Each year, I set myself a rough target for donating money to charities. This also helps me make plans in relation to how much work I need to do to be able to meet this goal. But as a freelancer, there are months when work is not as steady as I’d hope. And the last thing I want to do is fall short of the promise I make, in my mind, to the girls’ welfare home in my area.
I remember, in one such year in the past, a project I was expecting did not come through. I became distressed and wondered how to balance my budget. Was there something I could save on, avoid spending on? As I pondered, my Mom assured me that it didn’t matter whether I gave $5 or $100 a month—when it comes to giving, every penny counts.
That was good advice, but it occurred to me that now was a good time to rethink my spends and see where I could cut down and save. I did, and here are the four things I did.
I took a good look at my utility bills
Funny how this one was triggered. An organisation dedicated to helping citizens save on electricity bills was sending representatives door-to-door, to chat with houseowners. They did a survey about the fixtures and appliances we were using to assess our usage and gave us customized solutions to save on our bills. During my weekly marathon phone call with my BFF, she told me that they were doing the same and in fact, were able to lower their electricity rates by shopping around for a new supplier. They literally restructured their utility rates. This is especially important for anyone who lives in a region that allows residents to shop around for the best deals on their utilities. On our part, we were able to cut down and get on the lower slab rate for our own energy bills.
I stopped eating out
I am not a big fan of eating out, since I enjoy cooking from scratch. But there are days when we have work outside and cannot avoid it. During one such phase, when we were caught up with hospital visits and guests, we found that we were eating out quite a lot, or ordering in. It wasn’t as though we enjoyed it all that much, not to mention the money spent. We simply decided to plan and cook ahead even if it meant extra effort. Obviously, it helped us save a lot of money and was much better for our physical health, too! I have to confess it made me squirm each time we paid the bill, because I found myself thinking that it could have paid for a meal at the welfare home and made a difference. So yes, we consciously cut down. I read a nice article about 10 ways to save money eating out at restaurants and it made sense.
I scanned my insurance costs
During a conversation with my financial advisor (oh, fancy name for a good friend who’s a finance whiz), where I was trying to get him to do my taxes, I got a solid lecture about how I should learn to do these things. I also got a tutorial on assessing how much money I was spending on auto, life and homeowner insurance. True I cannot do without these policies, but it is always good to take stock once in a while to make sure I am not overspending. As it happened I sold my vehicle that year, and didn’t need the auto insurance after that. But I also scanned my existing life insurance, with the help of this friend and found I could surrender one policy, which meant I didn’t have to continue paying the premium, besides getting a lump sum in hand. I happily met my donation goals with a part of this.
I donated in kind, besides cash
You know that cash is not the only way to give and grow rich, right? Yes! There are plenty of charities out there that would absolutely love to receive your gently used books, toys, clothing, and furniture. Depending on the charity that you are donating to, those things could go to help natural disaster or domestic violence victims who may be trying to rebuild their lives from scratch.
Sure, it might take a little bit of work to get used to making such changes in your spending habits, but the good that you will be putting out into this world will be more than worth it.
Yep – no one has become poorer from giving! And you do know you can also donate time and skills, right? ♥
I wish you a very happy and joyous 2017!