Best way to spend $20 – and a call to action!

by Nick on March 26, 2012

I post a lot about what I do.  But I don’t talk enough about why I do it.  This post is all about “the why” – why I’m psyched that I’m so cheap and obsessed with building a pile of money.  Part of the reason is so my family is never “without” all of the things we “need” and some of the things we want.  This post is about the other main reason.  There’s also a call to action at the end.  You’ll see.

Last week I finished (having someone else do) my taxes.  Part of the reason I love tax time is it puts a spotlight on my finances, including my charitable giving.  This year, I switched a lot of my charitable giving to nondeductible giving (long story, but I’ve been giving to individuals more and not organizations).  I want to do more in 2012, so I’m looking to up the ante a bit.

Then Saturday morning I was working out at Cross-Fit and saw a sign on the wall that was selling $20 tickets for a pub crawl to honor the memory of a young guy named Caleb who passed away at 2 years old after a brief battle with brain cancer.  His mom started a charitable foundation in his honor dedicated to assisting families with sick children so they could stay at their kid’s bedside and not have to worry about rent, groceries, utilities or a mortgage payment (here’s the organization’s website if you’re curious).  It’s a really, really cool mission – right up my alley.

And it hit me pretty close to home for two reasons.  First, I have a two year old son and a 6 month old daughter.  I couldn’t imagine what I would do if anything happened to one of them.  And second, the name of the organization, “Pennies from Heaven, Caleb’s Foundation,” reminded me of my grandfather.  Long story short, my grandfather passed away a while back.  My mom had a dream that he leaves pennies on the ground to let her know he’s looking over her.  (I know, it’s a bit odd, but that was her dream…)  Now every time I see a penny, I think of him.  And I miss him a bunch.  Before you ask, yes I’ve wondered why he doesn’t leave hundreds, but that’s ok… It’s not about the Benjamins… 🙂

I couldn’t make the pub crawl (it’s the day before “Greaster” (Greek Easter)), but I e-mailed Caleb’s aunt and made a donation.  I couldn’t believe the incredibly emotional response.  On top of the gratitude that I could feel through the computer, a bunch of families are going to be a few bucks less stressed at exactly the worst time in their lives now.  And that’s why having a few extra bucks around kicks major butt.  By the way, here’s a list of the work they do.  Pretty cool, huh?

Anyhow, this is exactly why I pinch pennies (no pun intended).  I saved more in coupons shopping for groceries tonight than it takes to send a little bit of relief to a family in need.

Here’s the call to action:

I know very few of you live in NYC (or Hoboken) and are available for an April 14 pub crawl, but I just got so moved by the event and the organization that I just had to write a quick post on it to see if we could help.  And I’ll even put my money where my mouth is.

Not everyone is in a position to do this.  I know.  If you’re not, don’t worry about it.  But if you are, please find $20 and just give it to someone this week.  Find someone in need or someone who is doing great things for others and help them do it.  Just $20.  Try and find a smaller organization or individual who is going through a rough time or doing good for others.  Believe me, you’ll get $1 million in satisfaction.  That feeling – that one right there – is why we do this.

And just think about how much you can do when you’re a millionaire (yes, I said when)!  

Just don’t forget to do little things like this along the way to becoming a millionaire to remind you of why it’s so important to be on solid financial ground – so you can help yourself and others.

Here’s where I put my money where my mouth is.

If you take my $20 call to action and donate $20 to Pennies from Heaven, Caleb’s Foundation any time this week, which you can do right here, I’ll match it – up to a collective $500.  

Here’s how we do it.  You make a donation and forward the confirmation e-mail to saftmblog (at) gmail (dot) com.  Delete whatever sensitive personally-identifiable information like credit card numbers or your full name if you want.  Just include enough to show me you made the donation like date, confirmation, amount, etc.   I made the donation yesterday, so I know what the confirmation looks like.  So don’t worry, I’ll know even if you remove the personal information.  At the end of the week, I match it.  If it gets to $500 before then, I match it before then.

Very important:

Like this blog, I want to do this as anonymously as possible.  I just want the money to get there so they can give it to people in need.  When you make a donation, there’s a place where you can send a message.  If you put a message in there, please don’t mention me or SAFTM.  Say something nice to Caleb’s family if you want.  Or just make the donation with no message.  Thanks.  Doing stuff “on the down low” is a lot more fun, trust me.

Finally, to be clear, I never met Caleb, but judging from the pics and stories on his website, it sounds like he was a pretty special guy.  I’ve also never met his mom.  And I don’t know his family.  I’ve e-mailed back and forth to his aunt a couple of times over the weekend (she doesn’t know I’m posting this or that I run this blog) and made a small donation to the organization.  And I apparently work out at the same Cross-Fit as his aunt, too.  But that’s it.  I get nothing out of this other than a warm fuzzy feeling (and technically a t-shirt for making a donation…).

One last thing:

Any bloggers who want to have some fun and do some good at the same time, spread the word.  I’d really like to make the match hit $500.  So tweet, like, post, comment, link, share, Digg, or whatever other fancy way of spreading the word you can do.  Let’s have Caleb’s family wondering where all of this money’s coming from, ok?  Trust me.  They’ll appreciate it, the families they help will be grateful, and you’ll feel amazing.

Readers:  What’s the best feeling you’ve ever felt from a small donation like $20 or so?  When’s the last time you gave any money away – even a small amount?  How did it make you feel?

Sometimes we get so focused on saving and investing that we wake up months or years later and realize we let “giving” suffer.  Let’s change that a little bit this week.  Cool?

Until next time, put your credit card down and slowly step away from the mall!

Like what you see here? Tell your friends by sharing it with one of the buttons below. Post this to Facebook or Tweet it to help your friends and family, too. And don’t forget to send me an e-mail or comment to say hello. I love hearing from you.

Also, please join our recently-started Facebook community where I hope to build a place where we can all share thoughts, successes and support. And don’t forget to follow me on twitterwhere you’ll find most of the posts, random thoughts by me and more. See you there!

Image: Stuart Miles /

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Modest Money March 26, 2012 at 11:49 am

This sounds like a great cause. Awesome work to promote this charity Nick! You’re very generous to match donations too. I would donate if I was in a financial position to be able to. I guess I’ll at least use this as motivation to get my act together so that I can do my part to help others. I’ll be tweeting this right now in hopes that it helps out. You’re a good man Nick.


Nick March 26, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Thanks so much for the tweet, Jeremy! I appreciate spreading the word! And no worries about making a donation either. We can do a ton of great stuff by simply spreading the word.


Zack Jones March 26, 2012 at 12:04 pm

$20 donated through PayPal. Will forward confirmation email upon receipt. May there be lots of pennies in your future :).


Nick March 26, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Great stuff Zack! I look forward to matching it! And thanks – believe it or not I found a penny waiting for the bus on the way home from work today… pretty cool stuff.


Thad P @ March 26, 2012 at 12:33 pm

A very good idea Nick. I really like how you are putting feet to your response.


Nick March 26, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Thanks Thad! And thanks for the tweet, too. I appreciate the help spreading the word!


shanendoah@The Dog Ate My Wallet March 26, 2012 at 7:01 pm

I know you’re being anonymous, but I think I should be seeing a Bloggers Give Back badge somewhere on this website.
We donate “stuff” to Goodwill and other organizations, but like you, when we give money, it is almost always to a specific person or small organization doing work we believe in.


Nick March 26, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Hmm… That’s Jana’s creation, right? I’ll have to look into it. (Is there an explanation about what it means to have the badge?)

Until recently I gave most of my charitable contributions to big organizations, but it got really fun and rewarding when I started giving to organizations where I felt my money could make a bigger difference in a cause I really believed in. Good stuff.


Michelle March 26, 2012 at 9:42 pm

TWEET TWEET!! You moved me to tears. Ugh….still crying. I don’t even know what to say (that never happens.) I’m giving you a big virtual hug for your generosity. I hope my readers will stop by and donate as well. Pennies From Heaven will think they’re getting pennies from Heaven :)) Love this.


Nick March 26, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Oh oh. I had a good run going without making someone cry, but now I guess I have to start over… But thanks for the Tweet and the hug, Michelle! Both are very much appreciated. 🙂

It really is amazing how many “levels of awesome” anonymously donating money to a small organization like this can create. I’m pretty psyched.


Christopher @ This That and The MBA March 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Very inspirational nick. Glad you can help a family like this through their tough times. I started volunteering with troubled youths a while back and it is very rewarding as I am sure this is for you


Nick March 27, 2012 at 10:05 am

Thanks Christopher. Awesome job volunteering, too. How little I volunteer is one of my big embarrassments. I keep saying I will and I will and then I end up letting life get ahead of me…


Money Infant March 27, 2012 at 7:16 am

This is an awesome idea and I hope you make the $500 goal. We give small amounts here in Bangkok on a regular basis. There are people living on the streets all over the place here and no social programs to speak of. And here even $1 can go a long way. I’m going to put aside the equivalent of $20 and hand it out over the next 2 weeks. Thanks for being such an inspiration Nick!


Nick March 27, 2012 at 10:07 am

Thanks Steve! Definitely check back in as you give away the extra $20 and let us know how awesome it was.


Theresa Torres March 28, 2012 at 12:29 am

Hi Nick,
You’re right, that’s the best way to spend $20. It’s healthy and beneficial to both giver and recipient. It’s very good of you to do this and I’m inspired to do something similar when I’m already in a position to do so.
For now, I’ll pray for the success of your endeavor and pay your goodness forward to others even in small ways.
I’ll also follow your advice and remember to do little things like this on my own journey to becoming financially independent.


Nick March 28, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Sounds great, Theresa! Thanks for the kind words, prayers and paying it forward! 🙂


Southland Property Management March 28, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Hi …Can’t donate $20 right now …but have bookmarked this link! Will surely donate in some time 🙂


Nick March 28, 2012 at 10:33 pm

That’s OK. There will always be plenty of good work to do. Thanks for stopping by!


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