Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You

Saving Money Tip #108 - Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You. No, this blog has not changed focus. It is still a personal finance blog, not a religious blog. But I think this is one of my favorite sayings to live by. I think the world would be a better place if everyone fulfilled this. But what does it have to do with personal finance? A lot. We are not islands in this world who exist on our own. We often rely on others and they rely on us. As we try to build up our savings, having others help us saves us money in a lot of ways. And if we want others to help us, then we need to help them as well.

Think of the old Amish order. They regularly perform barn raisings. Everyone in the community comes out and helps a neighbor put up a barn. And it saves the neighbor who needs a barn a lot of money and hard work. By doing for others, it is assumed that when it is your turn, they would do for you. Help as you want to be helped. Now, I’m pretty sure none of my readers is Amish. No, I’m positive none of my readers is Amish, so most of us aren’t participating in many barn raisings. But how about the wet basements we occasionally get or the periodic snow removal we need or the regular driving that has to get done? These are all services we may need at some point. And if we help others around us with their similar needs, they will hopefully help you with yours. And this in turn will save us money.

Sure, it would be more relaxing to lounge on the hammock while you watch your neighbor struggle with his car engine, but think about if the situation is reversed and you are struggling with your car engine. Wouldn’t you love if your neighbor came over and helped you? Or how about the times you drive your son to soccer practice and you see the stressed-out mom arrive five minutes late because she had to leave work early to pick up her son to get him to practice? Wouldn’t it be nice if you offered to pick up her son? Isn’t that what you would want her to do if you were in her shoes? Now you might not get a return on this investment of time. Maybe this woman will never offer to drive your child anywhere. But that’s not the main point. You treat as you want to be treated. And more often than not, it will come back to benefit you in the end. Carpooling with others equals money saved. A neighbor pitching in to help you work on your car equals money saved. When was the last time you helped someone and it came back around to benefit you?

In Real Life (IRL) – As I said, this is one of my favorite biblical commandments. And not because it may save me money but because the world would be a better place if we treated others the way we want to be treated. On a finance front, treating others how I want to be treated has paid off tremendously. I can think of so many examples where this has happened, that I will have to limit telling them. My first example will be with my husband. I can bet that he has helped more people 10-fold than he has been helped. He is just that kind of person. Plus he is handy, so he is often in the position to help others. Regarding our neighbors, he has helped the family across the street with his car. He has helped them mow their lawn when they are away. He has taken care of their cat and their dog. I admit I sometimes complain when he puts so much time into helping others. But then I have to eat my words because our neighbors help us, too. A few years ago when we were away on our annual family beach vacation there was a big storm. And one of our trees fell down in our backyard. We live in a 50-year old home, so you can imagine the size of these mature trees. The tree, while huge, thankfully did not hit our home, but it did hit our playhouse and our fence. Our neighbor kindly patched up our fence while we were gone! It was wonderful to come home from a week-long vacation and not have to worry about our dog escaping in the back yard

On a more regular basis, I often pick up my daughter’s friend for activities at their school. Their mom is a working mom, and it’s easier for me to just swing by and pick up their daughter than for her to stop work and drive. I don’t expect her to return the favor. But recently I had a conflict because my husband had a late meeting and I had to drive my daughter to a school activity at night while my other children were sleeping. I could have hired a babysitter to watch my children while I drove my oldest to her activity. But my daughter’s friend’s mom said she would take my daughter and bring her back for me. What a relief off my back, and a savings for me as well.

These are just two small ways that doing for others has been paid back to us in returns. Again, I’m not saying that’s you should treat others well so you get benefits in return, but it is often a nice unexpected dividend that helps save all of us money.

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