“People with many interests live, not only longest, but happiest.”

– George Matthew Allen

Whichever faith tradition you hold dear, it’s likely to have become extremely commoditized and “shopping-ified” (look, I’m an accountant–not a word smith) around this time of year.

And we all complain about it, reliably, loudly and regularly–yet there we are at JCPenney, stocking up on plastic toys and off-brand cologne, all to “celebrate” the holiday.

Now, far be it from me to decry the operation of a healthy economy, but may I make a humble suggestion? Regardless of your tax-deduction needs, consider making GIVING a large part of your holiday plans.

In fact, I was a bit provoked to write more about this topic by the comment of a neighbor, so read on for some strong words about *why* you should be giving, and doing it now…

Six Reasons You Should Be Giving To Non-Profits, NOW

I was at a holiday party recently, and as often is the case, when I tell someone my profession this time of year, I got cornered for tax tips.

That happens often, but what doesn’t happen often is when I mention giving to charity, my listener gets angry and provoked and launches into a diatribe about why charities are terrible investments, etc. etc., ad infinitum.

I was too interested in avoiding an argument with this gentleman, so instead of saying this, I thought it (later, of course). Here’s what I WOULD have said to the Angry Scrooge, six reasons why you should be giving money to charity, right now–regardless of the impact the money will create…

1. Tax Rate Leapfrogging.

You can bump yourself into a whole different (lower) tax rate, at times, by reducing your taxable income. That’s one to consult with us about, if you wonder if you’re on the fence.

2. Your heart changes.

Studies show (http://www.livescience.com/health/080320-happiness-money.html) that when individuals spend money on gifts for friends or charitable organizations, their happiness increases — while those who spend on themselves get no such boost. Even Scrooge can agree that everyone wins.

3. You can double your money without doing any work.

Instead of simply sending off your money, why not find out if anyone is offering to match? Sites like www.DonationDoubler.org have lists of companies that will match your charitable contribution. Find one you like and suddenly you contribution goes twice as far!

4. You’re just going to blow it on something dumb anyway.

As pious as you are, there’s still extra money in your budget somewhere. Create a budget for charity donations, then take some of your extra money (each month or each year) and donate it to charity. Use your spending money to make a difference instead of spending it on Brookstone junk you’ll use once. And if you think you don’t have enough, take that extra 2% you’ll be earning next year and put that toward a charity fund. For someone making $30,000, that’s about $500!

5. Face it: If you don’t help now, you never will.

Don’t pretend that instead of giving money, you’re going to donate time. When was the last time you volunteered at a soup kitchen? Don’t let your mind fall for this trick. Send the money now or you’ll end up giving nothing.

6. Be a leader, not a follower.

This is the biggie, in my opinion. There’s just something that happens in your psyche when you cut a big (or relatively big) check to someone in need, or to a charity organization. You feel more powerful–more dynamic. You signal to your own unconscious: “Money doesn’t rule me. I have more than enough, so much more than enough that I’m giving it away.” Then, of course, something special often happens: more money seems to find itself in your hands.

I’m not advocating a mystical pay-it-forward scheme; I’m simply making the observation over years of being a student of how money “works”. And, it just seems to find itself in the hands of those who give it away.

So–was any of this convincing? Did it help you see things in a new light? Let me know…

And remember– I’m in your corner!