In my last blog, I talked about how Ryan and I include our kids in our finances. What I left off that list was how we give as a family.
For a long time, I was hesitant to talk about this, because the truth is that we’re in the middle of figuring that out ourselves. I could list our excuses but that wouldn’t really give the whole picture. The truth is…I haven’t felt settled. I believe formal giving should be planned and thought out. It’s giving to your local community, not just of finances but also of time.
Where do we want to give our precious time? To me, this question is harder to answer because I covet my time more than money.
Here’s the thing: yes, organizations, churches, and communities need support financially. But even more than that, they need our time, our talents, our education, our unique problem-solving capabilities, our individual perspectives. The easier thing to do is to write the check, Venmo the money. It’s harder to show up, to rearrange our schedules, to be inconvenienced.
Time really is money…or, time is as precious as money. It’s a scarce resource.
Ryan and I both grew up going to church. It’s what we both did on Sundays, and it was what our families did. In high school, I learned about YoungLife, and that started my journey from church to my own faith.
But here’s the thing: Ryan and I both grew up living in the same house, in the same neighborhood, and in the same schools. We were both involved in the same communities from childhood to early adulthood.
Our kids haven’t had that experience. We’ve lived in five different houses across three different states, and they’ve attended several different schools. They’ve experienced going into and leaving different communities. To be fair, our experience as a military family is very mild compared to others, but it nonetheless has lent to a feeling of not being settled and has made it challenging to formally give of our time and money.
And by “formally give,” I mean looking at our budget and setting aside a certain amount each month from our cash flow. In the military, we definitely had all our needs taken care of, but there wasn’t a lot of extra money. What extra money we had, we made the choice to save up to fly home for the holidays to be with family. That was important to us.
I really believe that most of us want to give both financially and of our time, but life gets us distracted and overwhelmed. It’s important to remember that depending on where we’re at, our abilities to give will look different in various seasons of our lives. Sometimes giving money is what we can do. Other times we have more time to give, which could add some enjoyment into our lives. And still, other times, it’s okay that you’re maybe in a season of survival, taking care of kids, your parents, or yourself.
Here are a few of the ways your family may consider giving:
Financially: Look at your cash flow and give what you can afford. Recently, Ryan and I went to the whiteboard and wrote down our monthly income and expenses and could see what was left over each month. This gave us an idea of what we could give monthly. We then take this one step further and look at the financial needs of the organizations we’re considering giving to financially.
Time: Serving on boards, volunteering as a family, coaching kids’ sports teams, etc. This will look different for each family or individual. There are so many ways we can give of our time. Ryan is enjoying serving as the volunteer facilities manager at the small Episcopal church we recently started attending. The girls love the stage, so we all volunteer with various needs of their non-profit kids’ theater, from stage setup and painting to coordinating parent volunteers.
Shop local and small businesses: This can cost more financially; however, the impact is great when your money goes straight to the owners. One of our favorite family activities is going to the local family-owned wineries and breweries near us in Placer County. The kids run around, we chat with the winemakers and other visitors; it’s a fun community.
After reading this, my challenge to you is to sit down with your family and talk about what stage you’re in. Do you have financial resources to give or time to serve? If yes, take it a step further and see how much you could give and where you would like it to go. If you are already giving, make a list of what you are doing and talk about how it is working. If extra money isn’t an option right now, are there ways you can give your time? And if neither is right for your family, I wish you strength and peace in this phase. I suggest setting a date to revisit this conversation in 6 months or a year.
No matter where you’re at, please know you can reach out any time to ask questions or simply to talk a little further about any of the topics we cover here on the blog. I enjoyed the responses to my last article. It was inspiring to hear how some of you with children older than mine had instilled money values in your kids and you were watching them make good choices later in life.
How do you give as a family? I’d love to hear from you about the organizations that you support.
P.S. Next month, I will be talking about my passion and specialty in the area of Planned Giving, including a deeper dive into what that means and how it is part of what we do here at Mosaic.
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