Tis the Season of Giving

In one week it will be Giving Tuesday, another day added to the list of ways to spend your wealth over this holiday weekend along with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. While I appreciate the smart marketing minds that came up with this I’m going to put out my words of pause.

Thanksgiving at its heart is about gratitude, it’s about joy, it’s about being with those that you love. But in 2017 there’s something else that it’s become about – pressure. Get the deals before their gone, be happy eating all the food you’re supposed to love, and after all that don’t forget to give to charity. It’s a lot of pressure to fit into the holiday weekend.

So here I am to tell you; this pressure isn’t real, get rid of it! Take a minute to take a deep breath, take a moment to yourself and refocus on gratitude. Scream into a pillow, take a walk, do whatever it takes to turn off the chatter about what you’re supposed to be doing this season. I know that’s easier said than done but it’s certainly worth a try for your own wellbeing.

Now that you’ve taken the focus off the shoulds you can take a look at what you want. If you need something and it’s going to be on sale on Black Friday – go for it. If you appreciate your family and/or friends – enjoy spending time with them on Thursday. If you have money to spare in your budget and a cause you’re passionate about – donate on Giving Tuesday.

None of these named days are inherently bad as long as you pause and think about how they fit into your life the best way possible. Often a donation of Giving Tuesday will be matched or even tripled or quadrupled, which makes it a fantastic time to give. But giving your money to a cause you aren’t passionate about or giving money that strains your budget too much just isn’t worth it.

Also please don’t forget that money isn’t all you have to give. You can mark Giving Tuesday by signing up to volunteer for something or giving someone a compliment or some other act of kindness.

You are in control, not the shoulds. If you count everything you’re thankful for this weekend I’m sure you’ll come away with more wealth instead of less.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Share how you’re taking control this weekend. What are your holiday traditions that bring you wealth instead of draining it?

Shopping for a Cause

It’s creeping all too quickly into the holiday season and a time that tends to involve a lot of shopping. I wanted to explore some of the options to spending in a charitable way. For me the best way to shop in a good way is to just give it a little thought and consideration. So here we go


 

First, there are items designated to give a portion of the proceeds to charity. It seems like this happens often with T-shirts and pink items (for breast cancer). This is probably the least effective way to give to charity. Often this percentage is on the small side. Your purchase won’t be included in any matching gifts provided by companies or donors.

These items are only something you should buy if you really want that particular item. You like the T-shirt design, you really want to spread the word about a cause you support, the percentage of proceeds going to the charity is very high and you want to support that specific charity, or it’s an item you’d buy anyway. But ask yourself if you’d do better skipping the t-shirt and making a donation instead or buying a T-shirt that you really love and make a donation with it.


 

Next, there are items that support a struggling community or group. It seems like there are many items from women in Africa, often jewelry. I personally really like this option. It gives people motivation and a job and often the products that are created are handmade and beautiful. This could also be as easy as shopping at your neighborhood bookstore or a locally owned clothing store. Shopping small can make a big difference in your community and in any community.


 

Next, there are the items that are a buy one give one model. Things like shoes or glasses where for each item you purchase another is given to someone in need.
I’m still unsure about these and feel like I need a bit more research into the topic. I’ve purchased a few but almost always because I wanted the product not because I was interested in the donation. I don’t always completely vet the organization that gives away the goods and I wonder if money would be more helpful.


 

Next, there are charities that sell items. The World Wildlife Fund and To Write Love On Her Arms are two that jump to mind (that I have supported). Sometimes this is the cause’s main source of revenue. Again I’d say only purchase these items if you want the item itself (and sometimes the items are pretty cool). If you don’t need another T-shirt or stuffed animal consider just donating the money. That way it can be matched and go directly to fill a need.


 

The last thing I’ll mention is AmazonSmile and shopping at companies who have a strong philanthropic record. Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. If you’re an Amazon shopper this is pretty easy way to get a little money going in the right direction. The drawbacks are you have to pick a single charity and if you’re someone like me who has reservations about shopping on Amazon this one is tricky. But here’s the thing, you can do this yourself – take your bank statement at the end of the month and multiple your purchases by .005 and donate that to your favorite charity. It’s only 50 cents per $100 so it likely won’t hurt your budget and you’ll feel great. BeingGoodeSmile!


 

Shopping this time of year presents a lot of choices and difficult decisions. There are so many stores online and and real life competing for your attention and your dollars. I think the number one thing to think about when shopping charitably is to treat it like any other donation of time or money – is this a cause you want to support and is this the best way to do it?

 

What are your thoughts this time of year?

Enjoy the Holidays

It’s almost Christmas and New Year’s Eve and it’s the time for joy and family, traditions and fun, food and presents, decorations and sparkles but it can also be a time of stress, guilt, and sadness. I think what I’ve accepted is you can and mostly like will have a mixture of both. Life is complicated and wonderful!

 

 

I think that in this season of giving we need to remember to give to ourselves too. Self-care is always important but especially this time of year. I think that we put too much pressure on ourselves to make the holidays perfect. We put too much pressure on the time of year, trying to do too much or please others. It’s easy to forget that you’re in control. You  don’t have to accept the stress that others are putting on you. You don’t have to feel guilty for not giving the perfect present or not going to every event. The holidays are for you to enjoy. If a family member brings up a conversation that makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s okay to remove yourself and do something that calms you down. It’s okay if you can’t afford the most glamorous presents or can’t volunteer or donate to charity right now. It’s okay if a holiday tradition or two skips a year. Do what you can and let go of the rest.

 

I hope your holidays are happy and safe! I hope that you enjoy traditions, make new ones, and follow your own heart! I hope you give all you can this time of year and all year round!

 

Share your traditions or holiday struggles you’ve overcome below.