Did you know Giving USA reported that in 2018, Americans donated over $410 billion dollars?!
It’s around this time of year especiailly that giving back becomes top of mind for many. Whether it’s for a particular occasion or we’re looking at how to work it into our routine and monthly budgets, it can be tricky and overwhelming to get started.
With so many worthy causes, what should we focus our time, energy, and money on? What is the best way to fit this into our schedule and budget?
4 Ways Giving More Can Benefit You
There’s also another challenge: many Americans are dealing with debt and struggling to make their own ends meet.
If you’re trying to find the best path forward, you’re not alone.
Many families want to give more but are on a tight budget. You might be wondering, How can I give more without breaking my budget?
And I want to encourage you to look at a few ways to make it possible.
If you’re on the fence regarding whether you should give or you’re unsure about what you need to do begin, I want to share a few benefits of making giving a part of your schedule and budget.
You may not be aware that giving back can not only be a blessing and aid for others, but it can also help you with your own life and finances.
Here are four benefits to giving back and how it might improve your family’s finances.
#1 Be More Aware of Your Money
When you treat giving as a part of your budget, you tend to be more aware of your finances.
When I interviewed Wilson Muscadin, a Certified Financial Educational Instructor and creator of The Money Speakeasy, he noted that to help clients save more he tells them to budget their money in a way that they give first, save second, and then pay the bills third.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but this order has empowered some to see that their money is a reflection of their values and priorities. Defining those allows them to find those needless expenses that are eating up their paycheck and instead direct them towards what matters most to them. That insight, in turn, motivates them to be wiser and more conscious of the remainder of their money.
Here’s where a spending plan can be a fantastic aid.
Using apps like Mint, you can set up a goal or two along with a realistic budget that will allow you to plan for donations while hitting your other financial goals such as paying off debt, savings, or investing. Once you’ve set up your budget, you can then automate the bill payments, savings, and transfers through your bank or credit union.
This system can free up quite a bit of time and keep you on top of your finances.
#2 Develop Your Marketable Skills
Of course, you may not be in a position to give as much financial help as you’d like to for a charity that you appreciate. Perhaps you’re trying to pay down debt. The good news is that you can still give in a meaningful way.
Besides money, many charitable organizations could use volunteers, skilled and unskilled. In fact, some provide free training as long as you’re willing to learn.
If you’re using your talents and a skillset you’ve already have, this is an opportunity to challenge and grow your leadership skills as well. You could manage a small team of volunteers, apply your expertise to solve problems or vision for the organization, etc.
On the other hand, volunteering can be a chance to try something completely different than your day to day routine. Acquiring and widening your skills and expertise can make you a more desirable candidate in the job market.
You may now be qualified for a position with better pay and work more aligned with what you value.
#3 Become Happier and Less Stressed
You may be aware that there are different studies and research out there that point to how those who give have increased satisfaction and happiness. It might seem like a small deal, but improving your happiness and decreasing your stress can have financial benefits, considering there seems to be a link between the opposite scenario: stress and bad financial decisions.
Having an outlet, including volunteering and contributing to a charitable organization that you admire can alleviate some stress and may help you keep a level headed perspective on things.
By having meaningful work, you may find yourself dropping habits such as impulse that gave you fleeting satisfaction, but in the end, just ate up your budget.
#4 Manage Your Time Better
Besides reducing stress, giving and volunteering can be a wonderful motivator at approaching your life more holistically. Just like you’re more aware of your finances when you’re giving, you can also become better at managing your time.
While you don’t want to over-commit yourself to a ton of different volunteer projects and contributions, having some responsibilities can give a productive and fulfilling way to spend your time.
If you know you’re helping out at the food bank for a few hours in the morning, you’re probably going to relax and rest the night before.
Likewise, if you’re doing a 10k or marathon to raise money for a cause, you’re hopefully making healthier choices with your diet and exercise so you’ll be ready for the big event.
Budget for More Giving
Hopefully, you see how giving is really a mutually beneficial thing with your finances and others’ as well.
If you have a chance this week, think about ways you can include more giving. Can you start by choosing a small amount to contribute?
Do you have some time to see what local charities are in the area that could you an extra pair of hands? Can you offer up some time to your kid’s school for tutoring or helping out with school projects?
However you decide to give, please remember that this is a wonderful way to help your neighbors and yourself!