Simone's Blog: Money Magnet

As the Director of Affiliate Relations at HomeFree-USA, I’ve always been fascinated with how people handle their money. Like everyone else, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. In fact, it took me 32 months to pay off $32,000 in credit card bills and build up a six-month emergency fund. While that was a very difficult period, I am grateful – and wiser -- for the experience.

Through my personal experiences and working at HomeFree-USA, I’ve gained a ton of insight that I feel compelled to share. You’ll find those lessons here. Feel free to take the thoughts and ideas that resonate with you most and put aside the rest for later. I look forward to sharing my journey.

The benefits of volunteering

It's been proven time and again that the more giving you are, the more you will receive, multiplied abundantly. Fortunately, most Americans agree, which is why as a nation we donate the second largest amount worldwide (almost $400 billion annually - with a B!). That's incredibly impressive, and something to be proud of.

But suppose you don't make enough to donate 10% of your income, like churches suggest, or even the 3.2% that the average American is able to pull together? Is money the only way to help? Of course not. In fact, it may not even be the most effective way to be the change you wish to see in the world.

1)          Money is important for effecting change, but what's needed even more are people who can implement programs that create the change. Human capital is vital.
2)          When dealing with people who need assistance, taking an interest in their life for 1 hour a week or a few hours a month can make an enormous difference in their progress and self-sustainability. You can volunteer at shelters or nursing homes, or you can also simply offer to drive an elderly person from your church or neighborhood to the bank or grocery store, or run their errands for them.
3)          Volunteering creates an empathy within us that's irreplaceable by money. We're able to better understand a person or situation once we've seen it up close, which may change our entire life perspective.

Some of you may agree about the enormous benefits of volunteering but may be limited in time and money. I encourage you to think of things you love doing, and see how you can help someone do the same for free. Instead of going to the park, a friend takes her daughter to pet shelter animals who are training to become service dogs. Another friend gets his workout in by shoveling snow for any neighbor who's disabled or over age 75. I talk to whoever is interested about their money, help them do a budget, and become an accountability partner. It takes a few hours a week, but having someone check on you when you're trying to change your financial life makes a huge difference.

There are a million ways to serve, and you have skills that uniquely qualify you to contribute beyond money. Give in whatever way you can, large or small, and you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams.

And so it is.