Smart Consumer: How to help charities without spending extra this Christmas
Chances are you're minding your cash very carefully this Christmas, and right you are too.
But with less cash to spend it's not only retailers that are seeing profits fall. Charities are struggling like never before with some saying they are receiving 40pc less in donations than before.
While no one would expect you to give if you don't have, there are ways that you can support charity without spending anything extra.
If you're buying Christmas gifts anyway, you can choose gifts where proceeds go to charity. And you can also help support a good cause without spending anything at all.
For example, if you're on Facebook all you have to do is 'like' the Lifestyle Sports (facebook.com/lifestylesports1) in order to support Barnardos.
For every 'like' they get by December 24, Lifestyle will donate €1 to Barnardos. They have committed to giving the charity €20,000 and that will go towards the Barnardos 'Best Chance' programme, which works to improve the education and development of five to nine-year-olds.
You could also put your used batteries to good use too. Until December 31, WEEE Ireland (the compliance scheme for electrical and battery recycling) has pledged to donate funds to the LauraLynn House at the Children's Sunshine home.
The children's hospice is aiming for 4.5 million batteries and hoping that €100,000 can be raised to buy a battery-powered electric SUV for use by staff and children at the hospice.
We are all used to the hens, goats and more that you can buy from Oxfam, Concern, GOAL, Gorta, Bóthar, the Hope Foundation, World Vision, Irish Red Cross and Presentaid.
But to be fair you may want to give your loved one a gift they can enjoy, and books are a good place to start.
For the aspiring chefs in your life Saba: The Cookbook (recipes are from Dublin's Saba restaurant), sells for €30 and all proceeds go to the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit in Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin and to the Thai Red Cross.
I Love Good Food costs €16.99 and proceeds go to the Irish Heart Foundation, or for €7.99 you could opt for Tweet Treats, a cookbook featuring tweet-length recipes from various celebrities with proceeds going to Médecins Sans Frontières.
Keeping on the books theme, Oxfam Books opened its first store outside of Dublin last week on Cork's French Church Street, and if you spend, say, €10 there, that's enough for six buckets to help families get access to water, and you still have a gift to give.
Go to purchase.ie for eco gifts where you can get 10pc off and 5pc of the transaction goes to the Capuchin Day Centre. Not all gifts are practical; you can buy a two-pack of eco soy candles for €17.95.
And for a bit of self-gifting don't forget that the Oxfam and M&S clothes exchange is still running. If you donate unwanted clothes to the shop you'll get a €7 voucher for M&S, useful for buying a pressie or for treating yourself.
For treating your dog, Dogs Trust has launched a new range of dog grooming products, all available at Maxi Zoo stores nationwide, and 33pc of profits go to Dogs Trust .
But if music is more your thing, you can download the #twitterxmassingle Winter Song for 99c.
Recorded by 150 Irish Twitter users just one week after Brenda Drumm tweeted in November "wouldn't it be great to have a Twitter Xmas single?", all proceeds go to the Neonatal Special Care unit in Holles Street Hospital and they are hoping for a Christmas No 1.