An opportunity.

March 4, 2013 · 45 comments

As I’ve mentioned many times before, Girl Ninja and I are heavily involved in a high school outreach program called Young Life. We’ve formed some pretty amazing relationships with high school kids over the years. Listening to them sob after they broke up with their most recent boyfriend/girlfriend. Visiting them in the hospital a few hours after they tried to end their life. Or yesterday, attending the funeral for the mother of one of our 16-year-old Junior boys, Tyler.

His mother died unexpectedly two weeks ago. His father, well, he’s never met his father. Tyler is parentless. It breaks my heart to think that his mom wont be there to watch his high school basketball games next season, that he has no parent to cheer him on as he walks across the stage to receive his H.S. diploma. That his future children will never meet their grandma.

My heart is heavy for him. 

While we were attending the memorial service I noticed a piece of paper indicating a trust fund had been set up for Tyler at Bank Of America. Anyone could give money to the fund, which Tyler  (or his legal guardian) would then be able to use to help provide for him.

When Girl Ninja noticed the piece of paper she approached me and asked if we should donate to the fund.

I told her “No.”

You see, I imagine this trust fund will collect a few thousand dollars at most. This money, although generously given, will probably not do much to provide Tyler a sense of security or provision.

The reality is, six-months from now, many of us that were at the memorial service will go about our lives. Numbing ourselves to the reality that Tyler is still parentless. It’s easy to donate to a trust fund today, when your heart hurts for Tyler, but what about next year? Will we be as affected by his loss then, as we are now? Doubtful

I see an opportunity for Girl Ninja and I to do something greater.

Tyler’s best friend is Dante. Custody of Tyler is going to Dante’s single-mom. Dante’s family of two, now becomes a family of three. I imagine this adds a significant amount of financial stress to Dante’s mom. She now has two boys that will want to go to prom. That will play sports that require expensive equipment. That likely will want to go to college. That need new clothes at the start of a school year. The list goes on and on.

So while Girl Ninja and I wont be donating to Tyler’s trust fund, we hope to provide for him in a much more meaningful way. We want to sit down with him and express our desire to help him financially when he needs it. Explain that we understand it would be uncomfortable for him to have to ask his friend’s mom for money to go to the movies with his girlfriend.

Tyler has to grow up a heck of a lot quicker than most sixteen year olds I know, but we still want him to know that he can be a kid. That prom expenses don’t have to be a worry. That if his gas-tank is running on empty, we’re happy to fill it up for him.

Now let me be clear, we don’t want to be Tyler’s parents. We aren’t and could never fill that void. We would just be honored/delighted to provide him some type of financial security that his parents no longer can.

We have been blessed with a healthy income and minimal expenses. What kind of Christians would we be if we pretended the money we have sitting in our bank accounts is ours? Truth is, some of this money is Tyler’s… the big man upstairs just decided to have us be the stewards of it.

DO YOU GET IT!?

This is why I punched debt in the face. This is why we don’t keep up with the Joneses.

This my friends, is financial freedom.

1 Rob

*Applause* That’s awesome, Ninja. Helping others is a very large part of the reason we’re punching debt in the face. 67k down, 49k to go.

2 StackingCash

I lost my dad when I was 21 and my mother at 26. I miss them dearly and am forever grateful for a small inheritance they sacrificed so much to give me. I cannot imagine growing up faster than that, but it happens more often than not it seems. Even though I’m sad for Tyler’s loss, I’m happy for his gain of your and GN’s generosity. Giving is the ultimate form of financial freedom.

3 Sophie

He’ll be lucky to have you in his life.

4 Larry

This is very good, but I would have Tyler understand that he should have some responsibilities in return – not to pay you back necessarily, but to stay in school, stay out of trouble with the law, get a job, and so forth, whatever seems to you appropriate.

5 Elle

Sorry to hear about Tyler’s loss. He’s in my thoughts and prayers. Not only am I happy to hear that your finances are in the right place, but your heart is too. While this will be an extremely difficult transition for all involved, I’m glad Tyler has people looking out for him, including you guys.

6 Bert

You rock, Ninja

7 Destiny

I’m mostly a lurker on your blog and rarely a commenter.

This is such an awesome opportunity and what all Christ-followers are called to do. But so many of us aren’t able to because we’re gotten sucked into the debt-trap. Kuddos to you and girl ninja for punching your debt in the face and positioning your finances to respond to these opportunities and responsibilities.

My husband and I are slowly working to kick Sallie Mae out but it’s a long road; in the meantime we budget money monthly in order to be able to respond to opportunities such as this. (On a much smaller scale.) We look forward to the day we can respond in a big way as you and girl ninja are doing!

Tyler is a blessed young man to have the Ninjas and Dante’s mother to be taking care of him!

8 Amy

I rarely comment, but this post brought me to tears. This boy is so blessed to have you and GN in his life. Thank you for reminding me that there is abundant good still in this world. This weekend rocked me and my church because of evil that occurred in our youth group/with our associate pastor. This post showed me that there will be someone out there that will show our kids true compassion and help them pick up the pieces.

9 Mysti

How very generous of you both.

10 Ryo Vie

I am numb right now. You never cease to amaze me by showing how much you understand about life and how you continually teach me lessons.

I am very close to being debt free and all weekend I thought about all the cool stuff I could do when I am debt free. You have just reminded me that there is a much greater calling and that is where a portion of my income needs to go. Your line that the big man upstairs has decided you will be stewards of the money sends a loud and clear message.

Thank you, once again, Ninja, for reminding me of what’s important in life.

11 Alice

What a beautiful way to show God’s love, not only to Tyler but to everyone who is in and around the situation and as well as those who read the blog. You’re exactly right, this is being a good steward of the money that God has allowed you to have.

I can’t wait until I have all of my debt paid off so that I can make a bigger difference in the lives of others.

12 Marci

All I can say is you guys rock

13 Midwest

Doing the lord’s work my man. What an appropriate time of year too, the Lenten season.

14 StackingCash

I was searching for the best word to describe this post and what category it should be listed under…INSPIRATIONAL!

15 Ron

Awesome!
Truly what God calls us to do and he had you and GN in the right place to help. HE has a plan.

16 Grayson @ Debt Roundup

This is truly awesome and it shows that there are still great people in the world. You do not care about yourself, but you are looking out for others and are there to help when they need it. Awesome job Ninja.

17 Larry

You can also help him by teaching him the basics of financial responsibility. I assume this trust fund will be unavailable to him until he reaches 18, but what’s to keep him from spending it unwisely? That money will be very tempting once he has access to it. But even if it’s just a few thousand, he could put some or most into a retirement account or an after-tax mutual fund with low fees.

18 Peter

Love how you’re trying to make a meaningful difference in Tyler’s life, beyond just a feel good donation to a fund. You’re making an investment in him, and I think that’s huge – and tells him that he still matters to someone in this world. Good luck, and thanks for sharing, it truly is inspirational!

19 Matt

Way to go man! Let me know when fundraising begins for Young life Camp.

20 CL

Have to say that this rocks – I’m very glad that you’re supporting someone who needs the help. Best personal finance goal I’ve heard so far. :)

21 Sunny

Good for you. I applaud you. Your actions will have a lot longer impression on this young man than a one time donation.

22 Kat

Amazing message! Yes, what greater purpose for money than to help others.

23 Cathleen

Marvelous. Absolutely marvelous. I have no doubt that this young man will achieve good things with mentors like you. God bless you!

24 Melinda Gonzalez

I think having someone “there for him” will make him feel much safer and happier than just a trust fund. A trust fund would just be money, with no real interaction or person attached.

Having people who care around during hard times can make a world of difference. It usually means the difference between making it, and not making it. Everyone wants to feel safe and loved. I am glad there are people like you in the world who can see the bigger picture.

25 krantcents

think you can contribute in a more meaningful way by supporting him emotionally by being there for his games and academic things. Sort of a big brother to give him adult support. It is tough enough for a single mom to take care of 2 kids never mind 3 kids. Kids need good role models which is much valuable than money.

26 Ninja

Absolutely. That is what this outreach we are part of is all about. Building intentional relationships with these kids. We had Tyler and friends over twice last week for pizza, games, and hanging out. Our policy is our door is always open to a high school kid if they ever need to chat or get away.

27 Phoebe@allyouneedisenough

This brought tears to my eyes. You two are very inspirational. Thank you for sharing this with us.

28 NDT

I sit at work with a lump in my throat trying hold the emotions back after reading your post. My heart goes out to Tyler for the loss that he has suffered. My prayers are with him as he continues on without the presence of his mother.

This post is the most beautiful post I’ve ever read. Thank you for sharing. Please keep us updated on how Tyler is doing. I echo previous posts before me. There is still so much good in the world and you are a prime example.

29 Abby

Love this post! Very inspirational, he will be very lucky to have you both in his life.

30 lysette

amen! this is exactly why i strive to pay off debt and live frugally. i want my finances to bless those in need…not corporations with great marketing. so awesome of you!

31 Vanessa

This is awesome. Way to go Ninja and GN :)

32 Stephanie

So sad for Tyler. But glad that you and GN are able to share and help others in ways like this.

33 MommaBird

Tyler is blessed to have you in his life and especially at this critical time in his entry into adulthood for you and GN to be there to support him through the ups and downs (and not just financially). That is awesome!

34 stacy

I love this.I’m a christian and this made me almost shed a tear.Thanks for spreading the word about Jesus not in your blogging about it but in your actions.

35 K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks!

What you are doing is demonstrating the idea that as humans we should look out for one another and we CAN affect positive change, one person at a time. Too often we think we can’t solve the world’s problems and perhaps on a large scale it’s true. Yet that should not give us reason to do absolutely nothing. God will continue to bless you both for your intentions are sincere and your positive actions speak volumes.

36 Jennifer

Awesome! I’m glad Tyler has you and GN in his life.

37 Claire

Well, they do say it takes a village to raise a child, and this is why. It is all to easy to throw money at a problem and look away.

However the thought that really got me was “This my friends, is financial freedom.” when they talk about using debt to acquire property or investments, they neglect to mention that if you have no debts you have the freedom to do things like this. That it can give you time to help people and to play a part in your community.

I’ve always been a big believer in having spare adults in children’s lives – as said in “about a boy” Two is not enough – you need back up. And good on you for stepping up to the plate when required.

38 Jenni

Ninja – what an inspiring post! A great way to look at financial freedom – just one more way to serve others.

39 radziah

Truly commendable.

40 Kaye

This is exactly why I want to be debt free. Great job using the gifts God has given you to inspire another. Praying for Tyler during this time and that you and GN will make a huge (not just financial) impact on his and Dante’s mom’s life.

41 Chelsea

Such a touching post! I’m glad Tyler has you and Girl Ninja in his life.

42 Michelle

You and people like you are the reason why I still believe that the world is a wonderful place. Tyler is blessed to have you in his life.

43 Anne @ Unique Gifter

Booyah.

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