Now’s the perfect time to look outward

Now’s the perfect time to look outward

I recently came back from a leadership conference, and after seminars like this, everyone feels pumped and ready to take on the world with the knowledge they were given by people who study this for a living.

A lot of information was disbursed on how to be a better leader and what it takes to bust through barriers, but not a lot of information was presented on personal finance. So why would I even be bringing this up? Because of three words one speaker talked about: “incurvatus in se.”

These obviously aren’t English words or words I have ever heard before, but they were spoken by Augustine of Hippo in Latin, and they describe a life lived inward for oneself rather than outward for God and others.

If you read my articles over the past couple months, almost all of them are “me focused.” These are focused on my personal finances, the risks I am taking, the credit-card bills that show up in my mail and the budget that is all mine.

I think there is no better time than now to talk about looking outside of yourself.

This idea normally gets much stronger around the holiday season. Everyone feels the Christmas spirit and wants to give a little more to the Salvation Army bucket ringers or wants to buy another person’s meal out of the Christmas spirit. But what about those other 11 months between December? What are we like then? Do we turn into Ebenezer Scrooge as soon as Dec. 26 hits and we realize how much money we actually spent over the last month on gifts? We shouldn’t.

What does looking outwardly financially look like? First and foremost, as a Christian, I believe it means giving back 10% to the Lord for blessing you with what he’s given. Not everyone would agree, but that is a great place to start. That is a year-round giving, at least in the home I was brought up in, and there really wasn’t any wiggle room.

Looking outwardly also can mean that money goes to helping an orphan or any other charitable cause through a trusted organization. Do your research on this because in my opinion there are plenty of nonprofits that do not do a great job of allocating the moneys they are given. Make sure it is a credible company. Giving locally to a food bank or nonprofit also takes out all the work of finding out if they are trustworthy or not.

I personally help an orphan in Uganda through Watoto, and the added bonus is the letters we can write back and forth where he shares his dreams of becoming a pilot and lets me know how school is going.

Apart from these examples, there could be thousands of ways of looking externally — giving to the homeless man on the side of the street (most people opt to buy them food or drinks), helping the mom in front of you pay for groceries while her kids are running all over or buying hospital/EMT/doctors much-needed refreshments. A hundred dollars can go a long way if used correctly.

Ending this article, I want to bring it back to the “me” focus. I know it seems somewhat counterintuitive, but there is a reason. Think of not taking care of your personal finances and being deeply in debt and then trying to pay for someone else’s groceries. It’s not possible, right? Right. The focus on others must start with taking care of yourself. Like the age-old adage says, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

Holmes County native BJ Yoder is an insurance agent by day and a finance enthusiast by night. This column is for informational purposes only. He can be emailed at benjamin.john.yoder@gmail.com.