I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s post which laid the ground-work for why we budget the way we do. I know my spirit was personally touched, and I’m the one who wrote it!
As promised, I want to share some of the ways that we have found to be extravagant givers, even on a really tight budget. I also want to clarify that when I say “extravagant giver” I don’t necessarily mean someone who can give away thousands of dollars to people in need. I don’t even necessarily mean giving money at all.
I believe an extravagant giver is someone who has a generous spirit, and I think that anyone, even the poorest of the poor, can have a spirit of generosity. Again, isn’t God so smart? He looks at the heart, which means that no one is automatically disqualified. That said, I do think that using money wisely can lock or unlock things in our hearts in a very powerful way. If nothing else, we give out of obedience.
So, I encourage you to find some people or organizations you care about and find ways to exercise and grow that generous spirit! Here are some ways we have found to be extravagant givers, even on a budget:
Put It In Writing
This probably seems like a “duh,” but it really does help to have your giving in writing, in the budget. Before we started budgeting, it was a lot harder to give to people because we never knew if we really had any money to give!
In our budget we have three categories: regular monthly giving fund for people and ministries we support; a gift fund for things like birthdays, showers, and Christmas; and a general giving fund for those random things that come up like a friend going on a mission trip. Each month, a part of one of our paychecks gets funneled into these funds. That way, when a need comes up we have the freedom to give because we already have money earmarked, even if it’s just $10.
Get a Piggy Bank
Seriously! We have a piggy bank in which we throw any spare change from trips to the grocery store, that we find on the ground, that come up in the wash, etc. We take the piggy bank to CoinStar at Kroger when it gets full and get an amazon.com gift card with the change for no extra fee. This gift card can be given away, or used to buy gifts for people or to buy items that someone else needs. We actually bought nearly all of our Christmas gifts this way last year!
Give to Everyone Who Asks
What?? Yes. We try our hardest to give to each and every person who asks. Again, a lot of times that is not a lot. Maybe it’s $5 that we sacrifice out of our discretionary or grocery fund. Maybe it’s offering what we do have, like a service or an extra item around the house we don’t need. Maybe it’s writing a really encouraging note, or sitting down with a friend and diving into prayer with them and for them.
Having been on the other side of support raising and asking for money from people- it doesn’t really matter what or how much we give. I mean obviously, these people have real monetary needs to be met, and if it’s possible to help, we want to help! But support raising can be really, really emotionally draining and even the smallest things can be such a huge blessing.
Receive from Everyone Who Gives
Again, this one might be a bit surprising, but I really think having a generous spirit also means that you know how to receive. It is very humbling to admit when we are in need, and then to gracefully receive provision from others. I don’t know about you, but I constantly find myself taking no-strings-attached gifts and attaching all sorts of strings to them myself because I feel like I owe the gift giver something in return. Learning to receive is a lot about laying down our pride, and it also teaches us how to become better gift givers ourselves.
Make a Commitment
Having a few people that count on us to send them a predetermined amount of money every month helps keep us accountable to our giving. There are a few people we’ve been doing this for a few years even, and it is amazing how even in the months that we thought we were going to have to call those individuals up and tell them their check wouldn’t be coming, God showed up and released the finances to us to release to them. It’s really grown our hearts to see God work in and through us in this way, and we have forged some great relationships with people this way, people who commit to standing with us in prayer and encouragement!
When we have added a new partner, we usually start small and increase the amount as time goes by and our income has increased. That way our confidence is built that we can give (it’s amazing how once you start doing it, you find a way! Kind of like paying the bills…), and it has given us an invaluable group of friends who are committed to praying for our jobs.
Know the Seasons
We have found there are definitely seasons of giving, and it’s o.k. to make commitments with a definite start and finish. When I was starting a full-time job before Olivia was born, we had recently been approached by two friends raising support. We agreed to support them, but because we knew that Olivia would be coming and I probably would not be working as much, we set a time-frame for our support. That meant that we could still bless these dear friends of ours, and even if it couldn’t be a long-term thing, it gave them more time at least to find a great team of supporters.
Think Small and Bless Big
Aside from these tips, here are a few ideas to get you started on the road to becoming an extravagant giver:
- Sacrifice even a few bucks from somewhere in the budget that can be spared.
- Asking if there are any other needs that need to be met. We had a bunch of duplicate items that we got as wedding gifts, and we were able to bless a family of refugees with these! I’ve also had people donate items for to me for trips I’ve taken so I didn’t have to pay for them myself, a huge blessing!
- Commit to pray for the person, and follow through.
- Write an encouraging letter or note to the person. I will never forget a small note of encouragement I received from a family who could not financially support me for a trip at the time, but wanted to personally let me know they were rooting for me and praying for me.
- Cook a freezer meal. I try to do this for pregnant friends or new moms. It doesn’t cost me very much to double a recipe that I’m making for dinner, freeze the second batch, and deliver it to someone who needs it.
- Cook a hot meal, and invite people who need it (or who maybe just need some friendship and conversation!)
- Take someone out for coffee, or offer to pay for someone’s lunch or dinner.
- Offer your services or talents to someone- anybody like babysitting out there??
So how about you? Do you have any other ideas for ways you can be an extravagant giver, even on a tight budget? How have you been impacted by someone else’s generous spirit? Please share!
Go to: My Budget Boot Camp Day 3