I think any reader would do well to think about today’s blog, but I’m writing particularly for those who are in my age group — in their 60’s and 70’s. And I urge you to think about how you can do some good now — before you die — while you can still influence whatever might come from your help.
I’m saying this because a good many folks think about “estate planning” — in the sense of leaving bequests to various individuals or groups, but not everyone stops to think that perhaps they can do right now some of the good they intend to happen after their death.
I know that not everyone has disposable income, and this doesn’t need to be thought about in terms of money. You might have disposable time. Or you might have talents / skills that you could pass on that would be lost after you die.
It’s plenty true that not all families are happy; what I’m thinking about needn’t be limited to family. Our son-in-law for example befriended an older gent and took care of a lot of his physical needs — shopping and lawn/sidewalk care — during his final years. When the old guy passed away he made a sizeable bequest to this young lad who wasn’t even 1/4 his age. The good deeds weren’t done for a reward, but it’s not surprise to say that the gift came as a welcome help to a young fella.
We all move through several circles of acquaintances. We have close friends, we have others who are friends not not nearly as close, we also have acquaintances that we might “know of” but not be intimately acquainted with their life, family, circumstances. Our interactions with each of those circles are different — and so should be our thoughts about how or whether we could help them out now rather than later.
Those of us who are retired, who have time to actually reflect on how the folks around us are doing might be in a perfect position to give them a hand in one way or another.
The reason I bring this up is that sometimes timeliness is all important. We have periods in life when a few extra bucks in the bank can make a huge difference; and then there are periods when those same extra bucks might not mean much at all. Isn’t it worth a little reflection on family and friends to determine whether the good you might have done in a few years could be better used NOW rather than later.
I’m not encouraging anyone to put their own wellbeing at risk. Let’s not be foolish. But if you aren’t pressed for time or for money and a little loan or a gift could make a huge difference now, why not consider it?
When we were in our 30’s there were a couple times when we could have really used an emotional boost. There was a matter of dollars and cents involved too, but what would have made the biggest difference for us at the time was for someone to say, “I have confidence in you.” The money wasn’t the big thing. It would have been the fact that someone else felt our idea/s were worth a little risk on their part.
In our case we got the help we needed — but we got it 20 or 30 years later. We made do without the help we wanted at the time; and I’m sure on some levels the lack of a helping hand at that time changed our life indelibly. I’m also sure that the fact that someone did NOT say, “I have enough confidence in you to take a chance” affected unchangeably how we look at the world, at risk assessment, at free enterprise, at a lot of things.
Our own lives have been very different. In my 30’s and 40’s I started mentoring folks in their 20’s. That was what I could do then — when we didnt’ have much more than two nickels to rub together. I’ve done volunteer work for a long while. Now as we get a little older we have found areas where we can help a different group of folks; dear hearts who need help now not in 10 or 20 years, and we have done what we can. Not only has it been rewarding for us to see them prosper, it has been a boost for them to know that there are people who trust them, who value their insight and their energy and who are willing to partner with them in some way or other.
The world is better when we each look for ways to MAKE IT BETTER. I know that there are a lot of people who want nothing more than to accumulate for themselves. Heck, there are billionaires who have more money socked away than 10 generations could spend — and continue socking even more and more away — doing no one any good at all. But sometimes those who are less well off can lead by example; you don’t have to be rich to have a positive influence on someone else.
It’s possible your situation is meager enough that you can’t think of any way you can be of help. But I have to say from past experience that some of the most generous people I have ever met have been those who possessed the fewest of life’s possessions but who were rich in spirit, who were giving of heart, and who would bend their back to help no matter what we needed. Just because you think you don’t have “as much” as someone else doesn’t mean you are unable to bless someone else.
Think about it. Let it be a secret between you and me. No one else needs know. But just maybe you can be a pat on the shoulder to someone else; and I guarantee it will be worth it.