How this 22-Year-Old Donates 10% of Her Salary to Charity

Photo: Courtesy of Reagan Toal

While most college students struggle to pay for tuition and textbooks, 22-year-old Reagan Toal made it her mission to give at least 10% of her earnings to charitable causes this holiday season. It will be no small feat for a college junior who earns just $20,000 per year. But Toal has been donating 2% to 4% of her pay to charity for years. This year, she set the bar even higher, aiming to more than double her contribution.

“It seems much more worthwhile than buying extravagant gifts at this time,” Toal told MagnifyMoney. Giving back to the community was ingrained in Toal from an early age and was solidified during her teenage years participating on missions trips to developing nations through her church. She also learned from her grandparents, who donated half their income to charity each year and started a foundation that benefits orphanages and medical centers. 

“The experiences I gained from my family consistently volunteering made me resolute about giving every year, whatever I can,” Toal says.

Toal typically chooses a different cause to contribute to each year. This year, she decided to split her roughly $2,000 donation equally between two organizations: charity: water, which builds water wells to combat disease in developing countries, and eMite, a nonprofit that encourages microdonations and provides updates that allow donors to see their donations at work.

Photo: Reagan Toal

Cutting back to give back

The oldest of seven children, Toal says she easily spends upward of $2,000 during the holidays on gifts for family alone. To hit her goal of giving back this year, she consciously chose to scale back on spending on her friends and family. She budgeted only $300 for gifts this year and has trimmed her budget in many other ways.

1. Cutting back on clothes and other material goods

Toal learned to budget and live sparsely when she lived abroad in 2015 and essentially lived out of a suitcase. “I began cutting back about two years ago to prepare to move abroad,” says Toal. “Besides food and housing, my primary spending over there was on budget traveling. Having moved back to the States, I’m basically replacing my spending with donating to charity.”

2. Cooking in bulk

Having grown up with seven siblings, Toal is no stranger to cooking in bulk. Luckily, that lesson has served her well as a young adult. Toal typically cooks in bulk, preparing four to five days’ worth of food at a time and planning her meals in advance. “While cooking food at home might take your energy, it’s a lot cheaper in the long run,” says Toal.

3. Giving her goals a name — and their own bank account

Toal has two separate checking and savings accounts: one for her daily expenses, and one for her short- and long-term savings goals. “I try not to touch what’s in one bank, while the other is the one I pay for things with,” explains Toal. “Anything I have left over at the end of the month I transfer into my ‘don’t touch’ account, which I only use to pay for major expenses — for example, giving to charity, for tuition, or for a down payment on a car.”

4. Planning holiday shopping in advance

With a meager budget of $300 for gift giving this year, Toal has allocated a set amount to spend on each person on her list. Rather than just heading to the nearby department store and buying whatever catches her eye, she’s been doing a little more research and bargain hunting. “I’ve been looking for gifts that add a special touch — but are also low cost,” says Toal. “That way the money can go toward people who gravely need the resources I can assist in providing.”

5. Handmaking other gifts

For those she won’t be buying gifts for, she’ll most likely be going the DIY route and making watercolor bookmarks and framed or laminated personalized quotes. She may also paint coffee mugs and give these along with a bag of her favorite French roast. 

“A present doesn’t have to be expensive to be meaningful,” says Toal. “People say you can’t buy love or happiness, which is definitely true, but you can buy a brighter future for somebody else. A lot of the time the feeling I get from giving feels a whole lot like happiness, so evidently something’s working!”

The post How this 22-Year-Old Donates 10% of Her Salary to Charity appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

80-Year-Old Walmart Greeter Gets a $1700 Holiday Surprise from Local Community

Veronica Juneau, 28, of Big Lake, Minn. launched a fundraising campaign to give Ray Belanger, a local Walmart greeter, a special Christmas present. On Dec. 18, 2016, Ray supporters gathered at Jump City to celebrate. (Photo Credit: Rico Roman for MagnifyMoney)

When 28-year-old Veronica Juneau first starting shopping at the Walmart in Elk River, Minn., earlier this year, she was met with a fist bump by Ray Belanger, the designated greeter. In fact, she noticed that every person who walked through the glass doors, whether a child or an adult, was met with a high-five or a joke.

“He’s always just so cheery and lively,” says Juneau, who lives in Big Lake and is a full-time student at North Hennepin Community College. “When I’m having a bad day, he makes me feel happy. He doesn’t even try, it’s just who he is.”

After a local news station ran a story about Belanger last spring, members of a community Facebook group began to discuss joining forces to do something nice for Belanger. When the holidays came around, Juneau came up with an idea: she would start a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe to raise money to give Belanger a special present this Christmas. She started with a goal to raise $2,000.

Photo: Alyssa Mae DeMers?
80-year-old Ray Belanger became a Walmart greeter in Elk River, Minn. two years ago after retiring from his job at an iron scrapyard. He’s quickly become a local celebrity. “I talk to them and make them happy,” says Belanger. Photo credit: Alyssa Mae DeMers

“We want to show just how much he’s impacted the community just by being himself,” explains Juneau. “And because he can’t receive gifts while on the job, I wanted to create an online campaign for people who moved away and miss his spirit, or don’t have time to meet with him outside of Walmart.”

A Rocky Start

At the end of November, Juneau posted a link to the campaign on the local Facebook group’s message board. But it was a rocky start. Because that group does not allow posts that ask people for money, moderators wanted to remove it. Some group members expressed disapproval of the campaign, arguing that GoFundMe campaigns should be used for people with severe economic hardship or life-threatening medical conditions. “I felt a little discouraged at first, because some people had posted rude comments,” says Juneau.

On the upside, a small group of supporters started to share the campaign on their personal social media pages, and it soon began trending on GoFundMe. Within a few hours, there were about 200 shares, then 1,000. In a few days, was shared more than 1,200 times. Since the campaign was created at the end of November, it has raised nearly $1,700 from 86 contributors.

“And I’m baffled,” says Juneau. “I thought the community might raise maybe a couple hundred dollars, and I never expected it to get as far as it did.”

Belanger celebrated with friends and family at a party organized in his honor on Dec. 18, 2016 in Ostego, Minn. (Photo Credit: Rico Roman for MagnifyMoney)

For his part, 80-year-old Belanger is humbled by the show of support. Before becoming a Walmart greeter two years ago, he worked at an iron scrapyard while juggling other jobs. “It’s in my nature to be friendly,” he told MagnifyMoney. “I like to talk to people, to ask them how they’re doing. I stop them and ask, ‘whose idea was it to shop this lovely evening when it’s snowing?’ I just don’t stand there and look at them. I talk to them and make them happy.”

‘I Like to Talk to People’

Because Belanger doesn’t have a computer, he’s been concerned about getting the chance to thank everyone who has contributed to the campaign. “I didn’t expect it, but I am appreciating every minute of it,” says Belanger, who has four kids and seven grandkids. “I’ve got to thank all these people somehow.”

To give Belanger a chance to thank everyone in person, Juneau and her friend Alyssa Mae DeMers organized a potluck the Sunday before Christmas. Belanger was met by the smiling faces of longtime Walmart customers, family, and friends.

Friends and supporters do the greeting for once, welcoming Walmart greeter Ray Belanger at a party organized in his honor on Dec. 18, 2017. Supporters raised $1,700 for Ray through crowdfunding site (Photo Credit: Rico Roman for MagnifyMoney)
Friends and supporters do the greeting for once, welcoming Walmart greeter Ray Belanger at a party organized in his honor on Dec. 18, 2017. Supporters raised $1,700 for Ray through crowdfunding site (Photo Credit: Rico Roman for MagnifyMoney)

When asked what he plans to do with the generous cash gift, Belanger thought immediately of his wife, Phyllis, who is 75 and retired from cleaning homes and local businesses. “[I’ll] probably put it in a savings account for [my] wife,” he says.

A Chance to Connect

Juneau recommends those who also want to give to others not to hesitate. “If you think something is worth doing, then do it,” she says. “Because if you don’t get out there and you don’t do anything, you won’t know where the community stands.”

Already, she is feeling more connected to the community where she has lived less than two years. She moved to the area in the summer of 2015 from southeast Minnesota with her young son but no other family in the area.

“It’s so awesome for the community to come together for a cause,” says Juneau. “So many people have been supportive, by sharing the campaign, and with their nice comments and generous donations. It just goes to show how one man who went above and beyond ‘just doing his job’ can touch people. You affect people every day, whether you realize it or not. People are so genuinely in love with Ray that they just want to give to him.”


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