The 11 Principles Series: Give, Give, and Give Some More

Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness? Have you received an anonymous gift or had someone help you in a tight situation? When I was in college, I had horrible luck with cars. My first car lasted a couple of years, but it was about 15 years old, so I didn’t expect much. My second car was a 1996 Nissan Altima, and it was a great car, but it was totaled by some girl that ran a stop sign. Then, I had an older Mercury Cougar, and the head gasket on the engine blew. Compared to the value of the car, it wasn’t worth it to fix. So, I was in Gainesville, Florida with no car, taking the number 5 bus to school, and calling my girlfriend to pick me up for our dates. It wasn’t a high point in my life, but plenty of college students survive without cars. I had no money to pay for a used car or even a down payment for a financed car. My mom told my home church back in West Palm Beach, Florida about my situation, and that is when I became the recipient of a random act of kindness. Someone in the church donated a 1995 Nissan Altima to the deacon’s ministry at my church, and the head deacon gave me a call. He asked if I wanted the car, and I gladly accepted. I paid the deacons $100 a month for about eight months, and then they handed over the title to me. It was quite a blessing, because I had a reliable car for VERY cheap.

There is no how-to method or five step method to being a giver. I believe that everyone, whether you are religious or not, should dedicate a portion of their income to giving to others. The ultimate sign of financial maturity is when you can pay your bills, save money, and have enough money to give to others. It’s hard to disagree with me, because there is something inside of all of us that wants to give to others. We have all been the recipient of someone giving back to us, and it is only natural for us to pay it forward by giving to others. It doesn’t have to be money. It can be a car, clothes, furniture, or your time.

Time is very valuable, and you may not have the resources at the moment to give money. You don’t need to feel bad if you make just enough money to pay your bills. If you can’t give your money, you can give your time to others. I was involved in my local church youth group in middle and high school, and one of the greatest things about it was the college students and twentysomethings that gave their time to hang out with us. Our friends Leland and Melissa would let us hang out at their house about three or four nights a week during the summer. There’s no amount of money that can compare to those memories, and the things that I learned from those older friends. Since then, I’ve volunteered with Young Life and a local youth group, because I wanted to give back what I received when I was younger.

Obviously, there are tax advantages to giving. That should not be the reason that you give, but it is a nice little extra. If you do have a high income or make a ton of money with interest on investments, then giving can only benefit you internally and financially when it comes to tax season.

My challenge to you today is to write down a plan for giving. Even if it is $25 a month or a possession that you are willing to part with, make a plan for that money or that possession and give with a purpose.

  • Jean

    That kind of hippy talk will only result in less readers.

  • Tim Cox

    I think those deacons stole my car, jerks.

  • author

    Jean, that’s a pretty negative attitude. If you don’t want to be a giver, that is your decision, but it will transform your life when you become more generous. You’ll find yourself enjoying the money that you do have when you know that you aren’t hoarding all of it.

  • Jacob

    Jean – Why exactly would readers come back less for suggesting that you be charitable? I wish more financial blogs put a little more emphasis on giving back

  • Jacquelyn Hart-McCoy

    I think it is only responsible and wise to give back when you have been given so much. I think its awesome that you included this. Too many people are self centered and do not see the good they can do for others. You are not saying to give all our money to the poor but to share some of what we have been blessed with. Thanks for reminding us.