December 15, 2022
This is a time of year when we feel extra-compelled to give.
Whether it be gifts to friends and family, or charitable contributions to causes we support.
The desire to give has the best of intentions. We want to give out of love, friendship, empathy. Those are all superpowers. Yet giving can also be a mistake.
As I explained in my book, Women & Money, true generosity is one of the eight qualities of a wealthy woman.
True generosity is when you give as much to yourself as you give of yourself.
A gift you purchase that you can’t pay off in full when the credit card bill arrives is not generous.
Spending money on gifts when that means you don’t have any money to put toward building your emergency fund, or retirement savings is not generous.
Giving money to family members, or a charity, because you know they need it, is not generous if it puts your own financial security at risk.
Giving your time when you could use some quiet time for yourself is not generous.
My wish for you this holiday season is that you find a few quiet moments to think through how you can be truly generous.
If you can buy presents without falling behind on financial goals, that’s great. Just remind yourself that what you spend is not at all reflective of what matters: The connection to that person.
If this year’s sharp rise in the rate of inflation has made it hard to cover your household expenses, this is not a year to spend money on gifts. Period.
That’s not selfish. And don’t you dare be ashamed. You are standing in the truth of what is real for you today! And c’mon, you know there are so many other ways to gift. Volunteer with an organization you support, if you have the time to give. Offer your time to a friend or family member. Make it a fun gift certificate, for whatever you come up with: X hours of babysitting. X hours of yard/gardening help. Or create a set, scheduled ritual: We will go out for a walk every week at X time. Or meet for a coffee. The idea here is to let the other person know you want to carve out real time with them, and that will only happen if you both make it a part of your schedule.
Or consider a homemade gift. The time you put into thinking about, and making that gift is going to stay with the recipient forever. Or a batch of your favorite cookies or a cake. It is the thought and the gesture that counts. Not the cost.
As you may know, KT and I exchange homemade gifts. Just saying…
I hope you will be generous to yourself this year, and not over-extend yourself financially. The best financial gift you can give yourself will be when your January credit card statement arrives, and you are reminded that during the holiday season you gave yourself the gift of not overspending. That is a decision that gives you a great start on 2023 being a year of building more financial security. What gift could be better? And the people who truly love you and care about you will appreciate how important that gift is.