How to Cultivate a Practice of Giving

Recently, I had the sad realization that I had paused on my giving for far too long. Other than the friend running or a race and a couple of events, I wasn’t giving regularly to the causes that were important to me. Why? I had paused my giving when I left my corporate finance job to run the Fiscal Femme full time. I was conserving cash like crazy to get the business off the ground. I assured myself that as soon as I started making more money, I’d start donating again. In March, five years had gone by. Oof! I earned more and more money each year, and I continued to promise myself I’d start giving as soon as I earned enough. 

I laughed (and cried) at myself when I had the realization that if I continued this way, I’d never earn enough to start giving. This is the same exact trap so many of us fall into with saving! 

Just start. 

There are a lot of similarities between saving and giving. The biggest one? We wait to get started because we assume it will be easier once we earn more. We get the promotion and the raise, prioritize paying everyone else first, and then there’s still no money leftover for us to save or give. Or maybe we feel like our twenty dollars a month won’t do much. But much like with saving, it’s about using the muscle. When we start, we begin to view ourselves as someone who gives. We get the ball rolling, momentum builds. Also, $240 per year can make a much bigger difference than you may think.

Align your giving with your values. 

In The 30-Day Money Cleanse, we learn to align our spending with our values which makes our lifestyles feel bigger and more meaningful. Because we let go of the spending that doesn't matter or add value to our lives, we also have much more money to save (and give!). To me, one of the most exciting parts of having money is to being able to support organizations with missions I believe in. When we decide where to give, we get to make an impact in the areas that matter to us. We may spend our day working on other things but in this way we can help others fighting for things we believe in. 

Use automation to your advantage. 

Much like with setting up an automatic transfer to an online savings account to pay ourselves first (a.k.a. save!), we can do the same for giving. When we set up an automatic transfer to an organization, we treat giving like an expense and it becomes a priority. We also smooth out our gift over the course of each paycheck rather than send over a lump sum once per year. This puts less stress on our bank accounts.  

Check in. 

After a few months, it’s time to check in. This serves as a great opportunity to take a step back and evaluate your giving. Some people have goals of giving a certain percentage of their income and others settle in at an annual dollar amount. This can change over time. At each check in, you can up the ante, little by little (or a lot by a lot!), until you are giving as much as you’d like. 

Giving is a practice in abundance.

One of the many benefits of giving, in addition to how it makes you feel and the impact you're having on the world, is the effect on your own finances. When we give not only are we telling and showing ourselves that we have more than enough (hello abundance!), we’re also proving to ourselves that we can do great things with our wealth. We debunk those limiting beliefs that many of us carry that more wealth means greed or [insert belief here] because we see and experience firsthand the good we do with the money we have.