Money tight? 4 reasons why giving some away frees you from being broke.
Know what it’s like to feel broke?
I do. It’s when every trip to the grocery store exhausts you with endless if/then scenarios as you attempt to match your list to your budget.
If I buy apples and cherries, I won’t have money for bananas.
Pears are on sale, but I’m not crazy about them. If I get pears, I can afford bananas. Sigh.
Paying bills makes you feel anxious inside making every trip to the mailbox painful.
Worse, charging a splurge item feels really good in the moment, then every time you wear the shoes, the guilt eats at you.
When you are broke, every dollar counts. Which is why the advice I’m about to give you will feel counter-intuitive:
The very best possible thing you can do when you are broke is to give some money away.
Not a ton. In fact, start with a dollar.
Here are four ways giving away money (even as little as a dollar a week) frees you from being broke:
1. It shifts our perspective from scarcity to abundance.
When we hand a dollar to a homeless person, contribute to a GoFundMe campaign, or bring a donut to a friend at the office, it takes away the grasping feeling that being broke causes. Because when we give some away, we are living as if we have enough.
And when we feel like we have enough, we are way less likely to go on the type of credit-fueled spending spree that feeling deprived can spark.
2. It proves to ourselves that we stand up for our beliefs.
Believing in something is easy, but putting our money where our mouth is changes the narrative. When we sign up to sponsor a child with Compassion International, give to a local rescue organization or donate to a cause we care about, it proves to ourselves at a core level that we are who we want to be.
That evidence shifts the way we see ourselves, which influences other decisions. The type of person who funds clean water in Africa probably doesn’t put off paying rent. We live up to our own expectations.
3. It creates good feelings around money.
When money is tight, every feeling around it can be negative. We worry that we are making the wrong decisions. We start to feel that any wrong move will be catastrophic. We resent every dollar we have to spend.
Giving money away — even if just a little bit — feels amazing. It creates positive emotions around spending to help diffuse all the negative ones. (And the way we feel about money impacts the decisions we make about it.)
4. It changes our role in the story.
Feeling like a pauper sucks. It is way more fun to be the prince or princess. When we shift from feeling needy to being generous, it impacts our identity. The internal story about who we are changes.
Being a person with resources who uses them to help others is empowering. It changes how we see our value and worth.
This concept completely changed my financial life.
For the first part of my marriage, John and I were broke. We were on an enlisted salary in the military and there were many times when $10 would have made a difference, yet we couldn’t get it.
I remember one time when someone gave a box of food to us around the holidays. I sat in the floor and cried as I unloaded the box into our empty pantry because we needed it so badly.
Once John was promoted to E4, we decided we would start giving money away — even though we didn’t have a dime to spare. We began pretty boldly. We decided to give away $.10 of every dollar we brought home—$130 a month on our meager salary.
It was scary.
You know what happened? That boldness changed our relationship with money. We stopped grasping at every penny. We started to feel more relaxed. Money became lighter and freer.
While we didn’t immediately make more money, the way we felt about our money completely changed, and that in turn impacted our decisions.
You don’t have to start with 10%, but I do encourage you to decide to start with a dollar. Want to test drive the concept?
Here are 16 ways you can give a dollar away:
DonorsChoose.org allows you to donate any amount to a project you choose.
ModestNeeds.org funds small needs for families in poverty. You pick the project.
Mail four quarters to your child’s teacher at the school and tell them you are buying them a soda from the machine for their break. (Technically, this will cost you an extra $.49 for the stamp).
BestFriends.org — supports animal rescue throughout the US.
Donate a bottle of shampoo to a homeless shelter. (Recruit some friends to participate and you can take more than one.)
Buy lunch for someone. There are still places you can buy a slice for $1.00 in NYC and most fast food restaurants have a dollar menu.
Buy a scratch-off ticket, then give it away.
Charity: Water gives 100% of your dollar to bring clean water to people in need.
Buy a greeting card from the bargain section. Fill it out and hand encouragement to a friend.
Feed hungry children through NoKidHungry.org.
Give $1 to whichever charity your grocery store prompts you to sponsor at checkout.
Tip $1 over what’s expected. (Or leave a tip in a case where one is usually not required like when paying for fast food.)
Go by the dollar store and pick out something that will make your best friend totally crack up over when you leave it on their doorstep.
Slip $1 in someone’s coat pocket so they find it later. (Found money makes everyone smile.)
Donate $1 to the next GoFundMe you see posted on Facebook.
Drop $1 in the offering box at church or temple.
There will be a big return on your dollar investment.
Every dollar you spend in this way will change your relationship to your money. It will create the shifts I listed above.
Most importantly, you will find before long that you can give away more than a dollar, because that broke feeling that kept you feeling trapped will have loosened its hold on you.
So what are you waiting for? Invest that dollar in making the world a better place. If you do it week after week, you will be amazed by what happens.