Don’t be a Scrooge.
Shockingly, this might be the one thing you read today that has nothing to do with the holidays.
While Scrooge’s bad behaviors juxtapose most dramatically with Christmastime, it’s safe to say that he was a miser all year.
Which is exactly what this post is about.
It’s no secret that the personal finance community loves money. And I will argue with anyone who says that rich people are all inherently bad people because of their money. But while I’ve been waging that battle, quite a few people have been…hurting my cause.
ESI released a pretty sobering statistic about millionaires and charitable giving. While I don’t have the statistics to back up my suspicions (Oh, Penny, when will you learn to put numbers on a money blog?!), I do have the advantage of time, blog comments, and social media.
Over two years ago, I insisted that you don’t have to give, but you absolutely should. My post was met by a surprising number of people who suggested that they would give…later. Guess what? It’s later. How much are you giving?
Giving is a muscle. Kindness is worth practicing. Give while you’re chasing FI, not just after. Why? Because wherever you go, there you are. Whatever your net worth, there you are. Bank account balances and time of year shouldn’t matter.
So what I aimed to do was take a cue from all of the generosity that I do see. And there is a lot of it. I wanted to learn more about how people give in order to improve my own practice. Here are six ways that money nerds give back straight from their
Do your research.
One of the biggest things that I hear about donations is that people are worried about getting scammed. This is, without a doubt, a cop out. Is it possible that there’s a corrupt charity that will misuse your money? Sure. But in an age where transparency is everything, there isn’t much you can’t research. Some days, I feel like I use Charity Navigator more than Google.
Do what moves you.
It’s awesome to get to know different causes that mean things to other people. But when it comes right down to it, whether you are giving money, resources, or your time, the causes you support are yours to choose. As usual, Josh speaks to my soul.
Roll up your sleeves.
Charitable organizations can’t run on volunteerism alone, but that doesn’t mean that volunteering isn’t incredibly important work. Whenever I perform acts of service, I always start with the intent to help others. In reality, though, it always ends up being more about betterment of self.
RELATED POST: What a Morning in a Hairnet Taught Me About Money
Share your talents.
I used to be a couponing queen. It was thrilling, and I was darn good at it. But it was also a pretty significant time suck and led to some really wasteful habits (contact solution goes well with 20/20 vision, no?). But I’m still really good at scoring deals.
I’m happy to pass along coupons to the next customers in line, especially in places where people are unfamiliar with them. I’m looking at you, Buy Buy Baby and Bed Bath & Beyond. (Seriously, never pay full price in those stores. EVER.) It turns out that I am not alone with this strategy!
Mr. and Mrs. Apathy Ends also tipped me off that formula companies love to send coupons. Something the AE family shared with me that I was all too happy to continue was to use those coupons to score free or nearly-free formula and drop it off at food pantries, churches, and other places that support new families.
I also make it a habit to give away the last bit of my gift cards. I used to either buy more than what I needed to use the gift card up entirely, or I would hang on to 73 cents or $1.14. All that did was take up space in my wallet. It amounted to little more than financial clutter. Except for all the times when I would think, “Hey, better go spend those twelve cents” and I’d leave with an unplanned $20 purchase.
In addition to my financial savvy, I’m trying to be better about sharing other talents. I’m helping a neighbor with her college essay, and I’m going to work with a group of teachers and students to make fleece blankets to donate to a homeless shelter.
For me, no amount of thanking my clothes or folding them into origami packets has ever motivated me to declutter. Whenever I feel like we’ve hit a comfortable spot in terms of shirking excess, I am reminded of the abundance that we have in our lives. While I realize I could chase nickels and dollars for hand-me-down clothes and toys, I much prefer passing them along to other families the same way that they were passed to us. At first, I really struggled with this notion because there is so much interest in reselling. Plus, it can be pretty fun. While I haven’t given that up entirely, I find it much simpler and rewarding to learn to just let some things go.
Honestly, one of the best things about the personal finance community–bloggers, podcasters, and especially readers!–is how palpable the energy is. Inspiration is everywhere. We can do a lot on our own, but we can do a lot more collectively. One the best things that came out of my desire to learn more about people’s plans for #GivingTuesday and charitable giving in general was all the charities and organizations that I hadn’t heard of or thought of.
National Ability Center – Debra supports this group because they allow people with disabilities to get more involved with sports. The organization modifies equipment to allow people to do everything from horseback riding to skiing.
One Spirit Okini List – Revanche got a group of personal finance bloggers to help “adopt” several Lakota families. If you’re like me, and you’re not totally sure what this means, it’s a holiday list that supports indigenous people in South Dakota. If you want in, you can either scroll through the site or reach out to Revanche (I did!). She has set up some fierce spreadsheets to help as many people as possible!
Books Unbound – Literacy initiatives are near and dear to my heart (Hekab Be is a personal favorite of mine!), so I was super stoked to hear about this organization from Downsize Your 2080. They create picture books that are culturally relevant for Rohingya children to allow them to continue learning in refugee camps. She actually knows Sophie who travels overseas to help with the work.
Give Directly – For anyone who is on the fence about giving and is looking for receipts, this is a research-based group that Matt supports. And it makes perfect sense because that’s Matt and Optimize Your Life in a nutshell: kindness and facts.
Final Thoughts on Figuring Out How to Give More
I am not an expert on charitable giving. But I am a really good student (yes, I did toot my own horn!). I’m working hard to grow my giving muscles, and I’m actively trying to seek out inspiration and examples.
Parting with your money is hard. So is parting with your time. In fact, the latter might be even more challenging. But there are so many ways to give back no matter where you are on your journey. The personal finance community is proof of that.
[Penny’s note: There’s no way that this post captures even a fraction of the generosity that goes on in this community or the broader world. It’s just a start! Drop ideas and links to sites or posts you love below!]