Programster's Blog

Tutorials focusing on Linux, programming, and open-source

Off Topic - Giving Back


I am a keen follower of Dave Ramsey and he is always banging on about giving and being generous.

This year, I got a stupidly generous gift from one of my brothers for my birthday. I decided that the only way I could accept it is if started giving it away to those who needed it way more than I did. Thus, I pledged (to myself), that I would give £20 a week away for the next 50 weeks which equates to £1,000 over a period of roughly a year. I needed to track my progress, and I figured this is the best place until I can find somewhere better. I also figured that if I publicly state my intention/goal, then I am less likely to stop.

Week 1 - Sunday 23rd June

I have a friend who is struggling to say the least. They don't have a car, so they always has to do lots of little frequent shops at the more expensive, smaller stores. I offered to drive them to the supermarket of their choice and pay for the first £20 of their groceries. They kindly took me up on the offer and we did a large shop at the local Asda.

I'm so fortunate to have a car and not to have to worry about the cost of food. My car, Gretel, may be a bit of a banger with over 110,000 miles, but it does the job and this day made me appreciate it that much more. It was a nice to be focused on just helping one other person out with no ulterior motive.

Week 2 - Sunday 30th June

I had decided at the start of this week that if I didn't find anything better to put the money towards, then I would use the money to buy food to donate to a food-bank. I had heard of the rise in need of food-banks in the news, but had never bothered to look into them at all before now. I knew they existed, but didn't know where, or even how to donate. Luckily, a quick Google led me to the Woking Foodbank website, which helpfully lists locations where you can donate food, including my main supermarket, (1), and the types of products they need (2). It was a good thing I checked because my first thought was to get some beans, which they expressly state they do not need (3).

So I planned a shop using the website to try and pick-off the top products they wanted, but get as close to £20 as possible. This is what I got/gave.

Drop-off Location

The website had stated that the drop-off point was at the front of the store, but I had to go and ask to find out where it was. It turns out that it (currently) is a white basket right at the entrance by where the security guard stands.

Tesco's Tops Up 20%

One of the best parts is that Tesco will apparently top up the amount you give by 20%, so in a way, it's giving £25. Every little helps :)

£1000 Tesco Gift Card

I noticed that the bottom of the reciept has a code for filling in a survey for the chance to win a £1000 tesco gift card. I figured I might as well tempt fate again and if I win, I'll have to do this again for 50 weeks, and find something else to spend the original £20 on.

Week 3 - Saturday 6th July

Whilst walking back from getting a haircut, I saw just one homeless person on my route. I gave them this weeks £20 and just told him to "have a good one" (day).

I know lots of people would tell me off for giving money to a homeless guy. Usually along the lines of "You're buying a drunk a drink." or "They're just acting.". If he is acting, then he's really good and deserves the money. I can only hope that he doesn't use it to feed an addiction. He is far more likely to spend it on things he needs, than I am compared to my wants. Within 30 seconds of giving the man the money, I heard a woman showing off to another her brand new purse. Even if the purse cost just £20, I would have still have definitely bought the former than the latter.

It's strange how much more £20 can feel at times than just a 50th of 1k.

Week 4 - Friday 19th July

Today I decided to give 10 quid to each of the two cleaners that come by in a van and clean the communal areas of the flats I live in. I don't know how much they get paid, as it's the building management company that pays them, but I'm guessing it's a lot of work for not much. These guys look like they lead a hard life and as I was giving the money to one of them, he asked me "Why?" in an aggressive way. I just said that I appreciate the work they do and wanted to say thank you and to just use the money to go have a beer or something. I figured it might be good as a Friday treat. I'm pretty sure that he thought that I had an ulterior motive. I doubt many people ever give them a tip or even pay attention to the fact that they are there. I just hope I didn't insult his pride.

Some of you may notice that I slipped up and missed a week between weeks 3 and 4. I will keep giving 20 quid a week for 50 weeks, meaning I still have 46 more to go, but if I see a good "opportunity", I'll probably give twice in one week.

Week 5 - Friday 26th July

I took the day off today and took friend grocery shopping the same as I did in Week 1. Life still seems pretty bad for them. I'm too shy to tell them seriously that they need to get on a budget, and kick the guy that leeches off of them, into the street, although I keep dropping it as hints. I might just be hearing one side of a story though and maybe they would actually be financially worse off without him. I just wish I heard that things were getting better, rather than worse. If anyone needs some cold-hard Dave Ramsey advice, it's them. They need to have had the "I've had it" moment though.

The sad thing is, they are what really motivate me to save money and never get into debt. I really don't want to be like them at their age. I've led a privileged/lucky life and have never had to struggle like they have had to. I will do all it takes to make sure I never get myself into that position.

Week 6 And 7 - Monday 12th August

Over the weekend I went to the Loxwood Medievil event and had a great time. Unfortunately, by the end of it I got into a bad state and collapsed on the floor, but luckily there were first aiders from St Johns around that took care of me, so I decided that donating to the St Johns Ambulance service would be appropriate. Since I have missed the odd week or two, I bumped up the donation to £40. Fortunately, the UK government tops this up by 25% if you tick a box and you are a UK taxpayer (which I am)., so I like to think that I donated £50, not £40. It's not much, but this doesn't have to be the only time.

Week 8 - Saturday 24th August

On the way into my local Tescos, I saw that there were two people from the RAFA, fundraising by selling ducks. This felt like "the call" for this weeks opportunity so I took it. I feel guilty that this was probably my least "efficient" donation so far, but it felt great to give the money away, and then give the ducks I got away to my colleagues at work. I will have to work harder finding another cause next time, but the important thing is that I have all my ducks in a row.

Week 9 - Saturday 21st September

I took my neighbor for another £20 grocery shop. I knew that I had been slipping on this "project", but didn't realize by how much until filling this in. I am rather hoping I will find a really good cause to donate a more significant amount to and "catch up".

Week 10 / 11 / 12 - Friday 4th October

Today we, as a company, went into London to celebrate our boss's 40th birthday. I was a bit bummed out most of the day as I hate everything about London and was not looking forward to the prospect of heading in at 17:00 during rush hour. However, I realized it was a good opportunity to put the "giving" money to good use so I took £100 in with me with the intention of handing a tenner to every homeless person/beggar I came across. I had my eyes peeled, but only managed to find 6 on the entire trip. It sure made the trip a lot more fun and was the best 60 quid I've ever spent in London.

Week 13 - Saturday 2nd November

Donated £20 for 2 poppies, one for me, and one for my girlfriend.

Week 14 - Saturday 30th November

Gave £20 to a busker in the pedestrian tunnel under Woking train station. It's 1 degree Celsius out there.

Week 14.5 - Friday 20th December

£10 To save the children fundraising event.

Week 15.5 - 24th December

Dived out of bed to give £10 to the guy who cleans the communal area of my flat. I could hear him vacuuming early in the morning and didn't want to miss him. Wen't Christmas shopping and gave £10 to a "big issue" lady just outside the entrance to the shopping centre in town.

Last updated: 28th December 2019
First published: 30th June 2019