Broke and Generous: Why Give When Money’s Tight?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably on a budget. You might have debt. Like everyone I know, you’re probably trying to cut back on spending. Money is tight – and that’s exactly why you should be giving it away where it’s needed.

Do I sound crazy?

There are significant needs in this country and around the world. From children sold into human trafficking, to people without access to clean water, to students who can’t afford to go to school, the needs are undeniable. Try not to be offended when you get asked, yet again, to make a donation. It only means that someone thinks you might be able to do so.

Of course, when your budget is stretched – or mine for that matter – it’s easy to say, “I’ll donate later, when I’m old and rich!” and then move on. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at the money we budget for charitable giving and thought, “wow, that would put a nice dent in our school loan bills,” or, “maybe if I decrease this by juuust a little, I won’t have to be such a careful grocery shopper.”

It would be easier to spend the money on myself – let’s be honest.

But generosity is something I value. I actually do want to give back. And I recognize that if I don’t make it a habit now – when I have so very little to give – then there’s a good chance I never will.

Sometimes when I again come face to face with my tendency to be selfish, I try to remember that I’ve been given a lot. I also try to recognize that a few of my “needs” are actually just “wants.” And then, much to my surprise, I find myself quoting Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Right now, your great power might be to painstakingly skim $20 off your monthly budget to contribute to the women’s shelter down the street, but that’s what makes it so valuable. When you see a need so great that you’ll sacrifice to help meet it, you’ve stumbled onto something about yourself and what you believe matters in this world.

I think you’ll also find that giving to charity will make you feel good about yourself and your current situation. There’s something about being able to help someone else that gives you a fresh perspective on your own circumstances.

And later, when you strike it rich (or at least pay off your debt and start saving for retirement – also a priority!), you’ll already know where you want to allocate some of the spare money in your paycheck.

34 By Chelsey Evans Funk | Chelsey is a bit of a fanatic about responsible personal finance. Since getting married last year, she and her husband have paid off more than $20,000 of student loan debt through determined budgeting and dedicated use of mint.com. She works in marketing and is happiest when people rave about her baked goods, listen to her advice, or let her pet their dogs on the street.

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  1. Chels! You’re famous!!