This last year has been our toughest year financially yet. I would say even tougher than when Jacob and I had our first year living together when we got married.
This time last year I found out that I was pregnant with Phoebe and I had fear well up at the core of my being on how Jacob and I were going to afford to have another baby. I had rejigged the budget and worked out how much of a deficit we would have each week if I weren’t to work.
Adding another baby meant medical expenses if we chose to go private health like I had done with our first two pregnancies. We needed a new car and it had to fit three car seats across the back. Our Honda Civic was nearing the 100,000km mark and we had outgrown it with two kids.
Our saving grace was our savings. Thank goodness for savings. But they have taken a huge hit to make ends meet. But if we didn’t have those savings, I’m not sure how we would have survived.
One thing that Jacob and I agreed on as we maneuvered through this time in our lives was our commitment to give and be consistent with giving. We give a tithe and offering to our church. This is not forced by our church as the media likes to portray. We give because it’s our act of worship to God.
We continued to support our two sponsor children in Africa. Usually when budgets are tight, supporting children overseas or donating to charities is the first expense to be deleted. We chose to keep supporting because our sponsored children are like our own kids.
We also chose to give to organisations that requested funds because of unexpected needs around the world. These direct mail letters were a reminder of how blessed we were despite our circumstances.
I believe everyone goes through a time when finances are tight. It’s an incredibly fruitful season despite it not being so plentiful in the bank account. You learn to be resourceful. You learn to live without and you learn to appreciate what you have.
I know that there have been a lot of plumbers that have suffered from loss of income due to contracts not being renewed or clients going bankrupt. Thank you to those plumbers who have written to me to tell me their story and to encourage me when I’ve opened up about my life online. Your encouragement has made me smile and I hope that when you read my blog you can find encouragement for yourself to keep going no matter what situation you find yourself in.
There is so much judgment about people who have financial difficulties and not enough compassion. And most people who end up in a hard financial position want to genuinely find a way out.
With Christmas coming up, it’s an opportunity to give to others that are in need. But how do you give when your own barrel looks barren?
Everyone has something to give. It may not be financial. It could be practical.
Giving shouldn’t be a once off Christmas event. If we genuinely looked at ways of helping others each week, the world would be a happier place.
Here are some ideas on how to give when you have nothing to give.
- Donate a small amount like $2 to a cause that stirs your heart. Don’t think that a small amount won’t make a difference. If every financially able person gave $1, imagine what good that money could be used for.
- Donate unused goods to charities like St Vinnies. They appreciate items in good working order than can be resold so that the funds made can help those less fortunate. Please don’t donate your rubbish or items that are broken.
- Donate your time helping in causes that help the needy in your community. The needy aren’t necessarily people living on the streets. They could be neighbors who are having a hard time because of illness or loss of job for example. Mow their lawn, drop a meal or two around, invite the kids over for playtime or a sleepover to give the parents a break.
- Find local charities or churches in your area and see what ways you can be involved in the work they do. Our church has street teams that visit families going through difficult times by doing simple things like cleaning their house, delivering presents at Christmas time and etc. These teams are always looking for extra hands to help more people in the community.
- Donate your skills. Whatever job you work in, you can offer your skills for free. As a plumber, I would discern when we would not bill a client. My parents have done this all their life. They are great examples for Jacob and I to follow.
- Donate an item that you’ve made for auction. Or bid on an item where the funds raised go to a cause. I recently bid on a cushion cover that I had been wanting to purchase on Instagram and I not only won the cushion cover, but my payment went to help girls rescued from sexual abuse in Kenya.
- If you win a prize or get given something that you don’t wish to own, give it to someone else who will appreciate it. As a blogger I occasionally receive items (taps and fittings) that I review and then can give to someone else who would use them.
- Pray for those in need. Praying is free and I appreciate any prayer that is sent my way. Just thinking about someone and praying for them helps turn your mind away from your own circumstances.
- Write a note or card to someone who is going through a hard time. Sending letters is a lost art form so to receive a random card or letter in the mail can be a beautiful gift in itself.
Being generous has helped my wellbeing and it releases me from being stingy which is the first reaction when finances are tight: to hold tight to the little I have.
Have you ever gone through a hard time financially? Can you think of any other ways of giving to others that I haven’t listed?
I’m linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.