Christmas is long gone – but those in need in December, are still in need now

There’s something about the festive season that always leads to a greater outpouring of giving, generosity, and goodwill. It’s partly what makes the season somewhat magical. The sad fact is though, that even though money is often tighter, it’s somehow easier to give during December. Adverts remind you of those in need. Charities ramp up their campaigns. Your own enjoyment with friends and family makes you think about those less fortunate. What happens come January though?

While we are all indoors complaining about the weather (it deserves complaining about, to be fair) there are people far worse off. Some of them don’t even have a roof over their head. Many of those who do, are in terrible situations and not safe there. The important missions that are carried out by charities throughout the year are no less relevant in January, but they are simply not on as many people’s radars.

Giving to others is not an entirely selfless act. It makes us feel good. And that’s ok! We could all do with a pick-me-up when it’s cold, icy and miserable outside. If we can help someone else in the process, that’s even better. So, next time you catch yourself with a dose of the winter blues, try putting your energy and resources towards doing something that will not only make you feel better, but will help others out at the same time.

Remember – a return on investment doesn’t always have to be financial. Happiness is one of the most valuable things we own.

1. Donate to a food bank or homeless shelter

What better time to clear out the cupboards than January. After weeks of eating nothing but cheese and biscuits your body is probably screaming for a rest. Whether it’s ditching the carbs, processed food or ‘junk food’ or simply clearing space and realizing there are items you are never going to eat, there will be someone who can benefit from them. Never just throw food away – assuming of course that there’s nothing wrong with it and it’s still in date. Supermarkets almost all have food donation points at their entrances and a quick Google search will let you know if there’s a shelter nearby that could use your donations. If you would like to give something but are planning to eat what you have, they will be just as happy with a monetary donation too.

2. Don’t forget the animals

Animals need food, shelter and security too. Sadly, the post-Christmas season sees a high number of abandoned pets entering shelters. Poorly thought-out Christmas presents are frequently the reason. Children love pets and can be very convincing when asked what they want for Christmas. Come January though, it might not seem as fun to walk your new dog or clean out your rabbit hutch. Pets come with a high price tag too. Food, vet bills, insurance, toys, daycare… it all adds up. The financial burden after Christmas may be something families were not prepared for. You can help your local shelter in a few ways. Donations of food, bedding, toys etc are often appreciated. Again though, if you don’t have these then a financial donation will go down greatly. If you can’t afford the outgoings, but do have spare time, why not volunteer some of that instead. Whether it’s walking dogs, clearing out cages, answering enquiries from potential adopters or more, if you’re an animal lover, there will be somewhere you can put your passion to good use.

3. Friends, family, and neighbours

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a very real condition. Coinciding with the changing seasons, SAD is triggered by a lack of natural sunlight and can cause symptoms ranging from irritability to lack of energy, sleeping trouble and depression.

If you suspect SAD you should speak to a doctor. Likewise, if you suspect someone you know may be suffering with it, you should encourage them to do the same. Small steps can help though. Shorter days and a long month with seemingly less to look forward to make January a challenging time for many. Reach out to your friends, family and neighbours. You don’t have to make a big fuss. Offering to share a cup of tea or coffee will often be enough to give them something to look forward to. It’s tempting to stay home when the weather is awful, but why not have a film night with a friend? It might seem no different to what you would do anyway, but at least it offers the chance for some much-needed human interaction. Small moments of connection might not seem a big deal if you come from a busy household, but if you’re sat on your own with no one, they can make a massive difference to your day.

As with everything in life, one of the most efficient ways to reach a goal is to make it a habit. If you would like to do more for charity, why not build it into your financial plan? Then it’s there, in black-and-white, where it’s actionable and achievable. Whether this means donating a slab of dog food to an animal shelter each month, to spending the first week of January planning your next big family holiday to give you something to look forward to, we can discuss how to make 2023 the year of giving

Contact us to speak about ways you can give more, to receive more in return.

This article does not constitute financial advice and should not be construed as such.