Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year! It always reminds me of the joys of getting together with family and friends, as well as being thankful for the gifts given to us in everyday life. During the month of November, I am often asked how to donate to charity while on a strict budget, and I always come back to the tried-and-true idea that you do not always have to spend to be charitable. Giving thanks can be just as fulfilling on a specific budgetary limit!
- Make a Spending Plan with the Entire Family
Creating a spending plan with your family can help prevent potential overspending and guarantee awareness of which funds are being allocated towards charity and personal holiday spending. Instead of running into awkward conversations regarding what you are financially comfortable with, this type of plan can help pre-plan your fiscal responsibilities.
A spending plan is one of the most effective ways of reducing financial stress during the holidays and can create comfortable financial boundaries that you can utilize during other events with family or friends. Open communication regarding your portfolio is invaluable, and you can easily give yourself the tools to do so with a spending plan.
- Charitable Investing
Investing in donor-advised funds is another strategic approach to make a lasting impact on charitable causes while adhering to a strict budget. By contributing to a donor-advised fund, you can allocate a specific amount of money that is then distributed to various charities over time. This allows you to plan your charitable giving strategically and maximize the positive influence of your contributions. Moreover, donor-advised funds offer the flexibility to invest and grow your donation over time, potentially increasing the overall impact on the causes you care about. In essence, by judiciously managing a donor-advised fund, you can align your charitable endeavors with both your financial constraints and the desire to create meaningful, long-term change.
- Clear Out the Closet and Pantry
A wonderful way to give back without spending money is by sorting through spare clothes in the closet and donating them to organizations like Goodwill or The Salvation Army. For those with young children, consider going through their closets to find clothes that no longer fit. Even a pair of shoes or infant onesies can greatly help someone in need.
One enduring effect of Covid-19 is pantries stocked with canned goods that have extended expiration dates, purchased to minimize exposure at grocery stores. Now that pandemic seclusion has passed, any unneeded cans can be donated to Feeding America Food Banks, supplementing meals for those who may not be able to enjoy turkey this year.
- Utilize Your Online Cashback Rewards
We now live in a digital world where saving money from cashback rewards has never been easier. Services like Honey or Shopper.com offer constant surveillance for the latest coupons and cashback rewards, and make sure that online shoppers are getting the best deal. I love these services and have saved myself from overspending online over the years!
You can transfer these funds to digital wallets like PayPal or redeem points for gift cards at select stores. While the returned funds may not always be substantial, even a few dollars would be appreciated by charities that accept online donations.
- The Power of Community
When our family, friends and neighbors strive to achieve a shared goal, whether through a food drive or a pay-it-forward campaign, it brings the community together. Two decades ago, I started the non-profit Savvy Ladies and hosted workshops for financially challenged women in my apartment, building a safe space for women to take control of their finances. With the rise of online resources like GoFundMe, raising money for causes you believe in is accessible to everyone. Additionally, leveraging social connections to raise awareness about causes you care about can be a valuable investment in spreading goodwill and inspiring others to contribute.
Finally, nothing says Thanksgiving like volunteering with those who need it most. Volunteering not only contributes to the community but also allows you to make a positive impact without financial constraints. Time is a valuable commodity, and although it is not always easy to find free periods that fit into a busy schedule, volunteering is well worth the effort.
At Savvy Ladies, the service of volunteering has contributed so much to financially vulnerable women, such as our Savvy helpline volunteers who provide advice and knowledge regarding finance. During the holidays, community service knows no bounds, extending as far as your imagination can reach!
Ultimately, the true essence of giving thanks lies not in the amount spent but in the collective effort to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.