Give more. Spend less.

givemorespendlessFocus your spending to find more ways to be generous.

| by Paul Emerton

“And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Most of us would like to manage our money better, but if you’re like me, cutting costs is a real chore.

Here are some easy-to-do tips to help you hold onto your money without having to make major changes in your lifestyle. Pick and choose among them, and see how satisfying being a thriftier spender can be!

Set a weekly budget. Keep a lid on day-to-day spending by taking a set amount of cash out of the bank each week and making it last the entire week. Using a credit card would be cheating!

Rethink what you drink. Choose tap water over pop. The average Canadian drinks more than one can of pop a day. Replacing that pop with a drink of water will save a family of four close to $2,400 a year.

Keep the tip. Instead of going out to dinner with friends, organize a supper club. A restaurant dinner for six can cost $200, but you can buy ingredients for a three course meal for $50.

Take five. Save every five dollar bill you get. They add up quickly and can be used to pay down debt, as a ‘luxury fund’ or for unexpected expenses.

Consider your daily Tim Hortons coffee. If you stop at Tim’s once a day, or even once a week, add up your weekly purchases and multiply the total by 52. You will be amazed at what you spend “always having time for Tim Hortons!”

Look but don’t touch. Researchers have proven that shoppers who hold an object for 30 seconds are far more likely to buy—and pay more for it. So admire wanted items from a distance.

Don’t phone home. Your landline telephone easily costs $40 to $50 per month or more. Consider getting rid of it and relying solely on your cell phone.

Be a super shopper. Eat a meal before going to the grocery store. Once there, shop only the perimeter. Grocers position most of what you need near the store walls, and the less necessary, but more impulsively purchased items in the aisles.

Once you’ve got your spending habits harnessed, you’ll be able to fulfill your desire to save more and give more. Here are some tips to help you focus on being a generous giver as God calls you to be.

Focus your generosity. Clearly define your priorities to focus your giving. Donate to charities that mean something to you and your family values. Do you know someone with multiple sclerosis, cancer, or some other medical condition? Do you want to alleviate poverty in developing nations or support Bible translation?

After identifying the good you want to do in the world, look for reputable organizations that share your values. Focus your giving on a small group of charities, rather than donating less money to more agencies—your gifts will have more of an impact.

Plan to be generous. Set measureable goals like donating five per cent of your annual income or $5,000 per year. Review your giving at year’s end and set new goals for the next year.

Don’t wait to give. Even if you are currently in debt or have limited resources, you can still give your time. Look for opportunities to serve.

Generous giving is our higher purpose, so pray for God’s guidance and strength as you strive toward the goal of thrifty spending and generous giving habits.

Paul Emerton is a Financial Services Professional who previously worked with FaithLife Financial.

The article above was featured in the November 2010 issue of SEVEN magazine.