What are your thoughts about volunteering?  I know just a couple years ago I always had good intentions of volunteering, but took on selfish thoughts about it-- it takes a lot of my free time, I don't want to feel forced to do something, etc.  Well, those thoughts changed quickly.  When I started to examine my finances I realized that I had a spending problem (obviously, right?!), but a lot of this problem stemmed from being single.  If it was the weekend and I was bored, I would go and walk around a mall, and then buy things I didn't need, meet friends for lunch or dinner, or do something equally "money consuming" just to fill my time.  So, I had to make a change.  I started really thinking about what I enjoyed doing, and how I could incorporate that into not spending money. 

Volunteering took on a whole new look for me.  I did my research and found some amazing organizations that I'd be honored to volunteer for.  I have a passion for animals, and for the past two years have spent the majority of my weekends volunteering with a horse rescue and equine therapy organization.  I'm able to combine my love for animals with helping organizations that truly need it; this allows them to do wonderful things.  What I love most about it, is that by volunteering my time with a local organization, I have learned more about horse care than I could ever have imagined.  My weekends are full, my time is spent doing something I love, and, at the end of the day, I'm making a difference in my own small way-it can't get any better than that. 

Everyone knows about big organizations that need help, like Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross, Humane Society, and so many more; these are wonderful organizations, and ones you may consider--depending on what you're passionate about. But, I also want to encourage you to find something local about your volunteering. Whether it's an international organization, or even a back yard non-profit, if you make it personal, you gain more.  If you help build a house for a family, then be a part of the celebration when they walk in for the first time.  If you work with an abandoned dog, then be there when the new family comes to pick him up.  Try to find that struggling non-profit that can't survive without volunteers; you will have the ability to learn more than you could imagine, no matter what your skill or skill level is.  I grew up with horses and am waiting for the day that I can have them in my life again; volunteering at a horse rescue not only allows them to be in my life, but I never would have imagined I'd be able to run an IV to a horse that has been neglected, learn the various medical conditions these animals suffer from, and the home remedies that can cure them.  I never would have thought this possible.  Amazing that something as simple as gaining financial responsibility caused so much more to happen in my life.  When you think about how you can stop spending money, consider where you're spending your time. Consider making a difference.