Are you breathing a sigh of relief that the holiday gift wrapping is cleared away and the Christmas tree is back in the box? I have to admit, I am. I get overwhelmed with so many presents, special food, and partying as we celebrate the abundance in our lives.
But as lucky as we are, I wonder if we've lost touch with how great we have it in the US. We live in a country where even those with modest incomes have smartphones, and computers. Children typically have cell phones by age eleven, and my friends regularly complain how their kids expect PlayStations and designer handbags just to stay cool.
I've never thought of myself as well-off. I live in San Francisco -- one of the more expensive cities in the nation. Although I make good money at my job in a bank, I don't feel like I have money to burn.
But I'll admit, most people I know are living a pretty good life. They're working -- and have pretty good jobs. Some of them are in midlife and "following their bliss", doing things that make them happy instead of working long hours at a crappy job.
Now, don't get me wrong. I realize that not everyone can make ends meet. I do know what it's like to be poor. I had years of being a single parent of three, making $10.50 an hour and no child support. Back then, there weren't many luxuries. My kids went to public school and had to mow lawns and babysit for spending money. Still, we never went hungry, were never cold, the rent was always paid on our apartment.
I also know the last few years of economic downturn have been tough. Some people I know lost their homes and had to move into rentals. A few had trouble with businesses that suffered and are very grateful now that things are picking up. But still, most of us fed our kids. And, kids still went to college, even though they had to take part-time jobs for spending money.
So, shouldn't we spend more time being grateful? Worrying less about funding our retirements and more about giving to those less fortunate?
Who is going to do this if we don't? So here are several painless ways you can help others --
• Ask others to donate. If you aren't able to contribute financially on your own -- ask others to contribute. Even small amounts collected up each month and sent to your favorite charity make a difference in the world.
• Check for Matching Giving Programs from your employer. Many employers will match 100% of donations to qualifying organizations when given by their employees.
• Set up for donations to be automatically pulled from your bank account each month. Even a small amount adds up over the year.
The world will be a better place if everyone gave a little. Be grateful for what you have. Show that by giving to others.
I'd love to hear other suggestions -- please join the conversation at www.FirstClassWoman.com. And, share this with those you know. The world may become a better place.