Out With The Old, In With The New: Give to a Charity

Throughout the month of December, The Simple Dollar is posting a daily series focusing on specific activities you can do right now to set the stage for a great 2011. Out with the old, in with the new.

24. Give to a charity.

When you look at your own life, do you believe that you have all that you need and then some? Or do you find yourself constantly thinking that you don’t have enough?

These two perspectives are flip sides of the same coin: an “abundance” mentality or a “scarcity” mentality. There’s plenty, or there’s just not enough.

The “abundance” mentality – a sense that you have enough or, usually, more than you need – is the perspective that leads to personal finance success. If you feel as though you have more than enough, it’s much easier to spend less, save more, and help others with what you have.

The “scarcity” mentality, on the other hand, results in more and more spending, leaving less and less for saving and sharing with others. Because of this perspective of never having enough, it’s easy to get yourself into debt trying to have “enough” – something you can never really have.

One of the biggest changes in my own life over the past several years has been a transition from a “scarcity” mentality to an “abundance” mentality. Along the way, I discovered something profound: you can cultivate an “abundance” mentality in your life through repeated actions.

Chief among those actions is a willingness to give to others. If you spend some of your time, your energy, and, yes, your money giving to others, you’ll gradually find that you do have plenty in your own life. You’ll see how others enjoy a very happy and fulfilled life having less material items than you have. You’ll find fulfilling ways to spend your time and money that bring deep personal meaning into your own life.

How do you get started? My suggestion is to spend some serious time thinking about the one thing that’s wrong in the world that touches your heart more than anything else. Focus on that and ask yourself what you can do to help change that situation. Almost every cause in the world can use a donation of time, of money, of energy, and of talents.

Simply set aside some of what you have in each of these areas to give to that charitable cause. Investigate your options thoroughly using tools like Charity Navigator.

I find that giving locally is often a very powerful way to start because you find yourself in direct contact with the people (or animals) that you’re helping. Such direct contact brings something that could be rather abstract into stark reality, showing you the true abundance you have in your own life while bring real change into the lives of others.

During this week between Christmas and New Years, spend some of your free time digging into charitable causes. You’ll get more value from them than you’ll ever give to them.

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