Giving is difficult when you are barely scraping by. Some would say giving money is not the only type of giving you can do. This is true, you can also give in the form of time, or by giving items that you no longer need. Even these are difficult if you are stuck in a keeping up with the Joneses mindset, a just scraping by lifestyle, or simply living right up to the edge of your means.
When I started decluttering, I wasn’t intending to become a minimalist. I also wasn’t focused on giving as a goal. My focus was on money, specifically, on lowering my monthly expenses. One of the ways my wife and I chose to do this was to sell our house and downsize to a smaller rental apartment. I have known others that chose to downsize to a smaller house or condo. Downsizing is a life change step. One that is scary, but not entirely difficult.
Downsizing allowed us to step out of the consumerist, money driven, status driven lifestyle. It wasn’t an instantaneous change. It started with the thought of where we wanted to be, and required months, even years, of action to make the shift. We gradually shifted our focus from status symbols (big house, fancy car) to thoughts, things, and activities that felt more important than seeking approval from those around us.
One of those things is to become a more giving person. By that, I mean to give more freely. I wasn’t planning on this, but giving freely feels like a natural extension of being a minimalist.
When you are tied to money and status, you often overanalyze your giving. Questions like, “Does this person or organization deserve the money I plan to give?” often come up when your ability to give is limited and your mind is focused on judgment and worthiness.
After downsizing and transitioning to a more minimal lifestyle, much of the “judginess” has dissipated. My choice in giving is less based on my view of their worthiness, and is more on simply giving when asked.
In most cases, if someone asks for a monetary donation, they have a need. Is that need justified? Who can say? It’s not necessarily my place to judge the need. I feel better when I assume the need is real, and give freely.
In my case, I donate nearly every time I am asked. Often this will be at the grocery store when they are ask for a donation to a charity during checkout, or at the local fast food place in the same situation. I also give to the organizations that stand outside of the grocery store seeking donations for various causes, activities, or events. Likewise, when kids or their parents approach me for school fundraisers. Even the homeless person on the street, likely one of the most judged for worthiness (or more often lack thereof), I will give them a couple dollars.
It’s simply not my place to judge who “deserves” a donation. I am in a financial situation where 20 or 30 bucks a month spread among various causes will have little impact on my financial wellbeing. The reason I’m able to do this is because I reduced my other financial obligations by downsizing, decluttering, and breaking the cycle of buying more and more stuff.
Going minimal also results in more free time, so even on that front, you are able to give more. I don’t do as much giving of time, but I am better able to than prior to becoming a minimalist.
What are your thoughts? Have you found yourself more open to giving since downsizing or decluttering?