A short while ago, we decided to donate our tax stimulus check, rather than go on a spending spree, invest it or stick it in savings. Stacie and I had budgeted about a grand to pay her dad for the work he did to install our new flooring (pictures forthcoming), but when it came time to pay him, he wanted no payment whatsoever.
This weekend was our chance to fork over the $850 we promised to give his church, but it was the first time he heard of the plan. So while we were at their home in Pennsylvania, I whipped out the checkbook. He was sitting on the couch next to me, but couldn’t see what I was writing, so when I handed the check over and said it was $850 for his church, he blurted out a quick “why would you do that?” and “I said I didn’t want any money“. I had the response ready and stated “you wouldn’t take our money so we wanted to help you and the community in a different way”. He glared at me.
Anyway, he took the check and I assume it made its way to the church. The church doesn’t have a main office, so I trusted my father-in-law with giving the funds to the treasurer. I’ll find out when it’s cashed.
Sure, we could have not accepted his gift of time (and money since he spent some for materials), but my father-in-law is 60 and not getting any younger. He is just a charitable giver by nature, but I don’t want him to shortchange himself if, God forbid, he becomes too disabled to work. If he gets into the habit of just giving his time, he might also get into the habit of not collecting money owed for regular jobs. He’s already slacking off on his collections, and those materials are often sitting on his credit card until he gets the cash to pay it off from his clients. Luckily he has no debt (not even a mortgage), but they don’t have much in savings and they’re not old enough for social security.
Also, we could have used that budgeted money to pay off our remaining $30,000+ in non-mortgage debt, or just saved/invested it, but honestly that money was already budgeted for paying my father-in-law. So instead of rewarding ourselves with a lucky break on our debt or going out and buying a TV, we committed that money back to the community, specifically to the church that my FIL spends so much of his time helping.
And the reason I’m writing this justification of our actions is because we’ve already heard a few questioning remarks about what we did and why we didn’t keep it for ourselves. We’re selfish everywhere else in our lives, so it just feels good to give back, even if it’s a community hundreds of miles away. I also want these words to perhaps provoke others to consider their giving patterns and rethink their consumerism sometimes.
That “economic stimulus” money will make its way back into the economy, just not directly via Best Buy. Instead, it will be used for groceries and events for the local community.