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It can seem hard to give, especially when your budget is out of control. But – I have a question for you today…Is generosity part of your monthly budget?
There was a time when we were in a ton of debt, and were running a deficit in our budget every month. At one point, we were in the red by $1,000 in our monthly budget, and somehow we found a way to keep giving. It wasn't 10%, and it didn't happen every month, but we kept giving.
Financially speaking, was this a dumb? I don't think so.
Prior to our financial perils, we always gave because we were supposed to. It's what our parents did. It's what our pastor told us to do. But when we suddenly had no money, we really had to dig deep and consider why we were giving – and why we needed to continue to give.
I firmly believe that generosity is one of those things that transcends finances. “What you sow, you will reap”; “what goes around, comes around”; “pay it forward”; etc. Regardless of your faith, there is a generally held belief that if you do good, good will come to you.
No matter how dire your financial situation, there is always someone much less fortunate than you.
Giving does something great to the giver, just as much as it does to the recipient. Generosity is one of those traits that everyone wants to have… and to have this trait, all you need to do is practice it. Maybe your budget is so tight that you can't squeeze anything out of it… well there are charities out there that benefit greatly from small amounts of money.
There is one charity we give to that provides food and education to children in Kenya, who otherwise would have almost no hope. It costs us only $38 a month to change this life. True generosity comes from giving when you feel like you have nothing to give. Just give anyway. I know that $38 is doing a heck of a lot more good in that Kenyan boy's life than it would do for us.
We also give away a percentage of what we make on this website to an organization that my friend runs in Rwanda called HopeforTomorrowRW.
This can be a tough topic – and when we decided to make our personal budget public, we couldn't decide if we should disclose our giving since it can be a source of controversy. And most financial advisors will tell you to make saving a bigger priority than giving… and just looking at the cold numbers, I can't tell say that it is bad advice.
But our philosophy is this – whether you are funding an IRA or giving to a charity, you are investing in something. When you give, you are investing in something non-financial, something bigger than yourself. You can't measure the return with numbers. We completely understand that by making giving a priority, we will have to postpone retirement for a few more years. We are okay with this. We strongly believe that what you spend your money on reflects your value system – whatever that value system might be.
If you truly can't give money – give time. Generosity is a way of life.