The Joy of Giving
Earlier this year, while at the March for Life, Alison and I were approached by a man selling official event hats. Ordinarily, I don't bother buying branded merchandise from events, but this time, I did. He told me that the proceeds went to help a particular charity that provided housing and job training to the homeless. Since the hats were clearly high quality and bore the official logo of the March, I immediately reached for my wallet and bought two. The thing is, giving your money to help others is the most fun that you'll ever have.
Being a Scrooge about making charitable donations is no way to live. A tight fist doesn't let any money out, but it also doesn't let anything else in. If you don't give some of your money away to charitable causes, you've let money become your master. You'll obsess over it, you'll worry about it, and you'll have anxiety about it. Try giving some away to get the right perspective again.
While giving away a portion of your money is a good thing, be sure your vet your designees. I don't give money to charitable causes at the cash registers of stores for that very reason. I know nothing about those causes, I haven't done my research, and I'm not sure if they do something that I find morally objectionable. You want your dollars to go far and to help as many people as you can. That's why the research is so important.
It might even be fun to make giving your money away a game. Who's world can you completely change with a random act of generosity? Don't just limit your giving to legally organized charities. While making giving a part of your tax strategy is probably something that you should be doing, don't limit yourself. Help a struggling coworker or neighbor, give a huge tip to your pregnant waitress or people working during the holidays, or leave a nice tip for the hotel maid. In all of these cases you won't get a tax write-off, but you'll get something much better. You'll have given an unexpected, and likely needed, gift to someone you've looked in the eyes.
While it may seem paradoxical, giving is the most fun that you'll have with money. Give freely.