How Our Intentional Giving Plan Works for Us

There are a lot of ways to bless others. Some ways don’t cost you a dime—acts of service, listening, speaking words of encouragement, etc.—but many times pulling out your wallet is the best way to bless someone.

How Our Intentional Giving Plan Works for Us

Whether you pay for someone’s meal, leave a generous tip to a waiter who is clearly having a rough day, invite another couple over for dinner, or pay an expense to help someone make it through the month—you’re pulling out your wallet to be a blessing.

When Kori and I first got married and started living under our new “married budget,” we had a problem. After budgeting for tithes and our Compassion kid, we didn’t budget for any other giving beyond those two things.

I’m not talking about sacrificial and extravagant giving. Just things like if we wanted to pay for someone’s meal, it came out of our family’s “eating out” budget. If we wanted to randomly give some money away, we had to figure out what budget bucket it was going to come from. If we had folks over to the house, the meal we served them came from our grocery money.

We found that the last half of each month, we became hesitant to ask people over if our grocery money was running tight or to pay for someone’s meal if our eating out money was running low.

This caused many moments of confusion for us. One of us would want to bless someone, and the other would be thinking about how this would impact our personal budget.

We both had the heart and the desire to bless others, but the way we handled our money didn’t allow us the freedom we desired. We needed a solution that would allow us to be generous in both planned and in spontaneous ways throughout the month.

Finally, we made a simple change:

We started setting aside money each month (apart from our personal budget) to bless others.

Duh, right?

So here’s what we did…

We created four “bless” buckets, and we agreed on an amount to put in each one each month.

Kori’s Bless Money—An amount of money for Kori to give away at her discretion.
Ryan’s Bless Money—An amount of money for me to give away at my discretion.
Family Bless Money—An amount of money for us to give away together.
Food Bless Money—An amount of money that we use to take people out to eat or to pay for the groceries when we invite people over to our house.

Setting up these “bless” buckets really helped free us up to give. No longer did we have the pressure of one of us wanting to bless someone while the other was worried about the personal budget.

Here’s a breakdown on how each “bless” bucket works:

Individual Bless Money
This is money we each get each month to give away at our own discretion. The key component to making this work is: Keeping this in cash in our wallet.

This was a big change for us. We never kept cash in our wallets. We found that not having cash on us could single-handedly eliminate generosity in our day-to-day life.

I know many times Kori has thanked someone who is cleaning a public bathroom by slipping a bill into their hands and telling them that they are noticed by her and by God for the work they do. Through tears they slip the money into their pocket and thank her.

Without cash on hand, these types of moments usually don’t spontaneously happen. So each month, I go to the bank and get each of our money in $5 bills, and we put it in our wallet. It’s a blast to see how the Spirit nudges us to give it away.

Family Bless Money
This is our general giving bucket which we both agree on before we give it away. Just as it’s important for both of us to give away money at our own discretion, it’s vital for us to prayerfully come together and decide as husband and wife on how to bless others as a family.

We don’t always agree on what it should go towards, but we figure it out and it’s a good exercise in communication and compromise. If we have kids someday, it’ll be fun to have them contribute to this decision too.

Food Bless Money
This “bless” bucket had an interesting side benefit. First, this money is for two things: To pay for others’ meals when we go out to eat and to pay for groceries when we invite people over to our home.

If we don’t spend all the money in a bucket, the money carries over to the next month. The side-benefit we’ve discovered is that if we don’t have people over to our home for a month or so watching the money carry over is a great reminder for us to invite someone over.

How This Looks in Real Life

A $50 Example: Say you and your spouse want to try this. Carve $50 out of your monthly budget and break it down like this:
Wife Bless Money: $5 (cash in wallet)
Husband Bless Money: $5 (cash in wallet)
Family Bless Money: $20
Food Bless Money: $20

A $200 Example:
Wife Bless Money: $25 (put five $5 bills in wallet)
Husband Bless Money: $25 (put five $5 bills in wallet)
Family Bless Money: $100
Food Bless Money: $50

At the end of the first month, this is what you might experience:

  • Each of you will have a story to tell on how you gave away your $5 bills.
  • Your family will get in the practice of looking for needs in others because, “Hey, we’ve got money to give away as a family.”
  • Since you set aside food money to bless others, you’ll most likely be more intentional to invite others to your home or out for dinner.

For us, we found that intentionally creating these “bless” buckets each month gets us in the practice of giving in small ways so that we are more alert to meeting needs in bigger, more extravagant ways.

Ryan Stubblefield married Kori when they were both in their early thirties and they’ve been married for 3 years now. He’s still trying to get over the fact that she doesn’t share his love for coffee, but Kori keeps reminding him about how much money that saves him over their lifetimes. Ryan is a serial entrepreneur and has been starting companies since he was in college. Most recently, he’s been the brains behind SingleRoots and MarriageRoots because he loves hearing stories of people living intentionally and counter-culturally and taking scary steps of faith in life.

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