Giving Big on a Small Budget
- Monday, March 12, 2007
There's an undeniable natural thrill in finding a discount and saving money. It's well-known that many Hollywood stars, millionaires, and even billionaires enjoy finding a deal, whether it's on the latest fashion, jewelry, vacations, or real estate. The big difference in spending for the thrill of spending (and mostly for yourself) and a five-star life is that those who enjoy Five-Star Living don't let their excitement end with a register receipt. They allow the joy to continue through what they give, donate, and contribute to others.
The good news is that you don't have to have lots of money to make an impact. Simply by making little cutbacks here and there, you can not only multiply your savings, but also increase the amount that you give. That's the goal of Five-Star Living -- to help you find ways to make the most of what you have, enjoy your life to the fullest, and spill over with joy that you can share with others. When you give, it costs you something. But giving gives you far more than it takes. When you give sacrificially, God has room to replace what you have given up. His blessings will knock your socks off as you put others first.
My husband and I have experienced firsthand the joy of giving to those in need, and the blessings we receive are far greater than any dollar amount we contribute. One example for our family is our partnership with Compassion International. We joined Compassion on a trip to a South American country where they have a food-and-education program for children who are living in poverty. The kids live in dirt-floor "homes" constructed of whatever materials can be cobbled together, without the amenities (such as running water in many cases) that I take for granted every day. Compassion feeds the kids daily, helps them with homework, teaches them lessons that range from good hygiene to finding faith, and helps them work toward a better future. As a couple, my husband and I decided to sponsor monthly one of the children in that program. We met her, and now we exchange letters with her through Compassion. She is part of our family, and we are better off for it.
Our kids have joined in by using some of the ten percent of their allowances they are required to give to put toward our sponsored child. They also write to her, and we pray for her together. When we talk about her and the different hardships she faces, it reminds us of just how many blessings we have. The $32 a month we send is less than I spend on one Diet Coke fountain drink each day, my husband spends on his daily coffee, or our 10-year-old son spends on a beloved Game Boy game. Five-Star Living does not necessarily mean that we have to give up all the creature comforts we are blessed with, but it expands our hearts and helps us reevaluate our priorities.
As a family, you can teach your kids to give of their time and talents in addition to their money. Maybe you would want to participate in a neighborhood cleanup day, a walk-a-thon for an important cause, or hold a fund-raising garage sale for a local family who is adopting or has a special need. Ask your kids for input and ideas. Their imaginations will take you places you would never have expected, and you will be amazed at their capacity for generosity. Once they are taught how, and they see the joy on someone's face who receives a gift given with love, they tend to give freely and joyfully.
Giving benefits our marriage in unexpected ways too. It binds us in common purpose, strengthens our relationship as we make decisions of where to give together, and simplifies our life. One of the most exciting aspects of giving is that it frees you from allowing your possessions to possess you. Through giving, you let go of the need to let stuff and things control your life and instead provide a testimony to God's provisions. You demonstrate the faith that he will remain faithful in giving to you. Matthew 6:30-33 highlights this truth:
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