Can I Afford to Give While I’m In Debt?
Donation amounts increase nearly every year, making it clear that Americans feel it’s important to support charitable organizations.
Perhaps you feel the same way, but you feel a little torn because you are in debt. You ask yourself, “Can I really afford to give while I’m in debt?”
The answer depends upon each person’s specific situation; it’s difficult to give unilateral advice. However, after asking yourself the following questions you can find a way to support the causes you care about, no matter your financial situation.
Examine your motivations. Why do you want to give in the first place? Do you believe giving is a religious responsibility? Is there a specific organization or cause that you feel strongly about supporting? Do you feel compassion for others and want to do anything you can to help?
Spend some time questioning why giving is important to you. This will help you determine what priority it has in your budget.
What do the numbers say?
The basic building block to financial management is having a budget. After putting together a solid budget, it’s good to have at least $1,000 in an emergency fund. The emergency fund is especially important if you are in debt, because it keeps you from slipping further into debt when life happens. If you have debt, your budget should include some sort of debt pay-off plan.
The different approaches to budgeting, building emergency funds, and debt pay-offs are the main reason it’s hard to answer the question “can I afford to give while I’m in debt?” Some people can tolerate a little more risk, so they might feel more comfortable building their emergency fund slowly, making room for giving.
If the numbers don’t allow for giving, but you remain conflicted, make another pass at the budget. Did you refuse to cut out cable while you paid off debt? In order to allow for giving, is that something you are willing to consider now?
What can I do?
You can still support a worthy cause without reworking your budget!
Giving your time can just be as impactful as giving your money. Contact local organizations to find out how you can serve. Many organizations are incredibly short-staffed. Some need people with specific skill sets (like web design or accounting) but don’t have enough demand for the skills to justify hiring a person – and couldn’t afford them anyway. Whether you answer phones, file paperwork, or update the website, you are supporting the work. Think about it this way: because you served, the charity didn’t have to hire any help. Your service is as good as money.
If you decide to volunteer your time, you are bound to develop a deeper commitment to the cause. After all, you’ve donated yourself to it!
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