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American culture is defined by consumerism. Generally the thought of “giving back" to one’s community is last on our to-do list. However there are numerous benefits that individuals can reap when they set a priority to give back of their time and money. Investing in your community or in the people around you can have a huge psychological and even financial impact on your life. Proritizing giving can help you get a hold on your finances by making your feel more peaceful and content with what you have, as well as drawing attention to weaknesses in your budget. After all, if you can justify spending $5 a day on coffee or $80 a month on cable, can you find room in your budget to help out a friend in need or donate to a local food pantry?
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The Benefits of Giving
The emotional and psychological effects of giving back trigger a positive response in our minds even on a chemical level. A recent paper published by Harvard University highlights some of the physical reactions a person experiences when giving. Physical reactions include a release of endorphins, elevated heart rate and in some cases a euphoric sense of happiness. These are the same reactions that most anti-depressant drugs attempt to create.
Most people are familiar with the good feelings that can come along with charitable actions, but what about a financial effect? Can giving of yourself and even of your money actually contribute to your own financial stability? Most would think not. How can giving your money away make you richer?
Charitable giving really can add to your overall financial health. The thing is that finances are a living organism. Just like a stream, money must stay in motion. Financial guru Dave Ramsey asserts that “giving liberates the soul." At first sight this may seem like an emotional response to giving, but in the long run this affects your actual financial health, because it affects your attitudes about earning, saving and spending. Most people have not obtained the level of financial security they want because of their money attitudes. Adjusting those attitudes will adjust your financial health, and giving is one of the best places to start.
If you are unsure of where to begin with your charitable giving, check out www.greatnonprofits.org. This website is a database of worthy organizations all over the world that are in need of donations.
Money is not the only way to give back, though. Giving of ourselves can have just as big an impact on those around us and on our own sense of well-being. There are numerous ways to give back to our communities. You may already know of homeless shelters, food pantries, animal shelters or hospitals that are in need of volunteers. The Red Cross also has numerous volunteer roles that it desperately needs filled including blood drive volunteers, disaster relief workers and other community outreach positions. In some cases individuals willing to commit time to intense volunteer training are eligible to provide disaster relief on a global scale by assisting victims of national disasters in other countries. You can view their volunteer opportunities at www.redcross.org
- Feeling Good about Giving http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/10-012.pdf
- Dave's Advice on Tithing and Giving https://crc.daveramsey.com/index.cfm?event=dspPastorExt&intContentID=5089