A few hours after I found out about my raise, I went to choir rehearsals, where we were treated to a conversation about the financial status of our organization. We’re a non-profit choir, and one of the big choirs in DC is ceasing operations at the end of the season. Naturally, we’re all a little bit worried about the status of our organization. We know that times are tough and that tickets aren’t selling like they used to.
Our news was better than the other choir’s. While they were struggling for the past three years, we’ve been in the black until this year, when it looks like we will take a relatively small loss. Given the economy, that’s not unexpected. Having just heard about my raise, of course, I made a mental note to make an extra donation to the choir this year. We’re never asked to donate, as we donate our time and our voices, but I get so much out of the organization that it never helps to give back in more ways than one.
I’ve noticed a lot of non-profits struggling lately. For as long as I’ve been here, the National Cathedral has had a little donation box sitting just inside the doors with a suggested donation for individuals, families, and military and seniors. It’s not required, of course, but the Cathedral continues to struggle. In the past few weeks, I noticed that they put up a bunch of fairly tasteful signs asking people to please give $5 to help support the Cathedral’s operations.
Those of us in D.C. often tout the great free things to do here. I regularly visit the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery on my lunch break, and I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I have not once bothered to drop a donation in their box. The problem is, nothing is really free. These wonderful things cost money to operate, even with the numerous volunteers. With the government struggling to bail out banks, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see funding to these sorts of programs get cut.
If you’re out enjoying the free or inexpensive programs being put on by non-profits or community organizations, maybe consider making a donation. It doesn’t have to be something big. If you’re visiting a museum with a donation box, drop in a few dollars. If you love community theater, consider sending them a small check or seeing if there are any supplies they could use. Spend a lot of time at the library? See if there are any books that they are hoping to add that you might be able to donate. Some libraries have Amazon.com wishlists. Maybe your library could use a donation of supplies for a children’s event. If we all just give a little, we can make a big difference.
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.