Aly’s Angle on Gift Giving

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Aly SimonsAly’s Angle on Gift Giving

Some people love giving gifts during the holidays, and some find it completely overwhelming. Personally, I love giving gifts. Normally, my gift buying starts in the summer while I’m traveling internationally. It is an opportunity for me to think about my family members and get excited about some item that made me think of them while overseas. But this year I didn’t have the opportunity to find any international gifts. So here I am, consumed with consumerism during the month of December, trying to find something locally. As a result, I am asking my family, “What do you want?” and they suggest something. And my instinct is to think, “Boring; I am not going to get you something you want.” What I want is to give them something with deeper meaning.

In my opinion there are two reasons people stress about buying gifts. First, they get overwhelmed by the pressure of finding something the person actually wants. Second, they get overwhelmed by the amount of money necessary to buy the gifts.

Although some people have all the money in the world to spend on presents, most have to budget their money to survive. According to Gallup Economy, in 2013 the average American is expected to spend $786 on Christmas gifts. Where you spend your money can make a huge, positive impact. Instead of spending it mindlessly during Black Friday or at a big chain store, invest your money in a company or product that matters. If you see your money as a vehicle for positive change, then spending becomes a privilege worth getting excited about, rather than a chore.

3 recommendations for impactful ways to spend money

  1. Buy from a small business
  2. Buy fair trade
  3. Support nonprofits

This week my husband and I made a committed effort to focus on positive ways to spend our money. We bought a Christmas wreath from the boy across the street for $20. The funds help support his baseball team. Yes, I saw the same wreath at Michaels for $9.99, but the extra $10 spent helps the neighbor and the baseball team. Also, we committed to shopping at small businesses for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30. When we wanted to buy a drink, we drove the extra mile past the Shell gas station to a small, family-owned market. It felt good to focus on the potential impact of our spending habits.

One of my favorite books is called the Soul of Money. It helped me realize that money should flow through you like a river. When you fail to let it flow through you, then you become stressed and consumed by it. Every time you buy something, you have the opportunity to change lives when you spend the money thoughtfully and with purpose.

My favorite quote from Soul of Money talks about changing your relationship with money by seeing it as a resource to affect those around you.

“In our relationship with money, we can continue to earn, save, invest and provide for ourselves and for our families, but we reframe the relationship with a new recognition of and appreciation for what we already have. In that new way of seeing, the flow of resources in our lives, rather than being something that is constantly escaping our grasp or diminishing, instead becomes a flood of nourishment and something we have the privilege of being trustees of for the moment. Our relationship with money ceases to be an expression of fear and becomes an expression of exciting possibilities. The context of sufficiency can transform our relationship with money, with our resources and with life itself.