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When Givers Becomes Buried by Charitable Giving Requests

May 8, 2012

Have you ever heard the phrase “No good deed goes unpunished?”  While the source of these quotable words of wisdom is under debate, I can say with confidence that being charitable is one good deed that rarely goes unpunished.  What! You might be asking yourself, how in the world are the charitable ones punished by the simple act of giving a few dollars, yen, or euros to a cause?  Unfortunately, the simple act of giving often results in the number of unwanted donation requests and solicitations quickly filling your mailbox.

Easy Steps for Limiting Charitable Donation Requests:

Step #1: Giving with a Purpose and Size. Have you ever stopped to think how a $5 donation adds up? Probably not. Realize that a series of small check or credit card donations often leaves a charity with very little after processing and fees. Instead of a series of small amounts, consider making a larger donation once or twice per year.

Step #2: Make a charitable giving plan. Take time to select the causes, people, or events that are most important to you and your family.  Direct your funds and time to these organizations first followed by others.  When  “athletically inclined friends” (think of those who are running, walking, and racing for a cure) have tapped you for another donation, a giving plan will help you keep focus.

Step: #3: Opt Out of directories and member lists.  Be sure to sign up for the National Do Not Mail List. Then contact the Direct Marketing Associations to request that your name be removed from their member mailing lists.

Step #4:  Express your wishes. When making donations include a request that the receiving organization does not sell or rent your contact information to other organizations or groups.  If a particular organization makes requests to frequently, contact the organization directly. Many are happier to reduce mailings rather than lose you from their lists. Visit Charitywatch.org if you need some literary inspiration for drafting a request letter.

Step #5: Match Gift to Other Life Events and Activity. If you need help remembering when to give, try matching the organization to annual event or activity. Examples include giving to animal and pet agencies after taking your own pet to the veterinarian, or tie gifts to a college alumni organizations or scholarship foundations plans to the start/end of the school year.

May you find happiness in giving and less mail in the box!

New Year’s Resolutions: Love or Loathe Them

January 6, 2012

NeTick tock the clock is runningw Year’s resolutions, goals, dreams, or promises. No matter what name you call them, just admit it! Many of us secretly make a secret pledges to do better this year.

The dawn of a new year says hello to many with a wallet short on funds after buying all those holiday gifts, unable to wear our “skinny jeans” after enjoying too many glasses of Aunt Edna’s eggnog, and day dreaming of how fast we can get that tax refund check. Have no fear, there is no reason to go it alone in 2012!

To help jump start or even start your 2012 resolution (mine is to write more posts), wouldn’t you help me out by casting your vote today?

Quick Tip

November 1, 2011

Sanity and $ Saving Tip: Avoid spending temptations by unsubscribing to email offers and newsletter. If you don’t read it you don’t need it!

Wallet Friendly: Free Shipping Day 2010

December 17, 2010

Organizing for the HolidaysAre you procrastinating on finishing your Christmas shopping? Or maybe you find yourself staring down a list of hard to shop for gift recipients.  We have some last minute good news for you.

Today is, Free Shipping Day 2010, a one day free shopping event that offers shopper’s the chance to surf the web for gifts galore. With over 1,000 participating merchants, they are offering free shipping and delivery by Christmas Eve in the continental US.  You can find major retailers including Macy’s, Apple Store, Dell Computers, Neiman Marcus, and Lord and Taylor. You will find specialty stores as Sephora, Brookstone, Build-A-Bear and even Whole Foods Market.

Visit the Free Shipping Day 2010 website any time after 12:00 am EST on Friday, December 17, 2010, to view the details for each participating stores “free shipping offer.”  Some retailers post their free shipping offers directly on their sites. Some retailers require you to first visit on www.freeshippingday.com and click through their link to activate the promotion.  Some of the free shipping offers may include minimum purchase requirements or using a special offer or promotion code during the checkout process. For example, Whole Foods Markets is offering free shipping on all their gift boxes, including my favorite the “You Rock O’Box of Choc.” A perfect clutter free gift for the chocolate lover on your list.

So if you find yourself shopping at a favorite online store or discovering a brand-new to you option, be use FREE SHIPPING DAY 2010 to save a few dollars on your gift giving purchases.

Wishes for Happy Holidays & Save Saving Tips from the PiggyBankPixie.

Holiday Budget: Feast or Famine?

October 29, 2010

Welcome to the Piggy Bank Pixie’s Picks: Special Holiday Edition, your secret weapon for battling the mind-boggling, wallet wasting, and waistline busting trends of the holiday season.

Over the last few days we have been tackling the dreaded holiday budget topic. So far we have talked about gift giving and decor but now it’s time to talk food. With so many additional expenses of the holiday season splurges on grocery and holiday dining can make your feel like it’s a feast or a famine!

Grocery Bag of foodAmp up Your Grocery Budget: Lush holiday spreads and a few extra mouths to feed will quickly ruin your weekly grocery food bill. The holiday season’s focus on food makes blowing through your food budget in a hurry.  The goal should be to limit grocery shopping trips to one per week. Buying warehouse size food supplies and clipping coupons are tempting options for many shoppers. Proceed with caution, these jumbo size options are only a bargain if you use the entire package before the expiration date. Avoid temptations by first making a shopping list, and then clip the coupons only for the items you listed for purchase. Do you need grocery coupons but are in a hurry? Resources like coupon.com and redplum.com, and even your local grocer’s website to print coupons right at your computer or to web-enabled mobile device. Do you already own reusable grocery bags or totes? Use them for more than just your holiday food shopping for an eco-friendly shopping option.

Power Snacking: Take snacking inspiration from performance athletes who must stay well feed and hydrated to function at their peak, by carrying along a refillable water Reusable Water Bottleto help keep you well hydratecd throughout the day. Stash a few portable snacks such a low-fat granola and dried fruit snacks in your handbag or car truck to keep your energy levels boosted. Having a few snacks on hand you can stave off those last minute, wallet and waistline busting, trips through your local shopping mall food court.

Pick the Right Bird: Or should I say birds? Until now, we have focused much of money & time on the December holidays making it easy for us to fall into a tryptophan-like food dream when buying a Thanksgiving day bird. If you have pressing turkey related questions including “How big a bird to buy?” or “How long does it take to cook?” The turkey experts at Butterball offer their “Plan Perfect Portions” and “How Long to Thaw” calculators to solve your buying, defrosting, and cooking worries . With easy questions they will guide you to the perfect size bird this holiday season.

Everyday Eats: Get unstuck from your weekly food rut or find inspiration for your upcoming holiday meals with these options. Clutter, cutting tip: Rather than swapping holiday gifts, ask your favorite cook for a copy of their favorite or secret recipes.

May your holidays be merry and on budget!

Holiday Budgets: Don’t Forget The Decor

October 28, 2010

Welcome to the Piggy Bank Pixie’s Picks: Special Holiday Edition, your secret weapon for battling the mind-boggling, wallet wasting, and waistline busting trends of the holiday season.

Have you ever been awed by the twinkling lights, life-sized inflatable snow globe, or holiday themed plastic storage bins gracing the shelves of your local retailer? Not to worry I am here to help you enjoy holiday season and help you avoid the holiday budget bust!  Yesterday I talked about starting a holiday budget with a focus on the gift giving.  Today I want to focus on another topic frequent holiday budget buster, seasonal decor. Items like lights, wreaths, Christmas trees, menorah and candles can put a dent in your wallet too.

Holiday Lighting: Are new lights in your budget? The knowledgeable folks over at Better Homes & Garden suggest about 100 lights per foot of holiday tree light. Assume a single 100 light strand costs approximately $10, you’ll shell out $70 just to light up your seven-foot blue spruce beauty in the living room. Cutting back on a few tree inches or even on a few strands can help you save the hassle of dressing your tree but also on your next electric bill. Also, ask your local home improvement warehouse store, local hardware or local electric utility company if they will be offering a LED light exchange program for 2010. At these exchanges you can swap out your old energy hog lights for a more ecofriendly and economical option.  Are you dying to try a different color this year or want to have the sleek all-white light edition? Rather than piling boxes of new lights into your shopping cart, plan a light strand swap with a friend, family member or neighbor.

If you just can’t part with your Clark Grizwald of Christmas Vacation inspired 100,000 light exterior lighting extravaganza want to really sparkle, consider utilizing an outdoor power strip with timer that will turn off lights even if you forget.

Live (or shall I say formerly live) Seasonal Decor: As you calculate your holiday budget add the cost of wreaths, trees or garlands you plan to purchase. Choose carefully and thoughtfully this year. Consider focusing on one particular holiday item such as a great tree rather than attempting to cover each wall, door, or surface of your home and exterior. Seek out local charities and service organizations that sell holiday greenery while supporting a cause.

Candles: If the twinkle of soft candle light dances through your head consider purchasing white or off-white flame-less candle options. Available in a variety of sizes they reduce fire hazards around brittle holiday greenery and you can display them throughout the year. Yes, I love multi season/purpose options like this!

May your holiday season be merry & on budget!

Holiday Budgets: Gift Giving Limits

October 27, 2010

Welcome to the PiggyBank Pixie’s Picks: Special Holiday Edition, your secret weapon for battling the mind boggling, wallet wasting, and waistline busting trends of the holiday season.

Today I want to talk about one of those ugly, seldom mentioned about holiday subjects; the holiday budget. According to a recent survey by Gallup taken in October, the ” initial measure of Americans’ 2010 Christmas spending intentions finds consumers planning to spend an average of $715 on gifts, roughly on par with the $740 recorded in October 2009.” Have you set a holiday spending budget?

Steps for Setting Your 2010 Holiday Budget: Gift Giving Spending Limits

Let’s be honest, even if it’s only to yourself that unless, you have suddenly found a way to grow money on trees, the funds needed to purchase gifts are not unlimited. By setting a spending budget it is like setting the thermometer that can help keep you from burning a hole in your wallet.

There are two approaches to setting a holiday budget: tops down or bottoms up. With the tops down approach you start with a total spending figure and then divide that figure by recipient. With the bottoms up number you select a figure for each recipient (or gift) and then add them up to calculate your total. While this method sounds fun, I find it way too easy to dream big and then you are forced to make cut backs to a more achievable figure. That’s why I must prefer the “tops down” approach because determining what I can actually afford to be the easiest method.  I simply begin by calculating the number of paychecks from which I have to fund my holiday shopping. Next I calculate how much I can spare from each check, without impacting other financial goals. With some math I have my holiday budget total that can be divided up. Oh now comes the dividing up piece…

Safety

Grab a piece of paper & pencil. Yes, I said a pencil because you are creating a draft and you never know when a slight revision will be needed. Start writing a list with ALL your gift recipients’ names on the page. The key today is to capture everyone on your potential gift list. Your recipients list may include immediate family members, grandparents or grandchildren, nieces or nephews, co-workers, friends, a holiday party hostess, service providers (such as a babysitter, hair stylist, newspaper carrier, mailman, doorman.) Is there any other special someone’s whom you want to consider? Be sure to add them now. Don’t forget the white elephant gift exchanges common at many office and company holiday parties. Better yet consider opting out of this year’s gift exchange all together.

Now comes the hard step; deciding how you want to divide up the funds by recipient. Having a budget per person, yes I said by person, helps you stay focused on the overall goal rather than being swayed by a few budget busting gift purchases.

With your entire gift giving list compiled are you able to draw the line? Count up the number of recipients. An extensive list makes you prone to overspending and suffering a case of shopping exhaustion. Are you still stuck? Then consider these approaches when setting a spending limit for your shopping list:

  • Would I prefer to give more gifts to fewer recipients?
  • Am I comfortable dividing equally among all recipients?
  • Do I prefer to give a little spread among many recipients?

Organizing for the Holidays

Use your answers to the above questions to help guide you to a spending approach and plan. Aren’t you glad I suggested that pencil? Over the next few weeks we will talk more about tracking and staying on the budget you have created. Remember that whatever your choice make a plan and stick with it!

By the way, if you have one of those “money grows on trees” I will gladly take a sapling!

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