If things had gone according to the plans I made from the safety and security of my sticks-and-bricks, for Thanksgiving I would’ve been feeding turkeys instead of eating them. The reality of jumping into life as a full-time RVer was harder than I expected. Thankfully, I had enough sense to admit it and adjust my November and December plans.

However, for this week’s Finance post, I intended to talk, in part, about the experience of attending the vegan Thanksgiving event at a barn animal rescue. Though I didn’t attend, I thought the other part of what I planned to share was still worthy of a post.

Borrowed from The Gentle Barn’s website. A photo of the Thanksgiving table in 2015 at the barn in Tennessee.

The price for a ticket to the vegan Thanksgiving event was $100 for an early-bird ticket. I bought mine back in August. That’s likely more per person than most people will have spent on their holiday meal whether they cooked at home or went out.

But I wasn’t buying the meal alone. I was purchasing the experience.

My love of animals (plus the health benefits) has convinced me I should be a vegetarian. My love of cheeseburgers makes that easier said than done. While I have reduced my meat consumption in recent years, I hoped this event might serve as motivation for me to make that extra effort toward eating no meat. Thus allowing me to truly live my values.

A vegan Thanksgiving place setting.

Another reason it wasn’t hard for me to pay $100 was that it was for charity. I’d be able to take the $100 as a tax-deduction.

A Brief Side Note

For those tax-savvy readers, I wanted to address my statement about paying $100 for the ticket and taking $100 as a charitable tax deduction. I don’t want anyone thinking I’m fast and loose with my taxes. Or the law.

In my pre-RV life, I worked as the Chief Financial Officer for a nonprofit so this is a topic I’ve addressed many times over the years with our donors.

When you buy a ticket to a charitable event, only a portion of the ticket is tax deductible. You have to ask the charity what is the value of the ticket. In other words, how much are they paying for you to attend the event? How much does it cost the charity to feed you? To entertain you? The difference between the price of the ticket and the cost to the charity is the tax deductible portion.

The particular ticket I purchased indicated the full ticket price was tax deductible. Since it is a Thanksgiving dinner I paid for, how is this possible? What it means is the charity was able to secure the dinner through donations. What it means is they aren’t paying anything for me to attend their feast and festivities.

As I Was Saying

Giving to charity is actually what I want to talk about today. How do you donate to charity on a limited income? This topic isn’t specific to RVers. Not even retirees. It is for anyone who is concerned about making ends meet, financially speaking.

In early posts, I shared that part of how I afforded my dream was that I took the lessons I taught myself when I was working my way out of debt and applied them to saving money.

The tool I used was Suze Orman’s 9 Steps to Financial Freedom. Now I don’t believe this book to be more extraordinary than other advice books out there. It just happens to be the one I picked up at a time my mind was open to hearing the message.

And your purchase of the book is not guarantee of replication of the success I had. I think we all have to find our own path and what worked for me, may not work for you. I’m merely saying this book spoke to me. This book worked for me.

In the book, she explores the psychological and spiritual side of money. One such idea is that money is like sand in your hand. The tighter you hold it, the less you have. Thus, one of the first checks you should write each month is to a charity. Doing so keeps you open to receiving other gifts that might come your way.

You might find this a little out there. That’s valid.

I can only share my story. And my story is that I got out of debt and saved for a dream. Part of how I did it was following the steps and one of them was giving to charity. There were many times I wondered if the money wouldn’t be better served by going toward student loans or credit card debt. Or food. And early on, those checks were small. For years, my charitable giving was in $10 or $25 increments. But I wrote them.

As a person who spent nearly all of her working life in the employ of nonprofits, I can tell you individual donations are the life-blood of an organization. Grants can dry up. Corporate support can ebb and flow based on their business and their priorities. No Alaska example illustrates this better than donations from corporations that were tied to the oil industry. When the price for a barrel of oil started going down so did donations.

Donations from individuals can be some of the most stable and long-term funding an organization receives. Even in increments of $10 or $25

Still don’t feel like you can financially afford to give?

It’s important to recognize that giving to charity doesn’t always have to be monetary to be of value. Your time is valuable. So if you truly cannot afford or don’t want to give money to an organization you love, consider volunteering for them. They’d love to have you and your talents.

Wild turkeys that wonder the RV park where I am currently parked.

Had I made it to the vegan Thanksgiving, I would’ve received a swag bag filled with cruelty-free products and vegan snacks. No doubt, those bags were put together lovingly by volunteers who share a passion for animals.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with love and gratitude. And, in the spirit of my vegan Thanksgiving, I didn’t eat turkey.

I hoped to report I was a vegetarian for the day. But, you know, the restaurant we went to offered a very tasty cheeseburger. Vegetarian fail. So while I was kind to turkeys, don’t ask if I was kind to cows. Most assuredly, I was not.

Next year, you will find me trying again. I hope you will find me feeding turkeys instead of eating turkeys. And if the cost is $100. I will write that check gladly, with an open hand and heart.

 

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