In this world when the economy has become very unstable, Americans are now more intent in ensuring that their retirement is well-funded or that the business endeavors they start will become successful. More often than not, discussions among friends center on their latest investments, what the hottest stocks are and whether they are contributing enough to their 401k.
There is certainly nothing wrong with preparing for the future. In fact, those who do should be applauded. When you don’t take the necessary steps to start funding your retirement now, you are going to be in for a very rough ride in your golden years. However, if thinking about money is the only thing you ever do, you might have forgotten to be thankful for the blessings you have received.
We express our gratitude each year through Thanksgiving. But this does not mean that our spirit of gratefulness should only get showcased once a year. The fact that you are alive, have a job and the capacity to plan for a well-funded retirement is reason enough to be thankful every day.
We often express our gratitude in our prayers, thanking God for everything that we have been given. However, our gratefulness should not end there. We should express it through action by serving others who are not as fortunate as we are.
How can you do this? Let’s look at the following sections:
1. Giving food to the hungry.
When was the last time you literally felt weak in your knees from hunger? You probably could not remember anymore, unless you went on a crazy diet to lose weight. However, this feeling of dizziness, of being physically unable to stand up because of sheer hunger is experienced by hundreds of millions of people the world over, America included. Starvation kills men, women and children every single day and it is a problem that you can help address even in your own small way.
You can volunteer in a soup kitchen near you or give food to those who need it. If you are grateful for the fact that you are able to feed yourself and your children every day then show that gratitude by helping those who can’t even buy a single loaf of bread.
2. Helping the homeless.
Hunger often comes together with homelessness. There are billions of people around the world that have no roof over their heads or live on improvised shelters that provide only little protection against the elements. In the United States, homeless people are often suffering from different kinds of addictions and mental diseases. In other countries, the homeless just have to live on the streets together with their families because they have no other choice.
You might ask: “But how can I help the homeless? I certainly can’t invite them into my home!” That’s true. But there are other ways you can help. For example, there are organizations like Habitat for Humanity that builds homes for those without shelters around the world. You can certainly volunteer for that. You can also ask the nearest government agency in your area to determine how you can help.
3. Helping those born with birth deformities.
Each year, a lot of children in poor countries are born with cleft palates and other birth defects. Because their parents often don’t have money to shoulder the cost of the operations needed to correct these deformities, the child often suffers the consequences. They get ostracized in school and often live with insecurities all their lives. More often than not, they don’t become productive members of society because of their fear of how they look.
In the United States, birth defects aren’t much of a problem because mothers are well-educated on how to have a healthy pregnancy. Even when these deformities occur, they are immediately corrected so that the child gets to live a normal, healthy and happy life. This is one thing that we should be thankful for in this society and it’s time to give back.
If you are a healthcare professional, you can always volunteer in medical missions that go to different countries around the world to address these kinds of problems. Otherwise, you can always support these missions by making a donation to the charity that sponsors them.
Charities are one of the best ways to help various causes, whether it is to build homes for the homeless, feed the hungry or help children with birth defects. Doing so is not only a mark of gratitude for what you have but is also a way of leaving a legacy in this world.
We only pass this world once. And because we do, we wish to be remembered by those who came after as someone who has contributed something towards making this place a little better for everyone. If you don’t know how to do that, here are some steps to help you out:
1. Find a cause you truly believe in and are passionate about.
You want to support something that is in consonance with your value system. What is it that you really care about the most? Do you want to feed the hungry or shelter the homeless? If you can devote time, money and effort to both causes then the better. If not, choose one that is closest to your heart and determine how best you can advance its interests.
Get your friends and family involved. The more hands there are to help, the better. Also, make sure that when you support a cause, it is something that you can see yourself doing until you grow old. Some people have attached their names to a particular cause that they are already synonymous with it—that is something that you should strive for.
2. Make sure that you have control over your money.
You can’t be of much help to your cause if you don’t have money to give. Okay, perhaps you can give your time and your strength but if you won’t be able to do so, giving money to get the cause running is certainly going to be appreciated. You can’t do that if you are constantly in debt or living from paycheck-to-paycheck. When you have control over your money, you are able to allocate your funds not only to your daily needs and your retirement savings but to charitable causes you support as well.
When you continue to make charitable contributions each year—especially substantial contributions—you will find yourself getting elected or appointed to positions in the organization that will give you the opportunity to influence how the money is spent. This is a huge responsibility but one which will help you take your cause to the next level.
3. Allocate time for your chosen charity.
There will always be things to do at the charity you choose to support. Whether it is clerical matters or actually going out into field and helping those the charity was designed for to help, there will always be something that can be done. Try devoting an hour or two each week of your time to your chosen charity and see just how much of a difference you can make.
Not everyone is as gifted or blessed as we are. Yet all too often, we fail to recognize just how fortunate we are in this country. We are often too preoccupied with our own businesses and our own lives that we don’t often have the time to be thankful. It’s about time that we change all that and learn to really appreciate the things we have. And one way to do that is to give our service to others.
All throughout the world and even in our home front, there are people suffering from pain, from hunger and from disease. There are people who are devastated from typhoons, earthquakes and other natural disasters. There are those whose lives and futures are left uncertain because of the calamities that have afflicted them. You can do something to help.
There are a lot of things that can be done and there are limited hands to do them. You can make a difference and at the same time leave your legacy in this world for your descendants to know just how well you have lived. Even if it’s not for the sake of posterity, helping others gives you a sense of fulfillment. When you know that you have done your share in making the world a better place, you feel a sense of inner peace that you would not feel otherwise.
Money is not everything. But you can use your money to do something and make a change for the better. This is why you should manage your money so you can have the funds to support your chosen charity. If you don’t, you are never going to have enough money to contribute and your aspirations of leaving a legacy in this world are only just going to be lip service.