Tuesday, February 12, 2013

charitable to a fault?

We all know, to be charitable is admirable and brings people closer to whatever higher being you may/may not believe in.  However, when is being charitable detrimental?  Where does charity stop and inability to care for yourself begin?  This is the big question.

Charitable contributions are a wonderful thing to do.  I give to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as well as several local groups that provide a wonderful service to my community.  My personal belief is that if I give a little, I'll get a little at some point.  The "pay it forward" mentality.  Even money saving guru Dave Ramsey stated: Doesn’t giving mean you have less money? Technically yes, but giving has valuable benefits. For starters, giving to others makes you more appreciative of what you have, which can actually help curb your spending. Second, people who give tend to find blessings and attract people into their lives who can cause them to be blessed more.  (You can read the entire article on Building Wealth here)  There is a huge difference between being giving....and down right throwing all of your money at charitable groups.  Charitable contributions should not interfere with paying necessary expenses such as groceries, gas money and utility bills.  

Caring for yourself financially is essential to gaining stability in all parts of your life.  Think of yourself as a financial asset.  I understand that is a little difficult and strange to do.  But, seriously, picture it.  Your career, your accounts and yourself.  By investing in yourself (i.e. investing retirement/savings accounts, paying your bills on time to build credit, setting money aside for medical expenses, paying for classes to improve skills, etc.) you are building upon your greatest financial asset.  YOU!  A marketable, smart and secure person is one that never fears unexpected expenses, never stresses over financial decisions and strives for greatness in all aspects of their life.

I'm a giver.  I always have been.  However, once I got married and really started looking at our goals financially, I realized that as much as I wanted to give monetary donations to groups, there had to be changes in how giving was done.  We still donate 10% of our income to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and we choose to be charitable in other ways.  We do service for groups we would generally just give money too.  We go through our belongings and donate what we don't need to Deseret Industries.

Charity is a Godly trait.  However, how are we expected to care for others if we cannot care for ourselves (financial, physically or otherwise)?  M.S. Elizabeth Scott stated: Taking time out to care for yourself can remind you and others that you and your needs are important, too. Having a well-cared-for body can make you feel good about yourself and your life, and conveys to others that you value yourself. This can contribute to long-term feelings of wellbeing. (You can read her entire article on the importance of self-care here)  I used to not plan out my time at all.  I'd commit to give my time to numerous organizations, I'd commit to help everyone and I'd completely kick my own needs to the curb.  I wouldn't get enough sleep, because I was working and going to school and giving every second of free time I had to various groups.  My health was suffering because I wasn't taking the time to eat properly or exercise.  My grades suffered because I was not donating the time I needed to my school work.  All around, I was falling apart.  And I realized I needed to prioritize myself into my schedule.  Once I started caring for myself, everything else found it's natural order.  

Never underestimate the importance of giving financially and physically.  However, never let giving to others get in the way of giving to yourself.  Once you put your own finances, health and well-being first, the rest of your life will become easier, leaving you energy/time/money to give to others.

"Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world." - Lucille Ball