Hope everyone enjoyed Fat Tuesday yesterday. I celebrated by running sprints at the gym. I don’t do anything the normal way, it seems.
Anyway, the end of Fat Tuesday means that today is officially the beginning of Lent. I was raised Catholic, so for me, the idea of giving something up (or doing something to better myself) during this 40 day period is not unusual, but I know a lot of non-religious people who choose to use this time period to also try to do something good. Maybe they give up coffee or try to not spend any money. Maybe they vow to hit the gym three times a week. The hope is that if you can do something for 40 days, you can keep it up after the 40 day period has ended.
I wasn’t going to do anything this year. And then something opened my eyes.
Last night, on my way home, I was stopped by a couple. The man told me his story of looking for money to get a hotel because the shelter was full. He told me that his girlfriend was pregnant and that he had just lost his job. He admitted it was embarassing, but any help I could provide would be great.
Was he telling me the truth? I don’t know. But either way, I gave him all the cash I had on me (a whopping $4).
Typically, I don’t give money to people on the street. But as I was walking home, I started to think about it. Maybe this guy was totally scamming me. But let’s say even 50% of the people panhandling for money are scamming. That means that 50% really do need that money. And I only gave the guy $4. How often do I waste $4 on something ridiculous?
So I’m thinking that for Lent, I’m always going to try to have a few dollars on me and give money to panhandlers as I pass. I don’t care if they need it for food or shelter or if they just want to get a drink. Either way, it brightens someone’s day and it reminds me just how lucky I really am.
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.