Get Rich By Giving

Financial author and radio host Dave Ramsey usually urges people to stop spending and start saving, but he says that giving money to charity should be an essential part of everyone's financial plan.

Learning to give and doing it well are often just as important as learning to save, Ramsey says. In fact, he has found that givers tend to prosper in all areas of their lives. He has met with thousands of millionaires, and those who are most successful make a point of sharing their wealth.

"I think the rich get a bad rap," Ramsey told The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen. "Most of these people give their way into wealth. That sounds weird, but when you give, it changes you. You know, we're all kind of a little selfish — a little "me, me, me," you know — and when you give, it moves you along the selfishness spectrum from selfish to selfless and when you're selfless you're a better employer, employee, better mommy and daddy."

When people come to Ramsey in serious financial trouble, he tells them to volunteer at a soup kitchen or a nursing home.

"Well, it takes your eyes off yourself. I remember many years ago my wife, Sharon, and I, we lost everything. We were broke, at the bottom starting over," Ramsey said. "When you're in the middle of that, you can have a pretty serious pity party. … no matter how broke you are, (there is someone) that is struggling more and it takes — again, it takes your eyes off yourself and moves you along the spectrum. It's part of your healing and comeback story."

It's important, even if you are not wealthy, to begin learning how to designate part of your income for charity, Ramsey said.

"You should always be building that muscle," he said. "You know, if you're out of shape and you're just starting your program, you wouldn't go in and, you know, lift 500 pounds. You might lift five pounds. So if you're in debt, let's get that giving muscle built by doing something."

Many people this time of year donate to holiday charities such as Toys for Tots, or The Angel Tree. Ramsey said this is a wonderful thing to do, but people should find charities that they can donate to all year.

"No. 1, you ought to be a little personally involved," Ramsey said. "This distant thing — I'm sending a check, I don't know who it is — very dangerous stuff."

It's also important, Ramsey said, to give to something that is close to your heart.

"If you're going to give money to Katrina victims it would be cool to actually visit the area, too," he said.

If someone close to you battled breast cancer, give to a breast cancer charity, not just to cancer research, Ramsey said.

Ramsey's charity tips:

  • When donating, find out what percentage of each dollar goes to those in need, and how much of it goes to cover administrative costs.
  • Charitable telemarketers are generally middlemen who keep 25 to 95 cents of every dollar they collect. Never give out your personal information, such as credit card accounts and social security numbers, over the phone.
  • Hang up, investigate the charity on-line and send your contribution directly to the charity, thereby cutting out the middleman.

    Research any charity on the following Web sites:

    give.org

    charitynavigator.org

    guidestar.org