Can $100 change a life? For the recipient? The giver?  That is some of what I am setting out to discover. Every day for the month of October, I’m going to give $100 to a stranger I encounter during the course of my routine.

I was recently pleasantly surprised to find that my mother had named me the beneficiary of a small retirement fund. More than usual, I’ve been thinking about money and the role it plays in my life. Although she was raised in an upper class German home, as a Holocaust survivor my mother lived forever with a deeply held conviction that life was defined by scarcity and want. She taught me to be frugal, and modest in my material desires.

I consider myself a generous person and make it a priority to give to causes I care about. Yet I always have questions: how much of an impact does my giving make? Won’t the need always be overwhelming? Should I spread out my gifts, or give more to fewer groups? Should I give anonymously?  Or only to strangers? I worry one day that I am not giving enough away, and the next that I might not have enough for myself and my family.

This project is about making a difference, starting with 31 people, and about exploring my money and giving issues. It is a way to honor my mother’s gift to me as well as the lessons I learned from her. I hope to spark some discussion and maybe even some generosity. Every day I’ll tell the story of the day’s $100 giveaway.

Starting now, I welcome your thoughts and comments.

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15 Responses to My Month of Hundreds

  1. amy says:

    I think its an amazing and wonderful idea. I had a horrible weekend and u just made me.smile. thanks dr.jill

  2. I have to admit that your thinking is somewhat similar to mine. I think that there is a good feeling from the person that gives something to someone. I often thought about if I had money that I would randomly put a single lottery ticket in a card and give them out to people wherever I go. Enclose d with a nice letter to that individual. It sound like you received a nice gift from your mother. My father was frugal. He went through the great depression and was in the CCC’s Civilian Conservation Cores just to get a little money to put food on his families table. My father worked hard throughout his life and was a penny pincher to make things to work.

  3. Richard says:

    I have a freind in Bali: for generations his wife’s family labored under the hot sun in the rice paddies & lived in a shack with no running water. A European couple adopted the family through a charity & sent a few dollars a month for the daughter to go to school. She grew up, got a job, got her parents out of the rice paddies, is currently supporting her husband who was laid off from the tourist industry and she is now sending her own children to school.
    Those small monthly donations broke a cycle of poverty & changed life for three generations. This year she met the European family for the first time and thanked them. The Man replied that it only cost us the equivalent of a couple of cartons of cigarettes each month.
    I hope you find success in this experiment. I will be following your blog. Bless you Jill!

  4. Virginia says:

    Jill–
    This is a fabulous idea. I respect your generosity and desire to remember your mother in a positive and productive manner.

    Thanks for caring and sharing the word.

    It’s a honor to your friend!
    V

  5. Katherine Howells says:

    What a grace-filled idea this is! I will follow your experience over the next 31 days, and see the highest good for all. You inspire me to give more. Many blessings, Katherine

  6. Ruth S. says:

    A wonderful way to delve into the questions you’re raising, and the legacy issues from your mother.

  7. Carla says:

    Your approach to this surprise gift from your Mother is both inspirational and not a surprise. What else would Dr. Jill do…but help others. Thanks for being you. We are grateful you are in our lives! I look forward to the stories.

  8. sherrie Barger says:

    For the past two years I have worked with another woman to organize and develop an Organic Garden at Coffee Creek Correctional Institution (Oregon’s women’s prison). Everything that we have done is the result of generous donations of $100.00 or less from people we know or don’t know who are moved by our cause.
    We recently had 20 inmates who were enrolled in our organic gardening class design and plant a small garden of native plants in the prison. The plants were purchased with a $100. donation and generous discount from Portland Nursery.
    We constantly struggle with the poor soil in our garden. As a result of cut backs the prison was unable pick up the donated compost needed. A generous donation of $100.00 paid for delivery of over 20 yards of compost enabling us to have a heathy garden this year.
    Our next project is to have a “Master Gardener” course taught at the prison. This would allow the women to leave prison with a useful skill. A $100. would sponsor one woman.
    Way to go Jill.
    As you can see, $100. can change a life.

  9. Hillary says:

    Wow! What a great experiment. I’ll be most curious to see what kind of reaction you get from your “recipients.” I bet you will see it all, from gratefulness to confusion to mistrust. I’ll be very curious to see if you get any refusals (I’ll be surprised if you don’t!). Good luck and look forward to the posts!

    And ditto what everyone else said about your intentions. etc. It will be interesting to follow what you glean from the experience. Post often!

  10. Jennifer says:

    I love it! I can’t wait to hear about your adventures and the people affected by your giving! A few years ago a church I had attended in the past challenged the congregation to do this as well, providing the funds to each member. A talk show, I think it was Oprah, came to do a show on the church and the amazing stories they shared. It was moving and powerful to hear how strangers reacted to acts of kindness. What I remembered most is the fact that it was almost a “pay it forward” movement: one person started a chain of giving. Each person gave to several others and so on…..
    Love the idea and your giving spirit. You rock Dr. Jill!!

  11. Barry says:

    My birthday- cool

  12. Darcy says:

    I love how you are tackling money fear and issues head on, and speaking freely about them. While there sadly is genuine poverty, often the difference been feeling abundance and want is all in your outlook.

    I’ve always loved the notion of paying it forward, and you’ve inspired me to find more ways to do so!

    Keep growing!
    Darcy

    Sustainable Family Finances

  13. Your comment is spot on. Thanks for the encouragement. The end of the month is around the corner and I need it! Jill

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