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Micro-Philanthropy: How to Give Money on a Budget

Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you should forgo your desire to give to others. In fact, taking an exercise in being a micro-philanthropist can make saving your money an easier and more joyful task.

There’s a misconception around the concept of charity that one can only give when they have more money than they can spend. People feel like if they can’t write a $100 check to the local homeless shelter or animal rescue group, that it’s not worth it. Who would want a check for five dollars? I can tell you that the people running these organizations would gladly take your five dollars. In fact, I bet they would take two dollars with a smile.

A Spending Habit You Won’t Feel Guilty About
What if you made your five dollars a fun and feel-good game? Make a rule of thumb that some portion of whatever money you get each paycheck goes to charity. The first moment your pay arrives, write a check to the charity of your choice right off the bat. Don’t wait. It doesn’t have to be a large amount. Write “thank you” on the check, expressing your gratitude to the organization for the work they do.

If you want to watch your micro-donation grow, you can try the jar method. After every paycheck, drop a few dollars in an empty jar. Put it in right when you get paid. When the jar is full, take it down to your favorite charity in person. An amazing thing happens at this point: Seeing and feeling in person their gratitude for your offering creates an intrinsic motivation not just to give more, but to earn more so you can give more.

Small Gifts Perk Up Slow Cash Flow
The tendency with any new behavior is that people want to do better the next time. It’s like going to the gym and running on the treadmill. It feels so good to make that goal real that you’ll want to build off of it the next time. “I’m going to go seventeen minutes instead of fifteen because it feels so good.” “Next time, instead of giving five dollars, I’m giving seven. Then I’m giving ten.” You’ll be a philanthropist before you know it.

It doesn’t have to stop with brick and mortar charities. Every time you’re paid, take five dollars and give it to someone…slip it into a friend’s drawer, give it to a hungry person on the street. Give to whomever you choose, just pick a micro-amount that suits your budget and give. Even when your budget is so tight it hurts, giving an allotted dollar, five dollars, each time you get paid, feels expansive, rich.

Put a Joyous Spin on Everyday Finances
There’s often an ethereal disconnect when people talk about the concept of charity. But what if every time you gave you saw a reflection back of that action, a movement in the universe? If you give money, you bring in more money in the universal sense. You feel rich, and that changes your attitude to help you bring in more for yourself and others.

Whether its five dollars per paycheck or twenty, you’re building a ritual, a habit, a pattern of joy around money. Most people can’t just instantaneously create joy around money when they are sticking to a budget. But if you put into place practical, functional systems for giving, you can’t help but create joy.

Originally published on Green Sherpa