Do You Have An “ARK Budget”?

Published by Robert W. Huntley, CFP®, CHFC

In the final scene of the movie “Evan Almighty “, Morgan Freeman, (aka “God”) is talking with Steve Carell (aka Evan, a modern-day “Noah”) about life. The conversation veers back into the question “How do you change the world”? God scribbles in the dirt three letters “A R K”. One Act of Random Kindness.

Of course, it’s just a movie. It’s entertainment and it was funny. But it does strike a chord in most of us. It rings true that life is about more than serving ourselves.

A few years ago, I was loading groceries in the back of my car. I looked across the way and there was a mom with 2 young kids and a cart full of groceries. She was wrestling with the kids to get them in the car, hoping her basket wouldn’t roll away. She got the kids situated, then got the food in the car. I asked if I could put her cart away for her and she accepted with thanks. My thought was, she shouldn’t have to leave the kids in the car while she pushed the cart over to the collection station.

Today, I jokingly refer to this habit as my “parking lot ministry”. It’s easy to do. Sometimes I worry they think I’m a little ‘off’. Kindness is so unusual these days.

So, what exactly is an “ARK” budget? It begins with the premise that we exist to serve others above self. Generosity comes in many forms. An ARK budget is simply deciding to prioritize some of my time, attention, abilities and money to do nice things for people, randomly.

Let’s say for example you have a soft spot for aging people. You can think of many ways to be on the lookout for little acts of unexpected kindness you can extend to folks who need a hand.

Or what about young couples raising kids? You know well what a tough time it is balancing all those responsibilities at the same time. Imagine making it part of your ARK Budget to quietly pay for their meal at the restaurant without them even knowing who you were. What a blessing! To them and you.

You might decide to look for one family a month or week and have a certain amount of money in mind each month for this. That’s building an “ARK” budget into your routine.

An ARK budget is just a fun way to think of being of service to other people. Placing other people’s needs before my own. Simple.

When we think about return on investment (ROI) we usually mean money. What’s the ROI on your ARK budget? What’s sleeping better at night worth to you? How about going through your day with a bounce in your step? Hearing the words one day “Well done good and faithful servant”.

Generosity is the surest way to loosen the grip of “stuff” on our lives. People are worth so much more.

One thing I’ve found in life is I feel better after helping people randomly. For example, every now and then I will ask my waiter or waitress if there’s anything going on in their life I can pray about for them? It’s amazing how much a perfect stranger will speak openly on the spot if you just ask that question.

It’s hard to be depressed when you’re living life focused on other people’s needs. Sometimes we just need to play a little trick on ourselves to build in a new habit.

So, how about it? Can you envision your own ARK budget?

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