What if someone handed you a hundred bucks every month and told you to give it away? You could give it to anyone or organization that you wanted. You could divide it into smaller denominations or give it away in one lump sum. The only stipulation is that you can’t spend it on your immediate family. Wouldn’t it be fun to give and meet needs?
There isn’t much room in the budget to give extravagantly while paying off debt. In fact, giving doesn’t happen at all while debt is being paid off. After you finish paying off debt and you have a nice 3-6 month emergency fund in the bank, then you may have some room in the budget to give.
Planning to Give Generously
Even when your finances are in order, you still need to do a written budget every month. Naming every dollar before the month begins will keep your finances under control and keep you from slipping back into bad habits. Unexpected wants or events can wreck a carefully constructed budget. Many couples have a blow category in their budget to be able to spend on themselves. The blow money category allows for those unexpected wants that you weren’t able to predict when you laid out the monthly budget.
What if you had a category in your budget titled “Unexpected Gifts” for all those times that wished you could give money? This category is above your tithe and beyond any monthly support given. Any amount of money can be allocated to this category. The point is that you would pull from the category when you want to give money. When the money is out, then you have to stop giving.
The other day I was at my eye doctor’s office. A lady and her little boy came in to pick up one pair of contacts. The doctor loaned her one pair of contacts until she could come back and pay for a whole box. I don’t know what her situation is, but I could tell she was embarrassed. After she left I wanted so badly to pay for her contacts and tell the desk clerk to call the lady back to come pick up her contacts for free. That would be meeting a physical need for someone. I don’t know if that was a missed opportunity to give in faith, but I was afraid that we didn’t have enough money to cover someone else’s contacts. Again, if we had an “Unexpected Gifts” category, then there would have been no question about whether or not I could’ve spent the money.
Recently incourage.me did a big push to collect money to build a new house for Mercy House Kenya. The Mercy House exists to raise funds to provide alternative options for pregnant girls living in the streets of Kenya. I didn’t know that this fundraiser going to happen in the middle of December, so there is no way I could have budgeted to give to Mercy House when we created our budget at the end of November. I could have pulled money from the grocery budget, but that would complicate meal planning and cause tension in the budget. If we had an “Unexpected Gifts” category, then that is where the money would’ve come from.
It’s fun to be able to step up and give. During that Mercy House Kenya drive an anonymous donor stepped up and said if you can raise $20,000, then they would match the $20,000! Instead of thinking how awesome is that, what if you thought – how can I get in a position to do the same kind of matched giving?
Giving Extravagantly as an Entrepreneur
Being an entrepreneur is one way that allows someone to earn a lot of money to give away without a cap. Entrepreneurs have the ability to make something from nothing. They don’t have a salary that caps their income. Stu McClaren is an entrepreneur who created WishList Member and has a charity called World Teacher Aid.
Once I latched onto the idea that ‘the more money I make, the more impact I can have’, my business took off. No longer was it about ‘me’ but rather what the money could do to transform the lives of others. And the more time we spent in Africa with our charitable projects, the more I quickly realized that…Money is a leveraged tool for impacting more lives than we could ever reach on a personal level.
Giving begins with a line item in the budget
Impacting lives with financial means doesn’t have to start with creating a charity or making tons of money. It starts with a line item in a budget. The dollar amount for “Unexpected Gifts” can start small and grow as your financial picture grows.
Daniel and I have a desire to make a ton of money. It’s not because we want to buy lots of things for ourselves or travel the world, it’s because we want to buy hearing aids for other kids, we want to support adoptions, and we want to give big to charities we love. One of our big hairy goals is to be able to give away $2,000 per month. We may not meet that goal in 2014, but it could happen in 2015 or 2016. For now our “Unexpected Gifts” category is significantly smaller, but we are working towards growing that number.
What things would you give to if you had the means? Do you already have an “unexpected gifts” category?
If you want to give to Mercy House Kenya, then click on over to Pure Charity.