Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ways to Do Good for Others and Yourself

We all want to do what we can to help others, but sometimes it may seem like our time and budgets won't allow for it. I can think of a few ways to be efficient by combining contributions with ways to benefit yourself.

Every once in a while I catch myself hoarding things. It's less of a problem now, but I used to buy things compulsively more often. As a result, I ended up with things that I didn't need but were barely used. Because these items were usually new, I didn't like the idea of throwing them away. So when I can't deal with the clutter of stuff anymore, I tend to donate them to Good Will or similar organizations. It's really the best way to clear up your own space and help others at the same time. Do check each organization's website before you donate to make sure you're not adding to their burden by giving them things that they don't need. If you itemize on your tax return instead of taking the standard deduction, you can even write them off.

Another method I find helpful is to contribute to charity while using cards that require a certain number of swipes per month. For example, I opened a Chase checking account a few months ago in order to receive a $100 new customer reward. In order to do so, I needed to use my debit card 5 times per billing cycle. I began using the card for small purchases like coffee to meet the requirement and not get charged an account maintenance fee. To reduce the number of times I have to do that (and actually remember to do it), I contribute a small amount to charity using that card. Some charities will let you contribute even just $1 or $5, which should be able to fit into most people's budgets. Not only does it feel good to give, to me, this convenience beats having to stop at the gas station to top off or spend more than I intended to on coffee because I forget to use that debit card earlier until the end of the billing cycle.

Run a 5k, a 10K, or even a marathon. Most events involving endurance sports raise money for national/local organizations. A large portion of the proceeds will go to cancer research, local schools, environmental organizations, etc. This is a great way to get in shape because you need to pay a fee to register. I find great motivation for getting in shape in order to prepare for these events. Do even more by involving friends to support you, join a team, or become a volunteer fundraiser. If you don't like traditional running events, there's a huge selection of events to choose from. Triathlons, urban races where you run around a city solving puzzles, relay races, or even the Warrior Dash where you drag your body though mud and a large stretch of other obstacles. Not can you feel great about contributing to charity, you'll whip yourself into great shape!

Hope you find these helpful. Share some of your great ideas for benefiting both yourself and others.


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