Tis the season for giving, but what if money is tight this year? There are plenty of ways to give, make a difference, and be of service when you are on a budget. Overall, trust the ebb and flow of #money and look forward to the next season when you can do more.

The holidays can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, especially if you’re in a season where funds are low. Perhaps you left a job, went through a divorce, had an unexpected illness or expense like a root canal or the refrigerator or washing machine died. Maybe you had a rough year or two and find yourself carrying debt. Or perhaps you are saving for a move. Whatever the reason, finances can be the number one factor of high stress in any household.

Essentially, #GivingTuesday is a day we think about monetary ways to give. It’s hard to say no to nonprofits we believe in. It feels bad enough when funds are low, but then to have to say no to people in need, it adds to the shame and guilt. But it shouldn’t. It does require a shift in mindset from what you don’t have or can’t give, to what you can.

Typically my husband and I don’t exchange gifts at birthdays or holidays. We don’t want our giving to be exclusive to a day. We give generously to each other throughout the year, but not always in a monetary way. Our giving often involves sharing quality time, experiences, and adventures. It’s the shared gift of doing things we love.

#GivingTuesday is a mindset that lasts throughout the year. It can be every day, not just the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. It shouldn’t be about a tax write-off or a pat on the back. It’s sharing kindness with a stranger, making eye contact with the homeless, and praying for those in need.

When funds are low, don’t think about a dollar amount for #givingTuesday, but of the combined effort and effect of small amounts given by many. Ask yourself, can I give $1 to a homeless person? Can I give $5 to a cause that’s important to me? Think #plannedparenthood, #redcross, #SPCA, #cancerresearch, #colorofchange, #aidsresearch or #woundedwarriors.

AND, think about the many ways that you can give that don’t require money. Here are a few ideas:

  1. A Smile: We never know what someone else is going through and some days a smile can truly make a difference in someone’s life.
  2. A Hug. Human touch is one of the most coveted and rewarding gifts you can give.
  3. Laughter. Laughter soothes the soul and can instantly turn a bad mood into a good mood.
  4. Blood. There is always a need.
  5. Blood plasma. It takes a bit longer but is a precious gift to someone in need.
  6. A book or business review. As an author, a book review can be as valuable as buying the book.
  7. Phone a friend. In the world of social media, Marco Polo and texting, we have forgotten the lost art of a simple phone call. Hearing someone’s voice, especially when they called because they were thinking of you feels amazing.
  8. Write a letter. My Aunt Jane sends me a card with handwritten notes inside. This is a family tradition as my parents and sister and I still do this from time to time. It is a bright spot in my day when I open my mailbox and find more than junk mail.
  9. Your expertise. So often we look to get paid for our expertise. Consider giving your talent away for free for a day, or mentor someone in your field.
  10. Referral for a small business. Word-of-mouth referrals can be the lifeblood of a small business.
  11. Credit card or travel rewards. Have an abundance? Consider donating them.
  12. Donations. Speaking of donations, how about cleaning out the closet or other areas of your home? There are usually hidden gems in good condition that will be of use to someone else.
  13. Gratitude. Your appreciation goes a long way, especially when you speak it out loud and share it with others.
  14. A compliment. It is easy to get wrapped up in our own little world, but when you step into the present moment and notice the world around you, it’s easy to find a way to compliment someone.
  15. A kind word. You don’t have to look far to find tragedy, violence, and even hatred. Instead of focusing on the negatives, focus on intentional kindness.
  16. Eye contact. Eye contact is an understated gift of respect and acknowledgment. People want to be seen. See them, literally, by looking them in the eye.
  17. Volunteer your time. So charities and organizations need manpower more than money. Charities need help with administrative work, marketing work, legal work, or helping at events.

If you are strapped for cash this holiday season you don’t have to be excluded from giving back. There are so many ways to make a difference and be of service without opening your wallet. Comment below. I’d love to hear how you are #giving this season.