Giving should not only be a central part of your financial plan, but also of your life plan.

While giving can be monetary in nature, it also comes in the sacrifices we make, in our gifts of service and many other forms.

The word give, and variations of the word give, are used in the Bible 1,981 times and suggests that God has a lot to say about giving. By far, the vast majority of these are in reference to what God has given us. If you look at Christ, God gave us the ultimate gift – he gave us his son. Therefore, we should find ways to give and to serve others.

In my own life, when I’ve been focused on my own self-fulfillment and material possessions, I’ve found that is an empty way to live. Joy comes from serving others. Many of us are fortunate to have financial blessings, but do you have meaning for your money? When we look for what we’re passionate about and give, it brings us joy and meaning.

As we celebrate this Christmas season, consider ways that you can give to others who are less fortunate than you. When we talk about financial stewardship and our own financial planning, consider incorporating giving into the foundation of your financial plan.

Consider this: when we first get a job, we should plan to give 10 percent away. The second thing we should do is pay ourselves 10 percent – which means not spending it, but investing it for our future. Then after taxes, we live on what’s left. But we start with giving. If you’re not already giving out of your income, consider starting small. You don’t have to give at 10 percent, perhaps 1-2 percent is a good initial investment. Then, when you get a raise or have more discretionary income, increase that percentage to 3 or 4 percent. Before you know it, you’ll be giving 10 percent.

Find organizations and things you believe in and that you’re passionate about. Whenever I’ve given, I’ve gotten back ten-fold, not always with financial blessings, but with life blessings.