I grew up with a very frugal father. Having lived through the Great Depression, he had a “cash and carry” philosophy. This meant you paid cash for purchases and didn’t purchase unless you had cash.
My mother was the opposite of frugal which was a source of problems in the marriage—problems my father often brought to me. “She spends so much,” he complained but I couldn’t stop her. What I could do was be careful with money and I still am.
But it’s no accident that my first true love was a man who was generous to a fault. He didn’t have much money, but he didn’t worry about it—and I admired that. When a struggling friend once asked for $50, he handed it to her. “You won’t get it back,” I said. “I know,” he said.
Remembering his kindness, I decided to make 2017 my “Year of Living Generously.” Every time I had to decide how much to tip or to give or to pledge, I did the more generous thing. Finally, it was no longer a decision, but a habit.
At the end of the year, I thought I’d have less in my checkbook, but I didn’t. I haven’t done the math because it isn’t about math. It’s about trying to be someone I admire.