The Gift of Giving- Helping Your Budget While Helping Others
Think back to your last act of giving. Was is planned? Was it spontaneous? The gift of giving is in high gear around the holidays, but random acts of kindness should be a part of your daily life.
At least in my opinion.
While giving and your good deeds have an impact no matter how small, having a “giving strategy” will not only help those in need but help you to keep a better eye on your own budget and finances. Having a plan not only enables you to know just how much to give and the impact of your kindness. It helps you to make more of an impact, maximizing the amount you can give while making sure you give yourself the gift of a tax break next year.
The first thing to consider is what impact and causes are near and dear to your own heart. Are you an animal lover? Want to help local children? Want to feed the homeless? The choice of where your money goes is your’s alone, no matter how many people are pushing you to give to this or that charity. The charities that they are soliciting for are what matters to them. Always remember that even in giving it is YOUR money and you have the choice of how it is spent.
I’m one of those who is guilty of throwing my spare change in that red bucket when I’m walking out of the grocery store. Most of us have done it, and while it is for a good cause, the benefit to others is greatly outweighing what we are doing for ourselves. There is absolutely no way for us to track our giving when it comes to tax time when we give in this manner.
Once you know the charities that you want to give to, set up a way to collect for them within your own home. It could be as simple as a change jar on your bedroom dresser. I used to use this method, but it was becoming too much of a hassle to cash in the change in order to be able to gift it when the time came.
How I Save for Donating
Saving your spare change is wonderful for those who use a cash-only method. But according to recent research, 75% of us will more readily use our credit or debit cards when shopping- even for quick trips to the store. I am one of the debit-card loving people. So in order to put back any spare change I had to search out a new way to save it.
I found Acorns.
Granted, it’s meant as an investing tool for retirement or other long-term savings. But the way that it is set up creates a way to track your spare change without having to do a lot of leg-work and accounting.
When you set up your Acorns account, it lets to attach the accounts that you want to be able to “round up” into your investment account. Essentially, this is the spare change that you would have in your pocket if you were using cash while shopping. You can track exactly how much to invest. Even if you do not invest it into your Acorns account, it tracks all of your purchases on this account so that you know how much “change” you would have.
How I Use It
I invest all of my “round-up” money into my investment account. I don’t have this done automatically in case I decide to not invest the extra from a check or other even amount. (It defaults to $0.25 on each of these transactions.) I want to be able to track just my spare change.
This method is continual, and I do it all year long in order to accumulate all of my change for the year. I still do my normal random acts of kindness, like giving $5 gift cards to those who are homeless and asking for help (which is also traceable in order to use on your tax return as long as you purchase them by themselves in a transaction and keep the receipts), but I do not give much more cash donations throughout the year.
Then when the season of giving arrives, I can log into my Acorns account, see the amount I accumulated over the year, and then give this amount to the cause(s) of my choice.
Now you know how much you can give, have an exact amount, and have the ability to have a record of your charitable contributions for your tax return!
Do you donate to charity? Do you claim your donations on your taxes? I’d love to hear your thoughts on giving.