On Living a Compassionate Life

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living a compassionate life

About a month ago, I came across a video on a friend’s blog. It was a video presentation of the highly popular commencement speech David Foster Wallace gave at Kenyon College, titled This is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion about Living a Compassionate Life.

And yes, I want you to watch it.

I know, I’m asking a lot of you to watch a 9-minute video. Personally, I tend to avoid anything over 5 minutes because that’s the point where I need a guarantee beforehand that it won’t be a waste of my time. So here’s my guarantee. This video has been a life-changer for me. So, for your own sake, take the time and watch it:

He that loseth his life…shall find it

About six months ago, I wrote one of my first blog posts about how giving can make you richer. The inspiration from the post came from a lecture I attended at BYU by Arthur C. Brooks (you can read the transcript here). For the first time in my life, I realized that the only way for me to find true wealth in this life is by putting others first. Brooks’ focus is mainly on the monetary rewards of giving, but the reason why those who give tend to earn more is simply because they’re happier.

From my experience, true happiness comes when you lose yourself in the service of others, whether that service is structured or as simple as a smile and “Hello” when you notice someone. The times in my life where I have learned the most about myself (or you could say, found myself) are the times I have put the needs of others ahead of my own.

How I found my (com)passion

The experience that jumps out the most was when, five years ago, I did something spontaneous. Normally, I don’t do spontaneous. And when it comes to giving, I don’t generally have any problem donating money, but I’m kind of a time miser. I’m also pretty introverted so it’s hard to get out of my shell sometimes. So five years ago, I decided to challenge myself. My best friend told me about a group called HELP International that was doing summer trips to Fiji for humanitarian aid. He said it would be fun to do together.

So I got everything ready to go: I talked to my boss, I started doing fundraising like crazy, and I went to all their meetings about how not to die while living in a developing country. I had committed myself emotionally as well as financially…and then my friend dropped out of the program. I hope you can imagine my terror. I was about the embark alone on a six-week trip eighteen time zones away and would spend my time with a small house full of people I met once in an awkward get-to-know-you meeting.

When I got to my gate at the airport, I noticed a girl talking on her phone about going to Fiji. I knew she was going to be in my group, but I couldn’t even bring myself to say hi–now before you mock my introversion, watch this TED talk about how awesome we are.

I ended up in a three-room house with 15 other people, 14 of which were girls. For the majority of my time, I slept on a mat on the floor where cockroaches crawled over my sleeping body at night, and we spent the days drenched in sweat under the sun and humidity (thank goodness we didn’t go during their summer), working on different projects in the surrounding villages.

One day, about two weeks in, as we were riding home in a cab from another town where we taught business school, I had some serious introspection. I wondered what I was doing there. The first two weeks were hard. It took a lot out of me to try to be outgoing and I felt like a failure. As I stuck my arm out the window into the cool night air, I looked up at the stars and realized something.

I wasn’t doing this trip for the people of Fiji. I was doing it for me. I was doing it to prove to myself that I cared. That I was a good person. I was disgusted with myself. But instead of wallowing in that disgust, I used the motivation it sparked to change. For the next four weeks, I wasn’t perfect. I still struggled to overcome my boring introversion and do a double check on my motivations, but over time my heart changed, and by the time I left that country, I had learned so much from these beautiful people, and I developed relationships with my fellow volunteers that remain among my fondest. I also developed a love for the Fijian people that will never die.

That love extends to all other people in this world who suffer from hunger, exposure, curable diseases, lack of education and lack of opportunity. In recent years, I’ve realized that there are even millions of people like that in my own country, where opportunity and the American Dream are trumpeted as our culture.

Compassion changes you

Before my trip to Fiji, I wanted to be a CEO or CFO of a Fortune 500 company. To me, that was the epitome of success. But my experience in Fiji, coupled with an opportunity to learn directly from Fortune 500 executives in lectures at BYU, made me realize that I could definitely achieve that goal, but it just wasn’t what I wanted anymore. I still want to be wealthy one day, and I would love to be in Bill and Melinda Gates’ shoes (watch their recent TED talk about how giving away their wealth has been the most satisfying thing they’ve ever done–extra note: they aren’t planning on giving their kids ANY of their money. They want them to work for it. Now that’s what I’m talking about ;))

But the more I think about it, the more I realize that compassion doesn’t need to be on such a grand scale to make a difference. As I try to be more selfless in my marriage, it has become something the sweetest and most precious thing I am privileged to have. As I try to be more understanding and less judgmental about the people around me, I can be a helping hand rather than a heavy one. And as I try to sacrifice things I love, whether it be my time, my wants or even my money, it’s easier for me to see that true happiness comes when we put more focus on fulfilling the needs of others.

Of course, I say I try because I’m far from where I want to be. I’m still somewhat a time miser, and it still takes all I have to get out of my shell to reach out to someone else. But it has changed me. As I see people who are where I used to be–people who believe the world revolves around them, who are irritated, or even enraged, at the slightest inconvenience or disturbance to their perfect world–it makes me sad. It makes me want to share what I’ve learned (or sometimes when I’m really worked up about it, which happens more often than I would like, I want to force it down their throats :)). But in the end, the only thing I can do to truly help them change is by exercising the same thing that helped me to start the change: compassion.

And a lot of it is about just being aware. As you become aware of the needs and feelings of others, you realize that we all need love and compassion.

The result of all this, for me, goes far beyond anything money could ever buy. The wealth of a compassionate life affects the people around you, but it affects you even more. It changes your perspective on life. It changes your priorities. It changes your perception of needs vs. wants. It also makes people want to be around you, giving you more of an opportunity to make a difference.

But above all, it makes you happier than you ever thought possible.

(photo cred)

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Why Haven’t You Switched to Republic Wireless Yet?

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If you’ve heard of Republic Wireless, but haven’t made a switch for whatever reason, hopefully this post will give you a good enough run-down and help you see why making the switch is well worth it. If you haven’t heard of Republic Wireless yet, all I can say right now is you’re welcome, because you’re about to be introduced to something that can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

The first thing people tend to think when they hear Republic’s pitch are: “$25/month for unlimited talk, text and data? The service must be crappy.” Or “That sounds great, but I already have a contract with {insert ridiculously overpriced and overrated carrier here}.”

I first heard about Republic Wireless over a year ago and had both of thoughts run through my mind, immediately stopping any further consideration. It didn’t help that the best phone they had was kind of a piece of junk. But in November, they added the brand spanking new Moto X to their arsenal and I started to consider it more seriously.

I ended up switching to Republic just before Christmas and I’ve been impressed ever since.

The Why

Republic Wireless is poised to be a disruptor in the mobile telecommunications market. The main things that drew me to them were the low cost of the plans and the absence of a contract (along with its ridiculous fees, upgrade shenanigans, etc.) You can see the monthly plans below:

Republic

I started out with the $25/mo. plan, then ended switching to the $10/mo. plan, although my reasoning for doing so is a blog post in and of itself. They also subsidized the cost of the Moto X, which retailed at the time for $619. I only paid $299 for it. And even though I have the Wi-Fi data only plan, they allow you to switch your plan twice a month. So if I go on a road trip and need 3G service***, it’s just a swipe away.

The How

Alright, so that might sound great, but $25/mo. for unlimited everything just sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? It all boils down to Republic Wireless’ proprietary technology called Hybrid Calling.

Republic is the first carrier to create its own custom-built technology that basically inverts the network. Meaning, if you’re connected to Wi-Fi, not only is your data being run through it, but so are your calls and your texts. When you aren’t connected to Wi-Fi, or even if you move from a place you are connected to a place where you aren’t, the operating system switches to Sprint’s mobile network seamlessly. If you find yourself outside of Sprint’s coverage, your phone will automatically roam (free of charge) to Verizon towers.

Since most people are connected to Wi-Fi much of the time, this drastically decreases the costs Republic Wireless incurs from using Sprint and Verizon’s networks. They then pass those savings on to you.

Valid concerns

Of course, there are some of you who still have valid concerns with the idea of switching. There may be some of you who simply can’t afford the upfront cost of the Moto X, or your {insert ridiculously overpriced and overrated carrier here} contract comes with a hefty cancellation fee. You could also still be unsure about the strength of coverage.

Cost of the phone

A couple of weeks ago, I posted the following status on Facebook:

Republic Wireless

To answer any preliminary questions you may have, yes that profile pic is me photobombing while stuffing a giant piece of cake in my mouth. To answer the other question you might have, I also don’t know why more people didn’t like that status. I guess no one likes saving money. Or happiness, for that matter.

Anyway, one of the comments I received on that status stated the issue of not being able to afford $299 upfront for the phone. Well, you’re in for a real treat, aren’t you? Because Republic Wireless recently announced that they will be introducing yet another phone to their arsenal, the Moto G. The price on this bad boy is only $149 for an 8 GB phone, although you can upgrade to 16 GB for an extra $30, which I would highly recommend. In fact, if you click here, you can enter your email address and get a notice when they’re officially ready to order (and you’ll also be entered into a drawing to win one for free along with 12 months of free 3G service).

Of course that isn’t going to solve everyone’s concern regarding upfront cost, but it’s good to see they are aware of it and are providing solutions.

Contracts and Early Termination Fees

This is another valid concern that also rolls into the upfront charge issue. But don’t let that concern shut you down immediately. Run a quick analysis of what it would cost to stay on your current course vs. making the switch. All it takes is a two-column run-down in Excel of what you’d be paying each month with each carrier, along with what it would cost to pay the fees and buy the phone, as well as to sell your old phone.

When I did this four months ago, it came out to be about the same total cost either way, so I switched so I could a) stick it to Verizon and b) enjoy the beautiful freedom of not having a contract. Sure, the extra expenses in the beginning hurt, but now it feels so much better.

For some of you, switching may end up costing you just because your current contract’s early termination fee is ridiculously high. I’ll accept that reason for now, but don’t let it keep you complacent when your contract comes up and they’re wanting you to lock yourself in for another couple of years.

Strength of Coverage

After I posted that status above, I had a few friends reach out to me and ask me about Republic Wireless. One of their main concerns was the coverage issue. Obviously, I can’t answer for everyone, but luckily for you, they have this nifty little coverage checker where you can enter your address and see if they cover you there (and remember, roaming is free).

The only thing I have to add to that is that if I could get pretty darn good service in Arkansas, most of the rest of the country should be good to go :)

Make the Jump

The main point of this article is to wake you up to the fact that Republic Wireless offers a great opportunity to every single one of us to save money on something that is no longer considered a luxury. In my mind, it’s really a no-brainer.

Since I first started with Republic Wireless, I’ve “converted” five or six people to switch and every single one of them has been deliriously happy with their decision. It really is liberating to shrug off the shackles of contracts and high monthly costs.

So if you’re interested in checking it out, feel free to click on the banner ad at the top of this post. I do get paid if you do purchase through that link, so keep that in mind. If you’re not interested in contributing to my blog fund, you can also just go to their website (I don’t get paid for this link).

So what are your reasons for not making the jump?

 ***I ignored the 4G plan completely mainly because I don’t find it necessary. Although many of you fancypantsers might, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

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Return of the Jedi

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my-excited-faceHey friends!!!

The long-awaited day is here. I know, the one you’ve been pining for for months now. :) I’m back!

The last few months have been interesting. It’s been hard to be away from my blog, because it’s something I’m passionate about. But as I mentioned in my last post before the hiatus, the blog was simply consuming too much time and it was causing me to neglect other, more important, things in my life.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last few months, and I’ve also been extremely blessed. Going forward, I’ll definitely be sharing little tidbits of some of the things I have learned, with the hope that it might help someone else.

A New Direction

I have also decided that I’m going to be moving forward with this blog in a different direction than before. As I’ve thought a lot about my passion when it comes to personal finance, I’ve tried really hard to find something that adds value to all of you. But your diversity, which is lovely by the way, makes it hard to feel like I’m actually helping anyone by being a one-trick pony.

As I’ve learned from other personal finance bloggers, I’ve realized that personal wealth is so much more to me than money. I know that because I’ve seen it first-hand in areas of the world where money isn’t the object of everyone’s pursuits and happiness is found in a multitude of other ways.

So moving forward, I’m going to start sharing my thoughts about the things in life that make us wealthy. Finances are still going to be a part of that, but not the sole focus. I’ll have to ask for your patience with me because it may take me a while before I really find my niche, but I’m hoping that this will open things up to add more value to each of you.

Another move I’m going to be making is to focus on this blog just as a hobby rather than as a business, as was my focus before. I feel like this is the best direction for me personally because of the colossal amount of time I spent on it every day when I was trying to focus on running it like a business. Because of that, I probably won’t be posting as often as I used to. In fact, I’m not even going to force myself to any sort of posting schedule at all. That may make me lose readers, but I doubt it’ll be any more than by going on a 3-month hiatus ;)

Anyway, I know this is short, but I just wanted to let you know that I’ve missed you and I can’t stay away any longer. Here’s to the future!

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Spreading the Gospel: Carnival of Financial Planning

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Park AvenueHey y’all! (I live in Texas now so I’m allowed to say that) I’m still on a blogging hiatus right now, but I miss you all like Michael Jackson’s corpse misses sunlight. Too morbid? OK maybe, but that’s how much I miss you, so there. But I’m making some good progress and will hopefully be back relatively soon!

Anywho, I signed up to host today’s Carnival of Financial Planning, and it’s important to me to stick to that commitment, so I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite blogging friends and their awesome work!

EDITOR’S PICK

Holly @ Club Thrifty writes Park Avenue and the One Percent - I particularly enjoyed this one because I watched the documentary Park Avenue around the same time Greg and Holly did. It made me think twice about the whole “tax the rich” debate and that just because the ultra-rich work hard for what they have doesn’t mean they can use their unfair advantage to screw everyone else.

 

BUDGETING AND ECONOMICS

Lindy @ Minting Nickels writes 9 Clever Savings for Cash Strapped Businesses – It’s a tough, tough world, you know – and for small businesses times are lean.

Hank @ Money Q&A writes How To Launch An Online Business On A Budget – Here are five tips to help you keep your own costs down as you build and launch your online business on a budget. When you’re launching a new online business, it’s tempting to spend a lot of money getting it going. Don’t do that!

Mr.CBB @ canadian budget binder writes How we cash in on unused clutter in the winter – Don’t underestimate the value of an item because what you may consider junk another may consider a treasure.

Natalie @ Debt and the Girl writes My Favorite (Cheap) Party Foods – Oh, delicious food! Why are you so tempting to eat? There are just too many crazy good party foods on the market today. Some are more expensive than others. I am a big lover of all things tasty in the food world but saving money is great too.

Daniel @ Make Money Make Cents writes These 5 habits may change your financial life – Every year it is proven that most New Year’s resolutions are not kept, mainly because most of them are simply aimed too high.

Danielle @ Saving Without a Budget writes 50 Tips to Improve Your Financial Health in 2014 – Part Two – We have 10 more tips that will help you to clean up your financial act this year and help you to meet all of your financial goals.

Jack @ Money Saving Ethics writes What is the best way to return a gift that was purchased online? – International shipping company FedEx recently released a survey that showed that nearly a third of all Americans are going to be going back and returning at least one gift this year that they purchased or received from an online retailer

Andrea @ So Over This writes Improving Your Credit as a Single Parent – Regardless of whether you are divorced or have never been married, being a single parent can have a significant impact on your personal finances.

 

CAREER AND INCOME

Debt Guru @ Debt Free Blog writes College Finance: Cheaper Alternatives to Traditional Secondary Education – College a little too expensive? Here are several alternatives to college one may want to first consider before taking on crushing student debt.

Pauline @ Savvy Scot writes New year financial boot camp: Earn more money – Today we will talk about how to earn more money. I’ve listed some good ideas that can make a little more money each month.

Karen @ MakintheBacon writes When Quitting is an Option and How It Cost Me About $400 – I decided to cut my losses by dropping a Distance Ed course, but I have to pay $400 to do so

Sam @ The New Business Blog writes The Essentials of Digital Marketing for Small Business – Digital marketing is a very cost-effective tool for small business owners with a high ROI that beats most any of the traditional marketing forms.

 

DEBT AND CREDIT

Eva Baker @ TeensGotCents writes How I Chose My Major – Guest post by brokeGIRLrich! – So excited to feature Mel of brokeGIRLrich. She has paid off an amazing amount of student loan debt and shares, “How I Chose My Major”.

Alexa @ Defeat Our Debt writes How Does Non Profit Credit Counseling Work? – Do you think credit counseling would help with your debt pay off plan. If so, you are probably wondering how non profit credit counseling works.

 

 

INVESTING AND SAVING

Cat Alford @ Budget Blonde writes Pregnant During Winter? Here Are Some Money Tips! – If you are pregnant during winter, here are there tips for how to save money on maternity clothes and baby items!

Don @ MoneySmartGuides writes How To Become Wealthy – Do you want to know how to become wealthy? Then you’ve come to the right place. There are just two thing you need to focus on in order to becoming wealthy.

Roger the Amateur Financier @ The Amateur Financier writes Of Debt, The Secondary Debt Market and the Rolling Jubilee – A discussion of the secondary debt market and the Rolling Jubilee, an attempt by the Strike Debt Organization to eliminate debt, particularly medical debt.

Suba @ Broke Professionals writes How to Cope Up with Socially Obligated Spending – Do you do socially obligated spending? Read more to find out if you do!

Rich @ Growing Money Smart writes My Way of Analyzing Stocks – This is my way of analyzing stocks when I consider in invest in the stock market.

Lauren @ L Bee and the Money Tree writes Goals for 2014 (and 500 words on my feelings…) – You may be thinking, “But January is almost over, why are you doing your goals now?” Well, because I wanted to take a few weeks to reflect on what I want for myself, and why.

Marvin @ Brick By Brick Investing writes 11 Monthly Dividend Stocks That Let You Sleep Well At Night – A detailed list of 11 stocks that pay dividends on a monthly basis. These stocks are a low risk and tax free alternative for an investor’s portfolio.

Michael Kitces @ Nerd’s Eye View writes Can We Really Measure Risk Tolerance Or Does It Swing Too Wildly With Market Volatility? – Recent research finds that it’s a good idea for any investor to get an objective measurement of their risk tolerance – a crucial step to make sure you’re not overly optimistic, or pessimistic, about your portfolio!

Monica @ Monica On Money writes How To Save Money Even If You’re Broke – If you are living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to save any money, here is an idea to start saving money, starting with just $1. You do not need to save hundreds of dollars each month to make progress.

Joshua Rodriguez @ CNA Finance writes What We Should Learn From The Down Stock Markets – In this post, Joshua talks about the great investment year 2013 was and how that changed in early 2014.

 

RETIREMENT AND TAXATION

Wayne @ Young Family Finance writes Preparing For Another Tax Season – It’s tax season! Don’t fret – here’s what you need to do to prepare for this year’s tax filing.

Pauline @ Reach Financial Independence writes You Get Lucky When You’re Prepared – How does one get started in building wealth through assets? FI Fighter will help us to find better ways to build financial wealth and to have a better path to financial freedom.

(photo cred)

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Blogging Hiatus

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It’s a sad day for me today. Recently, there have been some deeply personal things that have come up, and after a lot of soul-searching and prayer, I’ve decided that I need to take a hiatus from blogging for a little while. Writing about personal finance has become a passion of mine, so this definitely hurts my heart, but I’ve come to realize that there are more important things in life, and some of those things are happening right now. 

I’m not sure how long it will be before I start blogging again, it could be a few weeks or a few months. But I’m definitely looking forward to getting back on track once I can take care of some essential things. I’ll still be doing some freelance writing here and there to keep the saw sharp, so if you know of any opportunities, send them my way!

I want to thank all y’all for reading. This website has been one of the most valuable and fulfilling things I’ve ever done and a lot of that has been through my conversations with some of you awesome readers. I’m sure you won’t miss me too much, but if you do, feel free to drop me a line :)

Luvs!

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