I read a very interesting post this morning by Emily at Emerging Personal Finance called ‘I’m not going to rob you‘ (you can read my comment too). It spoke to me as last night, I reflected on my voluntary commitments whilst at the State Emergency Service (SES – like FEMA). On Sunday night I’d felt overwhelmed with what I wanted to achieve after work this week. That overwhelmed feeling is something I’ve written about here, where I listed all my commitments outside of work.
I have always been reluctant to part with my money, linking to a tight budget when I was student. Now days, my budget isn’t at all tight, and long term readers will remember that in early 2013 I did set myself the target of spending $100 per week in ‘generosity’ – donating to church, gifts, and general fundraising etc. I stopped tracking it, but in 2014, set up automated withdrawals to a savings account, so that I create lump sum to draw from at any time. I use this money to ‘give’ to fundraisers, and my idea is that it will grow and one day sponsor a hospital wing (ok, maybe something a little smaller. The thought is regular contributions + compound interest = BIG lump sum).
This post is more or less for me to work through my current motivations and actions.
I prefer to give time over money, but realise that money is valuable too, so I’m ‘stockpiling’ it to use as needed. I give my time as much as I can. At the moment, it’s a regular 2+ hours at SES, a variable commitment at church across the rosters and Parish council meeting once a month and the co-op, which I have ignored for the past few months, but now have a project that suits my interest, so need to plough in the hours to get it done. I feel a little overwhelmed at finding the hours for the co-op, as I also have personal things like the podiatrist, a hair cut and a dental specialist’s appointment all this week. But it’s ok, I can do it.
I CAN get enough sleep;
I CAN cook healthy meals and maintain my calorie limit;
I CAN work out six times a week and continue to lose weight (weighed in at 72KG! This was a milestone goal, so I’m rapt, as I also ran 14 mins, which is ‘around the park’ which was also a goal, see more on my weight loss plans here) and
I CAN contribute to my community above and beyond my work.
I’ve just got to remember it’s all possible. One day at a time. One step at a time. These things are important to me. TV is not. Relatively, reading and writing on blogs is not. Priorities!
Is it all possible? Does something have to give? Do you prefer to give money or time, or both?
14 Replies to “Giving – time and/or money”
Great post, Sarah! I love your positive attitude. I would say that family is #1 for me, but to be honest, they don't demand a lot of my time and energy on a daily basis, so I can just be "on stand-by" in case I am needed more! Apart from work, the two things I spend the most time on are my treasurer volunteer job (usually 2-4 hrs/wk, but some occasional crazy weeks have been 20-40 hrs!) and blog posting (8-15 hrs/wk). Otherwise, I always find time for fitness and reading books. Everything else I just fit in as time allows. Including housework! Lately I have been more serious about getting enough sleep. Oddly enough, I get really stressed about fitting in doctor and dentist appointments, haircuts, and other personal appointments and errands, especially if I have to take time off work for them. They end up being my last priority! But I am getting better about making myself do them.
I'd like to say family is number 1, but I know in practice it isn't. If it needs to be number 1, it will be, at the expense of all else (literally, I take off work if I have to).
Actually – I'm finding it harder and harder to find time to get through the bible, and read library books. I've been meaning to poll my reader readers to find out how and where they fit in reading!
Housework gets to me quickly, and I regularly put it ahead of a work out, or cooking dinner. I really shouldn't, it's not that important, but it gets on my nerves so easily.
Funnily enough, I need to see both my doctor and dentist (chipped my tooth!) but can't seem to fit either in my day! Friends laugh because I tend to save all my medical appointments until "holiday" time!
My mother does the same – I tend to use some of my rostered days off for those sorts of things, but wonder if I should have a 'week' where I do it all, once a year. Could be pricey though!!
Good luck with it all!
I'm entering a slightly crazy phase of my life at the moment too. My scholarship ended on Monday, so now I am working around 13 hours a week (spread across 3 days), as well as writing a thesis and blogging 🙂
Also, I put my name down on the list for SES volunteer training recently. I'm still waiting to hear back from them, but what kinds of things do you do?
I think crazy times are definitely upon you – but you'll come out better and stronger for them!
SES is all about learning how to help – things like securing falling trees, putting tarps on roofs and that sort of thing. Sometimes, they get involved in road fatalities (in rural areas), flood rescue and land searches, all of which are somewhat possible too in urban units. I hope they get you in soon, with some other new people, makes it easier that way.
That's a really interesting post at Emily's blog.
People asking for money in Melbourne is such a rare phenomenon that in 2.5 years living back here, I don't think I've ever been asked directly for cash.
When we lived in Sydney, we started out (naively) being shocked to see homeless people daily near my son's school. However, many of them did not ask for nor accept charity. I rapidly became hardened to those who did 'push' for money.
Nowadays, I don't give money at all to those who ask on the street. I do support local, grass-roots organisations for people in need.
Since I also grew up in a 'poor' area (not that we labelled ourselves as such!) I also really value local, 'word-of-mouth' support. There is so much of that that goes on in 'lower socio-economic' areas. Where we live, if someone needs a school tutor, home help when sick etc. I do things like that (but still not as much as I should do!)
It is great that you are determined to identify and prioritise your goals!
It was an interesting read.
I don't see as many beggars now than when I was in a more 'mixed' socio economic suburb. That being said, they are ALWAYS in the city.
I think my generation can be so insular, and closed in, that the helping your talking about seems to have been dried up with our 'busy' lives. I can't imagine the casserole bringing types of people, even though I have once done it, and wish I did it more (but often think it might be offensive, or not well recieved… I second guess everything!). I'm glad when friends have taken me up on (serious) offers to babysit. I really am happy to!
I think the casserole thing happens much more if you have kids. There's always a mum / dad at Kinder or school who is sick, has had an accident etc. and that's when people cook. There's also lots of reciprocal child-minding, haircutting, home-help, tutoring etc. through the 'parent' grape-vine.
I prefer to give through volunteer work – cooking at shelters, tutoring someone in algebra, driving to deliver food baskets someone's house while they recover from surgery, etc. But mostly that's because I feel more productive DOING something about a problem than donating money, and I like the face-to-face time because someone usually says "thank you" which makes my heart sing. (No modesty here!)
I know what you mean, you are 'doing' which is a bigger commitment in many ways than just signing a cheque. And the thank you is oh so lovely – though, it's such a shame when people forget their manners!
I don't give as much of my time as I would like or thought I would do when I was younger (and more idealistic). When I was as uni I volunteered as an English tutor for new migrants – mainly house-bound women with children.
I have given much time to supporting the sporting clubs that my children were members of – team manager, coach, Little As timekeeper, canteen etc One year the census asked about volunteer work and I answered "none" until my husband reminded me about all the time spent with other people's children at weekend sport. Now that stage of my life is over. But as a public servant who gives much to young people and their education, I do many unpaid hours in my job, so feel I am giving enough.
Wonderful you are in the SES. They do a great job.
Like Dar, I prioritise reading over housework. Somethings have to give or be squeezed in. And reading is not the thing I'd prefer to drop.
Maybe I should bench my high standards for household cleanliness (and deny visitors!?) That way, those books would get read!!
I think I'm still young-ish and still idealistic, and not 'busy enough' with family obligations yet. I know once I have kids, the way and the time I offer to others will change drastically, so it's one happy side effect of not having had kids yet, I suppose.