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Sale-ing Through the Year

By Colleen Kane

  • PUBLISHED December 12
  • |

Most holiday money traditions, like giving to charities, unsurprisingly take place during the holiday season. However, personal finance expert David Bakke and his family prepare their annual contributions little by little, throughout the year—and by playing the long game, they’re able to share much more at year’s end.

During the year, the family searches for sales on items like school supplies from office retailers. They also take advantage of Black Friday sales to buy toy bargains. By year’s end, they’ve amassed a collection of useful and fun gifts that they donate to their church or to another charitable organization. Because they made these purchases at favorable times, they’re able to get (and give) much more for the same money than if they bought their gifts all at once in December.

The Bakke family began this tradition about five years ago, because they wanted to add a charitable aspect to holiday celebrations. “We started this tradition once we got ourselves as a family in a position to give back,” Bakke says. “That was the driving force, because there was a time when we were in need. Maybe not to the extent of those who we now give to, but we were in that position to a lesser extent.”

Bakke has found that their tradition is a fantastic lesson for his two children. “The kids love it because they see that we’re making a positive difference in other people's lives, and we’ve learned that being charitable when you’re in a position to do so is just the right thing to do. We’ve also gotten the extra ‘feel good’ emotion that comes with giving back, which fits in perfectly around the holidays.” As a bonus, their children are learning how to shop economically.

If you’re considering starting a similar holiday giving tradition, here are some tips to maximize your annual donation.


Discount shopping: Bakke says, “Lots of stuff goes on sale during July, when many retailers have Christmas in July specials. There are also plenty of good deals around back-to-school time.”


Do the research: If you plan to donate any specific types of goods, some publications compile lists of the best time to buy things throughout the year. Look for bedding and linens in January, cold weather apparel in February, or heaters in March, for example. 


Select your recipients: When selecting a charity to receive your donations, it’s a good practice to confirm that they’re legitimate and that your contributions will go to those who really need it. Use an independent evaluator that shows potential donors how efficiently donations will be used.

Colleen Kane is a freelance writer who has written for CNBC, Fortune, Money, and many other publications.

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