This post was inspired by Chief Mom Officer’s post I’m Sick Of Christmas Materialism – Instead Let’s Make A Difference #actsofkindness. Reading that got me thinking about all the kindness that others have shown me that has made a difference in my life. Just days before Thanksgiving, it is the perfect time to say thanks and remind myself to be grateful for all that I have received.
The Student Loan Co-Signer
The Extended Family
I’ve had extended family here in the US for as long as I can remember. Most of them were my distant uncles and aunts that I met when they visited India. They knew of me, I knew of them and that was that. After I moved here, I got to know them better and they were all a fine bunch, constantly regaling me with stories of my parent’s childhood.
Somewhere around that time, I had started going to school part-time, and since I was on a work visa, it meant I was an “international student”. Yes, even though I was living 10 miles away and paying my fair share of taxes, I didn’t qualify for in-state tuition or subsidized student loans. I knew that going in, so wasn’t too perturbed – after all, it was the “cost of doing business”.
A semester later, I realized that the school’s financial aid office also offered loans at an interest rate that was 0.5-1% lower. This lower rate needed a US cosigner. A lightbulb went on, and I decided to ask my extended family to be co-signers. After all, they were family, we got along famously and I knew they were wealthy enough that this wouldn’t bother them.
You know where this is going, don’t you? Yes, I got the runaround and I was informed through “other channels” that the co-signing was not going to happen. I was shell-shocked (they were family!) and disappointed, to say the least..
A week later, my wife and I were visiting her uncle and the topic of student loans came up. I mentioned that I was trying to get a co-signer because of the better interest rates and wasn’t having much success. Out of the blue, he just offered to co-sign. Shell-shocked two weeks in a row! Here was this gentleman, who knew me less than a year, offering to co-sign $35,000 in student loans at the drop of a hat. On the other hand, the uncles and aunts I’d known all my life wouldn’t lift a finger to help. I’m sure they had their reasons, and in time I forgave them *wink*, but to me, this was one of the biggest acts of kindness that I received. It saved me a good deal of money in interest, to say the least.
A year or so later, I was laid off.
Well, sort of.
My employer was a small business and due to circumstances and people that shall not be named, started letting people go. They downsized until the only people left were the owner, an office manager and a senior programmer. I was still on my work visa and being laid off on a work visa meant that you had 30 days to leave the country.
Yes, you read that right. Thirty days to uproot your life and go back to where you came from.
The best way I could stay in the country was if I found another job *and* the new company also agreed to transfer my visa. Chances of that happening within the 30-day timeframe were slim to none. Thankfully, my job description also allowed my employer to contract my services out to other agencies. Unfortunately, this would mean a lot of paperwork and contracts and billing headaches that they would need to deal with.
The office manager agreed not only to convince the owner of the new approach but also deal with all the billing and contractual headaches that would need to be fulfilled. They verified everything with the immigration attorney and I continued working for them until I naturally transitioned to a different job a couple of years later.
This second #actofkindness towards me was over a decade ago, but I still remember it and am ever thankful. If it wasn’t for that office manager (thank you N!), I’m not sure where I would have ended up.
Random Acts of Kindness
I’m afraid I don’t remember any deliberate kind acts I may have done towards others. Don’t get me wrong 🙂 – I like to think I’m a kind person and there are the usual donations for a worthy cause, the GoFundMe campaign, or the unfortunate tragedy (natural or man-made). Clothing and furniture no longer needed end up in thrift shops or given away on Craigslist.
However, these are the bare minimums that any person should be doing if they are living and breathing on this planet. We protect the earth and its people any way we can, and not just in the holiday season *hint*
I’ve also been the recipient of countless other acts of kindness – from strangers welcoming us into their homes (and their social circles) to those that agree to volunteer at charitable events my wife hosts and more. Yes I’m shameless and I’ll accept help anytime I can get it.
This is a series of articles from Personal Finance Bloggers sharing their #actsofkindness. If you want to join in, just write your own post on this subject, and head over here to the Rockstar Finance Forums to help spread some kindness this holiday season. You don’t even need to be a blogger – just comment on any of the blog posts or in that forum with any act of kindness you performed or were the recipient of.
- Anchor: ChiefMomOfficer – I’m Sick Of Christmas Materialism – Instead Lets Make A Difference #actsofkindness
- Link 2: ForeignBornMD – Holiday Season, Giving Back
- Link 3: Kiwi and Keweenaw – Simplifying through #ActsofKindness – Kiwi and Keweenaw
- Link 4: Physician on FIRE – A Quarter Million in DAFs: A Retirement Goal Achieved – Physician on FIRE
- Link 5: Budget on a Stick – An Unexpected Gift #actsofkindness
- Link 6: (THIS POST) Working Optional – Thankful For What I Have Received
- Link 7: Mama Fish Saves – Top Charities to Get Kids Involved in Giving
- Link 8: Grounded Engineer – Giving Thanks and Why I’m Considering a Donor Advised Fund
- Link 9: 99to1percent – Giving Thanks and the 6 Gifts that Keeps Giving
- Link 10: Smile & Conquer – One Small Thing