How to Create a Generous Budget

by Jason on December 10, 2010


You’re out to eat for a nice meal and you strike up a conversation with the server.  You come to find out she’s a single mom, works two jobs to make ends meet, and is going to school to get ahead.

Your heart goes out to her, but what do you do?

You’d love to help, but your budget is so tight that you can’t afford to.  You leave the restaurant hoping that she “makes it”.

Now imagine if you had $25, $50, or even $100 extra for the month set aside specifically for times just like this, where you spot a need and would like to help financially.

Imagine the feeling you’d get when you plop down an extra $25 for the tip with a note that says, “We’re praying for you!”

Doesn’t that sound exciting?  It does to me.  It sounds like True Wealth.

But how do you do that without going further into debt or taking an IRA withdrawal to make that happen!?

So here are a few things to think about when building generosity into your budget.

Build a Budget First!

Do I need to expand here?  In order to have generosity in your budget, you would first need to make a budget!

Planned Giving

This is the equivalent of your “tithe”.  The reason I’m not calling it a tithe is because I don’t want to receive a ton of emails arguing that the tithe isn’t biblical anymore. 

The point is not that you must give 10% of your money - the point is that you plan out a specific percentage to give to your local church first. 

How much should you tithe or give?  Now, that’s a good question.

More importantly, planned giving means you’re doing this regularly and faithfully.

This is also helpful with the budget because you know exactly what’s going out for your giving every month.  You can count it in the budget.

Above and Beyond

So you have a planned amount you are giving to your church, now it’s time to work generosity money into the budget.

What this means is you have an amount each month that allows you to be a blessing to others from a financial standpoint.

It doesn’t have to be a large amount.  The challenge is finding that figure and sticking to it.  This money should be a non-negotiable (just like you’d treat your savings).

If you hear of a coworker struggling to meet bills this month because of some unforeseen circumstances, now you’re able to help. 

Get a card, write a quick note – leave it anonomous if you want and slip the card on their desk.

Agree on the Details

This is extremely important.  If you’re married, you should work out the details with your spouse.  Both of you should be on the same page.

If you’re not, then one of you will end up being upset that money that should go towards goals, savings, debt etc is being used for others when you “just don’t have the money”.

It doens’t have to be a lot.  Just make sure you set the rules.  Here are some guidelines my wife and I follow:

  • Set amount – we decided on an amount up front and both of us get the same amount.
  • Used in that month – the money must be used in that particular month (this keeps us active in looking for opportunities)
  • Autonomy – we are not allowed to tell each other whom to give to or what to use the money for - we each make our own decisions.

The Benefits Far Outweigh the “Cost”

My wife and I have found a tremendous amount of joy in doing our giving this way. 

The feeling you get when you’ve helped someone, or given them a gift unexpectedly is a great feeling!  Plus, I believe that you are storing up Treasure in Heaven when you do these types of things.

Generous Budget Ideas

Here are a few examples of things you can do:

  • Grocery gift cards for a family who just lost their jobs
  • Gas cards for single mom who is trying to make ends meet
  • Leave an extra tip for a server
  • Support local charities that are doing good things in the community

Now it’s your turn…what are some things you have done or would like to do with your budgeted generosity money?

This was a post I originally did for Christian PF – you can see the original post here.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous December 14, 2010 at 10:53 am

Great article and challenge! The freedom to have a small amount to help others is so important. I pray more people will experience the joy and freedom that comes from being out of debt and are finally able to really give generously. Keep up the good work!

–Eric

Anonymous December 14, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Thanks Eric! Keep up your great work to help others ovecome debt as well!

Leslie December 22, 2010 at 2:12 pm

This is beside the point, but I thought tips were split among all servers?

Anonymous January 7, 2011 at 3:58 am

That’s a good point Leslie, I’m not sure – it may depend on the restaurant?

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