How do I give back on a tight budget?
The art of balancing your financial stability and helping others.
Welcome to Ask Me Anything Wednesday! This week we're talking about the almighty balance between putting on your own financial oxygen mask and helping others.
How can I afford to give back and support important causes when I'm broke?
One of the core tenets in my work is to put on your own financial oxygen mask before (financially) assisting others. It can be considered a controversial take because it's not always the message folks receive, especially when it comes to topics like tithing.
However, there's a critical difference between supporting and financially supporting.
Yes, money is essential, especially when trying to enact change. The problem is, we're asked to financially support causes all the time! I'd even say daily (I'm looking at you, every animal rescue organization I follow on Instagram!). Of course, I want to financially help every wounded or homeless puppy I scroll by on Instagram, but given the volume, it's simply not sustainable.
Don't get it twisted. I'm not saying you should avoid giving back until you're financially secure. Instead, I'm challenging you to reframe charitable giving and figure out how you can give back without risking your own financial health.
Donate your time and skill set to help a charitable cause
close to your heart.
The list is endless: taking photos, building effective social media strategies, text and phone banking, graphic design, writing copy for fundraisers/fliers/websites/social media, volunteering to do needed manual labor, and administrative tasks.
Budget for your giving (and keep it reasonable).
It's okay if financially supporting a cause is high on your list of values, even when getting your own financial affairs in order. Personal finance is personal—but that support needs to fit within the framework of your budget. It shouldn't be based on a percentage pushed on you (e.g., 20% of your income). If you can only afford to give $5 a month to a noble cause, that's still $5 that will help that cause. Keep in mind that consistent donations, even small ones, are helpful for an organization's cash flow, so don't focus on just trying to do a large lump sum.
Keep your dollars local.
Buying in your local community might cost a little more than shopping online or at big box stores, but its impact is significant. One common stat is that for every $100 spent buying local, $68 stays in the local community. Only $43 stays in the community if you buy from a chain store. You can also aim to support stores owned by minority business owners. Plus, it's usually better for the environment to shop locally!
Ask for donations instead of gifts.
Have a cause close to your heart? Ask for loved ones to donate when you'd typically receive gifts (e.g., birthdays, holidays, graduation, etc.).
Engage in simple acts of humanity and decency.
Treat others with dignity and kindness. This is especially true for folks who are unhoused or otherwise struggling in your community. Day after day, so many people walk by, acting as if that person is invisible. Making eye contact and saying hello shows respect. It's even better to ask someone's name if they're a regular in your community, and you can say hello to them by name.
Do you have other recommendations for how to give back on a budget?
Drop them in the comments below!
Donate your time and skill set to help a charitable cause close to your heart.
Keep in mind that consistent donations, even small ones, are helpful for an organization's cash flow, so don't focus on just trying to do a large lump sum.
Buying in your local community might cost a little more than shopping online or at big box stores, but its impact is significant.
Ask for donations instead of gifts.
Treat others with dignity and kindness.
Curious about the Friday newsletter for paid subscribers?
Here’s a sneak peek from last week’s “Helping Hand”.
Reader Question: The bill I received from the hospital is expensive and I can't afford to pay it. Do you have any suggestions as to what I should do in this case? I don't want this surprise medical bill to negatively impact my credit score.
Start with the No Surprises Act
In 2022, the No Surprises Act became federal law and is supposed to help ban many unexpected medical bills. However, this particular claim falls in a gray area about whether it’s covered by the new law. The law focuses more on surprises for out-of-network costs, especially if you’re at an in-network facility. That means you need to gear up to battle with the hospital and your insurance provider.
Next up, it’s time to dispute…