It’s important to be smart in the season of giving so that your generosity isn’t wasted. Giving to others should benefit both the recipient and the giver.
The recipient gains something that makes his or her life better, while you gain the mental and emotional benefits of doing something kind for others.
Unfortunately, sometimes we get so caught up with the Christmas spirit that we get a little careless. We slip into bad habits that could undo some or all of the good we are trying to do.
So, while it’s important to practice generosity, it’s also important to be intentional about it. Below are some tips to help you be smart during the season of giving.
Why It’s Important to Take Part in the Season of Giving
There are several benefits of charity both for you and for those to whom you give. Here are all of the reasons you can feel good about being charitable:
This isn’t the best reason, but there’s no denying the tax benefit of charity. If you itemize your deduction, being charitable could reduce your tax burden.
If you have to give up the money anyway, wouldn’t you rather have a say in where it goes? Plus, tax-eligible donations aren’t limited to cash. You can save on your tax bill simply by decluttering your home!
In general, most people who receive gifts are happy about it. But the act of giving actually stimulates chemicals and hormones that make the giver happy too.
And since our attitude often affects the people around us, when you give a gift of any kind both you and the person who received the gift are now happier and spreading happiness to those around you.
That means each you are generous, you create a happiness ripple effect!
Setting an Example
Whether you know it or not, there are probably many people who look up to you. As a parent, your kids are certainly watching and modeling what you do.
But beyond your children, you have friends, neighbors, and acquaintances who notice your actions. More importantly, many of them will imitate your actions when they notice positive outcomes.
So, beyond the happiness ripple effect I mentioned earlier, each time you are generous with others, you have the power to create a far bigger outcome.
We’ve all heard about the negative health consequences of too much stress. Happy people live longer, more enjoyable lives. And being charitable makes us happier!
However, we only reap the health benefits if giving REDUCES our stress. That’s why it’s so important to give wisely, to avoid increased stress from financial strain.
How to Be Smart in the Season of Giving
There are many benefits of charity, as described above, but most of them rely on your happiness from giving. So, let’s make sure that giving makes you happy!
The best thing you can do to set yourselves up for a successful season of giving is to make a plan ahead of time. Use this Christmas budgeting guide to set up a budget that will help you balance generosity and practicality.
If you really like to go wild at Christmas, it’s a good idea to start saving for it early in the year. Some banks, like Navy Federal Credit Union, have special savings accounts to help you set aside money for specific uses like holiday spending.
In addition, many banks offer special protection and bonuses for your holiday spending when you use your debit or credit card. Check with your bank before you begin your holiday shopping to know all your benefits and how to access them.
Navy Federal can help you put more happy in your holidays and offers fraud protection and bonus rewards for many of their cards. See all the ways you could earn and save with Navy Federal Credit Union.
Not a member? Become a Member today!
Sadly, there are many people who take advantage of others’ Christmas spirit. These individuals are only needy in their own eyes and they will cheerfully mislead you to snag your charitable dollars.
Never give information like your social security number or bank account number. More importantly, be wary of any charity requiring this information in order to process your payment.
Always research a charity. If you’re tempted to donate to someone collecting outside a store, going door-to-door, or over the phone, collect the organization’s information so you can look them up first.
Legitimate organizations will happily accept your contribution anytime so there’s no reason to feel pressured on the spot. Sites like Charity Navigator, GuideStar, and Charity Watch are great resources for finding reputable charities.
If your holiday giving extends beyond friends and family to charitable organizations, make sure to choose the right charities for you. Ideally, the organizations you pick should align with one of your personal interests.
If you want the bulk of your contribution to go towards a specific cause, rather than administrative and marketing fees, consider those numbers as well.
Think Beyond Dollars
We tend to think of spending money when we think of being charitable, but there are many other ways to enjoy the season of giving that don’t require dollars. Your time and talents can be far more valuable!
For example, many nursing home residents appreciate visits more than they do gifts. My daughter’s piano teacher holds the recitals at a local nursing home so the residents can enjoy the music too.
The single mom next door might appreciate some help with yard work or a playdate for her kids at your house more than she would a box of chocolates.
Material gifts are thoughtful and appreciated. But remember to be generous with your time, attention, and abilities too.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year, especially when you get into the spirit of the season and show kindness and compassion to your fellow man. If you follow the tips above, you’ll be able to spread plenty of holiday cheer without ending the year in personal financial crisis or regret.
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