Being charitable when you are in debt - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 10-23-2014, 06:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Being charitable when you are in debt

Not sure if I am looking for advice or just need a place to vent. Well, both, actually. And any insight is very welcome.

My hubby and I are carrying quite a bit of consumer debt. We are snowballing, but it's going to be a long road. I am looking for a job, but have been a stay home mom. HIs employment (and self-employment) history has been rocky, which kind of got us into this mess. We weren't living extravagantly, but ended up relying on credit cards to pay living expenses for several months, and we all know how quickly that can add up.

Anyway. DH has a good salary now. We are hoping to be done with this debt once and for all. If I manage to get a piddly job, it will go much faster. But even with his salary increase, our snowball is not as big as it could be bcs his job is a little bit at risk right now, so we are trying to create our 3-6 mo EF.

This is just back story so you knw where we are in all of this.

Last year he had a friend who couldn't make rent. He "lent" him $1300. I don't see us getting paid back. This guy gave DH a manual labor job when DH was out of work and depressive, though, and probably saved my husband's life in some ways. So I don't begrudge the gift. But this guy had a drug relapse at the time, which is why he wan't able to pay rent, so the whole situation was a mess.

Now DH has another friend that has hit hard times. Somebody dh used to work with. DH wants to give him money too. To the tune of a couple thousand dollars (DH did some consulting work a couple of months ago that he is just now getting paid for)

I appreciate my dh's generous and giving heart. But meanwhile we have over $20k in cc debt. We haven't turned the heat on yet (but dh is worried bcs his friend is in a house without the heat on), i didn't sign my kids up for extra curriculars this fall bcs we are trying to tighten our belts…I am just SO FRUSTRATED.

This is already turning into a novel. If you got this far, thank you for reading. Please help me make sense of this.
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#2 of 10 Old 10-23-2014, 07:01 AM
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I would talk him into giving a smaller gift. Maybe a few gift cards to grocery store. We did give when we were in debt, but moderately. Something that doesn't affect your own finance too much. I think at this point a couple thousand is way too much for you guys to give.

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#3 of 10 Old 10-24-2014, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Poddi View Post
I would talk him into giving a smaller gift. Maybe a few gift cards to grocery store. We did give when we were in debt, but moderately. Something that doesn't affect your own finance too much. I think at this point a couple thousand is way too much for you guys to give.

I agree, don't just hand over cash. Offer to pay the unpaid heat balance to the heat turned on, or like pp said some grocery store giftcards, maybe gas station cards for work etc. I struggle with the similar issues. Dp and I are not doing poorly but I have 9K in debt mostly student loans (am snowballing) and DP has a car loan of about 9K plus about 1K in medical debt. DP and I just discussed tithing to the church I work at/we attend. We have not tithed as I always felt I was drowning and I took the job at the church to help make ends meet (it is 80$ per month). I know realistically we should be tithing about 300-400$ per month per the tithing 10% rule but that would essentially be our savings we plan to save per month so I am unsure what to do. I think us starting out at 40-50$ per month would be best so that it doesn't destroy our finances like a larger amount would do.

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#4 of 10 Old 10-24-2014, 05:21 PM
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You could wipe out 10% of your cc debt with the 2k your dh wants to give!

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#5 of 10 Old 10-25-2014, 06:33 PM
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If you want to help with your money, give to a charitable organization who can give you a receipt you can use to reduce your tax bill.
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#6 of 10 Old 10-25-2014, 07:47 PM
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I agree that a much smaller gift would be okay but no way would I give that kind of money. I do try to give when I can and did even when we were worse off but it was in small amounts that I felt I could even if it was just a few dollars. Honestly not to sound selfish but if your kids aren't doing activities and such that you want them to do and they want because there isn't enough money then there isn't enough money to give someone THOUSANDS of dollars. Seriously... my oldest two both are just finishing soccer that was about $45 each for the season, cheer and basketball last season were about the same, etc. I feel that's an important part of raising my kids though so I could be being biased. I just feel that if I can't afford to give my children anything extra I couldn't afford to give someone else that much extra. That's a lot of money. A couple hundred okay maybe a couple thousand... Negative.

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#7 of 10 Old 10-26-2014, 12:25 AM
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Your DH's job is "a little bit at risk" right now, and he wants to give a friend a few grand? I'd say no too. A few hundred, maybe. Not a few grand.

That said: it's not a crazy thing for your DH to consider. In the event that your family falls on hard times, you would need to be able to call on your support network for help, and your DH may (conciously or unconsciously) be thinking of the money as an investment in someone owing him a favor. He wants to maintain good will in the community that supports him. However, if this is (like the last one) someone with drug problems, that's an incredibly risky investment. (It's a pretty risky investment under any circumstances.)

I think you'd be better off adding the consulting money to your emergency fund. Limit your financial gifts to friends to amounts you can afford to think of as gifts, at times when you can afford to give them.
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#8 of 10 Old 10-26-2014, 03:12 AM
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We tithed and did a small amount of additional charitable giving when we were in debt, but those things were in our budget. It's better to start out in charitable giving by giving smaller amounts more regularly, rather than a huge chunk once in a while. We are at the point now where we are selectively choosing a few recipients to support with larger amounts of money, for better dollar impact, but underlying that is many years of practice in frugal living, to make that level of giving sustainable for us.
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#9 of 10 Old 10-26-2014, 06:40 PM
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If it's important to be charitable then he should be donating his time. If you have consumer debt then you don't have money to be donating. HE shouldn't making financial decisions without your input either
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#10 of 10 Old 10-26-2014, 07:09 PM
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I agree with everything said here. If you yourself are not on solid financial footing (consumer debt and only a small emergency fund) then you are not in a position to give a large cash gift. I would perhaps offer to pay up the bill so they have heat, that would be very charitable and put your husband at ease over leaving someone without access to heat.

For what it's worth I would be nervous if my husband was in the habit of giving or entertaining the thought of giving away such large sums of money. As others said, your family is already doing without things like kids activities and heat to save money.

We had a situation like this once. Someone asked DH for a fairly large amount of money to pay rent. This person had no kids, shared an apartment with a roommate, and was earning the same pay as DH. DH said no since we felt it would be enabling an unrealistic lifestyle but DH did sit down with him and go over his budget. Turns out this guy didn't know how to cook so he was eating out three meals a day, seven days a week! He was spending $80-100 on food per day just for himself going to sit down resturaunts and ordering drinks with dinner. He had gone from living at home to a college dorm with dining halls to this apartment and just had no clue how to handle grocery shopping and cooking. DH explained to him that he really can heat up cans of soup, boil pasta, and microwave frozen dinners. The next month the guy had a couple thousand dollars left in the bank (his roommate had lent him the money for the previous month's rent). Anyway, the point is that it never hurts to offer an affordable amount of assistance while asking if finances are an area they would like to discuss.
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