Thursday, November 6, 2008

My Commitment to Charity Will Start Now Rather Than Later

Before I dive into my discussion about charity, I've got a confession about falling off the frugal wagon last night - I spent $91.50 ($76.50 + $15.00 tip) at a sushi bar just for myself.

My apartment complex was spraywashing the garage so I couldn't come home before 6 p.m.

Bad decision #1: On a whim to buy some time, I decided to visit my local sushi bar that I haven't been to for a long time. (This is really bizarre but I’ve been craving sushi ever since I watched an episode of Dirty Jobs where Mike Rowe ate geoduck sashimi. Weird, I know!)

Bad decision #2: I should have asked to sit at a table and ordered the prix fixe sushi for $28.00, but I opted to sit at the counter.

Bad decision #3: I ordered all my favorite sushi without any consideration to price.

Sigh. What's done is done. Anyhow, thanks for letting me get that off my chest...


I've been thinking about charitable giving ever since I read posts by Money Funk and Beachgirl’s Budget Blog about Mary Hunt’s 10-10-80 plan. (See links for discussions about the specifics of the 10-10-80 plan.)

I think it’s a great plan, but with my existing debts, there’s no way I can afford to pay 10% of my income to charity now. I’ve been telling myself that once I pay off my debts and establish a fully funded emergency fund, I’ll start giving to charity. After all, that’s what Dave Ramsey recommends as part of his 7 baby steps.

But will I really? Or will I just increase my standard of living instead?

I started wondering about this when I discovered that with gas prices down, I’m now paying approximately $40 less in gas per month than what I was paying in July. What have I done with this windfall? Last month, my gas savings went towards paying for a new computer bag. And as you know, I blew this month's savings at the sushi bar last night.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that unless I make charitable giving a regular part of my budget now, any extra money in the future will get spent elsewhere.

My new regular commitment to charity will necessarily have to start modestly since I’m up to my eyeballs in debt right now and my EF is not yet fully funded.

In a nod to Mary Hunt’s 10-10-80 plan, I’ve decided to commit 10% of my monthly savings to charity. (Since my goal is to save $200/month, I’ll donate a minimum of $20/month.) And with any items I come under budget, I will split equally between my EF and charity.

I’m hoping that just like savings, I think if I make charitable giving a regular expenditure, it will eventually become automatic.


Sharon Rose said...

Hi there-well done, a really good decision! I give a set amount by monthly direct debit to 3 charities, about £22.50 a month in total. Even small amounts make a difference and in the current global climate, charities are thankful for any size donation!!

Sunflowers said...

It's so easy to rack up a big bill at sushi places!! They're so little and tasty and you want MORE... I had sushi last night, but what stopped me from the more was stuffing myself with a dynamite roll (ca roll w/scallops & mushrooms in dynamite sauce), which is pretty heavy... probably good that I did that, or I would've ended up with a $90+ bill as well. ;)

Very lovely of you to be thinking about charity... the most I've done so far this year is to give to the presidential campaign. It's a start, right? I was thinking about funding some loans over at Kiva... And when I get a full-time job I'll look into giving more. :)

Anonymous said...

Love the sushi confession! That was hilarious. We all spend too much money on something we don't need.

Anonymous said...

My charitable contribution is $10 every month to different charities.It makes me feel really good eventhough it is not that much.

Budgets are Sexy said...

yup, i'm with Chicky! i *just* started making this an "expenditure" 3 months ago, and i chose $25 a month to start....

you gotta start somewhere!

MoneyMateKate said...

Hey, Shtink, I keep a separate blog - - for my charity pursuits because I'm not used to giving away my hard-earned money and find it surprisingly difficult. I ponder strategies (okay, more like games) to determine a budget for giving as well as tiny charities that appreciate the heck out of $20 donations.

Shtinkykat said...

Wow. It's amazing how many PF bloggers who are fighting debt have already worked charity into their budgets. I'm a bit ashamed for coming in late to the game but I am also very encouraged. Thank you all for the inspiration!

jpkittie said...

good for you! I wish that I could commit some $ to charity right now, but with dh layoff & things being too tight, I just am not able to --- but when they ask at a story or they are outside with their little bells - I totally donate $1 at a time... (actually dd likes to do it --- trying to get her into it now while she is young - she loves being part of the Christmas donantions through our local police - and I love that it goes to help people right in our own township!)