If you want to provide charity to an organization or to an individual, you should also give yourself the gift of financial planning. We think about maximizing the effect of your charitable contributions to organizations but what about when we give on a personal level?
In, “When charity takes on a familiar face,” Washington Post finance columnist Michelle Singletary addressed a reader with a dilemma that was not about managing her own finances, but about how much financial help to give an elderly neighbor.
A woman wrote on an online forum to express her dismay when she found out that the elderly woman that her family and other families on her block have been helping was relatively wealthy compared to her family. After hearing the elderly woman proclaim things to be expensive the reader would buy the woman items on shopping trips and neighbors assisted with yard work.
Singletary suggests that we can’t really know the whole story of someone’s financial situation based on the way that they behave. There are any number of reasons why this elderly neighbor may not have wanted to broadcast her financial situation. If she no longer works, she may not be able to earn more money, so what looked like a lot to a younger woman might have to carry this woman through many years. We are so used to hearing about people who live above their means, it is surprising to hear of someone living below their means. Singletary gave the following advice:
“Determine whether you are in a position to help.”
“Ask if the person need your help…being frugal doesn’t mean you’re broke.”
“Look for other resources to help the person.”
Singletary also writes that the woman who felt duped, “was being neighborly, and that’s priceless.” In this instance, the elderly neighbor may have valued the attention and the assistance—things that money cannot buy.