It’s time to awaken your charitable side and give back to the world for Feel Good February, the month of random acts of kindness and paying it forward.
But it’s understandable that those of us who are pulling the belt tighter around our own budget might not be in the most charitable mood. Because despite the best of intentions, selfless giving sometimes doesn’t correlate with budgeting. You’d like to single-handedly save the pandas, but you have a home loan to pay off. You’d like to donate the cost of your daily coffee run to youth in need, but that caffeine hit is really all that’s keeping you going.
Don’t get discouraged though – there are plenty of great ways to give back without blowing the budget, and some that will even help you save money.
So without further ado, here are a few of the best ways to rack up both serious savings and a few good karma points this February.
1. Take part in FebFast
To kick off your good vibes, try signing up for FebFast. The idea is that you take a month-long break from either alcohol or sugar and have friends, family or coworkers sponsor you for the effort. There’s the expectation that you’ll give a donation on sign-up – which is a bit counterintuitive when you’re trying to save money – but actually, cutting out booze or junk food from your diet could potentially save you around $300 a month. Not to mention the health benefits, and that you’ll be raising funds for youth support programs all across Australia.
2. Bank smarter
Maybe you’re paying too much in credit card fees, or hemorrhaging dollars from your car insurance policy. Or maybe you just need to shop around for a brand new, high interest savings account. Whatever your financial weak spots, get them sorted out and patched up so you can be sure you’re making the most out of every hard earned dollar. And when you do, think about donating that money saved to your favourite charity. After all, you’ll only spend it drinking more caffeine than you really need to anyway.
3. Ditch the gym and get active
Is your gym membership really pulling it’s weight? Or are you paying up to $50 a month for the occasional guilt induced wheeze along the treadmill? This month, kiss gym fees goodbye and join countless other Aussies taking fitness outdoors instead! With Heart Research Australia’s RedFeb, you can sweat it out with activities like bushwalking, jogging in the park or hitting your local pool and help raise funds for heart disease research all at once.
4. Walk to work
What will make you feel better than knowing you are doing your part to keep the grass green and the rivers clean? If your happy place has more of an environmental slant, try leaving your car at home and walk to work. Or if that’s impractical (no-one expects you to leave home at 2.00am) check out public transport options, or try parking a few blocks away and walking the home stretch. You’ll get in some daily exercise, do your part for planet earth and save money on your fuel bill. Win-win-win.
5. Switch to Green Energy
Still itching to do some good for the environment? If walking to work just won’t cut it (or if you’d be up all night) why not give Mozo’s energy comparison tool a whirl and find yourself a great deal on green energy? Just remember to tick the option for green/renewable energy, and we’ll show you your choices, ranked by price, so you can save on your energy bill and save the environment all at once.
6. Buy a Valentine’s Day gift that gives back
Woo your significant other this Valentine’s Day with your money savvy and humanitarian gift choices. If you’re a traditionalist, head to your local fair trade store for a guilt-free chocolate offering, or if you want something a little more outside-the-box, check out some of these awesome gifts that give back. Gifts like this carry extra sentimental value, so it’s excusable not to spend big bucks. Plus, by buying fair trade, you’re taking a stand against consumerism in general.
My grandma used to have a saying about idle hands. If you find yourself filling leisure hours with expensive pursuits like online shopping, eating out or knocking back schooners at the pub, then curb that impulse spending by swapping those hours you spend splashing out with volunteer work instead. You can do it in person around your community, or, if you’re pressed for time within business hours. Check out online volunteering platforms like SkillsForChange, put in your interests and skills and you’ll have a new hobby that doesn’t cost you a thing and supports worthwhile causes.
8. Choose ethical banking
Do you know where your bank’s loyalties lie? It’s something we don’t often think about – what exactly the banks do with our money. Satisfy your inner good samaritan by switching to a bank you know you can trust – for example, providers like Adelaide Bank, Bendigo Bank, and Rural Bank all offer green products and have no record of funding fossil fuels. You can check how your bank measures up here. If it’s not doing so well and you consider yourself a champion of social issues, put your money where your mouth is and find a bank that reflects your values.
9. Use a better search engine
If you can’t give up your online shopping (I know I won’t be any time soon), you can use your search bar to give back while you do it. Use goodsearch for your online shopping, and for every purchase you make, a percentage will go toward a charity of your choice. It doesn’t cost you anything and the best part is, they’ll hook you up with some coupons and discounts so you also save money every time you buy through them. It is an American site, but if you shop internationally anyway, you’ve got nothing to lose!
10. Foster an animal
You might be an animal lover, but it’s expensive to have pets. If you’re not sure about committing to the annual costs of a furry friend, why not volunteer to foster one? Your state RSPCA is looking for volunteers to foster animals who need some TLC. Fostering can last anywhere between a week and a few months, and you can discuss that before you take an animal on. That way, you can help an animal in need and get yourself a pet without committing to a potential decade of upkeep costs.
So how are you going to Feel Good this February? Let us know what you’re doing to help your fellow man (or beast) this month in the comments!