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Where Should Giving Fall in Your Budget?

It’s a question I hear all the time: "If I’m in debt, how can I possibly give?"

The question makes sense. If you’re doing your best to pay all your bills and provide for your family, how can you take time to worry about giving some of it away?

And if you’re actively working to get out of debt, shouldn’t you be putting all your effort toward paying off that debt—and not giving?

Those are valid questions, but the truth is that giving should always be a priority, no matter what. Now I’m not endorsing some kind of "give until it hurts" philosophy. I’m thinking more along the lines of "The Lord loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Think about it this way. It’s hard to be a cheerful giver if giving means your kids will be out of luck on dinner this week. I want you to make a habit of giving while also focusing on your family’s needs.

So How Do You Prioritize Giving?

After you have your family’s needs taken care of, you might have to make some judgment calls on other areas in your life.

How much could you give if you cut back your cable bill? Do you really need all those channels? Or what if you cut back on eating out to one night a week? How much could you save by going to a new grocery store?

You’ll be amazed at how just a few sacrifices can make a major difference and allow you to give in ways you’ve never given before.

Over time, as you develop these new habits, giving will just become a part of your life—just like paying bills and saving for your emergency fund. In time, you’ll be able to model giving to the people around you, like your kids, and that’s when your habit of giving can make an incredible difference.

Taking Giving to the Next Level

John D. Rockefeller, who is generally thought of as the wealthiest person in U.S. history, once said, "I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 per week."

The point is to just give back what you can. Don’t worry about the dollar amount at first. You’re developing a habit, not trying to fill some kind of quota. That’s why in my new book, Love Your Life, Not Theirs, I call this habit "Give a little . . . until you can give a lot."

Even if you don’t have a lot to give right now, you’ll set yourself up to give more in the future. You’ll see how giving changes your heart and allows you to focus on yourself less. And you’ll see how making those small sacrifices will make a difference in your life—and, more importantly, someone else’s life.

"Giving is the most fun you’ll ever have with money." @RachelCruze

Here’s one thing I can promise you: Giving is the most fun you’ll ever have with money. It’s addictive—in the best way possible. So go out and give a little until you can give a lot. I promise you it will be worth it.

To learn more about giving and the other money habits that will allow you to live the life you want, read Rachel Cruze’s book, Love Your Life, Not Theirs.

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Rachel Cruze

About the author

Rachel Cruze

Rachel Cruze is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, financial expert, host of The Rachel Cruze Show, and co-host of Smart Money Happy Hour. Rachel writes and speaks on personal finance, budgeting, investing and money trends. As a co-host of The Ramsey Show, America’s second-largest talk radio show, Rachel reaches millions of weekly listeners with her personal finance advice. She’s appeared on Good Morning America and Fox News and been featured in TIME, REAL SIMPLE and Women’s Health, among others. Through her shows, books, syndicated columns and speaking events, Rachel shares fun, practical ways to take control of your money and create a life you love. Learn More.

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