What if you believed in someone so much, that it made them believe in themselves?
What if you could make that difference happen for someone at the margins of society?
Recently, I was moved to tears while listening to Fr. Gregory Boyle speak at Gonzaga College High School. He runs Homeboy Industries, a non-profit that gives hope to former gang members in LA by giving them jobs and training.
Cesar and Richie, two of the “homeboys,” humbly shared how they were able to turn their life around through this program. Fr. Boyle believed in them and they began to believe in themselves. It was a powerful experience.
I ASKED MYSELF, WHAT IS MY ROLE IN HELPING CESAR, RICHIE, AND OTHERS LIKE THEM?
I bought a Homeboy t-shirt online that says “Jobs, Not Jails.” I found time to volunteer at a local non-profit, but I wanted to do more. I was moved to dedicate a part of my income toward helping build better lives for the marginalized.
But can I afford this additional expense? It was time to revise my budget.
Budgeting has gotten such a negative connotation. Many shy away from doing one, because they think it means cutting back on things they enjoy. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
DEVELOPING A BUDGET CAN HELP US ALIGN OUR SPENDING WITH OUR VALUES.
I employed three steps to find money to support a cause that was dear to me.
I reviewed my monthly expenses. Budgeting apps like Mint come in handy, since I’m able to see how much I’m spending across all categories. How then can I trim the fat?
2) CREATE SAVINGS
I convinced two of my friends to switch to a family plan, and lower our cell phone bill. I’m thinking of going further by switching to a free cell phone plan. I’ve cut my cable a long time ago. So I went further by unsubscribing to Netflix, and switching to an android TV box. Between that and the Bethesda public library, I have all the entertainment I need.
These are the easy ones. The more difficult choices involve lifestyle changes.
I looked at the money I spent each week on lunches and dinners. While eating out is easy and enjoyable, I resolved to cook more so I can divert money to charity. It seemed like a simple way to align my spending with my values. Delicious 20-minute recipes are welcome!
I need to hold myself accountable to my decisions. The most effective way for me is to manually track my spending in one broad category: Fun.
Personally, I use an app called Goodbudget. I place “money” in my virtual “Fun” envelope each month. Every time I go out to dinner or buy at Amazon, I add the expense. It takes two seconds. It significantly raises my awareness of where my money is going, and how much money I have left for the month. There are a ton of budgeting apps. Find one that’s right for you.
If Cesar and Richie can believe in themselves to do something, so can we.
Let's find creative ways to align our spending with our values, and hold ourselves accountable to those decisions.
P.S. We’re conducting 1-hr workshops over the next few months on how to budget smartly, among other personal finance topics. If your friends, community group, or co-workers are interested in hosting one, email us at email@example.com.
*Photo above was provided by Homeboy Industries.