Dear Annie: Is there such a thing as an addiction to charitable giving? I cannot seem to say no to anyone with a need or a hard-luck story.
I give generously to my church, wildlife organizations, cancer funds, firefighter causes and on and on. I give to a number of animal charities. Most folks will drop a dollar or two in the Salvation Army kettles at Christmas. I’m the one who puts in $20 every time I pass one. I also derive pleasure from handing some stranger a $10 bill and instructing them to have lunch on me. I do this at least once a week. I also tip quite well.
All of this generosity would not be a bad thing, but I now find myself in debt because I give cash away right and left. How do I cut back? – Overdoing the Tithing
Dear Overdoing: An addiction is characterized by an inability to control the desire to keep doing it. Some addictions are more destructive than others. You seem to recognize that you have a problem, and that is the first step in getting better. You are being kind, yes, but your donations are also self-serving. You like the way you feel when you are expansive.
Try setting a strict budget. Figure out what you can afford to give away each month. Earmark some for the charities to which you regularly contribute, and put the rest in single dollar bills that you can distribute however you wish. You are less likely to give a stranger a $10 bill if all you have on you are singles. If you truly want to be a generous soul without breaking the bank, volunteer your time at the local animal shelter or Salvation Army.