How about giving to charity?
I can hear you groan, shift your feet and even react a bit cynically. In the economy, who has money to give to anyone, no matter how needy? We're all familiar with the saying, "Give till it hurts!!" but may-be we hurt already. Or may-be we just finished hurting and we don't want to hurt at all.
I bet you've never heard this saying before, but how about giving till it doesn't hurt? I've been brainstorming some ideas about this, and I'd like to share it with you.
Before we begin though, let me ask you, when you do the giving, are you planning on trying to take a deduction on your taxes for your Christmas time giving? Because if you are, it is really, really, did I emphasize really enough? important that you keep good records of your giving. Keep receipts, and if you aren't given a receipt, you are going to have to insist on one that includes the name of the charity, the date and exactly what you have donated. Which makes this whole endeavor sound more like Scrooge than Santa, but what can you do?
So, how do you give without it hurting? First, promise yourself that no matter who gung ho! you are about this endeavor to begin with, you will not let it turn into an obsession and become a crusading super man or woman. That only leads to disappointment if you don't reach a certain goal, and then to disappointment.
My first no-pain idea is to wrap an empty coffee can with Christmas wrapping paper and put a slit in the flexible plastic top. If you have kids, they could decorate the can and make it look like a gift, or put words like "Donate" or "give" or "change" on a simply wrapped can. If the can is pleasing enough to the eye, then you can leave it in the family living space where it is noticeable and not easy to lose or forget about as the season goes on.
Now, what goes into the can, besides money that is? Well how about coupons that are for food pantry essentials like pasta, baby formula, disposable diapers, soups, meals in a can etc? Make sure the coupons don't expire until the very end of December at the soonest, January would be better. Now start saving for buying the items on the coupons.
So, where does that money come from? Well I have a few ideas on that also.
My first thought is, every bit of change in pockets, under seat cushions, in the car, on dresser tops etc goes into the can. You might be surprised at how much change you find this way, and the OUCH! factor is zero.
Okay, so you want to add more money to the can than loose change provided? How about the deposit money from returnable bottles and cans? May-be you and your family don't drink soft drinks enough to make this very lucrative, but a simple request made to neighbors or co workers by way of a cute note asking for a weeks worth of bottles and cans might bring in a few more dollars, without bothering anyone with a long term commitment. Another idea is to go on family walks and pick up bottles and cans along the road. How about knocking on the doors of people who have recycling bins in front of their houses and asking if you can take their returnables, of course never leaving a mess in your wake.
A last idea is to ask a area restaurant to save you their returnable bottles and cans for one weekend, which you will promptly pick up on Monday.
More ideas next time.