ERROL CASTENS: Want to feel rich? Spend something; give something

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

It’s easy to feel prosperous when raises are plentiful, the house is worth more every month and your employer is paying bonuses for recommending people to hire.
But when the economic news turned sour, it reaches deeper than just those people who had lost their jobs or who were upside-down in their homes or whose second income disappeared.
Many of us who didn’t take a direct pay cut also felt the need to eat leftovers more often, to watch TV instead of going to a concert, to postpone that vacation until times were better.
Unless we’re in the position of having to accept help ourselves, though, our thrift should contain a degree of generosity. Charities are hit with a double whammy: More need juxtaposed against fewer and smaller contributions.
Maybe it’s a good time to have a yard sale. It will raise some funds to give – directly to someone we know or through an organization that does excellent work. It will also share at bargain prices some accumulated goods that overburden us but which might be a boon to others.
It’s tempting to say that those in need shouldn’t be expected to give, but non-monetary helps to others such as time, effort and attention, are just as necessary as checks and cash.
And it’s downright empowering to be able to help someone else: It’s one way to courageously tell our circumstances that they haven’t defeated us.
A sharing spirit isn’t limited to actual giving. It may manifest itself in measuring our own safety net and declaring that we can afford a little luxury after all. When we eat out or buy a new outfit or maybe even take a vacation, we start money moving around again, and it blesses others as well.
It reminds me of Proverbs 11:26: “People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell.” We can be with our cash that same way – either hoarding it or willingly using it to benefit ourselves and others.
Not that you’ll never hear me disparage thrift: I come from people who washed sardine cans to serve as seed-starting containers and those tall, narrow olive jars to use as vases for a single-stem bouquet of daffodil.
But there’s a fine line between thrift and hoarding.
“Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,” Proverbs 11:28 states, “but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.”
So, spend a little. Give a little. Feel a little richer.
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.