We’re always told to help ourselves first before we can help anyone else. It makes perfect sense. If you’re struggling, you can’t really be expected to help anyone else out until you sort out your own situation. If you have debt, you shouldn’t be loaning money out to someone else or donating to causes that inspire you. Right?
Even if things are getting better for you and you’re digging yourself out of a rough financial situation and may have some money to spare, you still might feel selfish or dare I say ‘wrong’ for not wanting or being able to give.
This is where I’m at currently. I have a financial plan that is working out well and a steady income for the most part. I’m not on the edge of starvation and my bills are always paid, but I still don’t feel like I can give much and help my family out if they need it.
It Would Be Nice to Give Instead of Just Take All the Time
My goal to pay off all my debt and become more financially stable is not only so I can reap the benefits and have a happier life. I also want to impact others and help when I can.
Sometimes I think it would be nice to donate to a cause I care about on a whim and make a difference in someone’s life, but my budget is super tight. Most times I’ve always been on the receiving end but it would be nice to give as well.
Giving to others actually helps you just as much as the recipient believe it or not. I’m also a strong believer that when you give blindly and put that positive energy out into the world, it will come back to you in one way or another.
When My Inability to Give Hit Home
I don’t feel bad necessarily when I can’t donate or give other things because I know my situation and the limitation of it. But recently, when my sister started a crowdfunding campaign for herself I felt a hint of helplessness.
My younger sister announced that she wanted to go on a trip next year to New York to experience and study fashion design with her class since she is an aspiring designer. She’s always been passionate about fashion design and I could tell it was something she always wanted to do. The trip would be around $1200 and she was selling items and started a Go Fund Me page to help gather up some funds.
She only works part-time and I know that my parents don’t have much money to offer her since she is also graduating high school this year and has other expenses, so I somewhat felt some sense of responsibility when it came to helping her. I fully support young people wanting to go out and chase their dreams instead of going to college and majoring in something they don’t believe in simply for a check. It also irritates me to see someone give on up their dream because they don’t have much of an opportunity or for financial reasons.
I know I can’t give much money, but the act of giving isn’t always about money. My hint of helplessness went away once I realized there are plenty of other ways to give even when you’re in debt or struggling financially.
Give Your Time
When you don’t have a lot of money, you often end up spending more of your time instead. If you have time to volunteer with a program or organization you support, help out around your church or run to support for an issue or a cause, you can give something valuable just by giving a little time and it won’t require money at all.
What you do doesn’t have to be time consuming. A favor can only take a few minutes or 30 minutes to an hour. One-time or annual events are also good opportunities to give some of your time or effort to others.
In my last goals update I mentioned how I want to do some volunteering with my son so we can give back and I can teach him some different values. Currently, I’m trying to look into holiday-themed events or visit a nursing home that one of my relatives work at and see how we can help. It can even be quite fun to give your time with someone else and I’m sure we will enjoy whatever we decide to do.
Give Some of Your Talents and Skills
If you have talents or skills that can help someone or even possibly change their life, that may be even more valuable than giving someone money. While I believe you should be compensated for your skills and knowledge for the most part, answering a quick question or offering a quick solution can leave a huge impact on someone’s life. If you can bake or cook very well, you might want to prepare a meal for someone who is sick or unfortunately can’t cook.
In my case, my talents and skills are writing, editing and finding practical solutions. Whenever there’s a problem with a friend or family member, I’m always one of the first people to come up with a realistic solution and a plan of action.
For my sister’s goal to travel to New York City to pursue her dream, even though I couldn’t offer much money, I quickly started researching educational grants and scholarships and even offered her some ideas and strategies to help improve her crowdfunding campaign.
One of those solutions included Fiverr.com. I just love Fiverr, can’t you tell? 🙂 A seller was promising to promote 350-word fashion articles on a very popular magazine as a service on Fiverr so I decided to tell my sister so maybe she could share a brief personal story and promote her campaign to more people and an audience who could help.
I also came up with additional fundraising ideas and ways to help her earn extra money, and of course, I can always edit any grant or scholarship essays she writes so I felt good about being able to give in terms of my skills, talents and ideas in this case.
Making a One-Time Monetary Donation
Donating and giving actual money while you’re in debt is tricky. I’m not going to say whether I’d advise someone to do it or not, but for the record, I generally don’t unless I am truly passionate about the cause.
With that being said, for my own personal religious reasons, I recently decided to start giving money to my church through offering on the weeks I attend. I may try to work in $40/month or $10/week into my budget which isn’t much, but it’s something.
Otherwise, I am focused hard on getting out of debt and getting my finances back on track and I am more in favor of throwing all the extra money I have toward debt. Like I said at the beginning of this post, you can’t really help someone else out tremendously if you can’t help yourself out first.
You need to get on your own two feet first and if you literally can’t donate a dime, you shouldn’t and you should not feel bad about it.
On the flip side, one-time monetary donations are nice in a sense that they don’t require you to make a commitment each week, month etc. Whether or not you choose to make them is entirely up to you and your individual situation though. In the case of my sister, I will make a one-time monetary donation to her cause, mainly because she’s my sister and I believe in her.
If I can give her $50 to put toward her trip and it actually helps her go, to me that’s money well spent and the $50 will not set me back one bit on my financial goals for the year at all.
I will still do what I have to do when it comes to budgeting, paying off debt and working toward my apirations. Plus, I’ll feel a whole lot better when I reach those goal.
How do you feel about giving while you are in debt? Do you have a gray area like me or do you have a firm stance on whether you’d like to give or not when you have debt or are struggling financially?
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