If you’re like most Americans, you’re spending at least some part of your monthly paycheck covering debt, whether it be from school, medical expenses, credit card spending, or something else entirely. Experts recommend spending between 10 to 20 percent of your monthly income on debt repayment, but some spend 36 percent or more.
When you’re spending a big chunk of your income on fighting debt, it can be difficult to find room for other things, including charitable giving. Roughly 43 percent of respondents in the 2018 Global Trends in Giving Report stated that they simply don’t give because they don’t have the financial resources.
Today, I want to help you understand where your charitable giving can fall inside a tight budget. Despite what you may think, it’s still possible to give to others, even when you’re struggling to make ends meet yourself.
First Things First: Understand What’s Important to You
If you arbitrarily pick a cause to donate to, you likely won’t share a strong personal connection with the organization or event. This can lead you to slack on your donations and push them to the back of your priorities.
To spark your interest and keep yourself engaged in giving, you need to find a charitable cause that’s close to your heart. Think about what matters most to you.
Is it children in need? Research for certain medical disorders or diseases? Animals on the streets?
Research whatever cause it is that you want to support. Don’t pick the first charity that falls in the category you select. Instead, use a site like Charity Navigator to ensure you’re picking a non-profit organization that is well-respected and trustworthy.
Make Saving for Charity Just as Important as Saving for Yourself
Even if you’re consistently working to pay off debt, you’re probably saving for something. Maybe you’re maxing out your IRA contributions or you’re socking money away for that trip to Hawaii next year. Perhaps you’re starting an emergency fund or putting away funds each month for a new car.
Whatever you’re saving for, think about how you’re able to find the money for your goal every month. Then, apply the same strategy to saving for charity. My top recommendation is to open a separate savings account for charitable giving, then automate your savings for a certain cause every time you get paid.
Also, it’s a smart idea to set a goal for yourself that’s more specific than just “give to charity.” For instance, the goal I set for myself this year was to donate 5 percent of my total income to the cause of my choice. That’s a much more specific, measurable goal, and it makes it seem more important when I go through my monthly savings.
Find Ways to Make Your Donation More Substantial
Did you know that many employers have programs that will actually match your donations to charity? Take a few minutes to check with your HR department to see what your company’s policy is. Perhaps you can double your $50 donation in minutes simply by looking into the available programs at work.
Another option is to rope friends and family into your giving strategy. Facebook offers the option to request donations to a specific cause on your birthday. Instead of trying to find the funds yourself, try to educate others on causes that are important to you and pull donations in from other places.
At the end of the day, giving $10 a month to a charity is better than giving nothing. Even if you’re strapped for cash and constantly working to climb out of debt, there are ways to secure extra funds to support causes you care about. It just takes time and dedication.