Is It Easier To Be Kind When Your Financial Life Is In Order?

A couple of recent interactions left me reflecting on how kind so many of our “FI” friends are and I started wondering if this was more than just coincidence.

Meeting Up With Friends From Ecuador

This picture has nothing to do with this post, but this adorable otter showed up in our backyard earlier this week and I fell in love!

This picture has nothing to do with this post, but this adorable otter showed up in our backyard earlier this week and I fell in love!  (Click the pic to enlarge)

While Mr PoP and I were in California, we got the chance to meet up with a couple that I had met while on the Ecuador Chautauqua last November. This couple invited not only Mr PoP and I over to their house for dinner and socializing, but generously also included in an invitation for Mr PoP’s friend that we were staying with to join in the fun as well! It was a lovely evening, with great food and even better conversation.

Then, as Mr PoP, his friend, and I were all walking back to Mr PoP’s friend’s apartment after dinner, both Mr PoP and his friend agreed that they had just met two incredibly kind people. I didn’t disagree that this couple was kind, but Mr PoP and his friend’s insistence that their level of kindness was unusually high made me reflect on the people that I had the chance to meet while in Ecuador. In the context of the other 30-ish attendees at the Chautauqua, this couple’s unusually high level of kindness hadn’t stuck out.  The thing is – all of the attendees (and speakers) were so ridiculously nice. Nice to one another, nice to the staff at the hotel (the spanish speakers went out of their way to converse with the staff as people, not just as employees) – everyone in the group was just lovely and kind all around.

Then We Hosted A Meetup In Our Own Town

As long time readers know, the past few years we have traveled to Omaha every spring to take in 6 hours of wisdom from Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger as they hosted their annual Q&A session as a part of the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting.  We’ve met up with different members of the financial blogger and financial independence community each year, and enjoyed it each year and enjoyed slowly getting to know Omaha!  But last year two things happened:

  1. Yahoo streamed the meeting for the first time, and
  2. The weather was insanely cold and rainy.

As I waited outside the arena in near-freezing temperatures and rain for the doors to open, it was disappointing to think that I could be watching this from home in Florida where my toes wouldn’t be turning numb.  Naturally, we offered to host the following year in Florida!

Otter loves noms!

Another gratuitous otter pic.  Otter loves noms!  (You gotta click on this one to see it bigger!)

That plan came to fruition this past weekend when local friends and financial blogger friends all convened in our town for a weekend of like-minded company, combined with six hours of watching two old men opine on the topics from healthcare in the United States (“a tapeworm on American economic competitiveness”) to why EBITDA is such a bad measuring stick for valuation purposes (depreciation is the opposite of float – and Warren and Charlie LOVE float!).  (I love their colorful analogies!)

In preparation for hosting the big event, Mr PoP and I worried about everything from having enough food and beverage (we ended up with more than enough!) to the possibility of the internet connection dropping and us losing the livestream of the event (we ran a backup line with internet from the neighbor’s cable connection in case our DSL connection dropped), and a few other items in between.  But the one thing that we didn’t worry about at all was everyone getting along even if they were just meeting for the first time.

And with the weekend in our rearview mirror, I have to say we were right not to worry about that for a second.

In both cases, where I was introducing people that had never met before, there was:

  • No standoffishness.
  • No showing off or trying to be better than someone else
  • A true generosity of spirit

 

Call me crazy, but I don’t think it’s the case that only people who are naturally unusually kind are attracted to the concept of financial independence.  But I do think there’s a decent chance that once you get your financial life in order, it’s easier to be kind if you choose to be.   (And I do think it’s got to be a choice – the Scrooge/Miser stereotype exists for a reason, too!)

After all, doesn’t it kindof make sense that…

  • When you’re not stressed about making ends meet at the end of the month, maybe you have more time and patience to really listen to others?
  • When you’re concerned about having more (or better) stuff than those around you, every day is a kind of competition, and competitions are exhausting!  Without that, you have more energy to share with others.

 

My observations are purely anecdotal, and far from statistically significant, so I ask you – the greater personal finance blogging community for a larger sample size.

 

Do you think it’s easier to be kind when you’ve got your financial life in order?  As you’ve grown and progressed in your financial journey, have you personally found yourself becoming more miserly, or more generous, especially with your time and talents?  

 

13 comments to Is It Easier To Be Kind When Your Financial Life Is In Order?

  • Everyone I’ve ever met from the FI community has been hands down a super nice, kind, thoughtful person (including you at that very same cold and rainy BK meeting!). Food and drink are shared, Uber/carpooling options offered, and crashing on someone’s couch/ in their guest room is definitely within the realm of possibility. I definitely don’t mind sharing what I’ve got because everyone else is equally open and I figure it all evens out in the end!
    Gwen @ Fiery Millennials recently posted..Financially Free?My Profile

  • Levi

    I totally agree! We (my SO and I) are far from FI (currently in super debt payoff mode) but we are pretty happy that we don’t live paycheck to paycheck and big problems are no longer as big of an issue. In turn we have become much more grateful for what we have and much more patient with people. I also find that the more I bike the less i freak out about traffic and other drivers, p.s. Mrs pop will appreciate this: I start a new job in a little over a week that will allow me to bike commute (and it came with a substantial raise)! definition of a win-win :)

    • So happy for you with the new job (and raise!) and the bike commute! How are they going so far??

      Though Mr PoP would probably say that my road confidence (in a car) has decreased since I started biking all the time. I was never a super confident driver and now I’m downright anxious at times. =(

  • just a thought

    I think people actively in the FI space are extra nice to others trying to accomplish the same goal. It is almost like a team sport were everyone can win.

    I know my fair share of people that have their financial life in order but are flat out a-holes and act in the complete opposite way that you describe FI’ers.

    • yes, I think it is also easy to be kind when you’re in a group of like-minded people with similar goals. That way, there’s less stress of not knowing what other people value or stand for. I find people are also extra kind at church camp or other group pursuits. I was in a camping group for awhile where we’d do outdoor adventures, and everyone there was super nice too. When you’re all in something together, it’s more common to work to support each other through kindness.
      Leah recently posted..A little sparkleMy Profile

    • “I know my fair share of people that have their financial life in order but are flat out a-holes and act in the complete opposite way that you describe FI’ers.”

      True – no matter what your financial circumstances, it’s still got to be your choice to be kind. And not everyone thinks that’s the right choice, sadly. =/

  • I think that people who choose to be less stressed are nicer in general. For many people, choosing to be on the FI journey reduces their work stress by freeing them from requiring the job financially / setting an end date for how long they have to put up with it. I know plenty of people though who are very broke and still incredibly nice, generous, and happy people in part I wonder because they choose to not accept money stress.
    Leigh recently posted..February 2017 updateMy Profile

    • Sounds like two sides of the same coin. Either save your way out of financial stress or just have the mindset that money stress never gets internalized… either way, you can end up with the same kind, generous, happy result? Counterintuitive, but I’m willing to buy it. =)

  • PaPa PoP

    I think that much of what you say shows that you are wise beyond your years, young lady! LY! Me

  • LOL! I think it’s a cultural thing. My father was very much committed to financial independence. And “Kindness” was, shall we say, not always his middle name. 😉

    In my experience, people who have gone through some degree of hardship in their lives are often kinder to those who are down on their luck than those of us who have always been moderately or very affluent. They are less judgemental about those who are poor or who don’t understand how to manage money, less oblivious, and more inclined to donate or lend a hand.

    That’s a generalization, of course. My father went through some very hard times; if they mellowed him out, one would like not to know what he was like before them.
    Funny about Money recently posted..Time to Batten Down the Hatches?My Profile

    • A generalization, but I’m inclined to agree. I think it’s easier to dehumanize others when we’ve never been in (or even near) their shoes. And that never makes for particularly kind actions towards the dehumanized.

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