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Step 6 of 12 to Financial Wellness: Pay it Forward

This year, we’ve been taking you on a journey toward financial wellness. Over the past few months, we’ve shown you how to track your spendingcreate a budgetwork toward ridding yourself of debt, tips to talk about money with a significant other, and tips to practice mindful sending.

But sometimes money management can feel inherently selfish. You’re earning, budgeting, saving and investing, all so you can enjoy a worry-free life that meets standards you set for yourself.

There's a lot of "you" in there, but it's important to take a step back and think about other people, too. You can do a lot of positive things with your money – as well as with your time, talents and possessions. Let’s explore some ways you can make the world into a better place by paying it forward.

1. Donate funds to your favorite cause
The classic way to pay it forward can also be the simplest. Find a charity or two that speaks to your heart and make a donation that fits your budget. Ideally, it is substantial enough to make a difference, but any amount you are able to responsibly commit adds value and is appreciated. Be sure to verify the authenticity of the organization on a charity-vetting site like, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator or CharityWatch. Don’t forget to save your receipt so you can claim a charitable-giving deduction on your taxes.

2. Commit to do one random act of kindness each day
Kindness doesn’t have to be big or loud to make a difference. It doesn’t even have to be costly. Small things that mean a lot can really make someone’s day. You can offer to make a coffee for your coworker, feed a parking meter that’s about to run out for a stranger’s car, remove a branch or rock from the middle of a sidewalk or walking trail, or let someone go ahead of you at a checkout counter. There’s so much you can do when you look to give.

3. Write thank you letters
When was the last time you thanked your child’s teacher for doing such a fantastic job on providing your child with an education? When was the last time you thanked your parents for their ongoing love and support? When was the last time you thanked your mailperson? Pick up a set of thank you cards and spend 20 minutes writing thank you cards to the people in your life; those who do so much for you, but aren’t always thanked for everything they do. Your letters will likely be cherished by the recipients for many months to come.

4. Donate your time
Unfortunately, there are numerous people in this world who are suffering from sickness, poverty, loneliness, mental health challenges or other hardships. With just a small donation of your time, you can help alleviate some of their suffering. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen, help bring cheer to hospitals, offer to babysit for a couple who is going through hard times so they can have a night out to themselves, or make a habit out of visiting a lonely person. You can brighten someone’s day with your presence alone!

5. Share what you have
Aside from money and time, there are so many ways you can use what you have to bring cheer into someone else’s life. You can donate old clothing to Goodwill or gift a friend or neighbor with a full set of your child’s outgrown clothing if it’s still in great condition. Offer to lend out your books to your bookworm friends. Run a low-cost, or even no-cost, yard sale for all the toys, furniture and other items in your home that you don’t use any longer. Share your unused sports equipment with children who are less privileged than yours.

There are so many ways to pay it forward and make the world into a better place. And when you give to others, you’re really giving to yourself too.

Here at CommonWealth One, one of our guiding principles is, "People helping people." That's why every year we do things like school supply drives, food drives and volunteer our own hours and expertise to those in need.

Keep an eye on your emails and on our social media pages for opportunities to join us in giving back, and a chance to provide your favorite charity with a $10,000 donation!

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