noticing was they she was keeping a pineapple sitting in the top basket of her cart.  Everything else was on the belt, but the pineapple just sat there.  For the life of me I couldn’t figure it out because she had unloaded everything else and let’s face it pineapples are delicious.

It actually started to bother me because I have some patience, but the people in front of her were the type of people where everything is about them, they move at their own speed, and they have ridiculous demands during check out.  I was afraid I had a double purchaser just in front of me and after spending over five minutes waiting to get out for just a couple things, I was frustrated.  Finally she gets up to the front of the line, the cashier rings up all of her items and then asks about the pineapple.  This made the lady in front of me somewhat uncomfortable, but she quietly answered that she didn’t have enough money for it and needed to put it back.

I finally understood why it was never placed on the table and I could feel her embarrassment at being two dollars short.  You could tell that this woman desperately would have liked the fruit and judging by her uniform she likely was a home cleaner or some sort of maid.  People who work their butts off and get minimum wage.  So while the cashier had handed the pineapple back to the high schooler to take back and  I got up to have my good checked out, I did what I think most of us financial freedom seekers would do if given the opportunity.  I had the cashier bring the pineapple back and purchased it for the lady.

It was a $4 blip in my journey.  Hardly worth noticing in a day, let alone a decade when pursuing financial freedom.  Once the lady realized that I had done it she actually tried to give me her last two dollars, which I of course politely said no thank you to.  What I did see was pure jubilation and genuine thankfulness by an individual I didn’t know, but just happened to cross paths with.

It’s important on the financial freedom journey to recognize when you can make a small contribution to someone else’s life that is meaningful.  That $4 was the best money I spent all month.  Not only because I helped someone out that is less fortunate that I am, but because I helped myself out too.  The feeling of helping someone out that is truly grateful, and to see their response is not something that you can ever get enough of.

I left that store feeling better than I had at any other point that day and, similar to a runner’s high, it stayed with me for some time after the event.  I encourage everyone to see if there are opportunities to drop their proverbial $4 on someone less fortunate and make an impact in someones life.

Can you name a time recently that you decided to randomly issue acts of kindness?

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4 thoughts on “Being frugal and charitable

  1. Awesome story!!! It’s definitely an incredible feeling helping out someone and I feel like when I do it I get rewarded even more than they do. Funny how that works out from time to time 🙂

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  2. Right now I’m focused on reinvesting all of my profits back into my business. I’d rather turn $1 now into $10 and then donate that $10 in the future. Money is a limited resource, and I got to put it to the best use.

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  3. Love that story! You’re right, Duncan. It feels great to give randomly.

    My weird story about giving in a nut shell… woman rear ends me on a street, no real damage, she’s just moved into town, I’m selling my vacation home, so I give her my leather couches, dining table, and chairs. 🙂

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