Jerry was cleaning out his basement. It was a job that his wife had been bugging him about since he retired. As he looked upon dozens of empty canning jars, he started thinking back to his past. He cherished the times when he and his mom did the canning of vegetables each fall. Growing up in a blue-collar family, filled jars of vegetables were a form of financial security. Then he thought back to the start of his married life. He grew a garden and canned vegetables just like he did growing up. Although Jerry had a professional job that seemed secure, he could never outlive the financial security awareness that came from his parents who grew up during the Depression.
To Jerry, the canning jars were almost like a savings account. Although he was very financially well off, the canning jars still represented a sense of financial well being to him. He just couldn’t bear to throw them away. That’s when he got an idea that ultimately meant more to him than anything he had done in his career.
Jerry began a community program called Grow It, Preserve It, Enjoy It (GIPIEI). He got the community to provide access to several acres of undeveloped land that was fine for gardening. Then he worked with local charitable organizations to select people who would commit to the program. The applicants agreed to work with Jerry on developing the garden. Once the garden was ready to harvest, Jerry got his church to volunteer its kitchen for canning. Jerry taught the volunteers how to can. Of course his canning jars were put to good use, but he purchased many more for the program. Each volunteer was allotted canned food in proportion to their contributions. Also, jars of canned vegetables were set aside for local food banks. Their food security was symbolic of overall financial security.
When the canning was completed, Jerry then taught the volunteers the basics of financial security. Many had never even had a checking or savings account. Using food security as a symbol, Jerry taught them other aspects of growing/preserving/enjoying the return on their labor.
The program expanded the next year and the first year’s volunteers took on an additional role of coaching the new volunteers. Over time, the program spread to other communities. What began as a sense of remorse on what to do with his canning jars became one of the most successful community development efforts in Jerry’s hometown and other communities.
Financial security begins with a mindset of financial independence. Jerry developed that mindset from his parents. But many people in our current time don’t have role models for financial security. Thus, they don’t have the symbols of financial security to use as guidance.
Talk to anyone who has become financially secure based upon their own efforts (and not an inheritance), and they will fondly recall symbols of financial security. These could be collecting soft drink bottles, collecting and selling scrap metal, mowing lawns, babysitting, or making things to sell out of discarded items. They take great pride in their stories.
Financial security is also making the most out of the funds available to you. This involves spending wisely, investing for the future and sharing wisely. It’s a matter of growing wealth, preserving wealth and enjoying what wealth allows you to do for yourself, your family and others.
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“Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.” – Warren Buffet