I put myself on a budget a few months back because I was spending more than I make. Although I set aside some money for holiday shopping, I didn’t anticipate all the groups that have asked me to donate to their cause over the past few weeks. I feel guilty saying no since I feel blessed since I have a roof over my head and a steady job. What should I do?
Feeling like Scrooge
Dear Feeling like Scrooge,
First of all, I applaud you for getting on a budget — especially if you spend more than you make. Although you mention it is because you feel so blessed that you want to contribute to others, I wonder if it isn’t because you don’t feel like you’re enough without reaching in your wallet. As financial guru Suzie Orman says, “When we feel less, we spend more.” Recognize that when you’re in debt you are your own charitable organization!
Having said that, I encourage you to stop feeling guilty this holiday season when everywhere you turn someone is asking for a handout. Even the “free” return address labels from religious groups are considered marketing — and very effective for playing on your guilt. One idea might be to choose a specific organization that resonates with you and make a small contribution. Then, throughout the year I want you to feel comfortable saying, “I choose one organization each year to become involved with and this year I chose the X organization.” Then smile warmly and walk away knowing you are helping to make the world a better place.
Another idea that doesn’t involve any money is to simply give of your time. There are an overwhelming number of causes that could benefit from even one day of giving. Think of the number of elders who would love to have someone drop by and ask them about their life or share a page from yours.
Say no to spending more than you can afford which buys you peace of mind this season and all year long.