My relationship with money has always been a bit complicated. I like spending it. I love having it, but deep down, the story I tell myself when it comes to money is what was taught to me in church, that “it is the root of all evil.” Growing up, I watched my parents struggle with money. They never burdened us children with their financial struggles but I know that as immigrants that took over a restaurant business in a tiny town, our meager means must’ve been a challenge.
Me vs. Money
When I became an adult, it was either famine or feast most of the time, with the constant struggle of living paycheck to paycheck, hoping there was enough to cover all the bills and put food on the table (there always was). The most difficult time financially was when I stopped working for two years to have a baby and when my baby was 18 months old, unbeknownst to me, my now ex-husband pretty much stopped working, too (so he could cavort with his mistress). That was one of the most difficult times in my life, as you could imagine. Our car and house were both repossessed, I had to borrow money from family members, and as I diligently began to look for a job again, my seemingly perfect little world crashed down around me. It was a time of pain, confusion, anger, betrayal, shame, and uncertainty all around. And I made the choice to stay with my husband and figure out how to manage life without a partner I could trust.
I remember walking home from church one day (because we only had one car by then), and finding that someone had put $60 cash in my diaper bag. I cried – grateful and ashamed. Grateful, because without that money, I wasn’t sure what we’d eat for dinner that night and ashamed because my life was not supposed to be like this. There’s always been just enough money, never too much more, and always there at the right time. That has been the mindset I’ve had about money.
The Abundance Mindset
Earlier this year, I read the book, You Are A Badass At Making Money by Jen Sincero, which is all about your money mindset. Its concepts aren’t new, but as I find with many self-help types of books, they find you and resonate exactly when you are ready to hear the message. I read the book twice (which, for a book lover like myself, if I take precious reading time to re-read an entire book, you know it’s THAT good). As I completed the exercises at the end of each chapter one day, I came across one challenge to give away money every day for 20 days. You see, giving comes from an abundance mindset; getting comes from lack, and I knew I needed to cultivate an abundance mindset. Looking around, I cannot NOT admit that my life is abundant (I used a double negative there just to emphasize how important that is!) I have a nice apartment by the beach, a reliable and pretty badass car, a fridge full of food, a closet full of clothes, I’m healthy, I have family and friends that love and support me, I have plenty of everything I need, and so much more.
So, I made the decision to work on cultivating an abundance mindset toward money (and life). Ironically, this project was more selfish than altruistic. I’ve always been good at giving away my time but when it came to giving away my money, I would come from a place of fear that there would not be enough. That lack mindset I harbored is what I wanted to change.
It was mid-month and being a bit OCD, I wanted to start my practice of giving money away that very day but I also wanted it to end on the “right” day, nice and neat at the end of a month which was less than 10 days away. Then the number 40 popped into my head, as I had just turned 40 and so I quickly calculated 40 days from that day (Sept. 22), which landed me neatly on October 31st. Perfect. So I set the intention to give money away every day for 40 days straight.
I had exactly $0.03 in my bank account.
But I trusted that the means would be provided for me, nevermind that I only get paid one time a month, on the last day of each month. Even in the very worst of my financial struggles, we’ve never been hungry or homeless. And, so with my mind directed toward abundance, I knew I’d continue to have plenty, even if the first day meant me giving away the last $0.03 in my checking account and the $8 in my savings account. It wasn’t the amount that mattered.
I posted a status on Facebook asking my friends what charities they liked to donate to and set about with the intention of becoming more aware of the opportunities and people in need that came my way each day. Some days, the universe set someone directly in my path and other days, I had to go searching. There were a handful of days where I was really busy or forgot. For those days, I made sure to give to two different causes the following day.
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What I Learned
There weren’t any major revelations, like six winning lotto numbers popping into my mind. I began noticing that, though I believed myself to be a pretty empathic and compassionate person before this project, I rarely took action about it. I’d see someone’s GoFundMe post and be sad for them, but then move on. But these 40 days taught me to stop and help monetarily, providing someone with as much as I could or felt led to give. The amounts weren’t worthy of a plaque on the wall of a museum somewhere, but there were a few days that I emptied my bank account of its last $5 for a dog’s surgery or the funeral expenses of an unexpected death. And by doing so, I became more grateful and appreciative of what I have and have to give. Instead of a place of expectation, I began to approach each day with appreciation. There were a few significant and exciting events that also began happening during these 40 days that will be the subject of future posts, but I believe are direct results of this project and the work I’m doing in raising the frequency around me. I’m not quite ready to share them yet, but know that when you set about in abundance, doors open.
40 Days of Giving Project
Below are my notes as a summary of my giving project. Skim to the end for my book recommendations on changing your money mindset. Because I follow many dog rescues and the plight of dogs tug at my heartstrings more than any other animal, you’ll notice that much of my giving went to pups in need. Other days, people were put directly in my path and so I made sure to keep cash in my wallet at all times (something I rarely do). Overall, I have learned to be more aware of meeting people’s needs financially and to give freely, with a grateful heart.
Day 1: September 22, 2017 – Love Leo Rescue
Love Leo Rescue was the rescue that saved Arya (my one-eyed, blind pit bull) when she was two months old and raised funds for the surgery to remove her eye. They have a special place in my heart and for the last three years, have wanted to repay the kindness of people who gave money for Arya. So now, I did.
Day 2: September 23, 2017 – Haiti Relief
While watching a football game, my friend Dominic and I were chatting when he randomly mentioned he had donated money to one of our other friends. She who was working on a project to help her friends in Haiti after the hurricane. I thought it was a bit random and didn’t think much about it at that time. Later at home, when I remembered I hadn’t given anything that day, I messaged her and she told me that all her friends in Haiti pretty much lost everything in the storms and so she had adopted a family and was sending supplies to them. I sent her some money to help cover the cost.
Day 3: September 24, 2017 – Love Leo Rescue
I didn’t plan on donating to Love Leo again so soon, but this little guy, Henderson, needed money for surgery. Love Leo understands fundraising because they ask for just $5. Many times, people like myself don’t donate because we don’t have that much to give, so we think that our $5 can’t help. Out of embarrassment, we scroll on by. But when the ask is a mere $5, more people are willing to step up. Love Leo was able to pay the thousands of dollars for his surgery with everyone’s $5 donations.
Day 4: September 25, 2017 – Homeless Vet off freeway off-ramp and Marshall’s check out
I’ve very rarely given money to homeless people. It was always drilled into my head growing up that they probably use it for alcohol or drugs and I am just perpetuating the problem. Plus, I rarely carry cash and to be honest, it makes me uncomfortable, so I just avoid it. But when my car stopped right next to a homeless vet at a stoplight on my way home from work, I took out some money that I had kept in my glove box for this project and gave it to him. Later, that evening, while checking out at Marshalls, they asked if I wanted to donate to some cause, so I did.
Day 5: September 26, 2017: Von’s Check Out
I never donate when prompted at the checkout stand, but this was an easy way to give and so I did. I can’t remember the exact organization it was with, but it was to help sick children.
Day 6: September 27, 2017 – Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation
When I first began this project, I asked my Facebook friends what charities they liked to give to, knowing that there would be days that I needed to seek out where my money went. The first response was a friend of mine, a fellow blogger, who is a young cancer survivor and board member for the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation. Steve Pake and I have gotten to know each other mainly through Facebook messages and each other’s blogs for the last few years and we’ve realized that we live parallel blogging lives (we tend to post about the same topics (his being focused on cancer survivorship and mine toward post-divorce self-development, of course) around the exact same times. Check out his blog here.
Day 7: September 28, 2018 – Love Leo Rescue
I didn’t plan on donating to Love Leo again this close to the previous time, but Henderson popped into my feed. And I couldn’t ignore him.
Day 8: September 29, 2017 – Children’s Miracle Network Through Extra Life
On day 2, I saw a Facebook post from my friend asking for donations for a video game marathon benefiting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through Extra Life. I had asked her about it that night, but other organizations kept popping up. Since nothing came across my path on day 8, I jumped over and donated.
Day 9: September 30, 2017 – Children’s Miracle Network
Another day for the Children’s Miracle Network, but this time it was through the checkout line at Walmart.
Day 10: October 1, 2017 – None
I completely forgot to give this day. A personal issue came up and my mind was consumed with it (more to come on this in a separate blog post).
Day 11: October 2, 2017 – Woman at Vons and Las Vegas Victim’s Fund
I woke up to the news of the Las Vegas shooting and spent the morning processing the horror of it and the previous day’s issue. I knew I wanted to help in some way and so I looked for an organization to donate to and found the official victim’s fund. I gave as much as I could, leaving me with $13 in my bank account.
Also, on the way to the store, a woman stopped me and asked me for money. Luckily I had gotten into the habit of keeping some cash with me so I was able to help. Plus, it allowed me to make up for not giving the previous day.
Day 12: October 3, 2017 – None
When I remembered to give right before bed, I realized my boyfriend had my debit card and so I couldn’t give that night.
Day 13: October 4, 2017 – GoFundMe For A Las Vegas Victim
As stories continued to emerge from the shooting, my friends began posting a GoFundMe about Chris Roybal, from my old hometown in Corona who had passed away. So I donated some money for his burial expenses.
Day 14: October 5, 2017 – GoFundMe Las Vegas Recovery Victim & One America Appeal
A GoFundMe for a survivor of the Las Vegas shooting popped into my feed and after hearing so many tragic stories about the deaths of so many people, I wanted to give to someone who had survived but had a long road of medical bills ahead. Later that evening, I also gave to the One America Appeal, the organization started by five former Presidents in response to the devastation left by the recent hurricanes.
Day 15: October 6, 2017 – Love Leo Rescue
Since Love Leo Rescue is always on my social media feeds and dogs hold a special place in my heart, I gave them some more money for another dog in need.
Day 16: October 7, 2017: Can’t Remember
I gave early this day, but I didn’t write it down and have completely forgotten who I gave to.
Day 17: October 8, 2017 – Children’s Miracle Network In Check Out Line At Big Lots
Having these checkout line opportunities to give are a smart move for charities as it’s convenient and my debit card is already out.
Day 18: October 9, 2017 – Children’s Hospital In Check Out Line At Vons
Day 19: October 10, 2017 – EsperanzayFuturo.org
My friend Kim Letona, a Health and Happiness Coach recently moved to Guatemala to work with her husband whose family runs an orphanage. I didn’t know who to give to today and so I went to the Facebook status I posted at the beginning and chose the one that jumped out at me.
Day 20: October 11, 2017 – GoFundMe For Grateful Paws Rescue
This one broke my heart. Someone found a dog who had been stabbed and stuffed in a suitcase in an abandoned house. When they found him, he was still wagging his tail! I cried and cried and gave part of the tens of thousands that was raised for him. He was going to be okay but sadly, he succumbed to his injuries. I was devastated as were the hundreds of people who donated toward his medical bills.
Day 21: October 12, 2017 – None (I forgot)
Day 22: October 13, 2017 – Love Leo Rescue
Day 23: October 14, 2017 – Boys and Girl’s Club – Check Out Counter at Firestone
Day 24: October 15, 2017 – GoFundMe Facebook Friend With Chronic Liver Disease
My Facebook friend Dennis has Chronic Liver Disease and his body is attacking his transplanted kidney. He’s looking at another transplant and medical bills, as you could imagine are skyrocketing. He is raising funds through GoFundMe to help ease some of the expenses.
Day 25: October 16, 2017 – Carousel of Possible Dreams and Love Leo
Since I had forgotten a few days back, I gave to Love Leo (again) and my friend Stephanie, the founder of Integrous Women, who actually had a part in inspiring this giving project. She is raising funds for a youth program to teach resilience to kids that have faced trauma.
Day 26: October 17, 2017- CA Fire Relief Efforts via PayPal
Since I’ve been all over PayPal this month, I saw the pop up to donate to the fire relief, so I did.
Day 27: October 18, 2017 – Stand Up For Pits
I love the work that Stand Up For Pits and Rebecca Corry does and I love pit bulls, so this was a no-brainer.
Day 28: October 19, 2017 – Rescue Dogs Rock NYC
Can’t remember which dog’s plight tugged at my heart, but Rescue Dogs Rock NYC saves many dogs that have gone through trauma.
Day 29: October 20, 2017 – Pets For Vets
Day 30: October 21, 2017 – Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson’s Research
The Michael J. Fox Foundation was a suggestion from a Facebook friend, and I loved Family Ties when I was a kid.
Day 31: October 22, 2017 – Eosinophilic Family Coalition
This was also a suggestion from a Facebook friend and since I’d never heard of the Eosinophilic Disorder, I assumed that many others hadn’t either. My friend says, “I have Eosinophilic Esophagitis cannot eat anything! Because my white blood cells attack my esophagus. I am only alive because of my feeding tube. People (kids) are dying because they are unable to eat.”
Day 32: October 23, 2017 – GoFundMe
My friends Stephanie and Pascale found a little dog wandering in their yard that was dirty and needed medical help. So they bathed her and found a rescue to help them. They also started this GoFundMe for her medical expenses. They named her Precious.
Day 33: October 24, 2017 – Animals Affected By Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico
Another post from a Facebook friend and, of course, I apparently cannot say no to the plight of animals.
Day 34: October 25, 2017 – None
Day 35: October 26, 2017 – Vons Checkout for CA Fire Relief
Day 36: October 27, 2017 – Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation and GoFundMe
It was my friend Steve’s birthday and Facebook has been doing that “Donate Your Birthday” thing, so I donated to his foundation again. Since I didn’t donate on day 34, I also came across a GoFundMe post from a friend who had a friend pass away suddenly. Josiah Hotovec was a soon-to-be dad, whose child was born not long after he died.
Day 37: October 28, 2017 – NW Dog Project
Day 38: October 29, 2017 – Boys and Girls Club Firestone Checkout
Day 39: October 30, 2017 – Dallas Dog RRR and charity Water
I’m pretty sure I missed a day that I didn’t make up, so I donated to two, just in case: charity: water, based on a friend’s recommendation and Dallas Dog Rescue.
Day 40: October 31, 2017 – Vons Checkout – Feed A Family for Thanksgiving
Conclusion and Books About Cultivating a Money Mindset
My next project is to help feed 11 families for Thanksgiving. I have a little more than $0.03 in my bank account right now and this project has taught me that I’m lucky to have so much I can give. I’m still working on cultivating my abundance mindset and each day, I still battle with my limiting beliefs about money. But I find myself filled with more aware of the abundance around me each day and I’m filled with gratitude.
If you’re looking for places to give, be sure to check out some of the links above. Or if you’re like me and need to switch to an abundance mindset, here are a few books that have helped me:
- You Are A Badass At Making Money by Jen Sincero
- Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill
- Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker
- The Millionaire Mind by Thomas J. Stanley
*These books are affiliate linked, which means if you click on them, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link*