Budgeting for Generosity

1 Jul

A couple weeks ago I shared with you all a new conviction of mine. I wanted to truly own the feeling that, as a couple, my husband and I have everything we need. To achieve that kind of contentment, I came up with the idea of donating as much as we can afford to people less fortunate. Hubs and I took a look at our spending and our needs and found out that my conviction was uncovering some bad habits. As a result, we not only have a better grip on our finances, but we’re also more appreciative of our status as independent adults. Even though we’re only looking at a monthly donation of $30-40 a month, it feels pretty good that we’re making it and capable of giving anything in spite of my not-so-ideal working situation.

If you’re curious about how to budget for donation (without losing your sanity) or maybe thinking of trying this yourself, here’s how we figured it out.

First, make a list of your needs either by pay period or monthly income. Anything beyond that is a bit much to calculate. For us, this consisted of of bills, gas, food, credit card payments, a humble amount for entertainment, and a reasonable allotment for miscellaneous/unpredictable expenses. Tithing falls into this too, in a way.

Then plan ahead. I went back and forth on deciding how much to save and for what things. Is saving for a seasonal vacation selfish? What about haircuts or wardrobe updates? Home improvements? In the end, I came up with a sample budget for these types of things based on what I might like to have in the next six months. I might want a $40 haircut every four months, a $60 wardrobe update every three months, and a $200 vacation every three months. That’s something like $320 every six months so we would want to save between $50-60 a month for those things. This isn’t exactly what our plan looks like but you get the idea. Once we decided on what things were okay to want and set-up for that, we also decided how much to put toward general savings.

Decide if you’re comfortable giving everything that’s left. You might not be, and that’s okay. I’d like to think a tiny bit is better than nothing, if you’re inclined to give at all.

Choose how you give: Since I already volunteer my time with books and dogs, it was important to me to make a direct contribution to people. I picked a local organization that provides food to the homeless and poverty-stricken families in our area.

Since Will is getting his official promotion today, we’re going to be looking at adjusting all this to reflect his pay raise. However, it’s important to remember that there are other ways to be generous to people in your life and your community. Volunteer work is rewarding and free if you have a couple hours  week to spare but maybe you know more practical ways to help someone. You could send cards to people in the hospital or nursing homes, give unused food to a local soup kitchen, or fundraise for families who can’t afford school supplies. You can use your talents and your interests or passions to love the people around you and build a stronger community. I encourage you to think it over. Do some soul-searching and decide what matters to you. For many of us, we cannot make grand gestures with blank checks but we can do small things with great love.

Loving you,

Me

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