In the Frugal Fresh Start Series, we’ve talked about lots of ways to be frugal and save money. We’ve also talked about meticulously managing our money so it doesn’t disappear (funny how that happens). Before we’re through with the Challenge this month, I wanted to touch on giving.
Don’t not give in the name of frugality. Being frugal isn’t just about spending less money, frugality is about being intentional with your money. Choosing to give is definitely an intentional use of money, one that I don’t want to overlook, so today I want to talk about how you can (and why you should) give generously even when finances are tight.
Why should I give when finances are tight?
Let’s start with the “why” since the “how”is only important once you have a “why.”
Why should you give when you’re on a tight budget? Why should you give at all? That may have an intuitive answer for some people and be a soul-searching question for others. I’m not here to judge your conclusions, just to encourage you to ponder and discover your own answers. Here are some common reasons people give, both of their resources and time.
- To support causes that matter to us
You’ve probably heard the saying, “put your money where your mouth is.” We can talk all day about things that matter to us, but it’s when we start doing something about it (i.e. giving of our money, time, and resources) that we show our true devotion.
- We feel that we should
Because of religious beliefs, many feel compelled or commanded to give. While it may be difficult to explain this to non-believers, those who give for spiritual reasons are content doing so because it is “right” and because they feel blessed for giving. I’ve written specifically about why we pay a 10% tithe even though we are in debt.
- It feels good
If you are feeling down and out, one of the best ways to snap out of it is to go serve someone. You’ll look at your own problems in a new light. You might even be glad that you have your problems and not someone else’s. It’s kind of magical–doing good feels good.
- Generosity is a habit
We are creating habits every day. If you’re not giving, you are strengthening this habit. It’s easy to say, when I make more more (or when my debt is paid, or when our house is remodeled), I will be generous. Having more money (or less debt) is not going to make us suddenly generous. We need to cultivate the habit of giving now.
How can I give when finances are tight?
- Make giving a priority
If you’ve decided that giving is important to you, then make it a priority. Budget money for giving just like you would budget money to another priority. As you do it, it will become easier.
- Give of your time and talents
Money isn’t the only thing you have to give. In many cases, time is even more precious than money. If money is tight (and even if it isn’t), volunteering is great way to give. Whether you’re giving your time to serve in an organized community project, or you’re taking time to help an elderly neighbor repair his home, giving of yourself is a great way to give.
- Give of your stuff
Donating things (not junk), is another way to be generous when your monetary resources are limited. You can donate to a non-profit thrift store or offer what you have to give on Freecycle.org or Craigslist.org. You aren’t limited to second-hand goods. You can use your time, talents, and stuff to make dinner for a neighbor or sew clothes for premature babies.
Making room in your budget for giving is not a new financial principle. If you have read any books on personal finances, chances are good that you have heard all of this before. While the information and ideas may not be new, you can look with new eyes this time around on your Frugal Fresh Start journey!
Decide how you can work giving into your budget or schedule it if you haven’t already.
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