Times are tough for a lot of people and it seems like all of us know someone in need. The posts fill our social media accounts detailing the struggles of people we know as they humbly ask for money to pay for something crucial that they can’t afford. Television commercials implore us to give money to various charities, the marketing tactics so clever that we have our credit cards out before we know it.
But what if you are on a tight budget? You may be fortunate enough to meet your family’s needs financially but have little extra to share with someone else. Most of us want to be charitable but wonder how to accomplish that when on a budget.
However, by making some small changes in the way you manage your money and in the way you look at charitable donations, even those on a limited income can afford to give to charity. To add to that, in some cases you may have more valuable things to offer than cash. If you’re hoping to include more charity in your life these are a few ways to accomplish that.
Create a Plan
Many financial experts often include charitable donations in the budgets they prepare for their clients. Financial expert Barbara Stanny outlines the process easily when she says, “Spend less, save more, invest wisely, and give generously.” You can create your own budget by incorporating some of her rules.
Spending less sounds a lot more difficult than it is. If you’re able to eliminate unnecessary purchases over the course of a month and calculate what you’ve saved you’ll be surprised how quickly that money adds up. Once you’ve met your savings goal you can donate any excess to charity.
The Benefits of Giving
Studies have shown that charitable giving is good for us. It helps us feel empowered, feel like we’re useful, and feel inspired to do more. When we give and can see the impact our work is having on someone or an entity in need it’s satisfying in profound ways.
However, it helps to choose how you give in the first place. If you’re giving extra money to the donation boxes in the checkout lines at the grocery store it has very little impact. However, if you research a charity, find out exactly what they do, and who benefits then you’ll feel more of a connection and will be inspired to maintain your giving plan.
Money Isn’t Everything
If you feel that you can’t give financially to charity you should know that there are many other ways to make a difference. Donating your time and your skills are two of the best ways to contribute. For instance, if a local animal shelter or charity in your area plans to hold a fundraiser and you’re a PR specialist, donate your time and skills to help them make their event a success. In the long run, your participation can be more valuable than the dollar amount you would have donated.
Also, remember that some charities accept items as donations that they can then sell for a profit. For instance, you can donate an old boat or a car to a 301c registered charity and they can then sell the vehicle to fund their charitable giving, meanwhile, you get a tax credit.
Choose Your Charity Wisely
If you can easily write a monthly check and send it to your charity without a second thought then great. However, if giving feels more personal to you and you want to feel a connection with the organization you’re helping then be sure that you choose something that is meaningful to you. Whether it’s animals, charities working overseas, or a local after-school program if you’re able to feel good about the money you donate each month then you’re much more likely to make it a habit.
Donating your money, your time, or both to charity is an important part of our financial and emotional lives. It’s one way that we can make a difference in the lives of others that also makes a difference for ourselves. Making charitable giving a habit and part of your overall budget is always a wise choice and can inspire other friends and family members to do the same.