At the beginning of October, I slipped five crisp Benjamins into my purse. I don't usually carry any cash at all, so I was feeling flush with $500 in my pocket. It was all part of a simple experiment: Could I save on my grocery budget if I only paid in cash? While I will share more in the future about what I specifically learned about groceries and my budget, this experiment made me think about a bigger problem. By mid-October, I had about $30 left. I valiantly tried to stretch the money to the end of the month, but I couldn't. A family of five simply needs more food than $30 can buy. So I dipped into the checking account. For me, it was not an issue. But what if this were another family's grocery budget and they had no savings, no access to credit cards or any other source of money? You can't just ask your children to starve until payday. So what do you do? Since you read this blog, I am guessing we have a lot in common. Can you identify with any of the following situations? If I need to go somewhere, I get into my car. If I am thirsty, want to take a shower, or need to brush my teeth, I turn on the water faucet that comes directly into my home. And get this, the water is disease-free and ready to use. If one of my children is sick, I take them for medical treatment or raid my medicine cabinet. When I think about what's for dinner, I open my refrigerator, my pantry, my big freezer, or search the shelves that hold my canned goods. And I am ashamed to say that I still don't have a clue of what to cook for dinner sometimes. I don't even think about these things. They are just there, and it's just the way life is for me.
Experimenting encourages empathy
Relationships and community are very important to me. I believe that the financial excess I have been given is a responsibility that I must steward wisely. I don't know why I wasn't born in an African village without access to clean water or why I was born into a family blessed with generally good health, a strong support system, and enough tools to help me figure out how to get by.