have less so you can give more


What’s your goal with all of this paring down and de-cluttering?

For me it’s more time, space and less debt and stress.

But I also want to give more. I want to be a better spouse, parent and citizen.

Those are lofty goals but I believe that small actions can help me achieve them. I can be more accommodating and selfless if I find the time and energy to take care of myself, to eat well and exercise. I find that time by having a small home that is easy to maintain and having less stuff that would require more hours of work to pay for.

It all fits together. Have less stuff so I can give more.

One of our goals as a family is to volunteer for causes that are near and dear to us. We’ve done a poor job of this since we moved overseas. Chris walked in a cancer research fundraiser (and Henry and I alongside him) but otherwise we haven’t joined any committees or volunteered our time. We need to get on that.

We also want to contribute financially to causes. Since getting out of debt we have started to set aside money each month to make an annual contribution to a cause. I want to give more financially. Sure, like most families we need to save for the future, unexpected expenses and our son’s education but I want to start giving now. Even if it is a small contribution.

Chris and I discussed it and settled on putting aside 100 GBP (roughly $160 CDN or US) each month. I know, it’s not a huge amount. But it’s a start. We’ll decide annually where to give that money. Cancer research is near and dear to us as both of our mothers have been treated for cancer. I’m also a big supporter of grass roots programs that encourage youth participation in sport. We’ve got some time to think about it and research where we want to send our dollars next fall.

We’ll continue to make additional financial contributions as they come up. At least every other month we have a request for sponsorship or donations for walk-athons or fundraisers. We’ll make those contributions work within our monthly budget.

As my sister wrote a while back, we’ve decided to open up our hands. Growing up in a family where finances were always tight, and debt was the norm, has often made me panic about money. While I want to continue to work on good spending habits, living below our means and saving, I also want to loosen my grip. I want to ride that fine line of saving for the future, enjoying life and not worrying too much if something unexpected comes up and we don’t meet a savings goal. Giving money away will help me with that.

It also just feels good. Money can buy happiness when you spend it on the right things.

This is a small start but it’s something.

This blog will also be a way for my family to give.

Available November 5th


The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year will be released on November 5th. I’m excited to have a launch date and even more excited to tell you about a wonderful cause that some of the proceeds will support. From November 5th to November 12th, $6 from each sale will go to Care.

Specifically the funds will go to support two maternal health clinics to serve women in the provinces of Kasongo and Masisi in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Why the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)? The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world. According to UNICEF, there are 990 pregnancy related deaths per 100,000 live births in DRC compared with 13 per 100,000 in the United States.  The lifetime risk of dying in childbirth for a Congolese woman is 1 in 26.

By building a new facility in each of these locations, Care can provide services for approximately 25,000 people who currently have no access to care.

  • $1,500 can buy a delivery table
  • $100 can buy a stretcher
  • $40 can buy a mattress
  • $25 can buy a bed frame

I’m hopeful we can meet several of their targets and support the development of a maternal health clinic for these women in need.

These are small beginnings to what I hope will be a long road of giving.

How do you decide which charities you support financially, volunteer for or donate goods to? For those of you that make regular financial contributions, how did you decide on a dollar amount to contribute?

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  • I don’t have a lot of money, and running a tiny second-hand bookshop I pay myself well under minimum wage every month. Despite this, I try to give as much as I can. Throughout my sixth form and university years I volunteered at my local MIND charity shop, because although I never used their services I have been diagnosed manic depressive since I was 13.

    I sometimes give charity gifts, like ‘adopting’ a donkey from a local sanctuary for my grandmother for Christmas. I tend to give as generously as I can to the annual Save the Children and Comic Relief fundraising marathons here in the UK (£50 and £200 last year, I think) and I really enjoy choosing charities for spontaneous donations throughout the year. I adopted a barn owl from the Barn Owl Trust last year to celebrate a successful 24-hour read-a-thon (I’d read ‘Wesley: The Story of a Remarkable Owl’ during the event) and gave a sum to the Make a Wish foundation, which always touches my heart.

    Who knows what’s next? I always reckon that it may be a sizeable chunk of my earnings, but given that there are so many frivolous ways I COULD have spent it, it’s going to a better cause! The key is finding the balance between saving and hoarding, I think – and occasionally just thinking, ‘What the hell. They need it more than I do right now’. Thanks for a thought-provoking post Rachel – I hope it inspires more people to follow suit and open their hands, hearts, minds and wallets for a good cause!

  • Every week we(my husband and I) read in our local paper a column called “The Time is Now”. It is run by a local man who at one time was in the same position as alot of the people he writes about. He and his mom were is desperate need of clothes, food, affordable shelter and affordable transportation to get to work. He now runs a charity and writes anonomously about the people he helps weekly in the paper.
    The holidays are approaching and with that means spending money on gifts that we don’t really need. I have over the years talked my in-laws to having a grab bag instead of buying for everyone. This year I am going to refuse to join in the grab bag. I know lots of people want to and like to do this. Our family wants lists of things we would LIKE, so we can buy items off those lists. It is no fun for me. It seems like a chore (I know I am a scrooge). Although we live only a few hours from each other, it always seems we get a gift that needs to be returned, because it doesn’t fit or look good on us etc. and it takes a lot of time and gas not to mention an inconvience to return/exchange it. So this year, I am going to refuse to join in the grab bag and instead donate the amount I would have spent on them and donate to “The Time is Now”, the local charity that helps people in our county.
    My husband and I a talking over how we can more help these people in our community that could very well be our neighbors.

    • Julie – Thank you for sharing your story here. I know a lot of people, myself included, are torn and also frustrated about the gift giving season. Wonderful to hear that not only did you move your family in the direction of fewer gifts but you’re now taking it a step further. This is great inspiration. I’ll have quite a few posts next month on ways to celebrate and give over the holidays in a caring, yet minimalist, way.

    • You are so kind to say that :)

      Writing here has been the catalyst for so much change. This is a pretty big milestone for us and I can honestly credit a lot of it writing and getting encouragement and ideas from others. Like you :)

  • We tend to donate to a local children’s hospital, as we have been there with 2 of our 3 children, and have friends who have used their services extensively! We ask that friends donate there instead of birthday presents.
    We do attend a church, so we do donate a small amount of money there, but the majority of our donations is the ‘stuff’ that we no longer use to be sold in the biannual fair.

    My children’s school chooses an annual charity and each class chooses a ‘fun’draiser to raise money for it. These include popcorn sales and hot dog lunches, and many children will donate birthday money.
    Another thing the school does is have a holiday bazaar where parents donate their unwanted items and the children bring in money to holiday shop for their family.

    • This is great to hear. I’d also like to have strong ties to a charity that has a lot of significance for us. My sister chose the United Way as her regular contribution charity and then donates to others as asks come up.

      Donating goods to charities, both for use by people in need and for resale, is one of the easiest and most overlooked ways to give. We ended up donating a lot of things we could have easily resold before moving overseas. At the time I was a bit wistful for the cash (we were still in consumer debt) but now I’m glad we gave quality high value items away.

  • I’m in the process of decluttering so that I can focus on the things that really matter to me. Family, health, writing. Through finding homes for my stuff, I’ve discovered so much need right here at home that (I’m embarrassed to say) I didn’t know existed. Recently, the kids and I collected slightly used school supplies for a school on the downtown eastside, and I try to take all my good quality clothing and coats to the North Shore Women’s Centre. Who has benefitted the most from these donations? Me!!!! I get to feel good about giving and about being green. It’s a win-win.
    Thank you for the push to start making monetary donations and for the lovely post that just made my morning.
    I have to add that your new book is the book I needed 4 & 9 years ago. It will be hugely beneficial for new parents. And, since I don’t like giving material gifts, I will put this on the top of my list for baby showers. Thanks again!

    • Love reading this, Christine. I actually grew up on the North Shore and we at times received assistance from charities like the North Shore Women’s Centre. In the Lower Mainland people perceive the North Shore as being a wealthy area, and it is, but there are still people struggling.

  • Where to start.. well firstly many many congratulations and all the very best with the launch – I’ll support it on my blog/FB and through my personal social media also. I totally understand, respect and admire your decision to make a donation through the sale. I’ve worked with charities for many years and this is a fantastic support to them – the official term is ’cause related marketing’ when you offer a £/$ or % of sale :)
    I volunteered this year for a small non-profit and know exactly where the money generated from my time went and who benefited. It wasn’t enough to change the world, but every little helps.
    Finally it’s funny you ask what’s the goal to all of this. I was thinking about it earlier today and mulling over whether to post about it but am unsure as it could be deemed a little morbid. Your goal is much nicer!
    There’s something that keeps running through my head and that’s I want ‘to get my house in order’. We all know there’s no guarantees, and if you’ve been through a bereavement you are in no doubt whatsoever. Told you it was morbid sorry! Interestingly (to me anyway) my search for something which led to simplification/minimalism came after a bereavement – I just think the whole world shifted for me.
    There’s something else running through my mind and that’s ‘slipping through my fingers all the time’ and this relates to the kids – I want all distractions out of the way so that I can focus on them. Everyone who has had kids says they grow up so fast make the most of it and I am presuming they are spot on. Everything else I have been told by older people throughout my life has been true, but frequently didn’t get it “Youth is wasted on the young” – Oscar Wilde (again)
    Whoa – long comment – Anyhow off to chuck some stuff away!!!!!!!!!

    • Yes! I agree with the take all the distractions away to enjoy and soak up these years. Every few months I mull over getting an office job. It would boost our savings and we would have more money to travel and also give away. But I keep coming back to that these early years are fleeting. And we are lucky to be able to make it work financially on my husband’s income.

  • Hi, I’ve been reading your blog for a little while but I think this might be my first time commenting. My husband and I don’t have much disposable income to give (especially he spent about six months being unemployed this year). Whenever we do have some money to spare, what we do is make a mindful effort to support local businesses that are struggling. This isn’t “charity giving” in the literal sense, but it supports our community and helps small businesses stay in business. Those people get to keep their jobs, so hopefully they will never need to depend on “charity” in the traditional sense. Also, giving volunteer time to charities is a helpful option if you don’t have money to donate.

  • Giving is a joy and a necessary part of a happy life, I believe. You give to others through your blog, and I thank you for that. Great post!

  • What a feel good post today! You will probably find as your son gets older that your opportunities to volunteer your time and give to others will increase significantly. As an added bonus, doing some of these activities with your kids seems to heighten the joy you get out of them. At a family Christmas event at my kid’s school last year we made sandwiches for the homeless. That was such a memorable experience for me and my family. It is amazing how much joy you get from giving of yourself (and it doesn’t need to be monetary). Congratulations on your book launch and kudos to you for supporting a worthwhile cause at the same time!

  • Thank you for writing this post. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in busy-ness of the day to day and lose sight of what’s really important. I find this especially true now with a very active toddler… he seems to give me ADD :)

    You’ve reminded me that I have jackets and sweaters to take to the local shelter!

    Congratulations on the soon to be released book!

  • It does feel good to give. I don’t like telling people what I give financially- it negates the good feeling I get from it
    However, since I only work about 20 days a year, I do like volunteering my time and don’t mind talking about that, especially when it’s a fun project like the one I just started. I built 2 giant bins to go on my bicycle and my wife and I cruise around town 3-4 days a week and pick up trash. The public has really gotten a kick out of it and so have we :) it just got started a week ago but I started a blog and theres some pictures of our unique bike up there. Since youre car free I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of our car free litter patrol!

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