Paying it Forward: A Final Bold Update

July 24, 2012

How is there only a week left of this month? And then only another month of summer, after that? Time has passed by so quickly this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if I woke up tomorrow and it was 2013. Something time hasn’t let me forget in this seemingly short month, however, is the fact that I am here in Victoria and not in Colorado. I am reminded of it with every update on the Bold Academy’s Facebook and Twitter profiles and, naturally, whenever anyone asks why I’m here and not there.

If I were there, I would be gearing down and getting ready to come back home in a few days. From what I’ve seen online, it looks like it’s been an interesting trip, but I am still confident in my decision to stay. And one of the most unexpected gifts to come from my decision not go to the Bold Academy this summer was the financial support friends and total strangers gave me after the fact.

Yes, a number of people who donated money to my trip told me to keep it for my next adventure*. With each offer to keep the money, I wanted to reply with a “no way!” or “but I’m not going!” But if I’ve learned anything this year it’s that the best way to accept a compliment or gift is with gratitude. And the feeling that comes with a gift of this nature is, well… the most sobering motivation I’ve ever felt.

In total, 6 people left me with a lump sum $290. One friend told me to go somewhere even bolder; a few others told me to do the same or asked that I donate it to my favourite cause; and a complete stranger left me with a donation for my future: whether that included paying off debt, paying it forward, using it to go somewhere, etc., he said the decision was mine and wished me well.

I’ve been struggling with the concept of accepting money I don’t feel I have earned. But I have this overwhelming feeling that each dollar is worth so much more than 100 cents. It could help me move forward. It could help me move someone else forward. It could change a life or at least a circumstance. I can’t say I know exactly what I am going to do with it yet, mostly because I don’t know what I want the next few months of my life to look like… but I can say this: I want it to be meaningful. And that’s exactly how I spent the first $50…

A couple of weeks ago, one of my oldest friends posted a story on Facebook about her friend’s new rescue dog and how it needed emergency surgery but they couldn’t afford the $5,000+ vet bill. My friend was collecting bottles from all over the city, to try and raise as much money for her friends as she could. As a dog lover, my reaction was automatic and immediate: I sent her a message and told her a lot of people had helped me this past year and it was my turn to help someone else. We met the next day and I gave her a $50 cash donation.

But I’m still left with $240, for whatever is next… I’ve considered taking a financial management class at my local college, this fall. I am open to any other cause that touches my heart, over the next few months. And I’ve also looked at how I could turn it into a volunteer opportunity or even buy a business license so I can start some public speaking. I’ll post an update, whenever I decide which direction I’m going to take… but I’d like to finish this post by thanking you all for giving me the opportunity to take a new direction at all.

Have you ever been in a position where you could pay it forward? Or received the gift of self improvement? I’d love to read about your experiences.

*Note: Many of my co-workers also pitched in some of their cash donations and, with it, we made a $130 donation to the Victoria BC SPCA. I’ve walked dozens of dogs there and spent more time volunteering for that cause than any other… and if that’s all this fundraising experience had given me, I would’ve been more than satisfied. What the rest of you have given me is just an incredible bonus.

  • bogofdebt July 24, 2012 at 7:01 am

    I’m glad you were able to pay it forward to such a worthy cause (fellow dog lover, can’t you tell?)! When I’m able to help someone out, I love it! That isn’t lately as I’m mostly living paycheck to paycheck (kind of anyways) but in the past, I remember buying my mom some groceries when she couldn’t get out of her house. I wouldn’t let her pay me for them because I knew money was tight for her at that point. It made me feel good–I didn’t mind that it was my “going out to eat money” because I helped someone who had helped me my entire life and left her with a smile on her face.

  • Pamela @ July 24, 2012 at 7:30 am

    It’s heart-warming to hear that people wanted you to keep the money – how awesome of them and of you to pay it forward. I’ve done it on a small scale – paying for strangers coffees & or breakfasts at the drive-through, but you have inspired me to want to do more. Even the smallest act of kindness helps makes someone else’s day and makes the world a better place :)

    • Cait July 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      I have yet to pay for someone’s coffee in a drive-thru but that’s definitely on the list of must-do’s.

  • fromshoppingtosaving July 24, 2012 at 7:35 am

    I love this post! What a heart-warming story..I would have totally done the same if someone couldn’t afford to help their dog, but really wanted to. I also have a tough time accepting money, especially when there isn’t a reason to accept money, like my birthday or Christmas. It makes me feel guilty! However, I can’t wait to hear about your next journey and what you decide to do with the money. I keep telling myself that I want to pay it forward for someone at Starbucks one day, but I keep forgetting. This just reminded me!

  • Budget & the Beach July 24, 2012 at 7:45 am

    That’s really cool some people said to keep the money, and I’m glad you found something that meant something to you that you helped with!

  • Travis Pizel (@DebtChronicles) July 25, 2012 at 3:57 am

    I love the concept of “Paying it forward.” Back in July of 2009 when Vonnie and I were at our financial breaking point wondering what we were going to do with our debt and dire financial situation I found the website of what would be the debt relief provider we would enroll with. Their user community was full of information and customers that were willing to answer questions openly and honestly. Not a day goes by that I don’t visit that user community looking for people that are looking for answers and/or support. I try to respond to as many threads as time allows me – I know I appreciated it, and I hope and pray that my taking the time to post now with my experiences helps other people just a little bit get through a difficult time in their lives as well.

    • Cait July 30, 2012 at 5:31 pm

      It absolutely helps others, Travis!

  • queenlbee July 25, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Really, really beautiful story. Just by the way you write I can tell you’d make a fantastic public speaker and I think you should pursue that!

    • Cait July 30, 2012 at 5:31 pm

      Thanks, L!

  • Mo' Money Mo' Houses (@momoneymohouses) July 26, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    That’s so awesome! I hope you do the public speaking thing, that sounds like such a great idea!

  • End of July’s Friday Link Lovin’ « bogofdebt July 27, 2012 at 4:35 am

    […] Cait at Blonde on a Budget has a great post on paying it forward.  Even if she’s not attending the Bold Academy, I think she is a BOLD person (and an awesome one). […]

  • kathleen July 27, 2012 at 10:33 am

    How lovely — this is the first post of yours I’ve read, so I don’t know what the Bold Academy is, but I’ve found that if you have money you want to pay forward, the universe will come around and show you exactly where it should go. Best of luck!