I don’t budget, but I really love the rules behind the You Need A Budget program, also known as YNAB. One of the four rules of the YNAB is to give every dollar a job. I’ve taken the rule to heart, but it may be hurting me.
The first plan for my dollars was to put everything on my student loans. Every dollar’s job was to pay off my student loans, unless given specific permission to work elsewhere. Some dollars worked to pay rent, some kept the lights on. With one priority and specific diversions, my dollars accomplished a lot.
After paying off my loans, I’ve been redeploying dollars. Some were asked to make friends in our retirement accounts. Most of my redeployed dollars went to the house fund.
My dollars are working here. Don’t disturb them.
This is where my problem comes in. My dollars are working for my own good. What about any other good? Where does giving fit in?
For the past several years, I’ve addressed my need to give back by volunteering my time. I was a broke student. Money was tight but I had time. I gave my time a lot.
Now that I’m working, my time to give is greatly diminished. I don’t have much time. It’s especially difficult to give scheduled blocks of time.
Even worse is that my dollars are deployed. My dollars have jobs. They are working hard. I don’t feel like I have money to give. I haven’t reached my own financial goals. I’m supposed to put my own mask on before helping others, right? Reassigning dollars away from my financial goals is incredibly frustrating as I strive to catch up where I feel behind.
For the last few years, this hasn’t been much of a problem. We haven’t been drawn to give. We aren’t religious. We don’t tithe. We don’t have any causes we are particularly passionate about, so we don’t give there either. I justify my non-action by telling myself that its better for me to manage the money and give it all when I die. But what if that’s too late?
Quite frankly, I didn’t care that I wasn’t giving until recently. See, my sister is having financial problems. Some of the problems are short term in nature but others are deep seeded money management issues. I’m supporting her as best I can, both emotionally and with all my personal finance knowledge.
But what about the money?
I don’t want to become the family bank. It happened to my uncle and it has been really hard on him. I’ve had my own taste of it and boy is it bitter. 0/10. Would not recommend. I don’t want to throw money at a problem if money isn’t the answer. But what if money is the answer?
I wouldn’t mind being more comfortable with giving. I want to help. But how?
To start my giving journey, I’m starting small. I’m starting a Helping Fund.
To fund the Helping Fund, I’m using one of my neurotic money management tendencies. I like my emergency fund to sit at a clean, round number. So I’m skimming the interest off my emergency fund and depositing it into the Helping Fund. When I find a cause or someone I want to help, whether it be a happy or sad occasion, I’ll have a designated pool of money to pull from. I can add to it whatever I want, but I hope that having a Helping Fund will be a nice reminder that I should give.
It is going to take a while to accumulate any money. That gives me plenty of time to figure out where I should help.
This won’t amount to much, but it’s something. That’s more than I’m giving today.
Do you give? How? When?