Jun 20, 2012

Downsize Your Stuff & Upsize Your Relationships

Here in Western Colorado, we are campers. I have been looking for a little pop-up camper for a few years. While we were spending time with some friends at the Journey of Generosity we were sharing stories of our camping adventures. When we got home this family gave me a ring and said, “we have a little pop-up camper we want you to have.”  
They hadn’t used the thing in a few years and didn’t have the time to take care of it or enjoy it. They were also sick of paying the registration fees and insurance and needed the space in their yard.  

I was thrilled to have it! I went right to work cleaning it up and getting it into tip top shape to enjoy with my boys. I was happy to adopt the camper and the responsibility that came with it. When our friends need to use the camper I know they will call us up and take it out.  

This was such a blessing to my family and such a win-win. Our friends saved the maintenance hassle and the expense. They reclaimed their yard and still use it when needed and we wound up with a free camper. Woohoo!  

Now it’s time for you to downsize your stuff and upsize your relationships. 

Look for liabilities: Like the camper, are there any items that are costing you money? Perhaps you would be better off without these items, while somebody else would benefit greatly from having them. They may be a perfect fit for generosity to your friends or to a non-profit that you care about. Many non-profits can accept anything from real-estate to old junk cars. 

Outgrown and out the door: As the kids grow they leave the tricycles and training wheels for bicycles and a driver’s license. Our kids are outgrowing ski equipment before it is even broken in. Look around the garage and de-clutter while you look around the neighborhood and figure out who you can bless  

Sharing Life: Too often we spend time trying to keep up with the Jones’s. The truth is that we don’t need all of the toys. Consider sharing with your friends and inviting them into adventures with you. Some of my fondest memories growing up were with family friends. I have boxes of pictures with these folks, skiing in the mountains and swimming at Lake Powell. I wouldn’t have had these experiences without the generous invitations from these folks. Who can you invite into your life today. Who can you bless by sharing these experiences?  

Giving Little Gifts: Recently we wound up with gift cards that we couldn’t use. One was for a free train ride about 200 miles from our home and another was a gift card for ice-cream at a great little shop about an hour from our house. I knew that we wouldn’t be able to use these before they expired so I looked up addresses for friends and family in those areas and put the gift cards in the mail. Although they weren’t worth anything to me, they were of value to someone and it felt good to send them off. A few weeks later I enjoyed seeing pictures of my nieces enjoying their first train ride.  

The generosity you show today, whether big or small, will bless you and bless those around you. What can you give away right now? What larger items could you give away that might make a big difference? Share your generosity experience in the comments below. 

You can read more about giving stuff away and saving taxes in my article, The Cash Only Giver.
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