Be Generous, but Give What You Can Afford

African Americans/blacks have a history of giving. More than two-thirds give to churches and organized charities. We also give to family members who need help paying bills, college students who need tuition assistance and others. We are responsive to our churches and Greek-letter organizations that make appeals.

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Cash that spells out 2015I applaud the giving tradition and am, indeed, part of it. Yet it is important that our gifts are part of a budget and that we plan our giving in the same way we plan anything else.

This is especially important as we move into the reduced- or fixed-income stage of our lives, and also face increased pressure both to be generous and to attend to family needs (elderly parents and unemployed children, in particular).

So put your fingers to a computer spreadsheet or pen to paper, and develop a giving budget.

  • Do you tithe? Add it to the budget.
  • List the charities you support and how much you will give them. Budget something extra to support causes your friends support. Choose an amount that is comfortable and stick to it.
  • Don’t forget your alma mater, especially if you went to a historically black college or university. In fact, if you didn’t go to an HBCU, adopt one.
  • Put gifts to family and friends into your budget and stick to it.


The point is not to put the brakes on your generosity but to put your generosity in the context of your budget and your ability to give.

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This is the first in a series of six guest blogs by economist, author and commentator Julianne Malveaux.

AARP helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities, and fights for and equips Americans 50 and older to live their best lives. Discover all the ways AARP can help you, your family and your community at AARP Black Community.

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