There’s always a healthy tension when trying to decide how to handle your money well.  The tension exists because you have to make difficult decisions about how to handle the limited resources in your life.  It’s especially hard when you feel called or led to give to a person or a cause, but you didn’t “budget” or plan for that kind of giving.

In honor of the Christmas season, and going along with the giving theme of an excellent post that my good friend Em wrote yesterday, I wanted to share a little bit about our “Blessing Fund.”  It’s something we established after we paid off our home, but you don’t have to wait to do that in order to use the idea for yourself.

In short, our Blessing Fund is money set aside within our checking account that builds up each month, which exists for the express purpose of being used to bless others – whatever that may look like.

Here’s how we do it:

1) Use a simple spreadsheet to track it.  Get the “nerdy” one in the family to build it and keep it updated.  Use a very simple format like you see below.  All you really need is the date, money in, money out, a description, and a running total (subtracting the “money out” from the “money in”) so you know how much you have available.  Below is a sample of what your Blessing Fund might look like.  (Just an example – not our actual spreadsheet.)

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 7.55.55 AM

2) Decide how much to set aside each month.  When you sit down to do your budget each month, you can just include this discussion with it.  Determine how much you are going to set aside based on the month’s expenses, and separate from your tithe (if you give regularly to your local church).  It doesn’t have to be much, and it doesn’t have to be the same each month.  Even if you just do $20, it’s quite possibly more than you’re doing now, so just commit to do something each month.

3) Decide what you will spend this money on.  I leave this up to you.  You might make it just for giving that is not to organizations – individuals only.  Or you might be okay with giving to organizations from the fund.  You may allow giving to your church for one-time projects through this, or you might not.  You decide the rules that govern your blessing fund.  Most importantly, don’t spend money in the blessing fund without talking to your spouse if you’re married!

4) Bless some people’s socks off!   Giving is some of the most fun you will have with money!  If you employ this blessing fund idea, you’ll have specific money set aside for the express purpose of blessing others and getting to enjoy that kind of fun!

5) Don’t go negative.  Don’t borrow to give.  And don’t give more than you can afford and stay on track with your goals.  Traditionally, (and biblically, I believe) offerings come out of your “extra,” out of your overflow.  Do what you can while still covering your basics and making progress toward your goals.  It might be a little bit now, but it can grow over time as your ability to give grows!

Even if you don’t implement a full Blessing Fund in your home, I hope this inspires you to give this month and beyond!  Merry Christmas, friends.

What are some of the creative ways you give during Christmas?