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Summer Spending, Summer Giving: Help, Please! (Also: Uganda.)

I am currently unemployed. I have a couple little freelance gigs, some editing here and a photoshoot there, but nothing that is covering the cost of my rent.

This is okay by me. Quitting my job in April rather than August was a deliberate decision. I'm looking for part-time work or a summer contract, but I refuse to ruin the glorious joy of summertime stressing over things beyond my control.*

There are two related changes I'm struggling to sort through, and thought I'd ask for your thoughts/help.

1. Adjusting my socializing.

I'm not a big spender of money. I don't buy a lot of stuff, and as recently mentioned, my clothing options have taken a bit of a limit for the indefinite future. But one thing I do shell out money for is food. Specifically, food with friends. Drinks with friends. Coffee with friends. Gelato with friends. I like getting together with people, and let's be honest, it usually involves food. And in a city where we're so spread out, it usually means meeting halfway at a for-profit food-serving locale.

I feel I should be cutting back on this type of spending (it's one of the few ways I could cut back), but I don't know how to do it in a way that still allows me to connect with people and maintain my friendships in a non-burdensome way.

2.  Considering my giving. 

I know many people who are far more generous than I am with their money, but there are definitely occasions when I am eager to give and causes I want to support. As I head into a period of time where I am knowingly (and carefully) embracing debt, I am not sure how to balance wisdom with generosity. It seems foolish to me to intentionally add to what I owe in unnecessary ways, but it also seems foolish to say I can never give because I am a student or I'm unemployed. I'm still among the wealthiest and most privileged people in the world.

This month, I've particularly wanted to support Ally Vesterfelt as she raises $30,000 to build a classroom in Uganda for her 30th birthday. I met Ally and her husband Darrell when I was visiting Minneapolis; I'd come across them via their site Prodigal Magazine at the start of this year, then discovered they started attending the same church as my delightful Minneapolis host, Wendy. So I messaged her on Twitter, we went for coffee, and it turns out (no surprise here) they are fantastically genuine, risk-taking, smile-inducing folks. "Regular" people who've decided to do big things. Like raise $30,000 for a community of kids in Uganda, a country close to my heart since my visit last year.

So here are my questions for you:

1. What ideas/suggestions/tried & true methods do you have for capping social spending without becoming a hermit or high-maintenance friend?

2. How do you approach giving when your income is lean? Do you give anyway? Do you limit yourself to your current commitments? Do you cut back?

3. If you're able to pay your rent this month without going into debt, would you consider supporting Ally's campaign in my stead? I would be honoured if even three of my friends did what I can't currently. 


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