|Image courtesy of Sommai / FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
I have been partnering with Kiva.org microfinance for years now. They give small loans to people in poor countries who couldn’t otherwise obtain financing for their small businesses and needs. Let’s say a small farmer in Uganda needs $200 to buy a new breeding sow. They take eight $25 loans from people like us, and combine them. Then the recipient pays the loan back in small amounts every month until the balance is paid off. Once you get repaid, you can either withdraw your money or relend it to another borrower – your choice! They have like a 99% payback rate. The best part is that your first loan is free. Here’s your invitation to help.
OK, this one technically isn’t free, but it’s kind of a wash. We have lost many loved ones – both sets of parents, all our grandparents, most of our aunts and uncles. These are all people we would have bought gifts for, so instead we choose to honor their memory by taking the money we would have spent on their gifts and use it to do something that would have pleased them. My Dad liked dogs, so we make a donation to an animal shelter. My Mom had a soft spot for homeless people, so we use it to buy a box of socks, hats, and gloves. If you hit the sales, you can find them for as little as $1 a piece. Be creative – if you can’t afford money, maybe you could do a good deed in their name instead – bake cookies for a neighbor, or watch the kids so a busy Mom can do her Christmas shopping.
Give it a shot and see how you can spice up your holidays.
PS: I can’t believe I almost forgot another easy one. When you travel, be sure and snag all the hotel soaps and shampoos at the end of your stay. Even if they are slightly used, they are very much in demand for hygiene kits at the homeless shelters. I just keep a shoebox in my closet and when it gets filled up, I send them down to the shelter where they are very happy to get them.