Start The Habit: Buy Less, Give More
Many of my friends over the past few years have questioned how and why I give so much of my money away. For me, it has always been simple: If I care about an organization enough to volunteer for them, then I should care enough to give financial support. I don't just give money to every organization that I think is good, because I am not a millionaire (maybe someday...). I know that I only have so much money and I have to eat, keep a roof over my head, take are of my animals, blah, blah, blah. Of course I do those things first. They are necessities and commitments I have already made.
So how do I do it? I give a few other things up. It's really not that hard. Don't get me wrong, I love a craft brew and a Starbucks latte just as much as the next gal, but that does not mean I need them. Certainly not more than a low income family needs a roof over their head, and not more than a child in a Ghanian village needs a desk to sit at and books to read. So I drink a few less beers & coffee's out for a week, and boom - I have $50 to give!
I have to say, this way of life was learned. I was lucky enough to have been raised by parents who taught me the value of giving back. Growing up, they never discussed how much they gave, but they always talked about the fact that they were doing it. I am not sure if they taught me this on purpose, or if I just learned from paying attention, but either way, I am grateful.
I have also been to Ghana three times. If you know me at all, you know how much I love that place. Being in Ghana has taught me a lot, but since we are on the subject of giving, I will tell you about how it has saved me money that I can then turn into donations.
It turns out that I had way too many things. The first time I came home from Ghana I was instantly overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in my condo. So I began purging. I probably donated half of my closet that summer. Since then, I have moved out of my condo and into my mom's house (for a while). I got rid of a lot when I moved, or so I thought, but I still had a storage unit full of stuff. So again, I purged. I gave things to friends and family who needed it more than me. Most of what I have left, is my wardrobe, my books, and my kitchen. I mean really, what else could a girl want! The moral of this story - buy less, give more. You will end up giving away hundreds, even thousands of dollars worth of crap you didn't need in the first place. So why not just keep yourself from buying it, and donate some of that money?
It is easy to say, but harder to do. I am not perfect. I still wish I gave more than I did. It will be hard for me to be a student again for the next several years, as I will have much less to give. But that will not stop me from giving, it will just be in smaller amounts. I don't want to get out of the habit of supporting others, so even if my donations are small, they will happen.
My unsolicited advice to you: pick something you care about, some place that you believe in, and give. It can be $5, $10, $20. It doesn't have to be big, just start the habit.