I have fond, fond memories of living in New Jersey. Being from Colorado and my wife from Hawaii, we had spent zero time on the east coast. We moved there when I was with AT&T.
There's a significant event that occurred in our life in New Jersey. This was the first time that my wife, Kaira and I had not lived by our family. We had two kids at that time. It was a great time of learning and growing closer together as husband and wife and as a family. We bought our first home. We did many, many things in the tri-state area, exploring American Revolution sites, there's so much history there it was a great time in our life.
A significant event in my life happened in NJ. Actually, it was a significant heart-changing event. On the way to church one Sunday morning Kaira said to me, “I think we should give $1,000 to the church.” At that time, the church was meeting in a school and they were raising funds to build their own facility. We had always consistently tithed, but really not much more than that. When Kaira told me this, I thought it was one of the craziest things I'd heard.
After thinking it through, I began to realize this was going to make a significant impact in our financial journey. We did make the decision to give that money. Nothing happened after that in terms of receiving a check in the mail or what have you, but what did happen was I felt a release of bondage, a change in my heart – freedom from the bondage that money played in my life.
Growing up in a single-parent household, money was always tight. I knew that there were money issues during my childhood, child support being late, no health insurance, etc. This definitely affected me and has continued to affect me. That was a significant point with our giving.
From my own personal experience, I truly believe that giving is the first step to financial contentment. I encourage you, if you're not consistently giving and looking for other areas to give, to evaluate that part of your finances. For me, I've experienced a very strong sense of freedom and financial contentment, which has been priceless in our marriage, my relationship with my kids and others, as well as in my profession.