The importance of giving

The Wall Street Journal carried a good Yoder & Sons personal finance column this morning. The column is by Stephen Kreider Yoder, Isaac S. Yoder, and Levi Yoder.  Steve is the paper’s San Francisco bureau chief; Isaac is 18 years old; and Levi is 14.

In “The Joy of Giving, and the Pain of Falling Short” they cover the importance of giving.

Giving first — before spending on yourself — has got to be a lifestyle choice, like investing in the 401(k) before buying a new car. It’s one reason Karen and I have begun talking about downsizing. A smaller house, and cheaper lifestyle, should leave more money upfront to give away while still allowing us to do things we value, such as travel.

I especially like this story of the Mennonite farmer.

I remember the tale of a Mennonite farmer in lean years. Every year, his family would designate the first calf as the “MCC calf,” the one that would be fatted and nurtured like the rest of the herd. At year’s end, no matter how thin the family finances, the full-grown cow would be sold, and the proceeds sent to the Mennonite Central Committee, the church’s rough equivalent of the Peace Corps. The family gave its first fruits to those less fortunate.

Giving should be the top priority when it comes to managing money, not the last.

The picture is from the display window at the Book Smith in San Francisco