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How to Survive #GivingTuesday When You’re Broke

Woman holding change
#GivingTuesday shouldn’t just be a donation so you can write it off on your taxes, check off the imaginary philanthropy box, and pat yourself on the back.

There’s something about the holiday season that gives me anxiety. It’s not the snowy roads, the extravagant gift expectations, or the crowded shops (on second thought, maybe it is the crowded shops).

No, it’s the fact that I’m broke.

As I’ve written about before, my husband and I are newlyweds. And we’re broke. We have just enough money to make ends meet, which means come Christmas-time, we’re scraping together all of our pocket change to buy presents.

The reality of our low income is even more pungent today — it’s #GivingTuesday.

Essentially, #GivingTuesday is a day to give back — monetarily — to nonprofits and organizations that make the community a better place. As such, it can make the economically challenged like me feel even worse. Not only can we not get our families extravagant presents, but when it comes to these organizations that are saving lives and bettering the human race, we’ve gotta say no to them, too.

But I think people like me, who see #GivingTuesday as another reminder of how broke we are, have the wrong mentality when it comes to giving in the first place.

In the past, I wracked my brain trying to think of the most creative thing to get my husband, Mike, that would show him just how much I love him. In the end, I spent way too much money on something that will just gather dust on his dresser. My intentions were good, but I felt more stressed out about finding the perfect thing than actually giving him something because I love him.

Mike and I decided to do something different this year with gifts; we aren’t exchanging them. We both realized that giving presents to each other has become just an empty custom we follow. We’ve decided that our gift to each other is quality time. We’ll go on a drive together or go out to dinner. We’ll watch a show on Netflix and eat popcorn without our phones.

In the same way, we’re not letting our Christmas presents for others take over our lives. We’ll put thought and creativity into what we make for our family and friends, but the more we both stress about buying the perfect thing, the more unnecessary money we spend, and the more time we take to purchase something that, quite honestly, isn’t that perfect after all — the less value we bring to the holiday season.

We’re going for practical gifts this year. I’m making soaps and lip balm and other DIY products that will actually get used. But more than anything else, we aren’t letting ourselves get bombarded with the lie that our love for our family is evident in the gifts we give.

We’re trying to get back to the mentality that, “It’s the thought that counts,” and focus on giving our best emotionally and spiritually to one another, rather than sticking cash mindlessly into an envelope.

Now, don’t get me wrong — I don’t think it’s wrong to buy presents or go Black Friday shopping or any of those things. Mike and I are just learning that #GivingTuesday should take place every day. And #GivingTuesday shouldn’t just be a donation to your favorite charity so you can write it off on your taxes, check off the imaginary philanthropy box, and pat yourself on the back.

Giving back should happen every day of our lives, so when days designated to give back come around, we aren’t overwhelmed with ensuring we check it off our list. Instead, we know that we’ve been loving our neighbor, praying for those in need, and supporting causes and movements that promote goodness and truth all year round.

So today, give a few bucks to your favorite nonprofit if you’d like. Or maybe spend time physically giving back to your community or spending significant time in prayer for a group of people.

Whatever you do today, don’t fret. ‘Tis the season to be merry.

Copyright 2018 Dani Fitzgerald Brown. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Dani Fitzgerald
Dani Fitzgerald Brown

Dani Fitzgerald Brown is a small-town journalist living in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, a small city outside of Pittsburgh. She’s married to her best friend, Mike Brown, who can make her laugh no matter the circumstance. Dani often listens to audiobooks, drinks copious amounts of mint tea and is constantly munching on popcorn.

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