Listen instead

Having a goal to become debt-free doesn’t mean you stay home and don’t do anything. It just means you keep your eyes open for ways to save while enjoying the good things of this earth. I keep an eye open for any sales, hand-me-downs, or other ways to get things at a discounted rate or free. Without expecting anything in return, I offer what I can to others in service or tangible items when I have something to offer. This has the nice effect of increasing my circle of friends and as is so often said, the goodness I send out comes back at me.

On the September long weekend, we had the opportunity to help my cousins pack their moving truck for a long move. They were moving such a great distance they wouldn’t be able to return to pick up any items that were left behind… everything that was in the house had to go. Whatever didn’t make it to the moving truck was going to the dump. Of course, as moves usually go, they were strapped for time and were still packing things as we helped them load the truck. Some of the items being left behind were things their children had outgrown or other large items that just wouldn’t be enough space for on the truck or in their new house. Being there to help them move was a teaching opportunity to show our children how fun it can be to give service to other people and not expect anything in return, but be pleasantly surprised when it does happen.

It made me smile to watch the children have fun trying to help where they can. We watched our 5-year-old and her 6-year-old cousin work together to bring several boxes to the moving truck. We were pleasantly surprised to come away with a sturdy wagon, some rain boots, a much-needed school bag, a children’s story book and a few boxes of stories on cassettes (which we’ll give to a friend that’s having a yard sale to raise money to send shoeboxes of toys and needed items to less-fortunate children overseas).

One of the big items they left behind was a piano, that just wasn’t going to fit on the truck or in their new house. We were interested in possibly acquiring it since we want to help educate our children in music abilities as well. We thought about where we would put it as we looked it over. As we thought about it more we realized we wouldn’t really have a place to put it and wasn’t sure if we knew anyone in the market for a piano. We also realized that it needed more repair than first thought and probably wouldn’t be worth trying to move, since we didn’t know anyone in that field that might be able to do the repairs in-trade or at a discount.

There are many opportunities where you can acquire things that don’t have to be brand new, that you can take the time or small amount of money to repair. Do be aware of what you do really need and how much space you have. You can get caught up in the excitement of possibly acquiring items you’ve wanted for a while and overlook the great need for repair or your lack of space for the item. Sometimes the items are too far gone and not worth the effort. In some cases, people may have items that are ready for the garbage that should be passed up. One such item at my cousin’s house was a Barbie doll house my wife was ready to take. On closer inspection, we both realized it was one of those items ready to go to the garbage.

Another occasion, when we were first married, we had been without a couch for about 3 months and saw a pull-out couch in decent condition for free at a garage sale. It took great effort to get a vehicle and even more effort to move it (with my wife being a couple of months along in her pregnancy and only another female friend of ours to help move it). So after our great efforts to get the couch the almost 55kms (almost 34 miles) we found out that the stairwell to our basement apartment (even after taking the railing off) was just too narrow. I was very frustrated, but rather than follow my first instinct and take a sledgehammer to the object :) I called my parents who had room and could take advantage of the couch. We eventually got a futon instead that could be assembled when already in the apartment.

I find being as kind and generous as can be, always comes back to help me out. Plus, I get satisfaction from helping other people. My family has had numerous experiences where people have just called out of the blue to offer useful items that always get put to good use.

Have you been helped by someone’s generosity? Share your experience.