Generosity is the Cornerstone of Any Good Financial Plan


When my wife and I were in medical school, we were a year apart in training.  I went away to internship in San Diego, CA and she had to stay behind in San Antonio, TX to finish her fourth year.  We were living on a very small income at the time and trying to figure out how we were going to afford two rent payments in different cities without taking on more loans.  Fortunately, the generosity of our community was overwhelming.

One of the couples in our chapter of the Christian Medical and Dental Association in San Antonio offered to let my wife stay in their mother-in-law suite for free during her fourth year. 

We were blown away!  What an incredibly generous offer!  I’m still so grateful for this incredible act of kindness that saved us thousands of dollars and helped us get out of debt that much sooner.  Here’s the thing: 

That couple does this kind of thing all the time!

You would never know that they are wealthy.  They’re not flashy.  They don’t show off.  They are kind and generous without expecting anything in return.  

What kind of world would it be if everyone aspired to this level of generosity?  I would love to have the opportunity some day to “pay it forward.”  It has actually changed the way I shop for homes as I think about ways to use our home to be generous to others.  

Have you ever received a gift that changed your life in a huge way?  

We can all probably recall a time when this happened to us, and I encourage you to share your stories in the comments section below to encourage others.  Those life-changing gifts don’t happen by accident.  They’re the final result of a life of good choices and smart financial moves that enable you to give generously.  

So why is giving so important?

You can’t take it with you. 

I was very close with my grandmother for a very long time.  Before she passed away, she gave all her grandchildren part of their inheritance, about $10,000.  I certainly wasn’t expecting to receive anything from her, but my wife and I were so grateful.  We pooled that with the other money we had saved and used it as a down payment on our first house.  It was such a joy to get to share that with her!

If you can share in others’ joy, it doubles the amount of joy you experience. 

My parents were deliberate in teaching us that something good happening to someone else doesn’t mean something bad is happening to you.  Learning to experience joy through someone else’s joy enriches your life.  So, share in others’ joy and more importantly, give generously to others to create that joy for them.  

Generous people are happier. 

It’s no accident that “miser” and “miserable” come from the same root word.  People who hold tightly to money with an iron grip find themselves friendless and alone.  Think of Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol (prior to his transformation).  He was universally disliked because of his covetous, unkind, and selfish nature.  

All rich people are greedy jerks!!

He’s rich, so he must have stolen from poor people.  She’s wealthy, she must have inherited all her money.  Those billionaires, they just have it all and don’t leave anything for the “little man.”  

You’ve heard that, right?  

The truth is, there are some selfish billionaires.  I’ll tell you though, they were selfish long before they were billionaires.  You know what else?  I know plenty of selfish broke people and selfish middle class people too.

Money doesn’t give you morals, it just magnifies the morality you already have.  If you’re a selfish hoarder with little, you’ll be a miser with millions.  If you’re generous when you’re broke, you’ll be a philanthropist when you’re wealthy.

3 practical tips for advancing your generosity

1. Get out of debt!! 

Broke people can’t build charity hospitals, or fund mission trips, or donate big money to disaster relief efforts.  You HAVE to make debt elimination a priority if you want to be outrageously generous with your money.  

2. Make it a priority in your budget. 

John D. Rockefeller, America’s first billionaire, said “I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 per week.” 

Even when my wife and I were paying off our student loans, we tithed faithfully every month.  We set up our budget to have 10% come off the top for our tithe (giving to our church), then 25% for debt reduction, then we built our budget on what was left.  Building the budget that way forced us to make giving and saving a priority.

I’ve heard people say, “I can’t afford to give while I’m in debt.” 

In my experience doing one-on-one financial coaching with hundreds of couples, I can tell you that it’s rare to find a couple who can live on 100% of their income who genuinely can’t live on 90% of their income.  I encourage you to make giving a priority in your budget, even when you’re getting out of debt.  

3. Teach your kids about generosity. 

Nothing makes you take things more seriously than when you’re trying to model right behavior for your kids.  If you don’t have kids, get involved with your local church, or a Boys and Girls club, or some other charitable group and teach others the value of generosity.  You’ll be inspired to become incredibly generous.  

Generosity and wealth

Building wealth shouldn’t be an end in itself.  It should be the means to facilitate incredible generosity. 

You will likely earn millions of dollars over the course of your life.  What do you want your legacy to be?  Wouldn’t you love to be able to experience the joy that comes from making others’ dreams come true? 

It all starts today. 

Get out of debt and look for ways to give your time, talent, and treasure to others.  Your contentment will give you incredible peace. 

Further reading

Leave a comment below and tell us about a memorable time when something was given to you or that you gave to someone and it made a big impact in your life or theirs. 

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