3 Tricks I Do That Helps Me Be More Charitable

You know what really impresses me? Unicorns.

You know what impresses me 10x more?

People who naturally think of others before themselves :)

Unfortunately for me I’m closer to being a unicorn than I am someone who thinks of others first, haha, but over the years I have learned that you can trick yourself into being a better person just by incorporating a few daily habits ;)

Here are three things I now do that have massively improved my charitable giving:

1) I say “yes” anytime I’m asked for money*. Whether from people on the streets, friends putting on fundraisers, or even when asked if I’d “round up for charity” at certain stores. This trick alone makes me feel 80% better about myself, and instantly overrides that automatic “no” that pops into my head along with its millions of excuses on why I can’t give when I 100% can.

2) I give more than I want to so it HURTS. I’m not sure who I learned this from, but this is the latest challenge I’ve started taking on, and let me tell you – IT’S HARD!! But completely worth it once you get into the rhythm ;) Instead of dishing out my normal $1.00 or $2.00 as I tend to do in order to “check off” my YES rule, I now look for the biggest bill I have in my wallet and try giving out that one instead. It stings temporarily, but the impact on the person receiving it is exponentially greater.

3) I sign up to donate *monthly* as soon as I come across an organization that moves me. This way a) I don’t forget about it and then convince myself not to give later!, and b) I force myself to give over and over and over again without having to lift a finger. And let me tell you – similar to saving money or investing, you really don’t feel it in the end! But the money keeps compounding! Only in this case to supporting those projects that mean the most to you. I’m currently at 10 or 11 places I’m now donating $20/mo to ($20 seems to be my magic number), and my goal is to ultimately hit 100 places so I’m literally donating to organizations every single day :)

In fact, I literally just added a new one yesterday when I heard my friend Revanche was looking for support! And since I don’t have any “causes” I’m personally super passionate about, the next best thing is helping OTHERS advance theirs :) You can learn more about what she’s doing here if interested: 2020: A Lakota families update and focus on charitable giving. She helps raise money to bring food + warm clothing to families of the Lakota Native American tribe, as well as resources to libraries in more rural counties that don’t have the funds to keep things fully stocked.

Her love of books is legit:

“I devoured library books as a child and was wretchedly grateful for every single book I could borrow because our family was too poor to buy books… I used to stare at other people’s bookshelves like I was starving. We’d visit family and the people would simply disappear from my vision – all I could see was their books.”

Maybe you can relate? :)

So that’s what I do to try to be more charitable! Other years I’ll *start projects* to harness my connections and raise money for people (anyone around from the Love Drop or Rockstar Community Fund days?), but on a more daily level these 3 tricks have really transformed my giving.

I’m no Mother Teresa up in here, but I’m learning you can change your ways if something’s really important to you! We can all train ourselves to be better, whether in charity or our personal finances.

Any good tricks that have worked well for you? Anyone else naturally sucky at this?

Pass this around to anyone you think could be helped by it – thank you! 🙏🙏

UPDATE: One more thing I forgot I do – spending money at places you value, such as local shops, clubs, museums, or even buying that $2.00 lemonade from the hustler down the street! It’s not “giving” per se, but it’s a great way to support the places and people you love in your community, and sends a clear message that you hope they stick around to continue bringing joy to others too…

(This was for you, Sarah P. :))

*Excludes scammers or those who will invariably ask me for money as soon as they hear I have to say “yes” ;) Though if there really is an organization/project that fills up your heart, please do pass it over so I can see if it affects me the same way!

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  1. SWFL Financial Coaching January 23, 2020 at 7:27 AM

    Most people wait until the end of the month to see what they have leftover to give to their favorite charities. BUDGET for this just as you budget for anything else. It doesn’t have to “sting”. In fact, there should only be joy in giving, even if you are giving $20’s or $100’s out of your pocket.

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 6:23 AM

      It only stings for those of us who are naturally not good at it!! Haha…

      1. SWFL Financial Coaching January 24, 2020 at 6:53 AM

        It initially stings for all of us because we all want to hold onto our money. :)

        Like I tell my kids, if you don’t try and practice you will never be good at doing something. It’s the same with giving.

  2. Victoria B. January 23, 2020 at 7:57 AM

    We make our charitable giving a line item in our monthly budget. Last year we decided $100 a month was a number we could live with and we looked for opportunities to donate $100 to one organization, which can make a bigger impact than $5 here and there. We rarely give money to the same group twice.

    Join Next Door or a FaceBook group local to you and you can find many opportunities in your own community to truly make a difference. We have donated $100 of new children’s books to an elementary school library for their schools read-a-thon, we donated $100 worth of diapers for a women’s shelter diaper drive, we donated $100 worth of dog food to our local animal shelter after they raided and rescued dogs from a nearby puppy mill, we donated $100 worth of travel size personal care items to the Ronald McDonald house and the list goes on. This system really works for us.

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 6:26 AM

      Ahhhh excellent idea!!! Love that you now LOOK FORWARD to it and are more aware of opportunities! And since it’s built in it probably doesn’t feel like “spending” much, yeah? (or at least it’s better than a normal “bill” haha…)

  3. Sakhikid84 January 23, 2020 at 9:13 AM

    Awesome post! A few years ago during Christmas I didn’t want gifts and asked everyone to donate to St. Jude’s charity instead of buying me things. My wife said I shouldn’t make others donate but do it myself if that’s what I truly want (how right she was.. and always is). So starting that December I set up an automatic contribution each month. This way it’s built into my miscellaneous spending line (that’s my no questions asked spending) and I don’t even have to think about it. I like the idea of saying yes to whenever being asked to give. I will have to try that one.

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 6:28 AM

      Great job :)

      Let me know how the “yes” rule goes if you end up trying it! You’ll probably realize how often it actually comes up (and how often you used to find ways to say “no” haha….)

  4. Megan January 23, 2020 at 9:29 AM

    We tithe to our church (10% of gross income), and occasionally give to a nearby shelter. I would like to give more, but as we’re in debt payoff mode still it doesn’t seem like the best way to be a good steward of our money at this point. I look forward to being debt-free and hopefully increasing our charitable contributions. I aim to give locally, like to food banks, shelters, etc…

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 6:40 AM

      Tithing very much counts!! 10% is a TON of money – that is awesome!!

  5. Kathleen January 23, 2020 at 9:51 AM

    I’ve incorporated some of these tricks too: always say yes when someone asks for money and I have a couple causes on monthly automatic donation. I heard someone I admire once say “It’s hard not to be selfish,” and I appreciated her honesty because I think that’s true for most of us, certainly for me. A small, non-money trick I do to combat my natural selfishness is I try to always give the best of the food in our fridge to whomever is around, usually my husband. And I don’t tell him. That’s another trick: do something selfless and keep it to yoursef. Anyway, thanks for sharing. Always helpful to hear from others on this journey to becoming a better, less selfish person.

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 6:58 AM

      That is such a good idea!!

      Totally stealing that! :)

      It IS hard not to be selfish!!

  6. Shay January 23, 2020 at 9:52 AM

    My church has set up the ability to automatically deduct contributions which makes it so easy to give (and as a bonus- track my tax deductible spending at anytime and an end of year statement too. I am also a member of a civic organization and our dues are 100% tax deductible because of how charitable we are. I do give to “kid’s fundraisers” kind of thing- because people did it for my kids when there were fundraising and I do like to support breast cancer fundraisers too. It’s always easier to support those you know and trust and causes one believes in.

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 7:04 AM

      Very true :)

      Though I’ve been better about giving to strangers too, because even if they ARE tricking me at the end of the day, it’s still proof they need the money more than I do… I tend to focus on the “intentions” of giving vs what actually happens to the money, though of course you hope it’s being used appropriately every time you give it!

  7. Ben January 23, 2020 at 10:15 AM

    Hey, J-$$$!

    You might really enjoy the book The Most Good You Can Do by Peter Singer. He has some really insightful and motivational ideas about giving. He also has some really helpful ideas about donating in ways that have the greatest impact. Before reading this book, I felt like my charitable giving was very scattershot and not very helpful. The book helped me step up the amount I give and focus on things that really make a difference. Check it out!

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 7:05 AM

      Oh cool, thank you! Making a note to search for it at my library – I’ve never read a book on charity before! :) Super curious what that’s like.

  8. Lisa O January 23, 2020 at 10:22 AM

    I give to organizations that touch my heart but it may not always be a $ donation but one of time and energy. I believe in recycling 100% so when I am done with something …. it can always be donated to someone in need. I always follow up on coupons for anything free even if I don’t use it because someone else can. When I clean out the animal shelter will always get the old sheets, blankets, pillows, and towels. BOGO cleaning supplies will always go to the animal shelter.

    Giving makes the world go round! It is a positive change that everyone can contribute too!

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 7:06 AM


      And good point on giving back TIME and RESOURCES too. It takes all kinds of love to keep our communities afloat :)

  9. E January 23, 2020 at 10:23 AM

    A lot of the tricks that work to make saving easier also work up make giving easier, like building it into your budget, automating and giving a larger fraction of extra money (one-off jobs, bonuses, etc).

    Although I also believe in giving until it hurts, I don’t believe in hurting more frequently than I need to, so I set it and try to forget how much I’m giving. It’s just healthier than me always patting myself on the back for how awesome I am (ha!), or scheming about ways I can trim down my giving line item.

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 7:09 AM

      True true, haha..

      I only do the “hurt” one when it’s in person and trying to up my game :) Sometimes I forget and revert to the old $1.00-$2.00 standard, but the more I practice of course the better I’m getting… Just a good thing I never carry around $50s or $100s – hah!

  10. JoeHx January 23, 2020 at 1:14 PM

    I used to avoid donating via credit card because of the 3% processing fee – I wanted 100% of my contribution to go to whoever I was donating.

    Then I realized this pretty much meant I wasn’t donating at all – so charities where getting 0% of my donations.

    Now, I set up recurring donations using credit cards I don’t use but want to keep active.

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 7:11 AM

      Good for you!! Yes – ANYTHING is better than nothing in all cases, haha… We all have these little things that get in our way though :) My wife refuses to give to people on the streets as she’s never sure what they’re actually going to do with it so ends up not giving anyone anything. (Also for security reasons too as a woman, but mainly the “end result” thing). I keep telling her that in either case they still need it more than we do, but not sure how much that’s helping :)

  11. J January 23, 2020 at 1:34 PM

    I have Donations as one of my budget categories, so every payday I enter that amount into my Donations subledger in my excel file. This was something I stated doing as my debt was decreasing and my wealth building so that I didn’t have a chance to overthink it. I just needed to $h*t or get off the pot. Last year I changed companies, and my new employer will match any donation I make to a 501c3 so long as I make it through their portal. That has really motivated me to ramp up my donations since I can double my impact. You had to donate at least $100 at a time in order to apply for a match at my last employer. I also made a Charity tab so that I can track my donations. Now I can see a list of organizations that support causes I care about (so I don’t forget who I wanted to donate to when I have money), as well as my YTD donations (including match if applicable). There were a few stories about a few local charities last year, and it was nice to have some money sitting aside that I could pass to them since I was happy with how much I had donated to my core charities at that point. I like the idea of being able to donate to groups that have something big come up, but I didn’t want every organization out there to take so much throughout the year that I couldn’t make an impact on my core charities.

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 7:15 AM

      Very cool on the matching :)

      Unfortunate that it’s *only* through 501c3s as so many people in our COMMUNITY needs the $$$/support, but I get why they do it that way…

  12. Laura January 23, 2020 at 1:53 PM

    I love spreading the word on this great cause! https://projectk9hero.org/. They pay medical bills for the K9s that have served in the military or law enforcement. Did you know those K9s don’t received health care after retirement and the full cost is left to those (usually the handler) that take them in?

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 7:15 AM

      Oh damn, no – I did not know that! Or would have even ever thought about it! Haha…

      Going over now to check it out – thank you! :)

  13. bethh January 23, 2020 at 2:33 PM

    I renamed the line in my budget from Charity to Activism. It makes me feel more empowered and inclined to give when I think if it that way.

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 7:23 AM

      Oh good!! Anything you can do to get you revved up more! :)

  14. Kat Joy January 23, 2020 at 2:47 PM

    This post was the best timing ever! Having reached “coast FI” about 18 months ago, where I only have to work lesser paying fun jobs to pay my frugal living costs, while I wait for retirement in about a decade, I’ve been thinking I want to lean less on my own resources and trust God to provide work for my small needs. I want to give more, but have gotten so used to uber-SAVING, really even hoarding money for future use, that it’s really hard mentally. These three ideas are all things I wouldn’t normally do, and so I’m going to try them! Thank you for this timely post, I SO appreciate it!

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 7:32 AM


      That makes me so happy to hear!!

      Will you please let me know how they go over time if you end up trying them? :)

      I bet you come up with even more tricks of your own once you get going too…. It all makes you much more *aware* of the opportunities out there…

      I’m excited for you!

  15. Gale L. January 23, 2020 at 6:51 PM

    Nice post!

    I definitely am trying to be more charitable. It ends up being pretty hard for me to give to people that I deem as undeserving. However, I do not know their circumstances and I would hope that others would help me out if I were in that position.

    I have been trying to hand out food over cash and that has helped me out a lot.

    Thanks again for the article!

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 7:37 AM

      Yep – we never truly know what a persons’ gone through or is currently going through :) Just gotta do our best to override our thoughts and give as best as we can! And it’s perfectly normal btw to FAIL at our giving too, as I certainly have over the years even WITH these tricks! Just gotta keep practicing!

  16. Юлия January 24, 2020 at 2:37 AM

    Ukraine, Kiev, Laska.

  17. Jacq January 24, 2020 at 7:38 AM

    I have a set amount per month, and charities selected for a reason, for most months. Or for when I know a friend does a particular race / event. Plus a few unassigned for last minute requests. This allows me to not feel ‘guilty’ when randomly asked. I’ve had a chance to check Charity Navigtor to inform my decision etc.
    Your post did prompt me because I hadn’t yet done my January donation which is related to my uncle who passed away, whose birthday was in Jan. All done now!
    I have a friend who usually does one of those mud runs in June and someone else does a charity bike race in August.

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 2:59 PM

      You’re a lot more organized than I :)

  18. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life January 24, 2020 at 12:32 PM

    Thanks so much for the mention, bud! I love how everyone here is pretty much on board with giving back in some way, it makes me so happy to see. (And sad when people think that giving is not at all important.)

    1. J. Money January 24, 2020 at 3:00 PM

      Thanks for helping me get closer to my mission! :)