“Giving should hurt.”
Have you ever heard someone say that?
Although there’s a lot of value in sacrifice and self-denial, too often the church increases giving by twisting arms and pounding pulpits. The point of giving is not that a church, nonprofit or missionary needs your money. God wants us to give because it is good for us.
Even non-religious scientific studies find that people who give money are happier, healthier and more satisfied with life. Even more so than people with substantial wealth or income.
Creating a high bar for what giving is or should be keeps many people from starting.
Those who can’t give 10% decide they are better off giving nothing at all. This can lead to church and community cultures of broke-bashing and poor-shaming, elevating those who can afford to give over those who don’t feel like there’s any left.
Those who feel that money is tight shouldn’t be left out of the joy of giving. Sometimes all we need to do is find a way to get started without pain. Tasting the joy that comes from giving will lead us down a path of willing sacrifice, but we have to get started somewhere. Just like working out or eating healthy we are more likely to continue to do it if we start with something manageable.
But how can you give if there’s no money?
If money feels too tight to give or you simply don’t believe that sacrificing your standard of living is worth it, you’re not out of options. Even just one of these ideas may offer the room in your budget you need to start or increase your giving.
#1 Price-shop Commoditized Monthly Expenses
Things like utility bills, phone bills, and internet service are identical regardless of the service provider. Finding cheaper providers for these commoditized services can save you hundreds of dollars a month and you won’t even notice a difference.
I switched from Verizon to Ting wireless and saved $100/mo on my phone bill alone. I haven’t noticed a difference in service at all.
Many states have energy choice programs that allow you to shop for the cheapest energy provider in your area. The only thing that will change is the price of natural gas or electricity. If you live in Ohio check out the PUCO apples-to-apples comparison site to see if you can save money.
Even simply calling your internet provider, trash company or insurance company and threatening to switch could reduce your monthly fee. Switching from one trash company to another saved me $60 per quarter. I also cut my auto insurance premium in half the last time I switched carriers. I even ended up with better coverage.
#2 Increase Your Insurance Deductibles
Insurance agent’s income is based on the commission on premiums. They are incentivized to sell high-premium policies. Most people purchase whatever package the insurance agent presents to them which is often the lowest deductible plan.
While this may be best for you, it also may be unnecessary. If you maintain a healthy savings account balance and can easily afford a few thousand-dollar loss, you may want to increase your deductible and save money on your monthly premiums. If you don’t have a loan on your car, it may not make sense to carry comprehensive coverage.
Insurance is all about transferring risk. Retaining certain risks will save you money month-to-month. You’ll just want to make sure those are risks you’re willing to take. Increase your giving by your premium savings and you won’t feel it in your budget.
#3 Make Adjustments to Your Tax Withholdings
Many people receive large tax refunds at tax time. This money is often spent on vacations or might get socked away into a savings account. If you find yourself eating into that savings account throughout the year or utilizing a tax refund for large purchases, consider withholding fewer taxes from your paycheck each month.
Filling out a new W-4 and reducing your withholdings will add more money into your paycheck. Some companies allow you to send donations directly to a church or nonprofit via payroll deduction. Often the company will match your donations up to a certain maximum. Simply increase your giving by the extra amount in your paycheck.
Talk with your tax adviser or your financial planner before making this move so you don’t wind up with a surprise tax bill at the end of the year.
#4 Stop Paying Extra on Debt
Many people want to pay off debt early. However, this may not be the best goal for you right now. Although Dave Ramsey and I agree on little, we agree on this. You should give even while you’re in debt.
Forcing yourself to pay down debt before you give gives the debt power over you. It’s an unholy entanglement that allows the debt to determine whether or not you’ll walk in the good works God prepared in advance for you to do. If your spending is under control, reducing your extra debt payments by $50 or $100 per month can have a huge impact on your happiness and quality of life and a negligible impact on your debt schedule.
Paying down debt is important but it’s not the point. Don’t wait until you “arrive” to step into what God has for you. You may be surprised how you can both increase your giving and disposition your debt when you walk in obedience to God’s call.
#5 Cancel Unused Subscriptions
It’s easy to accumulate subscriptions over time. Do you still use them all? You might increase your giving without even noticing.
Look through your bank and credit card statements and cancel any subscriptions you no longer use. Consider if the free version of the product might suffice or test life without the membership in your life for a month. You can always reenroll if you decide you need it.
Simply swapping out an unused subscription for a recurring donation to an organization that matters to you. You’ll receive a lot more value.
It’s easy to feel like there is no money to give. Our church culture would have you think that it’s the big checks that matter. Whether you want to increase your giving or get started in the first place, every bit you put into the Kingdom matters.
God honored the widow who gave two coins. Don’t let your budget rob you of the joy of participating in giving.
Even if you just find $20 per month to give, making some room in your budget without pain can move your money out of a large corporation’s grubby little fingers and onto the mission God has for your life.
What ideas would you add? Drop a comment below.