RCF December 2016: An Unexpected Gift


My co-worker and friend is someone who gives until it hurts, donates her time and money to a good cause, and buys things from other people’s children’s fundraisers even though her kids are grown and she doesn’t need anything. I don’t even do that and I have kids!

We jump-started her car battery one night after work, and I picked her up for work the next day from the car place. She was getting her battery replaced. I knew I was getting the $20 card, so I thought of applying that toward her bill. Then, an even bigger idea occurred to me: I would pay her whole bill. I called the car place with my card number and asked them to keep it anonymous…tell her “Merry Christmas” when she went to pay the bill. I would never have done that without this card prompting me to think about giving to someone else.

Thank you! :slight_smile:


Wow, paying for the whole battery replacement is a big deal . . . I’ve had to take my car in a few times this year, and I don’t even know how dumbfounding it would feel to have them say “Merry Christmas, the bill’s been taken care of.”

Thank you for giving a meaningful gift in a secret way, and thank you for sharing the story with us!


YES!!! This is awesome!! And exactly why this project is so much more than “just $20” - it opens up your mind (and heart) to do so much more! Kinda like a “spark” of goodness, and you never know how it’ll flow out!

This totally made my night, thank you :slight_smile:


I spent my $20 before it arrived. Blew it all on beer. Story in Sunday Best below the featured links.


Hey Doc, just read your Sunday Best. Cool approach - free $5 beer for the next 4 orders. Creative. Also love that you set up automatic gift giving to RSFF going forward. This is fun!


I thought long and hard about how to share the $20 giving card. I really wanted to reach more than one person. So after a few days of deliberation I landed on my action plan. I own a children’s consignment boutique so I decided to hide a stuffed bunny in the store on four different days to be found by a lucky winner.

Here’s my post on Facebook: "Do you need just a little something more to give for Christmas? Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday there will be a single bunny each day hidden in the store for a lucky customer to find. Whoever finds him will get a free $5 (and keep the bunny). Feel free to keep the $5, buy a gift for someone, buy a gift for yourself, give forward or anything you’d like. The money was given by Rockstar Finance through their Community Fund. Merry Christmas!


Today is the first day. I look forward to making someone’s day brighter.


@J.Money This is the one I was telling you about, where it’s expanded into a store context and used to benefit even more people. Very smart and cute!


@PoF, I just checked out the summary on your site:

My $20 from the Rockstar Community Fund made a handful of patrons a little bit happier on a Friday afternoon in the form of free beer.

When I went in to collect my hoppy gift of a freebie with the rewards app, I dropped $5 in the tip jar, gave the bartender a $20 bill, and asked him to give one free $5 beer to the next four customers. He thought that was pretty awesome, as did the next person that approached the register.

I was hoping to see a few more surprised and happy faces, but apparently I was among a very small minority of people that thought it cool to visit the brewery on a zero degree day at 1:30 p.m.

So that’s my free beer story. The bartender thanked me again on the way out, and a few more thirsty souls got to enjoy some free beer to start their weekend right. I’ve since subscribed to give to the Rockstar Community Fund monthly, so that others can experience the joy of blowing someone else’s money on whatever they might consider to be a good deed.

This is the most surprising one to me so far, because it’s definitely thinking outside the (charity/philanthropy) box, and is much more focused on just DOING GOOD and bringing a smile to people’s faces . . . I like it! And I love that you’re happy to contribute to the fund to help other people go out into the world and make a positive impact in any way that’s meaningful to them :slight_smile:

Thank you!


Haha… I had nooooo idea where that was going :slight_smile: Thanks for spreading the word!!!

@TinyTikesCorner - Soooo creative, wow!!! Seriously… everyone here has had such drastically different ideas so far - this is so fun to watch… Thanks for taking the time to participate!


So sweet, @E11e! I wish I could see her face when she went to pick up the car. You must feel amazing right now!! :slight_smile:


Let us know what happens!! Gosh, I need to be a fly on the wall of all these awesome interactions…


I received my Visa card and gave it away yesterday. As soon as I saw the post, I knew what I was going to do with the card.

There is a woman I know who financially has trouble keeping a roof over her head. Despite the fact that she is unable to stand for no more than short amounts of time and has difficulty walking she refuses to apply for disability and works part time to pay her bills.

I often will buy an extra grocery or two when I’m shopping for myself but she doesn’t like taking money. She loves animals and helps out in a shelter whenever she is physically able to do so. I planned to give her a gift card for herself for the Holidays and when I saw this generous offer to pay it forward, I added the Visa card telling her to spend it on whatever she thinks the shelter needs. She was thrilled to receive it, and I was even more thrilled to give it. I told her it was the result of the generosity of J$ and his wonderful team who truly understand the value of money and the spirit of giving.

As a side note, I’m probably older than your average reader and will retire next year. I can tell you that I have followed the same basic principles you all do since I started working 40 years ago and it does work. Time and compounding and knowing that you need to treat yourself along the way will work its magic. And, like me, you don’t need to earn a fortune to do it.

One caveat. – I could have retired this year and maybe even a year ago but the cost of healthcare kept me from doing so. Unless you can retire with a nice pension and healthcare benefits, I would caution everyone to watch out for escalating healthcare costs and overestimate them in your projections. The cost of insurance has skyrocketed past the rough estimates I made years ago. And as one gets older, even if your health is fairly good, I find I’m making more trips to various doctors and require more medications each year (I don’t have any serious medical condition and I’m in my 60s) and insurance doesn’t cover everything. Co-pays add up.

Best of luck to all and happy holidays! Paul M


Today I gave my $20 gift card to a mom of 5 at the nursing college where I work. She is a student. We have developed a friendship of sorts over the last few months, and she’s graduating soon. I didn’t take a picture for the sake of her anonymity, but she gave me a hug. It felt sooooo good!!!


Long story short, gave some diapers to a new mom who might not have the money to afford them easily.

Long story here: http://femmefrugality.com/rockstar-community-fund-diapers-new-moms/ :slight_smile:

Thanks so much for doing this, Nate and J! Very cool project and I’m excited to go read the other stories now.


I decided to combine my RCF #GivingCard monthly mission with @DerekOlsen’s weekly challenge, and kill two birds with one stone :wink:

(here’s the challenge, for reference: This week’s money challenge: Thank the forgotten)

I decided to use my $20 to give an unexpected gift and a smile to Diane, my mail carrier. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for nearly four years, and have always had great interactions with her. I didn’t even know that people giving gifts to their mail carrier was a thing until last year, and needless to say, I’ve never actually done it.

I come from a baking family, and I know how to make some killer chocolate chip cookies from scratch (you put the love in there, that’s the secret ingredient). But I haven’t baked in probably six months, and I had no ingredients. So I used my Giving Card to buy the eggs, butter, baking soda, salt, flour, white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla to whip up a batch of cookies to leave in my mailbox as a gift.

Here’s what it looked like:

Hopefully when she opens up my mailbox, seeing this inside rather than another stack of work to do will put a big smile on her face . . . especially since it’s been well below zero here for the past week, with -20 to -30 wind chills, and her job can be brutal.

I’ll let you know if I receive a response of any kind, though I don’t need or expect one.

This week's money challenge: Thank the forgotten

Those cookies look amazing.


I was able to give my Gift Card to a colleague today. I had a number of other ideas of who to give it too - but yesterday I had my “aha” about where I thought it would do the most good to make someone smile. I work in a Primary School with over 750 kids. Many kids come to school each day and laugh and play and learn. Some kids struggle with learning and get help from our amazing teachers and support staff.
Other kids come to school and struggle with behaviors. These are the kids who many parents want their kids separated from. You know - those kids in the “special” class. Well the person I picked has chosen to work with this group of kids and that takes a very special person. She is not a teacher (and doesn’t get the salary of a teacher). She is a paraprofessional. In our district, paraprofessionals start around $10 an hour. She has been here for many years, so I know she makes more than that now - but she never asks for anything. She comes to work with patience and kindness each day and she will do anything she needs to do to help her students learn and make safe choices.
When she came into work today, I was able to borrow her for a minute and give her the gift. She smiled, thanked me, hugged me and cried. There are a lot of amazing people who work in schools - in challenging positions. I feel thankful that I know this person and appreciate all she does for some of our most challenging and wonderful little ones.
Thanks for letting me share the Christmas spirit with her!


I’m seeing a lot of people physically giving others this gift, then hugging, then crying. I think that’s the really human stuff right there. I love it. Great way to use it - thank you!


That is SO awesome! Way cool project. I’m hoping to get on board, too. Thanks for brightening her day!


I really hopped on the opportunity to snag one of these gift cards — I had one place I knew I wanted to reach out to and see what they needed. I live in Lincoln, Nebraska, and we’re a hub for refugee resettlement — so many cultures and families find themselves here!

A new Syrian refugee family is moving here TOMORROW (Friday). My friend is on a Refugee Resettlement team, and she’s been planning their arrival for a couple months. They’ve found a house for them to move into, furniture to furnish the home, supplies to get them started — the works. I reached out to her to ask if there was anything the new family would need (I was thinking boring things like toilet paper and whatnot haha), but she texted back immediately:

“That is so awesome, thank you!!! A wooden mortar and pestle would be so great.”

Boom. Specific need being = soon to be met.

I ordered one on Amazon, it arrived two days later and I got to drop off the mortar and pestle at their NEW HOME last night!

Here’s the gift + a welcome sign in their own language. This home will be occupied in less than 24 hours. I’m so excited!

What a timely gift for this new family! I was told that a mortar and pestle are absolute staples in Syrian families, so I’m glad to give them something useful. I wouldn’t have even reached out with such generosity if it hadn’t been for the gift card challenge. It’s amazing how far $20 can go to help others!

Thanks again for your generosity, RCF!