Since Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are here, and Christmas is right around the corner, it’s a great time of year to reflect on our lives and practice gratitude. The holidays remind me about the importance of being with family and friends and creating memories that last a lifetime. In addition, the holidays act as a gentle reminder to give back to others in your community by making a donation to a non-profit organization or setting aside time to volunteer.
Give Back – In More Ways Than One
There are many ways to give. As year-end approaches, I hope that you’ll take a moment to donate money towards your favorite non-profit organizations. (Tax tip: if you itemize your deductions, you may be able to get a tax break by making charitable donations so check with your CPA or tax preparer and make sure to get a receipt).
There are many ways to give financially and here are a few of my favorites:
- You can write a big check at the end of the year. This helps many charities reach their year-end goals and provides that extra boost to your favorite non-profit.
- Give on a monthly basis so it’s easier to work it into your budget. I highly recommend this and it is the perfect time to plan your giving for next year. Want to give $600 to charity next year? If you break it down into a monthly amount, that’s only $50 a month!
- You can gift appreciated stock. If you own a stock that has increased significantly in value, you may decide to donate it and take a tax deduction for the current value of the stock. The other benefit is that you do not have to pay capital gains on it. For example if you bought 10 shares of stock for $50 a share and now it is valued at $200 a share, you would receive a $2,000 tax deduction even though you only paid $500 for the stock. Remember, if you don’t itemize your taxes, you can’t deduct your charitable contributions on your Federal return. (But you should still donate! FYI: Many other countries do not give tax breaks for donations).
You may also decide to give your time towards an organization you’re passionate about. Many non-profit organizations depend on the generosity of volunteers throughout the year. Look at your calendar now and schedule a few hours to volunteer. If it doesn’t make it on the calendar, it won’t happen, so make this a priority.
I find myself getting caught up in the busyness of life and the endless feeling that there is more work to do. However, this weekend I spent some time writing down a list of 10 things I’m grateful for and it’s something I plan on doing more often. I encourage you to practice this as well. It reminds me of the abundance in my life, and why it’s so important to invest in relationships. You could even start a gratitude journal as a way to cultivate positivity in your life.
Share Your Gratitude
Enjoy time over the holidays with your friends and family! Stop thinking about work! Turn off your phone! Engage with others. Play with your little nieces and nephews. Take pictures to remember these moments because life is fleeting and these moments are what life is all about. Tell your family and friends what you are thankful for and why you are so grateful to have them in your life. Life is precious and we never know how much time we have left.