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Throughout the past few months, I’ve been been forced to think about hard questions: hope, hatred and defeating darkness.
But mainly, I’ve been struggling to answer one question in particular:
I’m only a single human, no one extraordinary or particularly remarkable, is it even possible for me to create change?
I’ve circled around and around with my answers. Somedays, I raise a fist and scream, “Yes!” But more often than not, I feel small and helpless.
The problems seem too big.
But on Monday, I saw something interesting: The ACLU received $24 million in online donations over the weekend.
It’s a HUGE number, but a huge number of people donated as well: 356,306 to be exact.
That means that each of the 356,306 people only had to give $67.36.
Of course, some people gave much more, and others (like myself) gave less.
But the fact remains that individuals, like you and me, made a difference.
That’s the secret about money that no one tells you: it adds up.
Every $10 that you donate, save or use to pay down debt matters. Because guess what? If you throw $10 towards something 10 times, then that’s $100.
The math is ridiculously easy, but the concept behind it is easy to forget.
Your money matters.
As I look towards the future and think about how I want to use my money this year, I have a lot of personal goals, but I also have goals that are bigger than me.
I want to use my money for good.
It’s a lofty, broad goal and I’m still hashing out the details of what that will look like, but there is one thing that I do know: there are some specific steps I’m taking to get there:
I’m being super aggressive with my savings for graduate school and plan to have $20,000 set aside by the end of August *gulp*
I’m currently 25% of the way there, but the truth is that I when I set out to achieve my goal, I knew that I needed to earn more money. The same is true for giving back.
We can all “trim the fat” on our lifestyles, but for most people (ahem, me) there is only so much I can trim before I literally hate everything.
As an average earner in an expensive city, the best way for me to reach my goals—of giving back and attending grad school—is earning more.
Earning more money isn’t something I’ve talked about it in great detail on the blog (yet) but I did make a starter guide for how to earn more cash online that you can check out here.
Sometimes earning more money means freelancing and other times it means extra shifts at work or a part-time retail job. The method doesn’t matter.
What’s important is that you recognize that earning more money isn’t “bad” or “greedy.” In fact, it’s often the quickest and most effective way to help others and fight for justice.
The more money you have to give, the bigger your economic voice, and in capitalism, that’s important.
In December, I vowed that I would earn more this year. I had a freelance coaching call with Melanie from Dear Debt and started aggressively looking for work. Since then, I’ve found some great new clients and love the freelance work I’m doing (yay!) but there’s been an unintended side effect: lack of organization.
As I’ve picked up more clients, I’ve also picked up more invoicing, tracking and tax forms to fill out. These are all super important (obviously) but they are also a freaking headache. Finally, I said “enough is enough” and signed up for Xero’s Accounting Software and Online Bookkeeping.
As someone who is trying to earn more money and not spend more money on accounting software (or anything else for that matter), it’s been awesome.
For $6.30 per month, you get the “Starter Pack” which includes 5 invoices, 5 bills and 20 bank transactions. For someone who is freelancing on the side while working full-time, it’s the perfect amount.
You also get a free 30-day trial, which is awesome cause, you know, free.
Xero has pre-made emails you can send to clients if an invoice is overdue and that making the invoices is SO. FREAKING. SIMPLE.
But they also offer a lot of other services as well.
And if you’re a more organized person than me and were already with QuickBooks, they will convert your account for free. Plus Xero’s prices are better and you can redirect your savings (~ $50/year) to a worthy cause. Win-win.
Sign up for Recurring Donations
I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this, but at the end of the month, when my money is low, I’m not likely to donate. If I have $30 left in my account and my friends want to grab a drink, I’m probably not going to say “no.”
And just like that, another month will pass without donating to the causes I care about.
To avoid this all-too-common pitfall, I FINALLY set up monthly donations. The money is going to the organizations every month, no matter what. If you’re serious about giving back, I think this is the most important thing you can do—from a personal standpoint, but also for the organization. It helps the organization plan their yearly budget and allocate money accordingly because they know they can rely on your monthly gift.
The concept of automatic donations is super similar to that of “paying yourself first:” get rid of the money fast and pretend it never existed. You’ll never miss it, I promise.
Do you have any tips on how to use money for good?