You made it through all of the baby steps! Congratulations! You can take your giving to a whole other level and not have to worry about any financial stresses because you have everything paid for and lots of money in the bank! An interesting thing with the giving part of this baby step is that giving should always be apart of your financial journey. If you are in debt or have no debt, giving changes you and puts the focus away from yourself and on others. There is nothing wrong with taking care of your needs and wants, but there comes a point where you can become too inwards focused and comfortable in your routine. Giving keeps you grounded and open to other peoples struggles.
Dave likes to talk about his giving a little differently. He believes you should always tithe or at least give away 10% of your total income. He also says giving should be at the top of your budget because the further down it is, the more excuses there are available to stop the giving from happening. Whether you are religious or not, giving should always be a part of your financial plan. Why? Well coming from other people it is easy to guilt people into giving. How many people and charities are looking to you for money? It seems like that is all the regular mail we get nowadays! We choose to be selective in our giving, but generous when we do. This way we know where our money is going to causes we like and also know we are making more of a difference. It is okay if you say no, but when you start saying no every time to give, you isolate yourself to where you care only about your needs. This is why giving is so important.
You should budget how much you actually give too. We as humans like to believe we are better at things than we really are. Giving is DEFINITELY one of those areas. People do one nice generous act and think they are now “done” for awhile. For how much money we make, the giving we do is embarrassing. Yes you can give your time and you should, but giving money is just as important. The whole point of being financially independent and Dave’s saying “Live and give like no one else” is because when you do not have financial burdens holding you down, you are able to make more generous decisions. Why do people will large student loans feel trapped for example? They feel that way because it limits their choices and forces their decisions. When you don’t have debt or anything like that affecting your decisions, giving can more easily be the focus in your plan.
This is honestly one of the best lessons/habits we learned from following Dave Ramsey’s plan. We thought we were good, giving people before, but that was to our own flawed standards and did not reflect what the numbers actually showed. We still are not where we want to be giving wise, but it is our top-line budget item so it does not get overlooked and we are giving at least 4x more than where we were before we started Dave Ramsey’s plan. We started this while still being in debt and have just increased our giving as we paid off debt. Giving is a fun activity for us where before it was more of an afterthought or even a burden. Giving should NEVER be thought of as either of those two things. We would encourage you if giving is not part of your plan/budget/life to make it one. If it is currently, look at any way to increase your giving even if it is just a little bit.