Almost every year for the past several years I’ve made sure to get a $100 bill and put it into a Salvation Army kettle.
Why? It feels good!
I have visions of some Salvation Army worker who’s been carefully counting lots and lots of single dollar bills and even more loose change, lighting up when they stumble across that uncommonly large donation.
Many folks will say that what I’m doing is wrong for so many reasons: I could be totally mistaken about that counting scenario, the single bill could be lost, certainly kettles have been stolen, and I’m missing out on a tax break, and so on. There are many excuses not to do it.
And yet, it feels good. So I do it anyway.
Once you’ve accidentally (or otherwise) achieved affluence it’s time to start thinking about “giving back”, in whatever way that might have meaning for you. And yes, I’ll certainly talk about true philanthropy at another time. This is more about simple generosity that your newfound affluence affords you. “Philanthropy light.” Nothing that has to break the bank, and yet enough so that you, and perhaps your recipients can feel good about it.
Over-tip. Unless you’re trying to send a message for bad service, develop a habit of being tipping a little too much. Too much feels better than too little, doesn’t it? As I said, it doesn’t have to be a big increase – normal tipping for meals in the U.S. is something like 15-20%. So, tip 20-25%. Chances are you’re not going to miss that extra 5%.
Tip when you normally wouldn’t. Did you know that it’s nice to tip the housekeeping staff when you leave a hotel? For a long time I didn’t. For me it’s perfect, since it doesn’t have to be any of that intimidating face-to-face kind of interaction, just leave some cash in the room and walk away feeling good about it. (Check the tipping guidelines sites for ideas on how much. And of course, since we’re here, round up a little.)
Throw a few dollars in the charity cans at the grocery store checkout counter. Buy a few extra items to throw in the food bank collection there too.
Buy Girl Scout cookies. And Camp Fire mints. And the neighbor’s kid’s fundraiser what-ever-it-is.
Sure, there are those who’ll attempt to abuse your generosity. Naturally you’ll want to stay away from solicitors you know aren’t legitimate, and those for whom you may have specific opinions. For example I never give to panhandlers. That’s all perfectly fine and I’m certainly not saying be irresponsible or that you need to somehow compromise your values.
I’m just saying be generous. Round up. Get used to giving in small ways.
It’s actually harder than you think, especially if you’ve come from a background of saving or scarcity. It’s sometimes difficult to give money away, even small amounts, “just because” or when there’s no immediate, tangible return.
My position is that there is.
It feels good.
It makes others feel good.
And it’s great practice.