As a parent, there's nothing more rewarding than helping your kids. They're born into this world completely helpless and need you to grow and thrive. It's a parent's duty to help, love, and support. But, what about helping distant relatives, friends, or even complete strangers? Do you feel it's our duty to help if we can?
The Duty To Help Others Vs Just Help Yourself
When it comes to money or dreaming about getting rich, so often we're just focused on what we'd buy or splurge on for ourselves.
For example, I'd like to be fabulously wealthy. So wealthy that I wouldn't think twice about taking a taxi home or booking a first class ticket to Europe on my next adventure. Heck, regularly flying private would be incredible.
Alas, I still ride coach with terrific strangers who take both arm rests even though I'm sitting in the middle. It would also be nice not to have to pontificate for years whether or not I should finally buy a new car. And on a similar note, it would be lovely not to get upset about speeding or parking tickets.
“To the mansion, Alfred!” would be a fun phrase to say once in a while.
But I'm happy because the journey is a riot. To be able to share stories with all of you makes life so much more fun. I swear, if I wasn't already writing for free online, I'd consider paying Al Gore, the creator of the Internet, the right to continue publishing online every month!
So I got to thinking during hot tub time one day whether we all have the duty to help if we can help.
Is It Crazy To Feel We Have The Duty To Help Others?
A friend of mine recently said, “Sam, you are a crazy, insane person. What kind of financially independent person writes all the time, subjects himself to public hanging, then writes some more? Are you a masochist? Why are you then slaving away by consulting another 25 hours a week? And now you've started a podcast? WTF?!”
He continued, “Look. If I didn't have to work, I'd be popping bottles at the clubs and hooking up with chicas bonitas all the time! If you've got your shit together in your 30s, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. You can't miss! The jocks had their time in high school and college. Now it's our time!” as he beat his chest with great furor.
We had a couple more drinks and decided to move on to a game of darts. This is New York City after all where darts at 1am followed by a jazz club until 3am on a Tuesday morning is the norm.
A couple days later on my miserable 6-hour plane ride home to San Francisco, I thought about my friend's questions. Seriously, why bother doing anything helpful if you're free to do other more insanely fun things?
The answer is that I think it's the responsibility to share what we know. I believe it's our duty to help others if we can. Besides, it's much more fun working if you're not depending on the income to survive.
It's Fun To Share What We Know
Even though I spend around 20 hours a week writing on Financial Samurai for free, I feel it's my duty to help others learn about personal finance. I also feel it's my responsibility to share my financial knowledge. There's obviously affiliate and advertising revenue here, so don't pity me just yet.
And, I've been fortunate to go to college, work in finance, go to business school, and make my financial nut relatively early. There are plenty of people like me. But, there aren't plenty of people like me who also really enjoy writing out their thoughts.
It would be amazingly wonderful to read three posts a week from Warren Buffett or President Obama about their crazy shenanigans. But alas, they are too busy making billions or saving the world. Even if they did have time to write, they might not find as much joy writing with the same amount of frequency.
So you'll have to live with small-time folks like me and the hundreds of millions of other people out there who are not billionaires and who don't run countries.
But man, if I ever get so fabulously wealthy that I can rent out Richard Branson's Necker Island and host a party for the thousands of Financial Samurai readers all week, I promise you I will STILL be publishing at least a couple posts a week and responding to as many comments as possible! There would be so many more fun stories to tell!
Maybe I will continue to write because I don't have much talent elsewhere. I'm never going to be a professional athlete. I'm stuck strumming the same five chords on my guitar for the past 15 years. And the only art I ever created was a bunch of abstract paintings a child could do. However, I'm furiously addicted to pounding a computer keyboard. So, I might as well share as much as possible before I croak.
Do You Feel It's Your Duty To Help Others?
I was on a crowded bus to work one day when a couple passengers in the very front shouted for the bus driver to pull over. The two passengers quickly got out and rescued a kid who was getting beat up on the sidewalk by some bigger kids. They didn't have to do anything. But, they felt a duty to help save a child they witnessed getting bullied. Their actions are just another example of helping if they can help.
Regret is one of the things I'm hoping everybody on Financial Samurai gets to minimize over time. Regret is the worst because it tends to eat you up inside as time passes. If I'm able to share stories that help minimize people's regrets, while potentially maximizing happiness, then I need to share. Otherwise, I'm just being selfish and lazy. There's no do-over despite all the personal finance land mines awaiting us.
If you have a particular talent, or even the sustained interest of doing something better than average, I think it's your responsibility to keep on doing it and sharing it with others until you no longer have the energy.
- Earnings Beyond The Wallet: How Do You Measure Success In Life If Money Isn’t Your Thing?
- Why Do We Discredit Other People’s Achievements?
- Celebrate Small Wins To Keep Financial Motivation Alive
- What Do You Have Left To Prove?
- Even Billionaire Ron Conway Stands In Line To Wait His Turn, Why Can’t You?
- Overcoming The Price Hurdle To Find Value And Succeed
I'm curious to know if there are some things you're doing because you feel it's your responsibility to share? Are we all given a particular talent we should maximize? Or do some of us simply have nothing to give to the world? Am I stupid for continuing to work so much? If you have a burning question in a comment that I haven't answered, please post it again and/or shoot me an e-mail.