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  • Writer's pictureSteve Coker, CFP

Developing a Generous Heart

The longer I live, the more I am convinced that the way to get the most out of your money is to give it away. That may sound crazy coming from an investment advisor. Perhaps it is, and yet I believe that it is one of the many paradoxes in life. There is great joy in giving – even more joy than spending that same money on yourself. If you are looking for ways to invest this Christmas, consider investing in those around you. It could pay dividends far beyond what is listed in your checkbook.

Of course, developing a generous heart takes some time and many of us are so busy with our daily jobs that giving ends up being more of a chore than a joy. If you are looking for ways to develop a more generous heart, then I offer some of the lessons that I have learned from my own journey toward generosity.

1. Give to a charity that you know

One of the obstacles to giving is not seeing the need. By being involved with the work of a charity first-hand, the benefit of the dollars that you give become more real. For example, giving to the local food bank may seem like an abstract exercise until you actually go down to help hand out the food that your money purchased. This can also help you be wiser in your giving since you will be able to better judge whether the charity you are giving to is actually making a difference.

2. Practice intentional giving

Giving on a whim can be an ok thing, but being intentional can help you give more and feel better about what you do give. Yes, this is code for developing a budget and making giving one of the budget items. However, this is an important step. Budgeting allows you to make giving a priority and helps you fully understand the implications of your gift. It also helps overcome one of the obstacles to giving: fear. For example, it is hard to give joyfully when you are in debt and you don’t know how much money you have. Being intentional is actually a freeing exercise that allows you to give with joy.

3. Practice sacrificial giving

Being intentional doesn’t mean that giving comes without sacrifice. One of the best things that my family has done is to give sacrificially. What that meant for us is giving up something in order to give that money. For example, we put off buying a new car for a time so that we could donate that money. Every time that I got into my old car I was reminded of why I still had it and helped me put up with the quirks of the old thing. Other ideas are giving up lattes or eating out for the month of December or some other sacrifice so that you can redirect those funds toward giving.

Whatever you choose to do, I hope that you will consider the joy of giving this Christmas. It is more than just a saying and really can make a world of difference.

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