It’s the time of year when you think about stellar deals and a tight budget, which has you hunting for creative ways to give. Here are some ideas to keep your budget intact and a few low-cost ways to give back.
Set a budget – and stick to it
Your holiday budget should start like every good budget: by looking at how much you have left over after paying for essentials. Set a gift price range
for each person on your list and then search for the
Go in on a gift
Consider who you can get to go in on the purchase with you, especially for big-ticket items.
Set up a gift exchange
Consider pitching the idea of a secret Santa or gift exchange to your friends, family or coworkers.
Give a “priceless” gift
How about going DIY with your gift-giving this season? Or plan on spending time with your recipient – plan monthly lunch dates, movie dates or a travel date if he or she live out of town.
Check with your favorite charitable organizations to see if they have fundraising partnerships with area businesses. Then spend your holiday dollars at those locations and suggest others do the same.
Give to little ones
Children’s hospitals have many volunteer opportunities ranging from rocking newborns to contributing to the hospital’s art supplies and games.
Give to animals
Donate used blankets and towels to a local animal shelter, bake homemade doggie treats or volunteer your lap for cat-sitting.
Help out local shelters
Check with local shelters on what they are in need of most. Warm socks, travel-size toiletries and bus passes are some items to consider donating.
Give parents a timeout
Volunteer to watch your friend’s children so he or she can have some kid-free holiday shopping time (or simply enjoy a silent night).
Entertain the elderly
Visit a nursing home and spend time reading, taking a stroll, using a computer, warm-hug giving and more.
Spread the words
Donate your gently loved books or new ones to those in need of a good read such as neighborhood libraries, nursing homes or organizations such as Books for Soldiers.
Plan ahead for next year
Many financial institutions have savings products to help you prepare in advance of the holidays as well as other occasions, such as vacations or weddings. At Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, we have many savings options where members can set up automatic withdrawals from their checking accounts and then access the funds at the time when they need the funds. For more information, visit msufcu.org