Lots of financial folks advocate the importance of having an emergency fund.
I’m one of those folk.
The fact is that you will almost certainly have a financial emergency in your life. The question is more likely when and what. The wise thing to do in these situations is to be prepared in advance for something that is ‘unknown’.
There have only been a couple of times in my life when I’ve needed to dip into the emergency fund, but each of those times I was so thankful that I had something set aside.
But what about the importance of having a giving emergency fund stockpile and strategy?
The fact is that at some time in your life you will encounter someone with a need. I find that often when I’m asked for spontaneous help I’m not prepared to help in the ways that I think are most beneficial. Truth is that the fact is someone will ask for help. What is unknown is who and what.
What can I do now to prepare for those times when I’m asked to spontaneously respond to needs?
Last Sunday I was driving through Denver, Colorado and stopped at a stop light. There was a man there who had a sign asking for food because he was hungry. Now, confession time: I was on my way back from a Transforming Your Financial Diet Seminar and had a few hundred dollars cash in my pocket (from book sales). The problem was that I think it’s better to give homeless people food instead of money. As a result of being unprepared for a giving situation and not willing to take the time to go buy food, I drove right past him.
The point here is that I’ve never given any real sort of forethought and created a proactive strategy as to the best way to handle this type of situation. (In my defense, I’ve been living out of the US for 6 years, so these seem like new situations to me).
This week I published an article at Christianpf called 4 Ways to Become a Better Neighbor. In the comments, Rich from Money Wise Pastor shared how someone he knows packs a homeless bag in their car so they have food to give homeless people.
What if I had a giving emergency plan and had a stockpile supply?
For example, if I see a homeless person, I will …
- Say a quick prayer and ask God’s wisdom. There will be times when I should and when I need to drive by, but at least ‘x’ times a month I should stop.
- If I feel a ‘compulsion’ to help, I’ll find a way to engage in conversation with the individual.
- If the need is legitimate, I’ll provide them with some type of food bag I have prepared in the car.
Now, I’m not necessarily prescribing these steps, but why not have some type of an emergency plan in place for these types of situations?
I once interviewed someone who buys two of what he needs when the items are on sale at the grocery store. He then takes those items home and waits for a giving opportunity where he knows he can use those things for the sake of the kingdom. This is a giving emergency stockpile. It is being prepared for giving situations that you’ve not yet encountered.
Another option is putting an envelope with $20 or $50 or $100 in your car and setting that aside for others. You will likely not have any plans for the funds, but they are there and ready to meet a need when the need arises.
What do you think you could be doing today to prepare you for a future giving emergency? Do you know people who do this type of thing? What do they do?