Volunteering vs. Extra Money: Weighing the Opportunity Cost

May 28, 2023

When it comes to making money and volunteering, what is the best way to balance the two in order to manage your time well? In this highlight, we discuss how you should approach both scenarios.

Want to know what to do with your next dollar, you need this free download: the Financial Order of Operations. It’s our nine tried-and-true steps that will help you secure your financial future.


He says in the messy middle, “Is it time wasted to work on volunteer efforts when you could be spending time generating more cash, thus saving your volunteer years for later in life?”

Permit me, I hear this a lot. It’s slightly different in terms, but tell me Rebie or Brian if you’ve ever heard this: “Hey, I love the idea of giving, and I want to be so, so generous. But what I’m going to do is, I get this 88 times over, and so I’m gonna save up all this money. I’m gonna build up all this wealth now so that I can be generous later on. I’m gonna give away tons of money once I’ve built up my portfolio, once I’ve built up my wealth.”

I think a lot of people fall into that. I think, and I’m gonna assume what hockey’s talking about here, Brian, is volunteer work, pro bono work, that kind of stuff. Not just stuff where you go out and you’re able to make a wage, earn income. It’s interesting, you and I talked about something when we were going through the financial order of operations, when we were building the course itself. We said, “Man, these are great, these nine steps are awesome, but there’s some other stuff. There’s some stuff in the cracks, there’s some in-between stuff, there’s some ground rules that exist.” And one of those ground rules we talked about was generosity. Not just in terms of what we do financially, but also, speaking to hockey’s question, what we do with our time, how we pour into others. And is that, if someone chooses to do that, chooses to volunteer, chooses to give away time, choose to give away services, are they being a bad steward? Are they not maximizing their potential? Are they walking away from opportunity because they’re not making money, they’re not investing those dollars?

I don’t, oh, look, that’s actually a loaded question. And also, we don’t have any type of context on how much money are we talking about, or is this person already very generous financially? Or is this, if you don’t have resources, being generous with your time is another form of being generous, so they’re somewhat different.

I would say, though, that to understand why we had to put a ground rule in, because this was this important, I think you even, if you don’t have resources, you should try to find a way. Because if you’re in the messy middle with a family, do this as part of the family component. Because I’ll tell you, some of my childhood memories, I think one of the reasons I think that being generous has hit me was with my youth group, going to the cities and doing soup kitchens and other things, and going on trips where you’re rebuilding front porches for people. It’s good, too, because look, I don’t come from money, but there’s always just, there’s lots of people up there, there’s also people down from even your situation. And having that context of how thankful your situation, even if it’s not a lot, you can still be very generous with your time. And if you’re worried about taking away from the family, make the activity be part of the family part as well.

Now, I will say, you mentioned something, Bo, and I’m guilty of this, is that I mean, you hear a lot of business owners who, like, “Why would I be generous now?” Because look how many people I employ and other things. I compliment Bo, and he would never brag on himself. He’s always been very consistent with his charitable giving. I mean, it is, it’s amazing. I mean, you know, we see each other, we see what each other have going on financially, and I’m always, I mean, I’m humbled by it to the point that I realized I was tricked playing these mind tricks myself. I was saying, you know what, when I get to this level of wealth, I’m going to give even more money to the charities. But the reality is, every year I’d be like, yeah, but if I let that money just work a little bit more or, you know, how much more I can get. But I was never actually connecting to the engaged action of actually being selfless. So I think you have to be very deliberate to be generous on purpose because, realize, a lot of people will be like, man, but I could do more with that or think of what I could grow that to, what benefit I could provide. But the reality is, it’s also a game of discipline for you to make sure that, yes, money and wealth building is a process, but you want to be responsible so it doesn’t consume you in a way that you’re unhealthy with your life outlook, with your goals.

I mean, I have so many 40-somethings that reach out and be like, hey, I’ve been doing over 25 percent, I’m doing 40 savings, my wife is all up on me because we go on these cheap vacations, we do this. It’s all this stuff, it’s interconnected, guys, helping you keep your relationship and responsibility and purpose all interconnected in a healthy way. Because there’s so much negative stuff out there telling you, consume, consume, consume, you know, or even save, save, that it’s nice to have that balance. That you can kind of come out on the other side and be like, man, not only did I live the best version of my life, but I feel like I woke up every morning with some purpose. I made the world a little bit better each day, and I feel like I’m a good steward with what has been blessed upon me because I actually, I was very deliberate with this process. And I think if you can do that, you’ll find that you have balance. So, focus on being generous, whether it’s money or resources, as you come through this. And I think it will also being selfless will help you so that when you get wealthy, you don’t become one of those wealthy people that everybody hates. You actually will be that story where, because I love when you want to go on social media and you hear so many people say, “Hey, I met so-and-so. They’re a billionaire.” Or, “I met this person. They’re worth 800 million dollars.” But they were just like a cool dude, you know? Just like anybody else. You know, it seems like they have a family. It seems like they’re just trying to be good, do good by the world. I think that happens more often. People will realize. And that’s what I want you to have, be that same type of example when you get there as well.

A lot of the Money Guy family are maximizers, which I love. And sometimes, I like these questions because, like, it brings us back a bit. Because, you know, I’m in the messy middle, and I do, like, one volunteer thing. Not even, like, tooting my own horn or anything. And sometimes, it’s inconvenient to, like, make the time to go and all this stuff. It’s with high school girls, and I realize now that I’ve done it for a few years, I would have missed out if I hadn’t done it. You know what I’m saying? So, like, I don’t know, I like your answer. I love that generosity. Look at Mr. Beast. There’s a reason. I mean, look, he gets tons of views, but I think Jimmy really does enjoy it. And when you see him, like, but here’s the little thing about Jimmy people don’t know, and I’ve said it in my household all over the place. A lot of people, like, there was a gentleman who stayed in a house for, was it 100 days or whatever, and won like half a million dollars. Now that gentleman is in charge of facilities for Mr. B. There was another video I saw where people said, “These people that Jimmy used to have on the show, what happened to them?” And everybody’s always looking for that sizzle. If he did something wrong, now they work behind the scenes.

You can be generous, and what I love is, I think people are drawn to somebody who genuinely wants to make things better. And I want you to be a part of that. Get some of that in you as well because people will be drawn to you and figure out if we have more of those, if more of us become that way, I think, man, a lot of the chaos that we all look around and see, we might all be in a little bit better situation.

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