STEP 6: Give Back
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“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” ~Winston Churchill
The latest financial crisis has left many Americans reeling with financial uncertainty. Families struggle to pay the bills, feed their family, and save for their futures. While the government provides assistance to some, many families and individuals still seek assistance from many different charities.
According to a June 2017 report from the Giving USA Foundation, Americans gave nearly $391 billion to charitable organizations in 2016.
When your finances are tight, it may seem like it’s impossible to give. However, it’s important to remember that you can give more than money. There are multiple ways to support charities and give back to your community.
Give Your Time
All charities need money for day to day operation, but they also need volunteers to provide service to their client base. While your budget might not leave room for monetary donations, you can give your time to help charities with their day to day operations.
Volunteer opportunities are available at places like food pantries, hospitals, schools, senior centers, libraries, and religious institutions. There are opportunities available to help in your very own neighborhood too.
For example, you can assist the elderly in your community by doing their grocery shopping or household chores. Or perhaps you could teach a free class to share a specific skill or talent of yours.
So, don't worry if there isn't room for giving in the budget yet. Giving back through volunteering is just as valuable as any amount of money you can give.
Turn Your Clutter into Donations
What material objects do you have around your house that you no longer use? Doing a deep clean of your home — places like the basement, attic, or closet — might yield amazing things you could consider donating to someone in need.
When considering items to donate, make sure you check the condition of each item. Make sure electronics and appliances are in working condition and that clothes are free of stains and tears.
When donating children’s toys or games, make sure you have all the pieces. Also, if you’re planning to donate items from your pantry to a local food bank, make sure the goods haven’t expired.
The two most popular places that accept donations are Goodwill and The Salvation Army. They accept used clothing, furniture, appliances, toys, electronics, and so much more. The Goodwill even accepts used-car donations!
However, there are other organizations that need donations as well. Women’s shelters need clothing and personal hygiene items. Libraries and local schools need books and magazines. You can also give away items to others in your community on sites like Freecycle — a virtual community swap meet.
When donating items to charity, make sure you get a receipt to list each item with its estimated value that you’re giving away. You should also get a receipt for any cash donations you make.
When it’s time to file your taxes, you might be eligible for a tax deduction for your charitable donations. But you will need receipts or other documents to prove your claim. In some instances, the deduction for donated goods end up being worth more than you could get if you’d sold the item, so keep that in mind.
Donate money to your favorite cause.
The last way to give back, of course, is with a monetary gift. Once you’ve built a solid financial foundation through budgeting, saving, paying off debt, and investing — you’ll be in a better position to give money to your favorite charity.
There are plenty of causes to support; however, it's important to do your due diligence when giving money to charities these days. Make sure the organization is reputable, and the money is actually going to issues and causes you support.
Giving to others is extremely rewarding to you and those in need. While you may not have the financial resources to give as you desire, there are still ways you can give back if you're willing to be creative.
As mentioned, you can give your time and you can donate items you no longer use. You could give away knowledge or skill. Regardless of whether your gift is service or a material item — there is a way for you to give back, even if you're on a budget.
Being charitable rounds out your journey towards financial freedom. Things happen in life, and even financial security doesn't exempt people from needing help.
Think of all the natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and wildfires that are happening around the world. Financial security would be helpful during these times, but some people are more prepared than others.
To help others who are less fortunate than you, do what you can to make sure your financial security is in place. Then make an effort to contribute financially and provide service to others who need it. Things have a way of coming full circle, and you never know — you might find yourself in a position of needing help someday too.