Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Give it away

I know times are tough, especially for folks who are living paycheck to paycheck.  Gas prices, food prices, air-we-breathe prices are rising and the salary isn't keeping up, if you're so lucky as to have a salary.

But it's harder to get by for the folks who provide valuable services for us too.  It's harder for charities, harder for artists, harder for contractors and yes, it's harder for people running websites like  So quit yer whining about how tough things are--it's tough all around--and donate even if it's a tiny bit to the people who do stuff that's important to you when there's something like a fund drive, or if it's a free monthly online magazine like Flash Fiction Online.  It's free to you, but not to them.  

If you're not a reader or a writer but you love animals and care about their welfare, think about donating to a shelter.  Pet food and supplies prices (as those of us with animals know) are going up too, which makes it that much harder for local humane societies and no-kill shelters.  

Or pick whatever websites or 'free' services you use or causes you care about.  Don't feel guilty, please.  Don't feel pressured.  Just look around and see if you have a dollar.  Skip the latte or the bag of potato chips or decide to drink water instead of pop for a couple of days.  When money is tight, it's the financially wise thing to do.  

At this point you're thinking huh?  But seriously.  When your budget sucks and you're tearing your hair out, chances you're looking at how much money is flowing out of your hands.  When  you start looking at who else is struggling, a mental shift begins to occur.  You start thinking about how much you have, how lucky you are compared to, say, folks living in Galveston.  And when you start to look for money to help, good grief, there it is!  You're overdrawn, you have credit card debt but there's a friggin' dollar in your car, or there's stuff in your garage that you haven't looked at in years that you could sell at a garage sale--advertise 25% of proceeds will go to charity X.  You may think hey, I'll give up pre-processed, pre-packaged food three days a week, ease up on my grocery bills that way, and in celebration of this decision I'll donate two bucks to the rotary club so that they can send books to Cambodia.

This is why just about every financial advice book I've read strongly suggests giving to charities even when times are tough, be it someone with lots of fame and hype like Suze Orman, or my very own accountant (I love you LaVerne!)  That mindset shift is critical in order to reduce unnecessary expenses without feeling impoverished.  If you feel like you're denying yourself and spiraling under, just like a diet you'll eventually rebound and binge.  If you feel like you have money to give away (or you don't have to starve yourself) you're more likely to meet your financial goals.

If it's a non-profit charitable organization you can take it off your taxes (bonus!) or, as in my case, if it's part of the cost of doing business you can probably take it off as a business expense (check with tax law before making this assumption.)  Even if it doesn't, it'll do you good.  So think on it, choose wisely (please don't buy a pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness--donate directly to the charity) and scrape up some change.  Today!

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