Dave Ramsey says: Responding to a request to give beyond your means

Dear Dave,

My wife and I are debt-free except for our home, and we’re on Baby Steps 4 and 5. Recently, we were asked to make a large donation to a charity we already support. We don’t have the full cash amount they asked for on hand, and after hearing that, they said we could make monthly installment payments until the donation amount was paid in full. We’re hesitant to do this because it seems a bit like debt to us. What do you think?

— Ben

Dear Ben,

Well, it’s not debt. There would be no repercussions, other than guilt, if you couldn’t make the full donation. So, it’s not debt. To be honest though, I don’t engage in that kind of stuff when it comes to giving.

My wife and I do all our giving — except for our tithe to our local church — through our family foundation. Sometimes we’ll do this giving in a couple of installments, but it’s not because we don’t have the money. It’s generally a situation where we’re walking with the charity or ministry throughout the year, and we’re observing and assessing the need.

I’d be hesitant to give a gift when I don’t have the money. Most of the time, approaches like this fall under the heading of…

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