[As we ready for an upcoming Laddership Pod on the theme of "Priceless Pricing," I was recently reminded of this experience that transformed my relationship to money.]
In 2012 I bought a one-way ticket to Kauai, Hawaii, from California. I knew nobody, I had no place to stay, no income and no idea what I was doing! I arrived on-island with $144 to my name, leaving my car (and a $500 payment) back in San Jose, California. The first night I was there, all I wanted was a hot shower. So, I spent $100 of my $144 on a hotel room so I could shower. The next day I woke up and started living.
I was still living for survival though. I used my abilities to create opportunities for work. I met people, said no to some invitations, yes to others. By many acts of magic and divine intervention, I stayed on the island of Kauai for eight months in total!
About half way through that time, I had to do something about my car and its payment! I had no steady income and no idea how I would pay for the car. After thinking through all of the options ( there were no friends or family I could ask for help with money), I decided to do a voluntary repossession. That meant that I would default on the loan and forfeit the car back to the bank. I reasoned that if I did nothing about it, it would be found and repossessed anyway, so I may as well just make it easy on everyone.
The day the car was to be picked up by the "repo-man", I got the sense to call the dealership where I bought it and speak to the dealership owner. Maybe he'd buy the car back from me! He could re-sell it way easier than anyone, right? So, I called...
I told him my situation. I told him I just made some poor decisions, I knew it, and I was just trying to handle my situation as gracefully as I could. I asked if he'd be interested in buying the car back.
At first he said, "Noooo...I don't make that kind of money!" That made me laugh. But then he said, "You've made perfect payments for three years! You know, if you go through with your plan, that's going to be a huge hit on your credit."
"Yeah, I know," I said, "but I don't really have any options. It's all good...thank you for for time." And I hung up.
Five minutes later, he called me back. He had more questions. He wanted to look up my file (all of the car's service had been done at his dealership). Then he started coming up with ideas... Suddenly, he morphed into my favorite uncle!
To make a long story short, he made all of the arrangements to have my car brought to his dealership. He fixed up the car so it would see on his lot. He paid off my car loan ($11,000), reimbursed himself with the sale of the car, and extended me a personal loan for the balance. "You'll either pay me back, or you won't, okay?" He said. I still owed him about $3500.
This was one of the kindest things I had ever experienced from someone, especially around money and mistakes!! I really didn't yet understand the impact it would have on my heart and my mind with relationship to money.
Time went by and I had lots of re-creation to do for my whole life. I wrote a couple of books, traveled for my work and totally rebuilt my life. The whole time, he was in my heart and on my mind. I always wondered when I'd be able to repay him. I had no contact with him though.
Finally, six years later, it was time! I had the money I needed! After six years, would he remember me? I called the dealership to see when he would be there - I would need to make a road trip from Southern California up to the Bay Area to hand him a cashier's check. Nothing less would do.
I called, he answered! "Kerri!! How are you dear? Wow, yes, of course I remember you!!"
I made the arrangements to travel and hand him the check. He is the "big boss" at the dealership. In front of all his "guys", we hugged and with tears in all of our eyes, I handed him the check, completing the cycle.
"Who does this?" he asked. "After six years, who pays back their debts? ...Wow, you've restored my faith in humanity, Kerri."
After that meeting at the dealership, my entire world around money changed. His generosity inspired me to actually value myself because he valued me in a way I had never experienced before. The day he chose to help me with my car, he transcended money and he showed me that I can be included in that transcendence. Yes, of course I repaid him with money, but money wasn't the point. It was honor - honoring his heart by first nourishing my own so that I may share the favor in-kind.
That was just at the beginning of 2020. Since that day, my relationship with money is forever changed. The way I look at it now is that I don't really need money - cars need money, houses need money, groceries and clothing need money. I am more than happy to have money (previously I avoided money at all costs, so to speak), because I understand now, in every cell of my body, that my own value cannot be measured with money.