Check out these four tricks used to get you to spend more (without you knowing it).
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Ready or not, the Christmas season has arrived! You’re probably already hard at work on your Christmas gift shopping, goody making and good, old-fashioned celebrating. But don’t forget to add one essential to your list: giving!
We’re not talking about giving to your family and friends. We know where all those gifts you’re wrapping are going. We’re talking about donations to charities and even gifts to strangers you meet on the street.
Dave’s fans shared their favorite giving experiences and proved what we already knew: No matter what Baby Step you’re on, there’s room in every budget for generosity.
Baby Step 1: The Tale of the Taco
At a local fast-food restaurant, Natasha R. often saw the same lady sitting at the same table, wearing the same clothes each time. One day, Natasha offered to buy her lunch. Embarrassed, the lady turned her down.
“I asked her if she’d eaten that day, and she said no. My eyes filled with tears and I grabbed her hand. “‘Please allow me to buy you something—anything you want,’ I said.”
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The lady shyly asked for two tacos. “I ordered her six tacos and a large drink,” Natasha said.
Natasha is on Baby Step 1 with plans to move on to Baby Step 2 in January. But even though money is tight, she didn’t pass up the chance to show kindness to a stranger who was having an even tougher time than she was.
Baby Step 2: Shoe Boxes on a Budget
Tracie R. and her husband are plowing through their debt on Baby Step 2. Tracie says she’s always been generous—maybe too generous. But now she plans for it in the budget.
“For the past three years, my husband and I have done 125 shoe boxes for the rescue mission here in town,” she said. The boxes include personal items, cards, a stuffed animal, and pens and pencils.
By being intentional with their money and their generosity, Tracie and her husband are setting a great example for their five boys.
Baby Step 3: Small Gifts, Big Blessings
The great thing about generosity is that even small, random acts of kindness bring blessings to both the giver and the receiver.
Jessika B. and her husband are enjoying more opportunities to give in small ways now that they’re nearly done with Baby Step 3. “One day a friend posted on Facebook that he’d do just about anything for a Cheerwine,” Jessika told us. Their friend had moved to Ohio—away from Cheerwine country. They anonymously sent him a case of Cheerwine to (what else?) cheer him up.
“A $30 gift on Amazon is definitely not huge, but now that we are debt-free and living on a real budget, we can afford to send a simple gift,” Jessika said.
“I love the freedom to be able to buy groceries for a friend who can’t afford it or just buy a small gift to encourage someone and let them know they’re being thought of,” she added. “I’m so blessed to be able to give now!”
Baby Steps 4, 5 and 6: New Tire Giveaway
Alicia K. and her family are working on some big money goals. They’re stashing away 15% of their income for retirement and saving up college funds for their twin boys, and they plan to pay off their home in just a couple of years! But even with all that, they still look for opportunities to help others going through tough times.
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Alicia was at a tire store around Christmas and overheard the store owner talking with a lady about her tires. The lady couldn’t afford new tires, so Alicia texted her husband to see if they could buy them for her.
He was immediately on board, so Alicia approached the store owner with her offer. “He smiled and said, ‘I tell you what, I’ll split it with you. You pay half and I’ll pay half!’”
“He called me later to thank me and tell me she was very grateful,” she added. “We were so grateful to do that for her—a couple of years before, we wouldn’t have been able to.”
Baby Step 7: Down to the Penny
Nancy P. and her husband have reached the pinnacle point—Baby Step 7. Their home is paid for, they cash-flowed their daughters’ college tuition, and they’re continuing to build wealth by investing 20% of their income for retirement. They’re in a position to be open to all kinds of giving opportunities, and sometimes those opportunities are oddly specific.
A friend of theirs, a single mom, was working several jobs to pay off her student loans. “We felt God was calling us to give her some money—not a round, even amount of money, but an odd amount down to the cents,” Nancy said.
They gave their friend a check for that amount anonymously through their church. “The next week she shared with the congregation how grateful she was that someone had given her money for the exact amount of her student loan!”
Nancy and her husband enjoy giving so much, they make it part of their regular routine. “We like the freedom of having extra money every month to give to many organizations or even to tip really well. We love to tip our servers 20–25 times the amount of our bill.”
For folks just starting out on their financial plan, their giving opportunities may be limited. But as you can see from our stories, those opportunities grow as you have more financial bandwidth. The important thing is to keep working the plan—get rid of your debt, get some cash in the bank, invest for retirement, take care of college, and, finally, eliminate your mortgage. Don’t forget to be generous when you can along the way. That will remind you that the real reason you’re working so hard isn’t just to live like no one else—it’s to make a difference in people’s lives by giving like no one else!