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Post of the Day
November 24, 1999

Board Name:
Living Below Your Means

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Subject:  'Tis the Season to be Gifting...
Author:  AnnW

...but this year, we've decided we're not going to. Well, at least not directly....

Every year in October we sit down and go over our finances. In part, to plan for the last quarter to make sure we'll not owe "dear" Uncle Sam anything come next April (capital gains, capital losses, charitable contributions, other deductions -- what can we do now to help with taxes??)

We also go over our budget, see how far we've strayed off it, and where we might make adjustments for the coming year.

"So -- we thought -- why are we buying "stuff" for these people....and ourselves!"

And we figured out this year -- that between holiday giving, birthdays, weddings, graduations, anniversaries, who-knows-what else, for our friends, family AND ourselves, we spent nearly $3,000! (This is last Christmas, and forward to October.) And the year wasn't over!

And THEN we looked at all the recipients -- family and friends, to be sure...but ALL of us live in nice homes, well heated and/or cooled, we have plumbing that works, full freezers, stocked pantries.

So -- we thought -- why are we buying "stuff" for these people....and ourselves!....when we all have more "stuff" than we know what to do with, now! Yes, it's fun to get those boxes of candy, and fruit, and flowers, and, yes, even the "dreaded fruitcake". And yes, those are the sorts of exchanges that happen among these folks. And it's nuts! If we really WANT that stuff, we ALL (on our list) are able to get it for ourselves!

So we called our favorite charity -- Habitat for Humanity. We said, "We have $3,000 to spend this year. Where will that do the most good?" Their response (among others): "$3,000 will build one house for a family in the Republic of the Philippines. A family who right now is literally living on the street, using the sewer as a water supply, begging for food. The father is likely working, but at a very low paying job, barely subsisting.

"...then we wrote to our family and friends and told them -- don't send us gifts -- we don't need anything."

So then we wrote to our family and friends and told them -- don't send us gifts -- we don't need anything. And we're not going to send YOU gifts, either. And told them essentially what I'm saying here -- we all have too much "stuff" already. And what WE'RE going to do is send this money to Habitat, they'll get the house built, and tell us who is moving in. And then we'll tell our family and friends all about it.

Saves a LOT of shopping hassle; no credit card bills coming due in January. No wrapping paper to discard. Won't get fat on the candy.

And so far, we've gotten response from about 1/4 of the folks who got the letter-- mostly relief they won't have to buy us anything!, but also with commitments to give to charity this season, instead of to us. And thanking us for our idea.

And we'll sit under our tree this Christmas, drink a bit of wine, and think of that family, soon to be sheltered in a house we were able to buy.....

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Good Solstice....