If you have been injured in an accident or you have won a worker’s compensation claim or you have won a settlement for the wrongful death of a person you depended upon, then in all probability you will get the compensation you are to receive in the form of an annuity. This annuity pays out awards from any form or type of legal settlement or lottery winnings or as has been mentioned earlier, any award from worker’s compensation claim or personal injury case in the manner of a periodic inflow of cash which has a number of tax advantages added with it. This sort of annuity scheme is called a structured settlement which is the most beneficial and most advantageous way to avail money to be received in the form of settlements.

The many advantages of structured settlements

There are many benefits of structured settlements, the most noteworthy among which is the exemption from all form of taxes, be it state taxes or federal taxes or local income taxes. This means that the savings of the investor in structured settlements is much higher than the investor in any other securities. In addition to this the fact that this form of annuities does not depend at all on any economic condition and the payment can be scheduled upon your wish and desire and can be deferred or may begin immediately makes up for the icing on the cake.

What is a cash annuity and what are its variables?

If at any moment you find yourself trapped in any financial difficulties and are in dire need of cash then you may sell your annuity and upon the determination, receive a lump sum amount in lieu of your future annuity incomes. In determination of the amount one will have a number of factors need to be taken into consideration, these are as follows:

  • Interest rate – The interest rate plays a crucial factor in determining the amount one receives on sale of annuity.

  • Inflation – The ongoing rate of inflation in the economy will also affect the amount receivable on the sale of the annuity.

  • Payments- The amount of annuity that one wants to sell will also be a factor in determining the cash amount which will be received by the investor wanting to sell the annuity.

  • Demand- At last, the demand for the payments will also affect the scales when it comes to determining the amount that you are likely to receive upon sale of the annuity.

The benefits of selling structured settlement annuities

When one decides to sell off structured settlement annuities, he or she is subjected to a number of benefits. These advantages are enumerated as below:

  • Liquidity – Probably the most important factor of selling structured settlement annuities, liquidity assures you that you will not be cash strapped. This liquidity backs individuals not only financially but also mentally to go ahead with their dreams, plans and ideas. Whenever facing a financial crisis, you can encash your structured settlements and get lump sum cash.

  • Time value of money – When one sells structured settlement annuities, one can also take advantage of time value of money. Generally, it is seen that the rate of earning in case of the money in hand is much more than the amount which may be received on a future date. Inflation reduces the future value of money and hence the earning capacity is much more if the amount is given a chance to earn interest.

Slow annuities – what are they and what are their benefits

Slow annuities generally refer to normal annuities which cannot be cashed when one desires i.e. in the contract of the annuity with the company there is no clause as to sell the annuity before its maturity. These annuities are suitable for those who are assured that they will not be subjected to any financial problems. There are a number of benefits of these annuities as well such as:

  • Tax Free: Most of such annuities are freed from the burden of tax by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This implies that your savings will be more.

  • Not affected by the economic condition: These annuities are not at all affected by the economic situation and are hence risk free.

Why opt for selling them off rather than clinging on?

When one has to make a choice between encashing now and letting the annuities continue, one must weigh in pros and cons of both and after careful analysis it will be evident that it is far better to go for the former:

  • An investor is assured of availability of cash in his hour of need.

  • Money which is in hand at the moment, if invested will fetch a lot much more than the amount which one will receive after a decade or any time period.

  • In case of slow annuities, IRS applies penalties and a huge surrender charge also has to be paid if one withdraws fund before the completion of age of 59 and half years.

  • With the rise in inflation the actual value of money that one receives in a slow annuity is less.

So, now that you are aware of all the factors as to why encashing now scores over slow annuities, invest wisely and efficiently!

       I’ve written extensively about tithing in the bible, New Covenant giving, and New Covenant giving guidelines for Christians. Not too long ago, I wrote that tithing is so Old Testament. I explained that I don’t hate tithing, but I’m against teaching it because we have a much better example for giving in the life of Jesus Christ.

       But to make my point a little clearer on how New Covenant giving differs from Old Testament tithing, I thought it would be helpful to look at Jesus’ teaching. I’m going to divide this into two sections. First, we’ll look at what Jesus taught about tithing. Then, we’ll look at his other teaching on giving in general. This will be the verses only – no commentary.

What Jesus Taught about Tithing

       Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith. But you ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone.

Matthew 23:23 (WEB)

       But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, but you bypass justice and the love of God. You ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone.

Luke 11:42 (WEB)

       9 He spoke also this parable to certain people who were convinced of their own righteousness, and who despised all others. 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself like this: ‘God, I thank you, that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14 (WEB)



       And that’s it. That’s all Jesus said about tithing.

What Jesus Taught about Giving

       23 If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Matthew 5:23-24 (WEB)

       Give to him who asks you, and don’t turn away him who desires to borrow from you.

Matthew 5:42 (WEB)

       Give to everyone who asks you, and don’t ask him who takes away your goods to give them back again.

Luke 6:30 (WEB)

       35 …for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. 36 I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’ 40 “The King will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:35-40 (WEB)

       32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive back as much. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back; and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil.

Luke 6:32-35 (WEB)

       But give for gifts to the needy those things which are within, and behold, all things will be clean to you.

Luke 11:41 (WEB)

       33 Sell that which you have, and give gifts to the needy. Make for yourselves purses which don’t grow old, a treasure in the heavens that doesn’t fail, where no thief approaches, neither moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Luke 12:33-34 (WEB)

       12 He also said to the one who had invited him, “When you make a dinner or a supper, don’t call your friends, nor your brothers, nor your kinsmen, nor rich neighbors, or perhaps they might also return the favor, and pay you back. 13 But when you make a feast, ask the poor, the maimed, the lame, or the blind; 14 and you will be blessed, because they don’t have the resources to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous.”

Luke 14:12-14 (WEB)

       In all things I gave you an example, that so laboring you ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Acts 20:35 (WEB)

       For whoever will give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you are Christ’s, most certainly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward.

Mark 9:41 (WEB)

       33 But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, 34 came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’

Luke 10:33-35 (WEB)

       1 He looked up, and saw the rich people who were putting their gifts into the treasury. 2 He saw a certain poor widow casting in two small brass coins. 3 He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow put in more than all of them, 4 for all these put in gifts for God from their abundance, but she, out of her poverty, put in all that she had to live on.”

Luke 21:1-4 (WEB)

       1 Be careful that you don’t do your charitable giving before men, to be seen by them, or else you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 Therefore when you do merciful deeds, don’t sound a trumpet before yourself, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may get glory from men. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you do merciful deeds, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand does, 4 so that your merciful deeds may be in secret, then your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Matthew 6:1-4 (WEB)

       21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sad, for he was one who had great possessions. 23 Jesus said to his disciples, “Most certainly I say to you, a rich man will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven with difficulty. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard it, they were exceedingly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter answered, “Behold, we have left everything, and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Most certainly I tell you that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive one hundred times, and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many will be last who are first; and first who are last.

Matthew 19:21-30 (WEB)

       21 Jesus looking at him loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack. Go, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me, taking up the cross.” 22 But his face fell at that saying, and he went away sorrowful, for he was one who had great possessions. 23 Jesus looked around, and said to his disciples, “How difficult it is for those who have riches to enter into the Kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus answered again, “Children, how hard is it for those who trust in riches to enter into the Kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.” 26 They were exceedingly astonished, saying to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus, looking at them, said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God, for all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to tell him, “Behold, we have left all, and have followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Most certainly I tell you, there is no one who has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or land, for my sake, and for the sake of the Good News, 30 but he will receive one hundred times more now in this time, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land, with persecutions; and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last; and the last first.”

Mark 10:21-31 (WEB)

       22 When Jesus heard these things, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have, and distribute it to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was very rich. 24 Jesus, seeing that he became very sad, said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter into the Kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to enter in through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” 28 Peter said, “Look, we have left everything, and followed you.” 29 He said to them, “Most certainly I tell you, there is no one who has left house, or wife, or brothers, or parents, or children, for the Kingdom of God’s sake, 30 who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the world to come, eternal life.”

Luke 18:22-30 (WEB)

Note: I didn’t include Luke 6:38 in this list because when I read it in context Jesus seems to be speaking about giving forgiveness and mercy rather than money.

       I’m seeing a pattern in Jesus’ teaching and it’s not tithing. I wonder why so many churches spend more time talking about tithing than Jesus did…

       A reader asked me what you should do when you want to give more but your spouse is not a Christian. It’s especially difficult because she doesn’t want to go against her husband’s wishes. This issue can be hard for women who want to honor their husbands as God’s Word teaches but also want to honor God. However, I think a similar approach should be used for men married to non-Christian women as well.

       I don’t have personal experience with this, so I don’t pretend to know all the answers. If any readers have dealt with this, please share your thoughts in the comments. I will, however, attempt to approach this from a Biblical and practical perspective in an effort to help people deal with this challenging problem.

Pray

       As in all things, we must seek God’s will first. Prayer is one way we communicate with God. When you feel God’s Spirit leading you to give more but your spouse is not a Christian and does not want to give more, your first step must be prayer. Specifically, here are some matters you can pray about:

  • Your Spouse’s Salvation – Not so your life will be made easier, but so they will receive eternal life.
  • Wisdom – For how you should approach this situation with love and grace when discussing it with your spouse.
  • Guidance – For what you should do if your spouse is not willing.
  • Patience – To wait upon the Lord and to continue being a light to your spouse despite the difficult struggles you face.



       God will give you His strength to handle this task. If He is calling you to give more, then He will provide you with a method to make it happen.

Talk with Your Spouse

       Next, you should approach your spouse lovingly and graciously to share what God has placed on your heart. Focus on gracious speech – do not accuse your spouse or attack them. You may be surprised by their response. Try to share where God is leading you to give and why. Talk about ways you could give more by focusing on contentment and the generous blessings you already have.

       If your spouse is completely opposed to the idea, do not press the issue and cause an argument. Doing so could damage your witness to them. Listen to their viewpoint and see if a compromise could be made. Here’s an example:

       Let’s say your spouse doesn’t want to give up anything they’re used to so you can give more. The two of you have budgeted a weekly amount for you to buy lunches at work. Offer a compromise. You’ll pack your lunches and use the money you save to increase your giving. This way your spouse doesn’t give up anything and you still get to increase your giving. Or maybe you have a way you could earn some extra money on the side. You could offer to have some of it go to your joint budget while using the rest to increase your giving.

Give Your Time

       If your spouse is completely opposed to increasing your monetary giving in any way, you could look at ways to donate some of your time. Again, this is probably something you should discuss with your spouse. You must also be careful that your volunteering will not cause you to neglect your relationship. But a couple hours a week can really help a mission or charity quite a bit without causing much stress on your marriage.

Continue to Pray

       Finally, you must continue to pray about the situation. This is a difficult situation and can be extremely trying on your faith. Continue to seek strength from God and pray for your spouse’s salvation. Honor your spouse and live a life of generous, sacrificial love just as Jesus did. I am not saying your should sacrifice your relationship with God to keep your marriage intact, but you must do your best to be a light to your spouse in all situations. A mature Christian (of the same sex) can provide helpful counsel and encouragement during this trial in your life, so seek fellowship and support if needed.

Your Thoughts?

       What do you all think? Is this a Biblical approach to the situation? What are some other ideas that could help someone deal with this issue? How have you handled it in your own life? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

I will be the first to admit that I grew up in a fairly conservative Christian family. It wasn’t as extreme as some stories I’ve heard from my grandparents, but I never saw my parents drink alcohol until my oldest brother’s wedding ceremony and the radio always blared Christian music. None of these are bad things, but these few examples are great indicators of a more conservative spin on Christianity.

In fact, conservative Christianity often abides by several of these rules or behaviors, regardless of whether it is abstaining this or that, in an attempt to live a holy lifestyle. The idea is that as we live holy lifestyles, we can glorify God and be a great counter-example to the world. This is the whole city-on-a-hill mentality. Shine your light upon the darkness. While this can lead to some legalistic tendencies (similar to the Pharisees, which many people are quick to point out), there are many positive things, one of which is the frugal nature of conservative Christianity.

Why Conservatives are Frugal

Despite the criticism that conservative Christians get, there are many financial benefits of living a life free from many of certain behaviors. Here are several activities or items that some (not all) abstain from:

Movies – Believe it or not, many Christian families and churches forbade going to the movies. It was considered too secular. (In my opinion, they didn’t understand a proper balance between sacred and secular) However, despite my “progressive” (or contemporary) stance, this was a great way to save some bucks. Today, going to a movie can cost more than $30 with tax before food for just two people. I can’t imagine having a large family. By avoiding movies all-together, they can enjoy other forms of entertainment.

Alcohol – Alcohol is probably one of the most debated topics within conservative Christians. Because of the strict adherence to literal interpretations of the Bible, conservative Christians hardly know what to do with passages of Jesus turning water into Wine. I have heard some pastors trying to say that there is a different Greek word used for wine than grape juice and so forth. While it may seem absurd to some of you, the point that I am making is that it saves some serious dough. I just went to two weddings in the same month. One had an open bar and the other didn’t have any alcohol. I can only guess how much more one bride and groom spent than the other. The simple fact is that alcohol costs money. Plain and simple. By avoiding this altogether, you are freeing up your money for other purposes.

The point I wish to make is two-fold. First and foremost, conservative Christianity (even as it changes with time) gets a lot of criticism, but actually contributes towards a healthy financial situation as it protects people from overspending on unnecessary items. Secondly, everything is more complicated than we often make it appear. Regardless of my own beliefs, conservative Christianity often gets blamed for a lot of things wrong in the church without pointing out the positive things. And so, the next time you want to point the finger, try to challenge yourself by asking what are some of the positive things that it/they/he/she has/have to offer.

What other ways does conservative Christianity help people save money?

Steps to Get Out of Debt

Corey —  October 22, 2013 — 3 Comments

Getting out of debt is only a matter of a few steps, but that doesn’t make it easy. While those who are debt free may claim that it’s easy, you got into debt for a reason. Whether it is a justified reason or not, there is a cause for you being in debt. You may have had to take out student loans to get through college, or you may have collected consumer debt as a result of a few bad decisions.

Regardless of the reason, in order to get yourself out of debt, you need to not only make smart choices, but understand how and why you got yourself into this reason in the first place. Below are a few steps that you can follow when trying to get out of debt.

Step 1 – Evaluate Why You are In Debt (Be Honest)

The first and most important step is to be honest with yourself. Many people try to get out of debt by simply earning more money or finding a cheaper interest rate. The problem is that debt often comes from not being able to control your spending. If this applies to you, admit it and move on. Acknowledge that you made some crappy choices and that you want to do better. Similar to getting over any other addiction, you have to admit your struggle in order to get over it.

Step 2 – Control Your Spending

The next thing you need to do, before you even think about paying down your debt is to limit the damage. In other words, don’t keep digging a deeper hole. You need to limit your spending. Interest rates will make your debt bad enough – don’t compound the badness.

Step 3 – Come Up with a Plan

The next thing you need to do is to come up with a strategy and concrete plan to get out of debt. This means looking at calculators or you may even want to use a car loan repayment calculator if you have a car loan. Each plan is going to be unique to each person. You have to figure out what works for you and write down the steps that you are going to take.

Step 4 – Stick to Your Plan

The second to last step is to carry out the plan. If you plan consists of earning $50 more dollars from babysitting, and not eating out, then do that. It’s easy enough to create a plan, but it’s even harder to carry it out. It’s going to take a test of will and hard work to get through it, but if you focus on the benefit, you can do it.

Step 5 – Celebrate

The last and equally important step is to celebrate once you are out of debt. It’s doesn’t have to be anything that special, but you should do something. This is a way to positively reinforce the good behavior. Without this, you could easily slip back into debt.

Getting out of debt may seem easy on paper, but it’s much harder in real life. Find people who can hold your accountable and support you through this process. And lastly, don’t give up! You can do it!

The Costs of Having a Pet

Michelle —  October 4, 2013 — Leave a comment

Getting a new pet for your family can be expensive, and if you don’t fully plan adding this new family member, then you may be in for some surprises. Many pets can probably be had for cheaply, but if you’re thinking a dog, then make sure you fully think about this decision.

I currently have 2 dogs, one is a mutt (they say she might be a Pointer/Pit Bull mutt) and the other is a French Bulldog runt. The mutt is super healthy, but my French Bulldog – not even close. He is about 12 pounds and has already had numerous things wrong with him. And the vet has said that many more things will most like start happening as he gets older, so we do know that we need to start saving just in case something does happen.

We used to have a third dog. We sort of got her on a whim, but fell in love with her immediately. We didn’t really think about much her medication would cost and her had many medical problems. It cost around $100 per month for her medications. She ended up passing away 2 months later which was very sad.

1. Buying or “homing” the pet

There is of course the initial cost of obtaining the pet. I am 100% for pet adoption. There are so many animals out there (both puppies and adults) that need homes, and most pet shops support puppy mills. Adopting a pet may cost anywhere from free to something like $300. Usually this adoption costs includes all shots and possibly the pet being spayed or neutered.

2. Food

Food for your new pet can add up quickly also. I usually like to buy the higher quality bags of dog food. Saving a couple of bucks on dog food is most likely not worth it when it comes to your pet’s health. Dog food can range anywhere from $10 to $100 per month. We spend around $50 to $75 a month on dog food.

Food costs also depends on what type of animal and/or breed you have. Obviously my 12 pound dog eats no where near the amount of food as my 80 pound dog.

3. Medical

Medical for your pet can add up quickly. It will need all of its shots and you will want to keep them current on these shots. You might also want to get them spayed/neutered as well. The Humane Society near my house will spay/neuter your dog for around $40, whereas if you go to your local vet, it is usually around $200 to $300, but I have heard of higher cost of living places with it being around $800.

Also, if anything happens to your pet, will you be able to take them to the doctor? What if your dog gets a really bad rash, a tumor, breaks a leg, has a bad reaction to something or anything else? The cost can be as small as $75, and maybe up to a couple of thousand dollars.

4. Treats, Toys and a Bed

I really like to spoil my dogs, so I tend to spend a lot of treats and toys. Bones can be expensive, and my dog can eat a $20 4 foot long bone in a couple of hours. I don’t give her one of those often, but it does add up!

Beds can also be quite expensive as well. A crate (depending on the size) can be $100, and the bedding can be an extra $25 – $50 to go inside of it. I don’t keep my dogs in their crates ever, but it is said that dogs usually like a place with walls that makes them feel safe. My dogs willingly go in their crates and sleep in there (with the crate door open).

5. Groomers

Taking your pet to the groomers can also add up very quickly as well. My bigger dog cost around $50 each time, and my smaller dog i still expensive at $40. Usually I clean and wash them myself, but every now and then they do need to go.

Did you think about the costs before you added a pet to your family?

Recently, my wife and I have been doing pretty well for ourselves. We aren’t what most people consider rich (although, by the world’s standard’s I am rich), but we do have a few extra dollars to truly enjoy ourselves. We are no longer forced to wait 6 months for a movie to come out on video because we can’t afford a night out on the town. We can now afford to visit both of our families within the same year and not pay for it later. This is a nice feeling to have, until the guilt kicks in.

We’ve always dreamed of living a life that is different from the American Dream. We don’t want a mansion or nice cars, but what we really want is to make a difference. While we’ve had to give up on some of our dreams, we still hope to make a positive difference in this world. We may not lead the next revolution and break systems of injustice, but we genuinely do care about the world.

That’s why the other day my wife came to me and said we need to give more. She wasn’t talking about giving away all our wealth, but she was talking about caring about other people before our selfish desires. Right when I thought we were finally starting to enjoy ourselves, she drops this self-righteous bomb on me.

If I am honest with myself, I can’t help but think two things when she brings this up.

  1. This means we won’t be able to enjoy ourselves as much.
  2. She’s absolutely right.

Once I let myself process it a bit more, I realized that we do need to give more and that’s when the question really began to hit me: How Should we Give? What’s the best way to give?

You may think I am a bit extreme, but I love to analyze things. Some may say OVER-ANALYZE. Here’s the issue: I love to make sure that I am making the best choice possible. This applies to this situation of giving. I could easily give more money in the offering plate each week at church, but is that really making a difference, or am I just making myself feel better? I think when we are honest with ourselves, most of us give just to feel good. We didn’t want to make our gift another one of those, so we decided to talk about what’s the most effective use of our money. We don’t have a lot of money, so we wanted to make sure it counted for something.

Qualities of an Effective Gift

After much discussion, we realized that a gift that is really going to make a difference should have these qualities:

  • Sustainability - The most important thing for us is sustainability. We’ve seen “band-aid fixes” too often in our lives. People can give poor people money all they want, but if they don’t give them a way to earn money for themselves, it won’t make a difference. Sure, it might provide them with a nice dinner tomorrow, but if they have any hope of feeding themselves tomorrow, they are going to need something that’s sustainable. It’s similar to the idea of teaching someone to fish instead of giving them a fish.
  • Affordable Enough to Give Now – While we would love to provide a well for a community in Africa or something that would REALLY make a difference for a LOT of people, we’re not foolish enough to believe we can afford that. We recognize this and yet we still want to give now. We don’t want to wait to give 3 years from now because who knows what excuses we will come up to justify spending that money on ourselves. This is the reason, we wanted to be able to give now – so we can make it a habit before we forget about it.
  • Most Bang For Our Buck – This expression may be dying out, but we really wanted to get the most return for our investment. That’s how we see it. We see giving as an investment in making the world a better place. While there are multiple ways to give a sustainable gift, we wanted one that would give the highest return.

What Did we Decide?

While I don’t want to limit my readers to thinking this is always the best choice for anyone, I do want to share what we decided on for last month. We decided to give a goat via Heifer International. It’s a well-known organization and giving a goal has several benefits:

  • Ability to thrive in extreme climates – In other words, less risk for our investment.
  • Provide Quarts of Milk a Day – This can be a great way to provide food for the family or a source of income
  • Manure for Fertilizer – Not only do they get food from the milk, but the ability to grow crops
  • Children – Goats can have 2-3 kids per year, meaning either exponential source of food/manure or more money by selling the children.

Readers, what goes into your decisions when you decide to give?