When you are trying to pay down debt, the last thing you want to do is shell out money for things that are not necessities. Of course, everyone defines necessities differently. Some people may have tithing or other charitable contributions as a fixed item in the monthly budget, but some people may not.
Having friends or relatives with young kids often means that you get hit up for fundraising money, and often quite regularly. I can recall being asked to buy something for kids in band, kids on the soccer team, kids in a school club, and girl scouts. And that doesn’t even count the school wide fundraising drives where kids are sent home with colorful brochures selling overpriced wrapping paper, cookie dough and the like.
So, how you do deal with donation and fundraising solicitations, especially if they occur regularly?
I see three different options you can take.
1. Keep It Small
For most people, giving a little something isn’t going to have that much of an impact on the financial situation. Say you have someone doing a charity walk who asks you for a donation. It is perfectly acceptable to give just five or 10 bucks. And if a kid is selling something, you can easily select the cheapest item. Of course, you don’t want to buy something that you will never use so I would suggest that you stick with the cheapest thing that will be of use to you.
2. Politely Decline
If you honestly cannot afford it, or are being very strict about sticking to your budget, you can politely decline the request to donate or purchase fundraising items. If you have relatives like mine, you are likely to still getting a little prodding along the lines of “are you sure?’ and a pouty face. Sometimes it can get a little annoying when you have to constantly explain to people what you are trying to do with your financial situation, but if you feel strongly about your position you can explain why you cannot contribute at this time.
3. Plan For It
Possibly the easiest method is to plan for charitable contributions each month. I like to budget in $20 to $30 each month for donations that way if someone hits me up for money, I can easily contribute without it having an adverse effect on my budget. And if no one asks for money, then you can easily donate to a charity of your choice, carry the amount over the next month, or apply the money to an outstanding debt.
The way I see it, $20 a month is the equivalent of a Starbucks coffee drink each week; or a single meal out. I can easily make coffee at home so that I am able to donate when asked. For you it may mean buying less soda, liquor, chocolate or comic books. It is an easy trade to make in the budget.
image credit: GreenReaper at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons