If you have turned on the news in the last 30 years then you might have noticed that a whole lot of bad things happen to good people on a daily basis. Some of these events covered by the news cause us to perk up and listen, and some of these events are the mundane (but still awful). Recently there have been a great deal of terrible weather events that have negatively affected a great deal of people in our community. Many people have lost everything. Everything.
Let’s address everything for a moment. What would it be like to lose everything? It is hard to even fathom. You would have no home, no clothes, no car, no anything. Insurance in most cases won’t pay for these things because many people don’t have flood coverage. A flood is not covered by typical home owners insurance. Okay, so here you are with nothing except for one thing…the mortgage for your house that doesn’t exist anymore. So now, with your current income you must be able to pay off the house that doesn’t exist, replace all of your possessions, and pay for a new place to stay. It is impossible.
So what have I done to help? Nothing. Yet. I have been thinking about these people nonstop for about three days. Will giving $100 to the Red Cross help? I hope. Will giving $100 to the Red Cross make me feel better? I don’t think it will. I started guilting myself into making a bigger difference. How can I go to the movies this weekend and enjoy myself, while that $20 is better spent on someone’s food? Then my mind goes to what did I do to help during 9/11 or Katrina or when some kid that lives in my town needs leukemia treatments. Some of these things have gotten my dollars, but I usually have to shake myself into gaining some perspective before I give.
I am not urging you to give (but you should). I am simply urging you to ask yourself the tough questions. If spending money on worthless stuff still makes you feel empty, then why not give money to people that need to feel partially whole? The bottom line is this: we shouldn’t have to watch people suffer in order for us to give to the needy. But, if that is what it takes, then fine. But, if we can make it through all the tough questions without getting out our checkbook, then shame on us.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.