How to Incorporate Giving Into Your Budget
This is a BECU sponsored post from guest blogger Chandler Baird of www.spokaneeats.net
With the holiday season quickly approaching, we want to shift the focus from the chaos that comes with shopping for gifts and holiday party planning to something a little different: giving back to our community. During the holidays (and year-round), the gift of service is often the greatest gift you can give!
How to Incorporate Giving into Your Budget
Giving back financially can seem challenging at first, especially during the holidays when it seems all our money is going towards gifts and holiday parties, but there are things we can do to incorporate giving back into our budgets. Here are some of my favorite tips:
1. Set up a Direct Deposit Dedicated to Charity
The first way I incorporate giving into my budget is to use direct deposit to automatically designate 10% from every paycheck towards charity. I find it easiest to automate this step, so the money goes directly into my savings account without having to think about it. I then use those funds for specific gifts to charities I care about. This way I can ensure I'm meeting my giving goals. I also find it helpful to name my BECU accounts in online banking so I can track what each account is allocated towards (spending money, home, charity, etc.).
2. Start Small
If you haven't created a habit of giving, it can suddenly become difficult to find the money to pull from a different budget category. My suggestion is to start small. For example, reduce your coffee budget to just one latte per week and put that extra money towards a regular donation instead. Each month, try to work your way up so that you are closer to your giving goal of 10% or more.
The important part is to be specific in what you seek to give to charity, to track your efforts and to build from there.
3. Don't Forget about Your Skills
'Giving back' doesn't have to refer only to your dollars. We all have unique skills that can greatly benefit charity organizations and people in our community. Maybe you have experience in marketing and could help promote a charity event. Or, you might be a math wiz who could help a non-profit manage their books. It could be as simple as raking the lawn of an elderly neighbor, or sending a card to a friend.
As a benefit, your employer may also provide you with hours each year that are dedicated just to serving your community. They may even match employee donations, too. Talk to your HR team to see if your company offers these ways to amplify your giving impact. If you stop to think about the ways you could use your talents to benefit your community, you might be surprised by all that you can offer!
How BECU Gives Back
BECU was founded on the credit union's philosophy of 'people helping people'. You are only as strong as the community you live in, so it's so important to me to invest in organizations in my community that value the gift of service. BECU provides financial support to various community partners in and around Spokane, including SNAP (Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners), Community Colleges of Spokane, and Eastern Washington University. BECU offers aid through business grants, fundraisers, financial stability programs, an endowment fund, and they even donate money to emergency funds set up by schools to support students most at risk of dropping out.
Another way BECU puts it commitment to giving back in action is through its Annual Day of Service. This year, I even had the chance to partner with BECU to attend the financial reality fair they hosted at Ferris High School in Spokane. During its Annual Day of Service, BECU employees took a day they normally have off to teach essential budgeting skills at high schools across Washington, including three in Spokane. The high school students downloaded an app that gave them a virtual identity, including a job, a corresponding salary, and a family. They then visited booths occupied by BECU employees where they were sold clothes, cars, groceries and other items. Teaching smart money management skills to high schoolers before they enter the adult world is important and valuable for the entire community. As these students succeed financially, they are set on the right path to do great things in their career, in their family, and in their community.
For more information on how BECU serves its local communities, visit their community involvement page.
Chandler is a Spokane food and lifestyle blogger, and founder of SpokaneEats.net. When she moved to Spokane in 2014, she had two questions: "What is there to do in Spokane, Washington?" and "Where can I buy a raincoat." Years later, she can say she both found a raincoat and fell in love with the city she now calls home.