Guest Contributor – Lionel Shipman
Lionel Shipman is the owner of Shipman Consulting, a personal and business finance-consulting firm specializing in helping individuals and businesses improve their financial outlooks. The primary focus of the firm is facilitating seminars and classes to educate, motivate, and empower people to take charge of their financial lives. The firm also offers one-on-one consulting services.
Please visit the firm’s website for information at WWW.ShipmanConsulting.Com.
Know Your Money
Thursday – November 13, 2014
Giving Without Spending Much
By Guest Contributor – Lionel Shipman
Well, another holiday season is upon us. The official kick-off is usually the week of Thanksgiving. However, holiday decorations were spotted in a few stores at the end of September. The holiday season will bring lots of cheer and excitement to some people as stores are decorated with green, orange and red colors. People will tolerate the long lines while taking advantage of the holiday sale prices of clothing, toys and gadgets among other things. A lot of people really enjoy the holiday season regardless of the increased number of people at the malls and on the highways. They look forward to the smell of pumpkin pies and other delicious treats as well as the merchandises. As for other people, unfortunately, the holidays will likely bring unhappiness, frustration, and depression. Even the sights and sounds of Christmas and the smell of holiday spices will not lift their spirits. I remember a time when the holiday season was actually the best time of the year for everybody, at least for most of the people I grew up with. Everyone was happy and excited even though the events of their lives during the year were challenging.
Today, it seems like the true meaning of the holiday season has changed significantly over the years. For years now, the exchange of gifts has been the top priority. It seems as if the gifts have become the most important thing for the season. People seem to be more concerned about whether or not they will be receiving the hottest electronic gadget or the new designer clothes rather than the care and concern of others. Some parents are worried and frantic that their little Johnny or Lucy will not receive the “got to have it” toy for Christmas. What happened to peace on earth and goodwill toward all men? Just imagine if there were no gifts to give. What if people decided not to give gifts during this holiday season? Some people might say that I am insane for even suggesting or considering such a thing. After all, it is tradition to give gifts during the holiday season. However, for many people, there will be no gifts this year. Some people will not receive any gifts and some will not have the money to buy gifts. Some people do not have the personal income today as they did years ago. The financial outlooks of many people have spiraled from a positive outlook to a negative outlook. There is no discretionary money.
For years now, I have wondered why the gifts have often time exceeded the true care and concern of the recipients. I am not implying that people do not love the recipients of the gifts. However, it seems as if the primary focus is the gift itself. Some people are more concerned with the value or the elegance of the gift or acceptance of the gift as opposed to the person who is actually receiving the gift. I have a confession. I have given gifts just because it was the holiday season. I gave gifts because I did not want to be singled out as a Scrooge or a Grinch. Why? Because like many of you, I felt the pressure of giving gifts regardless of whether I could afford it or even wanted to give a gift in the first place. I went out and spent money on gifts anyway. Giving gifts became an obligation. Well, a few years ago during a holiday season, I changed. For that holiday season, I decided not to buy gifts for anyone. That’s right. No one was going to receive a gift from me, not even my parents. To my surprise, as I was speaking with my mother weeks before Christmas, the subject of gifts surfaced during our conversation. Low and behold, my mother suggested and we decided that gifts would not be exchanged among our family members during the holiday season. She wanted all of the family members to just enjoy being with one another as opposed to buying gifts. From that day forward, our (My wife and I) view of gift giving changed. Now, we did not stop giving gifts during the holiday season. However, our approach to giving changed. We started giving without any pressure or obligation from society or people. There were times when we gave gifts and there were times when just our physical presence was the gift. Utilizing this approach, added no pressure from either party, because both parties understand the significance of the holiday season. With the pressures of the holiday season and the financial strain that is upon many people, I challenge you to consider changing your approach to giving. Consider giving your time, talents and treasures without the pressure of others. Instead of spending money on things you really cannot afford, consider a hand-written note of love and appreciation or purchase a meaningful holiday card. If you decide to buy gifts, consider spending the bulk of your money on items that can benefit the real needs of people that are less fortunate than you.
Here are some other considerations:
- Consider buying a holiday meal for a family who has been negatively affected by the economy.
- Consider buying gifts for kids living in State-sponsored group homes or foster care homes.
- Consider visiting your local hospitals with gifts for the children and adults that are unable to be with their loved ones during the holidays or who really do not have many loved ones or friends. Also, spend time reading Christmas stories to the children.
- Consider spending time at a local soup kitchen or handing out meals to the homeless.
If you truly cannot afford to buy things, then do not. Look for other ways of showing love and spreading holiday cheer. Remember, giving is not always monetary.
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