Small experimental generosity

In recent years I have faced my attitude to financial matters or rather lack thereof. One of especially confounding things to me was that of donating money.

How, how much (if at all), and why exactly — these kinds of questions about donations started to come up.

Money in Ukraine

As I opened with — my attitude to money is borderline missing. I would not call it dysfunctional, but rather disorganized.

You see, growing up in Ukraine, money is a short term subject. On average people make small sums and live paycheck to paycheck. The financial instruments (like deposits and loans) are scarce.

And if you do have opportunity to save up — the currency crashes will wipe it out. The latest crash, induced by recent unrest and conflict, devalued currency to a third of what it was.

And this was the third major crash in mere ten years history of hryvnia alone.

So my financial upbringing resulted in shallow attitude to money, consisting of:

  • don’t spend outside of my means;
  • don’t do debt of any kind;
  • try to save up or whatever / why bother.

Could have been worse, I suppose.

Donating in WordPress

My transition to a career in WordPress industry brought on more exposure to civilization. I call it that only half in jest.

Asking for donations and donating money just didn’t map to anywhere in my mind or finances. I could not remember anyone in my family ever making donations or even talking about it. I had no example to go by.

And it didn’t look like an easy subject either. I saw how people opened themselves to scrutiny and judgement of others.

In more informal instances, such as someone paying for my meal or taxi unprompted… I felt weirded out. Still do.

The process of money going one way just–because messed with my sense of balance. It was hard to form an attitude. So I had ignored the topic.

Making a plan

While back I encountered statement that generosity and donating money is favorable to our psychological well–being.

This was a new angle to consider. Maybe I was losing out by dodging the subject. On other hand donating money to improve my state of mind sounds selfish.

But… Less selfish than not donating at all, isn’t it?

I had a tiny mental breakthrough. Why not try?

I failed to come to terms with the issue in theory. It was time to confront it in practice. I started an experiment with several rules:

  1. Whenever I encounter opportunity to donate in my daily life — I will. Since I trust my people, it is logical to trust their example and choices in donation activity.
  2. I will stick with modest sum for each donation. Not meaninglessly small, but not large enough to risk trigger financial freakout.
  3. I would do so anonymously, since I am not ready to deal with social aspects on top of financial ones.

Yeah, writing this post freaks me out too by the way.

So far

So I went and did that for a while. Not going to quantify anything in this post for the reasons above.

I would not say it made me a better person or anything.

But… Maybe for the first time ever I felt some of that griping financial insecurity inside me fade away.

Like there are things to do with money, other than gather a pile and hope it doesn’t turn to dust.

You might not think it even a step, but for me it is a leap.

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  • chuck scott #

    Awesome honesty about money approach ... Your post brought back two memories when i needed to learn how to flow and let go ... first was when i was 17 years old and changed religions (my family was not happy but that is different story) ... i remember volunteering to drive a church group of us somewhere and complaining to my mom later about the cost of gas to drive me and that group ... She was quick to remind me, "Hey Chuck. Somebody has to pay to heat that church, so if you are getting something from it, you should be okay to put something back and support it" ... The next chapter that comes to mind is when i closed down my first company after 15 years in business and money was uber tight (that is putting it midly) so holding on to every cent was key (or so i thought) ... I remember talking to one of my spiritual friends about my lack of financial abundance ... She laughed and played back something i learned from my martial art days and shared with her years earlier ... she played back the following, "Chuck, didn't you say in Kung Fu styles you learned to be relaxed to flow. Something about if you cup water in your hands you can then redirect it to your mouth to drink or splash it, but as soon as you squeese the water in your hand it runs away and alludes you?" ... I confirmed, "Yes, this is my understanding that the more we squeeze the faster it flows out so yes, we need to relax to make it work for us." The next line she said has stuck with me forever ... "Well" she started, "Money is the same thing as water - that is why they call it currency - you are supposed to flow. One is not supposed to be rigid, but is supposed to flow with it and the more one can let it flow out in service to humanity, the more one can allow it in." So at that point in my life with essentially nothing and having to rebuild, I started tipping at the gas station just to make a point to the Universe, my God and the Brothers and Sisters of White Light, or whatever other invisible forces might be paying attention to my behaviors. So i started tipping for gas, just to force myself to a new level of flow. By tipping a dollar or two at the gas station (something that almost nobody does anymore - at least here in Connecticut) forced me to learn how to flow ... it was forced practice if you will and helped get me in the habit of flowing, no matter how small the service received ... Fast forward ... today i have no issues with donations ... my rule is simple, if i get value from something then i owe it to Karma, the Universe, call it what you want, i owe the Life Force the Honor of giving back when i can, regardless of what my bank account or wallet says ... Yet sometimes giving back is not always money ... e.g., the other night i attended a beautiful free church concert but did not have money to donate, yet i did spend time writing up an appreciative letter to the editor as way of thank you, so my 2-3 hours of time to prep the copy and corresponding photo that landed in the press (and seen by 25,000 people in our village) was my way of giving back to that group that hosted the concert ... Accordingly, i salute your sharing Ukrainian financial sensibilities ... here is hoping your sharing inspires others thus as the saying goes, "All boats rise with the positive tides" (or something like that) .. viva those who flow, take time to give back and say thank you! cordially, chuck scott
  • Andrey “Rarst” Savchenko #

    Thank you for sharing your stories! Oh, by the way tipping is suuuper confusing too. I really much prefer when service is just an explicit charge in the bill. I don't see how putting that decision on customer benefits anyone (maybe but employer who uses it to pay less).
  • Kaspars #

    That is a great story Andrey! I started doing the same recently for every open source tool that I use as long as they have a donate button. I really hope they receive more donations per active user than I did with WordPress plugins back in the day :)
  • Andrey “Rarst” Savchenko #

    I hadn't quite got to tools/software yet, though I did donate to one (faced with opportunity on downloading new version). I am pondering about not applying rules from the post to those, but maybe figuring out most used ones and donating a bit more than that to them.