Those of us who have chosen to live frugally learn to live within our means. Living simply opens your heart to those who are forced to live frugally due to crisis situations or unforseen circumstances. Your compassion grows for the poor.
With that being said, giving is complicated. Have you ever given food to a homeless person on the street and he turned it away because he wanted something else? Or given money to the single mom of four who has been attending your church and complained about barely making rent. Then you discover she purchased a new ipad and is planning a Florida vacation. I cannot tell you the number of times I hear people make comments when they see poverty-stricken homes with satellite dishes in the backyards.
How do we respond to all this?
First of all anytime you give to anyone, it is a gift. Period. When you give money to someone in need, you cannot assume they are going to use the money the way you want them to. I am not saying that you should never give a friend money or pass out food to a homeless man. Do not give to them with strings attached.
You might want to consider giving to a rescue mission instead. Keep in mind many of these agencies and missions have established strong relationships with those in need and understand the ins and outs of poverty. If you are skeptical–visit a rescue mission, volunteer at one, have lunch with the director, or subscribe to their newsletter.
Second of all realize that some people struggle with money management. Living on a budget is not something they were taught. Debt or frivolous spending is normal. Many rescue missions and churches are teaching people “life skills” such a balancing a checkbook, grocery shopping on a budget, cooking instead of eating out, starting small businesses, writing a resume, applying for a job etc.
Our hearts might be in the right place when it comes to giving. We also need wisdom and integrity that we are using our resources in a positive way.
I’m linking this with Frugal Friday