Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cheapskate Challenge: Taking it to the next level

Frugality is a discipline and like any discipline, you have to push yourself to succeed. We don't just wake up one morning and decide that we are going to be more fiscally responsible and then *poof* it just happens. It takes work. It takes practice. It takes failing and then getting back on the horse again.

So from time to time I will be posting Cheapskate Challenges about once a week. These challenges are designed to help keep you focused on your financial goals. Hopefully they will teach you a little something about your own spending habits and help push you toward the next step of where you are trying to get to. Besides, it's more fun when you aren't the only one sacrificing. Just like practicing for a game or an event, having a team to support you on the journey can help keep you focused and accountable. Hopefully this blog will help build that bridge of community for you.

This week's Cheapskate Challenge is focused on eating out. Eating out is a part of our culture and a part of every one of our lives. Some do it more, some do it less. But one thing is for sure, eating out is a luxury and not a necessity. To remind you of what a luxury it is, your mission this week is for every dollar you spend on eating out, to also donate the same amount of money to a charity of your choice, preferably one that is dedicated to feeding the poor.

This is a great exercise because not only does doubling the cost make you think twice about it before you drop the cash, but it also really makes you think about the value of a dollar. We may be willing to shell out $5.00 on a morning Latte and see that as no small drop in the bucket compared to our overall budget. But when you think about the fact that $5.00 donated to a local food shelter might actually feed a family of four or an individual for an entire day, you might just see an immediate shift in your spending priorities.

I encourage you to seek out your own charities as the more connected you are to them personally, the more meaningful and real your donations of time and money will be. However, if you're not even sure where to get started, here are a couple that I really admire:

Heifer International is an amazing worldwide organization that supports communities by donating livestock and farming supplies along with education to help communities become self sustaining. One of my favorite things about Heifer is that part of their program involves passing on the gift. So one family who receives a couple of goats lets say would pass on the first offspring of their goat to another member in the community, who then would do the same, and so on and so on. So one simple donation creates a ripple effect of giving that goes on endlessly.

Lutheran Social Services is another great charity that I support. LSS of Southern California has served in communities to help the homeless, the abused, and the frail. It is through this ministry that hundreds of thousands of people and their families are aided each year. Their ministry reaches those in need of counseling, emergency services, job training, transitional housing, help for the elderly, utility assistance, and much more.

I hope you will accept this Cheapskate Challenge for the week and please come back and comment and let me know how you did!


Camille said...

I love Heifer International. I donate a flock of chickens at least once a year, generally in celebration of Mom's birthday. :)

A great challenge! And I'll talk to Matt about taking you up on it. Starting tomorrow. :D

Ruta (aka Ruth Ann) said...

I love this idea. I've thought of doing it in the past, although I never followed through. But all the charities have been really hit hard lately, too, so this is so important right now! And I love this blog, even though I don't live in L.A.