12 Steps to Financial Wellness – Step 6: Pay it Forward

two hands clasped together

Now that you’ve started paying down debt, you and your partner have tackled big money issues, and you’ve mastered the art of spending mindfully, you’re now ready to think beyond your own needs by learning how to pay it forward.

Money management can sometimes feel inherently selfish. You’re earning, budgeting, saving and investing, all so you and those you love can enjoy a worry-free life on your own standards. But there is so much more you can do with the money you’ve been blessed with – as well as with your time, talents and possessions. Let’s explore five different ways you can make the world into a better place by paying it forward. As my stepdad always said, “We are blessed to be a blessing!”

Donate funds to your favorite cause
The classic way to pay it forward can also be the simplest. Find a charity or two that speaks to your heart and make a donation that fits your budget. Ideally, it is substantial enough to make a difference, but any amount you are able to responsibly commit adds value and is appreciated. Be sure to verify the authenticity of the organization on a charity-vetting site like, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator or CharityWatch. Don’t forget to save your receipt so you can claim a charitable-giving deduction on your taxes. I know I have told y’all about all my savings accounts and how I use them like Dave Ramsey’s envelope system. One of my savings is for giving. I try to put a little in there each paycheck for extra giving. I already give my tithe to my church and support those on the mission field but I wanted to have some extra set aside for things that come up that I don’t normally give to. If you are not at a stage to be able to give monthly, start with saving and giving what you can and let it build from there.

Commit to do one random act of kindness each day
Kindness doesn’t have to be big or loud to make a difference. It doesn’t even have to be costly. Small things that mean a lot can really make someone’s day. You can offer to make a coffee for your coworker, feed a parking meter that’s about to run out for a stranger’s car, remove a branch or rock from the middle of a busy thoroughfare or walking trail, or let someone go ahead of you at a checkout counter. There’s so much you can do when you look to give. If you didn’t know, there is a National Random Acts of Kindness Day every February 17th. You definitely shouldn’t wait for just one day out of the year to show kindness but this year our CU Around team participated in this national day. We took envelopes of cash to a local store and walked around till we found someone we thought could use a random act of kindness. I cannot tell you how many tears were shed and how many hugs were given. It wasn’t a great deal of money but it helped with some very present needs each of these people had. We even had a few that said they were going to use it to pay it forward to someone else.

Write thank you letters
When was the last time you thanked your child’s teacher for doing such a fantastic job on providing your child with an education? When was the last time you thanked your parents for giving you life, a happy childhood and their ongoing love and support? When was the last time you thanked your mail-person? Pick up a nice set of thank you cards and spend 20 minutes writing thank you cards to the people in your life; those who do so much for you, but aren’t always thanked for everything they do. Your letters will likely be cherished by the recipients for many months to come.

Donate your time
Unfortunately, there are numerous people in this world who are suffering from sickness, poverty, loneliness, mental health challenges or other hardships. With just a small donation of your time, you can help alleviate some of their suffering. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen, help bring cheer to hospitals, offer to babysit for a couple who is going through hard times so they can have a night out to themselves or make a habit out of visiting a lonely person. You can brighten someone’s day with your presence alone! There are so many organizations that need volunteers. If you are in the Abilene area, check out a few of these if you need a place to start: Meals on Wheels, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Food Bank of West Central Texas, or Global Samaritan.

Share what you have
Aside from money and time, there are so many ways you can use what you have to bring cheer into someone else’s life. You can donate old clothing to Goodwill or gift a friend or neighbor with a full set of your child’s outgrown clothing if it’s still in great condition. Offer to lend out your books to your bookworm friends. Run a low-cost, or even no-cost, yard sale for all the toys, furniture and other items in your home that you don’t use any longer. Share your unused sports equipment with children who are less privileged than yours.

There are so many ways to pay it forward and make the world into a better place. And when you give to others, you’re really giving to yourself by learning how to be a better, kinder person.

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