Giving as an integral part of personal finance


For most of my life, I haven’t been a charitable person. I’m trying to work on it but it’s a slow process. I’ve been reading Millionaire Women Next Door by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley, and as it turns out, those millionaire ladies are pretty charitable, many donating a double-digit percentage of their incomes. When you think how large many of their incomes are, that’s a pretty good chunk of change!

Over the past few months, I’ve managed to donate small amounts to charitable causes, but I’m nowhere near the 10% I used to give in tithing when I attended church. I have various excuses for this including:

  • I can’t afford to give because I have debt
  • I can’t think of any worthy causes to give my money to
  • honestly, I’d rather spend it on myself

But the reality of it is:

  • I make enough money that I can afford to share with others and pay down my own debt
  • there are a number of worthy charities and people to help in my city
  • I need to be less selfish & materialistic

So I’ve decided to add charitable giving to my budget, and set out a monthly amount to contribute. I’m starting with $25/mo. It seems small, but it’s still $300/yr and I feel like that’s enough to make a difference somewhere! I am setting a personal goal to increase the amount once I am student loan debt free next year. Eventually, I’d like to get up to giving away 10% of my income again.

I’ll be honest, part of me is thinking, That’s crazy! Why would you try to earn more money just so you can give it away? But my reasoning is essentially this:

it is in my best interest to give my money away.

(I think the recipient will think it’s in their best interest too!)

If I don’t donate that money, I will use it for consumption. In other words, I will use it to buy stuff. I’m not really sure what stuff, it might be clothes or it might be beer. I might try to disguise it by putting the money in a savings account or an investment, but that’s really just procrastinating stuff-buying. Eventually, at some point, the money will be used to buy something that, in the long run, is essentially worthless. By foregoing this buying-of-the-stuff, I’m actually looking out for my more enlightened minimalist self AND helping someone out. I feel like that’s all the incentive I need to start giving!

Do you donate regularly to charity? How much of your income do you give away? What motivates you to part with those hard earned dollars for a good cause?


You Might Also Like

About The Author

30 Comments. Leave new

  • This is something I have to do myself. I don’t make it a habit to give money away to any charity at the moment, but I would give someone on the street some money if they asked and I have it on me.

    What I want to do is join a charity. I am honestly more selfish with my time than I am with my money.

    • I agree, I can definitely be selfish with my time too. I’ve been interested in volunteering for awhile but I haven’t found the right fit for me yet..

  • It’s something I want to do. I do tend to donate when I go to stores and hospice is an area I’ll regularly donate to as I’ve had first hand knowledge of how good they really are to those who need them. It’s not budgeted in and I don’t do it as regularly as I want to but I’m getting myself into a position of where I can.

  • I do not donate as much as I should be I like to do charity runs that donate different causes. If I am going to donate the money I like to do things that promote awareness as well.

  • I’m not really sure how much we donate. I know the wife loves to help out the local animal shelter, which she donates time and some money towards. We also do charity runs, but I’ve never thought of that as giving. I guess it is though.

  • This is a great topic and I think one that a lot of people feel uncomfortable talking about – as if it makes us seem sanctimonious. I think it’s actually really useful to talk about how much we give, because as you point out other people are often giving a lot more than we think!

    I’m involved with the Giving What We Can movement, which encourages people to give to cost-effective charities, ie getting more bang for your charitable buck. I’m also striving towards 10% of my income, but at the moment I’m only giving £100/month as I pay down debt. When my student loans are cleared in a few years I’ll be giving more.

  • What I do is every pay check, I pull out a certain percentage for charity. So it’s about $60/month. And I do monthly donations through World Vision, so they automatically deduct $39/month from my account. For the remaining $21/month, I usually let it sit there until there is a one off thing I donate to (eg sponsor a friend in a charity run, hospital telethon, etc.)

    • I definitely prefer donating to friends causes, but I’d be interested in finding something I can regularly contribute to. I think the automatic payment is a great idea!

  • I admit that I don’t donate anything to charity these days, but my money is a bit tight right now. Once I get my finances back in order though I’d love to be able to give back. I do give a few bucks here and there, but a regular amount each month would be much better. There are so many great causes that could use the money and it just makes you feel better about yourself. Perhaps I will at least try to do some volunteering soon. I just need to kick my procrastinating habits lol.

    • agreed! I’m a terrible procrastinator!

      And it definitely is easier to donate when your budget has the room for it. It’s only now that I really feel in the position to give to charity.

  • We don’t give any money to charity. My partner chose to accept a low-paying career working in the nonprofit world, and that is our giving back. Should he leave that job for a for-profit one, we’ll obviously rethink our plans.

  • I made a goal of making a donation every week this year, but I’ve sort of fallen off the bandwagon. Thanks for the kick to get back on!

  • I haven’t been donating as much as I want to either. I am nowhere near my life long goal of donating $1 million to charity. Mr. Stanley is one of my favourite academic writers. I haven’t read this book yet, but I learned a lot from his other work, the Millionaire Next Door.

    • That’s an AWESOME life goal… I might even steal it 😉

      Millionaire Next Door is a great book. Millionaire Women Next Door is essentially the same, he wrote it after the other book was published. Very cool stats.

  • There’s also major tax benefits to giving to eligible charity organizations.

    If you’re actually on pace to put in $300 this year, you’ll end up with somewhere around $100 of that back at Tax Time, if you choose to claim it. 🙂

  • I think I’m more selfish than you (I think you might know this already).

    If/when my income increases, the temptation to selfishly spend it all on myself will be there, and I may find it hard to resist. As it is, I already spend what little I have all on myself.

    I think it’s a natural human (animal) feeling. I will admit that there were times when I could have afforded to donate, but I just bought something for myself instead.

    I also don’t volunteer.

    That was hard to admit, but oh well.

    • I don’t know, there’s a limit of how much “joy” I can get out of spending it on myself. I feel there’s things I need and want, and then after that point it just doesn’t bring more happiness. Plus I think it’s important to be generous with others, it’s just the right thing to do.

      And you NEED to volunteer! Pad that resume!!

  • I sponsor a woman annually through Women for Women. You can pick from one of their many countries, or they’ll do it for you. You sponsor one women for one year. Of all the things the organization does for her, the main thing is that they help this woman learn a skill so that she can be self sustaining. The organization deals directly with the women, as women actually use the money to better theirs and their family’s life. I’ve been sponsoring women in the Congo. Most of them are young widows with no education and lots of children. I get a couple of letters a year from my “sisters” and boy, after reading what their life is like and how your $40/mth has made such an impact, you can’t help but be grateful for your life here. We take so much for granted. It’s great organization, and you get to see your money make a huge difference to someone else.

  • I’m terrible with this – sometimes, if I’m on an animal rescue site I’ll see a dog or cat that tugs at my heart strings and I’ll donate, but usually I don’t. I do feel bad and need to increase it. I know that I can donate to United Way from my payroll at work.. I should try to do that.

  • I really want to do the same thing. Except…for animals. I like them more than people, is that dark?

  • I almost could have written this post! I started out with I think $25/month a couple of years ago and I upped it to $50/month. I meant to up it with my huge raise, but I didn’t…

    It is SO hard to find a charity that I definitely want to donate money to. I do try to donate time to helping with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) outreach events for high school and middle school girls though. And I always give $50-100 if someone asks for money for some run or something.

    I also always give old clothes away instead of taking them to a consignment store. I don’t need the money from selling them, so I would rather someone get them on the cheap than me make any money off of getting rid of them.

    Slowly, slowly we will get better at giving…

  • It is nice to see so many other people are at least thinking about charitable giving. I tend to save up loose change over the month and when that accumulates I give it away. I hate carrying around lots of coins anyway so it is a win win.

  • Growing up, my parents have drilled into my head that any money I make, I need to save at least 10% and tithe at least 10%. They never explained why, but I’m glad they taught me to do that from an early age. Regular giving has force me to reflect on my materialistic tendencies. So far, I mainly give to my church since I really like the outreach programs they have and they are transparent in how they manage their money. Other than that, I’ll give money to friends who do charity runs or fundraising for a service trip

  • One might argue that donating to charity is a form of consumption. For instance, I donate to theatres and other creative projects through things like Quickstarter, and I later, directly or indirectly, get to enjoy the good work that they do.

    Still, I feel like I should be donating more to more varied causes. A lot of Christians think that they should tithe 10%. I tend to not donate that amount, but I also don’t think that I “should” for various reasons. I certainly don’t mean offense to anyone else with that comment; I think those who donate 10% are examples of good ways to live.

  • I’m glad you mentioned that statistic from Millionaire Women Next Door. The entire time I was reading The Millionaire Next Door I was looking for Stanley to address charitable giving and it did not come up ONCE. Very frustrating. Maybe I will check out the other book.

    We give 10% of our income to our church, plus we save $58/month into a charitable giving account that we use for non-church causes as they come up, and we also make Kiva loans.

    I find giving is a wonderful antidote to selfish tendencies.

  • Just read this, I love that you have nice, double digit targets. My spouse and I disagree a lot regarding how much to give to charity. My spouse is always saying that the more we save now, the more we can afford to give later, but I figure that we could put off tomorrow forever. The counter argument to that is always “there will always be need.” *sigh*
    Apparently I give about 3% of my gross income to charity, it used to represent a larger % but I received a very substantial raise about 3 months ago and it hasn’t really caught up. A bunch of that is tithing, the rest to a large assortment of things.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.