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Spreading Holiday Cheer on a Budget

The holidays are a great time to show appreciation for the people and organizations that make our lives special. Many of us strive to find the perfect way to show our family and friends how much they mean, and we also like to contribute to causes that are important to us. But even during this season of giving, it’s important to live within our means. Being responsible about our finances now enables us to give generously throughout the rest of the year.

Unfortunately, buying even modest gifts and donating wisely can add up during the holidays. We’ve put together some tips to help you spread holiday cheer and also support charities that are important to you, without breaking the bank.

Give good thoughts

“It’s the thought that counts.” It’s an old adage, but it is especially true in today’s culture of electronic communication and, often, thoughtless consumption. Try writing a heartfelt note about good memories, or even a poem, to close friends and relatives. Even if you’re not creative, you can always list the recipient’s best qualities, talents and attributes. Who wouldn’t love to receive a gift like that?

Shop after the holidays

We’re not talking about shopping for next year! Why not buy this year’s gifts right after the holidays, when everything is drastically reduced? On the actual holiday, you could give the recipient a picture of the gift you intend to buy, perhaps along with a token gift, like homemade cookies. This lets you stretch holiday spirit into the new year, and also give your wallet a reprieve from last-minute shopping.

Volunteer instead of donating cash

If you want to support charities that are important to you, consider volunteering. It’s a generous act that requires your time and energy, but no cash. You may be surprised to find the biggest challenge, when it comes to volunteering, is getting your foot in the door. One way to find opportunities is an internet search. Simply searching “holiday volunteer opportunities in (your town)” is a great way to start. You can also check with local churches and shelters to find organizations that need help. 

Make a plan

Set a realistic goal of how much you can afford to spend on holiday purchases. Make a list of everything you usually buy, from decorations to food to wrapping paper, and tally up the costs. Use the total in each category as your maximum spending limit. Do your best to stay within your budget - no matter how good a deal you find. Remember: living –and giving!- within our means may allow us to feel less stressed and more ready to share the most important gift of all:  peaceful, worry-free time with the people who matter most in our lives.

Article submitted by Autumn