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The Vet Bill

She was covered in blood.

I almost didn’t notice because people in front of me had walked right past her.

But there was something about her that made me pause and take a closer look. She had her phone up to her ear and a look of shock on her face.

“Are you ok?” I asked. (Ugh. Only the lamest question the English language can put together.)

“No. My dog just got run over by a car. I’ve had this baby for four years. I can’t believe this.” Now the blood and matted dog hair all over her made sense.

I came across her while at a conference a few weeks back, standing outside a vet’s office, as I was moving from one session to another. But I just couldn’t pass this woman by. And here I was, in a horrible situation of desperately wanting to help but feeling like there was nothing I could do.

She watched as the car that had dropped her off sped by and said, “Oh, I think they kept my money.” Apparently the person who hit her dog had stuffed a few dollars in her hand but then her ride drove off with it.
So, we just fumbled about as best we could. I ran over to our conference HQ and grabbed a handful of granola bars and kombucha and tried to convince her to come and sit down somewhere. But she understandably wanted to stay at the vet’s office. I told her to holler if she needed me and that I would be close by. Of course, I didn’t get her full name or number. Dumb dumb dumb. And all night I just thought about her and wondered what I could have done differently.

Then it struck me. Maybe it wasn’t too late! There might be something I could still do.The next day, when I returned to the conference I walked into the vet office and asked what had happened. Turns out it was the worst of the worst: her poor pup had to be put down. I asked, “Does she have an outstanding vet bill?” Yep. $545 dollars. Can you imagine? Being heartbroken and having a massive bill to pay? So out comes my phone and I check the giving line-item in our YNAB budget. “I’ll pay it in full,” I said.  

“Are you sure?” Darn right I was sure.

Now listen up. I am not some super generous angel person. I drive by people I could easily help every day of my life. It’s not something I’m proud of, but that’s the truth. But I truly think MOST people would want to do the exact same thing in this scenario. After all, I wasn’t the only person who gave toward that bill! Apparently, 2 or 3 other strangers who had come in contact with her had done the same thing. But if I’m honest, I look at personal budgets all the time and depressingly few of them have a single line-item for giving. So I am just sharing this story as a reminder. Somehow all of us (including myself) are continuously convinced that taking that next dream trip, buying that outfit, or upgrading our living space will give us that “thing”. You know what that “thing” is for you right? I know I do. And sure, it does, sort of. But it’s kind of like candy. Sweet and fun and gone in a few days, if not a few moments.

Spending money like this is like eating a healthy, delicious meal. It’s not like a party but it’s deeply satisfying. It’s as though, somehow, my money is getting to do what it’s truly MEANT to do.

And gosh, now with a baby, I feel like my empathy is on a whole new level. I see my child’s face everywhere; Syria, Guatemala, in Flint, Michigan. And I see my own face as a mother everywhere. Sometimes I just get so overwhelmed by it all I sort of break down. But that’s no way to live. So let’s just not forget in our busy lives that this is why we’re really here. To look out for one another. And yes, sometimes we look out for people with our MONEY. And if you want to get to be the person who buys groceries for your hard-up friends or smashes GoFundMe’s in the face, then determine that THIS is the day.

Today you’ll decide to finally promote yourself to CFO of your own life. Heck, that’s what we do! So call us. Or pick up a book. Start that course. Climb on board the financial peace train, my friends, however you choose to hop on. It’s not an easy ride all the time, but it’s so, so worth it.