When you look at others' problems, it is natural to want to help. But what are you giving up in order to help someone else? In many cases, you may give up some time or effort, or you might even provide some money to someone else. This isn't exactly a bad thing, unless you can't afford it. You need to take care of yourself first.

Don't Put Your Future at Risk

Look at the impact that your actions will have on your future. It would be nice to pay for your child's college, but does it make sense? How is your retirement? Are you using money that should be funding your retirement to pay for college? If you put your future at risk, are you really helping anyone?
The same is true of giving to charity. While you might want to be generous, you also need to consider the impact on your own finances. Giving too much, and putting your own finances in jeopardy can be a real issue. After all, how can you really help someone else when your own situation is such a mess? And who will have to bail you out if you overextend yourself? These are things you need to think about.

Taking Care of Your Health

You also want to take good care of your health. Running yourself ragged isn't going to help anyone. And, in the long run, unhealthy habits can lead to higher overall costs in your life. Look at your situation, and make sure you have time to take care of yourself and maintain your health.
You need to take care of yourself emotionally as well. While being there for someone is important, be realistic about the toll it's taking. Are being drained emotionally for the sake of someone else? It's one thing to be a shoulder to cry on, and quite another to be constantly exposed to never-ending negativity. It's just not healthy, and it can have dire consequences down the road.

Focus on Getting Yourself Right First

Even though it sounds selfish, you really do need to take care of yourself first. You need to put your finances in order before you start financially helping others. And you need to be healthy if you are going to help others with their physical and emotional burdens. You will be much better able to help others if you don't need as much help yourself.
Learn to say no. Sometimes, you need to say no in order to keep yourself sane, and financially solvent. There's nothing wrong with telling someone you can't give them money when you aren't in a position to do so. And, if you don't have time to spend hours working on a project for someone else, you need to be up front about it.
It's good to help others. Helping others can bring benefits to your life. However, if you are struggling yourself, it's much harder to provide that help to someone else. Think about what you can do to improve yourself, and get your finances in order. Once you have done that, you'll have more resources that you can use to help others.

About Tom Drake

Tom Drake is the owner and head writer of the award-winning MapleMoney. With a career as a Financial Analyst and over eight years writing about personal finance, Tom has the knowledge to help you get control of your money and make it work for you.