Posts tagged with: donations

Giving Along The Way

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On my way to work this morning I was listening to an old episode of the Dave Ramsey Show (side note with some of my favorite podcasts to check out:  This American Life, The Bobby Bones Show, The Dave Ramsey Show, Science Friday, and Serial).

I was listening to a Millionaire Theme Hour. Those, along with the standard Debt-Free calls, are my favorite segments of The Dave Ramsey Show! Anywho, I was listening as Dave talked to all these normal people about how they’d managed to acquire a net worth of $1million+. One of the questions Dave asks everyone is, “What part did giving play in your journey?”  His theory is that most millionaires are incredibly generous people. Contrary to what many people think, the average millionaire is NOT a stingy money-grubbing old scrooge.

As I listened, I started to think about the role that giving has played in our family along our journey to become debt-free. The topic of giving while in debt has come up before on the blog and has proven to be a pretty controversial subject. For the first two years of our journey, we scaled WAY back on our giving! We probably gave less than $100 to charitable organizations in all of 2014. However, we soon realized that in our area we could make tax credit donations. As a quickie for anyone without the program (I’m originally from Texas where there are no state income taxes so I’d never heard of it!), donations to specific approved organizations can be made instead of paying state income taxes directly to the state (this is obviously a very simplified statement – see here for more details). It’s not the same thing as a deduction, in which any charitable donation is deducted from your income for tax purposes. Instead, let’s say that I owed $600 in Arizona state taxes. Instead of writing a $600 check to the state of Arizona, I can literally split up that $600 and send $200 here or there (to approved organizations only) and deduct an equal amount (dollar-for-dollar) from what I owe the state. So if I donate all $600 to qualified organizations of my choice, I don’t owe the state a penny. So this is not additional money being donated. This is money I would already have to spend one way or another (for taxes), that, instead, I’m sending to an organization (or organizations) that I support.

In 2015 we took advantage of our state’s tax credit program for the first time to donate to two organizations that were important to us:  1. the preschool our kids attend, and 2. the local Wings on Words program for children with speech/language delays or disabilities. The former for obvious reasons and the latter because we have a long history of working with and supporting our local WoW program.

In 2016 we still took advantage of our state’s tax credit program (we owed more that year, so we were able to expand our donations). We donated to: 1. kid’s current preschool, 2. kid’s future elementary school, 3. local Wings on Words program, and 4. local foster care organization. In addition to maxing out all of our tax credit donations, we also expanded our giving to include a few additional places that don’t qualify for our state’s tax credit program. We donated to March of Dimes, the Autism Society of America, and our local church. The total of the non-tax credit donations for the year was $200. Still not a ton, but up from the giving of the previous two years (again, keeping in mind that all of the tax-credit donations were money that we had to spend anyway in taxes).

This year (2017), we haven’t done a ton of giving yet. Most of our big giving is still in the form of tax credit donations and we typically do that giving toward the end of the year. However, I’ve already made small donations (under $100, combined) to March of Dimes, the Autism Society of America, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Thinking about our family’s giving, I feel a little bit torn. On one hand, money is extra-tight this summer and in general given that hubs has stopped working/gone back to school and that we have such huge financial goals for our family this year! At the same time, all of our “extra” (non tax-credit) giving has been in small quantities and has gone toward organizations that we have personal connections with. For instance, March of Dimes is huge because it funds so much research for premature birth! Our twins were born 8 weeks early, spent a month in the NICU, and would not have survived if they were born 20 years ago because the life-saving technology had literally not been invented yet at that time. So that’s an organization very near and dear to our family. The same is true of all the other organizations we support as well. There’s always some personal connection or reason why we support a cause. So even though I know we really can’t afford to be giving in large quantities at this time, I would hate to eliminate our giving entirely. And I cannot wait until we’re completely debt-free and giving can be a larger part of our financial picture. Probably still a couple years out on that though.

What do you think about giving while in debt? Did/Do you donate to any charitable organizations while working on getting out of debt? Why or why not? What role has giving played in your financial picture, in general?

 

 


Giving Back

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Ashley posted a few weeks ago about Charitable Donations and if memory serves, the consensus on actually monetary was giving pretty split down the middle. I have not formulated opinion on that quite yet, but I do know that I MUST give back. I’ve constantly sought ways for us to give back to our community in action rather than money, because let’s face it, we have way more expendable time than we do money.

We’ve volunteered in the local public school, worked with Serve the City and posted ads on churches bulletin looking for opportunities for all of us to work together.

My heart is for children, you’d probably already guessed that.  The thought of a child growing up without a family here in America or what’s called aging out breaks my heart in two and if I had the space, I would take them all, seriously! But since we added the bedroom in January we have been actively seeking a foster child/adoptive placement.  This weekend, we will host a child.  It’s just a short term placement, and the state does compensate for it, it’s called respite care.  But it will give us a good idea of how the dynamic will change in our home with another child is added to the equation.

My being a foster parent and taking in children is not up for discussion… that is probably the one thing that comes above my debt payoff.  But what I would like to hear about is the ways that you find to give back that do not involve money….your talent, your time, your tools?  I think the world as a whole would be exponentially better if everyone took time every week to give in that way.


Myopic Finances…

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I’m pretty focused when it comes to finances. I have my debts, my monthly bills, my charitable giving, and my cash spending. It’s all fairly organized in my ‘perfect’ little world.

I didn’t care to think outside the box… until this morning.

I’ve been whining lately about my inability to run as a form of exercise. While out walking, a marathon group ran by and I was tempted to join. I watched as they gleefully jogged down the street, smiling and enjoying the beautiful sunshine day. Sigh. I trudged at my slow pace and frowned.

When doing my yoga routine, I am angered because, even though my stomach isn’t huge, it gets in the way of a really great bending stretch. My balance is also thrown off and my ‘Standing Trees’ look more like ‘Standing Trees in a Hurricane’.

Even though I’m overjoyed about the wonderful growing baby, I get frustrated when my body doesn’t move like it used to. The only thing keeping me sane is the fact that I’ll have a bouncing baby soon and my body (hopefully) will return to normal.

I was watching the news this morning and it featured a new sports center for the disabled. Only 1 out of 10 people with disabilities exercise since their bodies limit the amount they can do. Often, they don’t know how to work out with bodies that refuse to cooperate. This sports center works to train people how to exercise while working within their limits. The news anchor interviewed one of the employees who suffers from muscular dystrophy. His athletic body was slowly turning into one that didn’t work and he was helping others overcome their difficulties while dealing with his own.

My whining suddenly seems sooo… um.. wow. There isn’t a word mean enough to describe my whining.

The news station was taking donations to help buy some much needed equipment for the facility. No, I couldn’t pigeonhole this expense into my very strict spreadsheet of spending, but I guess I learned to be a little more fluid.

I may not be able to ‘give like no one else’, but I can still give.

Think outside the finance box.


Tax Time Eye Opener…

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My husband and I contribute to several charitable organizations throughout the year. Last year, one of them asked us if they could e-mail us monthly notices requesting our pledged donation rather than mail the paper copy. They anticipated this change would save a huge amount of money on postal expenses and I agreed with their new terms.

I get a lot of e-mail each day. Not because I’m popular or important, but because I get junk mail. Every few years, I switch e-mail addresses but without fail, the junk still comes. Because of this, my junk mail settings are stringent. I glance through the junk mail box and catch a non-junk piece or two but it’s not a fool proof method.

I printed my tax receipt from the charitable organization and realized I had missed three months of payments. Not consecutively, just random months were missing. When I checked my junk mailbox for one of the months, the bold reminder e-mail was still unread. Apparently some months make it through, while others don’t.

I made up the missing payments and set a reminder on my calendar but I can’t help but wonder if I’m not the only one whose charitable giving was lessened on the new e-mail system. Those three missed payments would have covered nearly two decades in postage fees to mail the paper copy to me. Fortunately I caught it and 2011 will be a more reliable year of payments from me but has anyone else experienced the same problem? Or is it just me demonstrating, yet again, that I am perhaps the least tech savvy person on the planet?


Fundraising? Need an idea?

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I used to work for a 501(c)(3) charitable organization for several years that assisted abused women and children. It was a difficult job made more difficult by the constant instability of donations. Now that the economy has suffered, these organizations are suffering from lack of funding more than usual.

It’s easy to say no. It seems like every time I buy dog food or a bag of groceries, someone is asking for money. I’d love to help, but I simply can’t afford to donate a dollar every time I buy a head of lettuce.

Never have I stumbled over a request for donations like this…

Purple Cow

I came home from work last week to find a 3 foot by 4 foot wood purple cow in my yard. A letter was taped to its chest notifying me about the organization’s (a local Christian high school group) desire to provide livestock to famished countries. They provided some options for the cow removal:

Pay $10 to have the cow removed.
Pay an additional $5 to have the cow delivered to a friend or neighbor.
Pay $15 for a ‘No Grazing Permit’ to ensure the cow never darkened your door again.

Or

Call the organization, tell them you aren’t interested in the game, and they will pick up the cow free of charge.

There were six hideous purple cows in total haunting our city – and everyone knew about them. The funniest part of all? No one saw the cows being moved. They would simply disappear from your yard and reappear in someone else’s. High school kids are amazing at being sneaky.

They took a serious situation, somehow lightened it, and made participating irresistible.