According to a new Bankrate report, 13 percent of U.S adults are boycotting holiday spending. Bankrate data analyst Adrian Garcia, who believes this signifies a shift in priorities, said, “It’s interesting to see that so many people aren’t participating in gift-buying. I see it as a realization that people need fewer things, especially as they get older, and that it’s more important to spend time together, or donate to a charity.” This approach to the holidays may not be for everyone, but considering consumers are expected to spend an average of $638 on gifts this season (source: National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics), it’s certainly not a bad idea.
Below are several ways you can celebrate the season of giving while avoiding the seasonal spending that typically comes with it.
Gift of Time
Spending some of your free time volunteering to help others in need is a tried and true way to make a real impact on peoples’ lives, not just now, but at any time of year. There are countless opportunities to volunteer in ways that fit all kinds of preferences and talents. In Bergen County, Bergen Volunteer Center is a great resource that connects volunteers with opportunities based on what they’re looking for and are qualified to do. For example, you could help elderly neighbors with shopping, errands and light housekeeping; mentor youth impacted by abuse, neglect or other trauma; collect and deliver gently-used furniture to formerly homeless families in need…the list goes on! If you find opportunities to volunteer as a group, you can look forward to the bonus of quality time with friends or family through a meaningful shared experience.
Gift of Sustenance
Those in need of assistance are closer than you may think — our friends at the Office of Concern Food Pantry at St Cecilia’s Church provide food assistance to more than 800 families in Englewood and surrounding Bergen County communities. If you have non-perishable food to spare, this is a no-brainer! According to the Pantry’s website, items that can always be used include cereal, oatmeal, pasta, macaroni and cheese, soup, and tuna. For the health and dignity of the Pantry’s clients, please keep in mind that they cannot accept dented or outdated cans, or open containers. Food donations can be dropped off at the food pantry, located at 55 West Demarest Avenue in Englewood, New Jersey.
Gift of Fun
In anticipation of the incoming gifts many children are expected to receive in celebration of the holidays, many parents have welcomed the tradition of encouraging their kids to donate well-loved games, toys, stuffed animals and other items they no longer use to those less fortunate. This not only provides the opportunity for a lovely lesson in giving and sharing, but it’s a nice way to clear out space and avoid unnecessary clutter! Here are just a few of many donation options in this category:
- Resell charity thrift stores, such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army sell donated items in their stores and proceeds are put back into programs that benefit the needy in that community. Tip: call your local store before dropping off any donations to confirm they are accepting the items you have at that time.
- Check with local nursery schools and daycares to find out if they’re in need of toys. Again, call ahead to find out if there are any safety or sanitary guidelines to follow.
- Toys for Tots not only accepts new, unwrapped toys, but also used toys that have been well cared for and are still in great shape. You can donate a toy at one of the nearby drop locations, host a collection at your home, office or other venue, or volunteer at the local warehouse. Note: Whereas new, unwrapped toys are delivered to individual kids, used toys may be distributed to shelters and other facilities.
- If there’s one thing adults and kids alike can relate to, it’s being scared. With that in mind, Stuffed Animals for Emergencies provides comfort to children in traumatic or emergency situations through donations of stuffed animals, blankets, books, children’s clothes, and baby items.
You may be able to claim a tax deduction on donations made to tax-exempt organizations. Be sure to get a donation receipt for your tax records. IRS Publication 526 explains how to claim a deduction for charitable contributions but it’s always a good idea to confer with a tax professional regarding any tax-related questions you may have.
Gift of Change
One man’s dime is another man’s dinner! Pull together any loose change you might have around — check furniture cushions, countertops, nightstands, desks, cars, pockets, wallets and purses. Then, stop in at your closest NVE Bank branch and let us turn that change into charity. Consider donating the proceeds to a food bank, shelter, or a cause that is meaningful to you.
Gift of Caring
You barely have to leave your house to give someone a gift they’ll truly appreciate. Next time it snows, surprise a neighbor by shoveling their sidewalk or driveway, or if you know someone is away visiting family or taking a trip, offer to bring in packages inside their porch or your home until they’re back. Does your brother or sister have young kids? Offer to babysit so they can he or she can have a date night. Something that seems small can mean a whole lot.
Gift of Life
Did you know donating one pint of blood (the average donation) can save up to three lives? If you are eligible to donate, consider giving blood. It costs you nothing and, to the person receiving it, it could mean everything. NVE Bank hosts blood drives annually. Check with organizations such as Community Blood Services and American Red Cross to find out where you can donate locally.
What could you do with $638? Maybe you’re planning a vacation, eyeing an engagement ring, or looking forward to something else you need an organized approach to save for. NVE’s Universal Club Account helps our customers do just that! The account features a structured savings plan designed to help you save for a specific occasion. Our Branch Associates are always available to offer guidance to help you reach your financial goals, both short- and long-term.
Do you do something in lieu of gift-giving this time of year? Head to our Facebook page and tell us about it!
To learn more about NVE’s products and services, visit our website. You can also speak with one of our Branch Associates by visiting your convenient neighborhood branch, or call us at 1-866-NVE BANK (683-2265).