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Five ways to give back when you can't give money to charities.

Spend, Save, Give.

Those are the labels of three jam jars that finance guru Scott Pape, known as The Barefoot Investor, says helps parents teach kids about money. Each jar, and the intention behind the label of each jaw, has equal importance.

It’s a lesson that’s had a profound influence on me as a parent. I want to teach my kids about money using jam jars, and I want to teach them about life through action.

Charities have certainly changed how they operate since I was a child. You can’t just hand over money, particularly with the larger, more established charities. Instead, you have to commit to a regular payment via direct debit, or fork out hundreds for a seat at a table at a fancy event.

Scott Pape, the “Barefoot Investor”, on how to teach kids about money using jam jars.

We don’t have that sort of money in my family household, so out of necessity I restrict my monetary contributions to the occasional donation, normally to causes that are, for me, close to home.

That doesn’t mean I can’t teach my kids to give back in a very real way, that goes deeper than them putting coins in the Guide Dog Association dog at the local supermarket or putting some money into a paper box for a developing nation during mission week at their school.

As well as those good deeds, I want to teach them to give back as part of an overall life philosophy. Not because they will get credit, not because it will make them better people, but because it will make the world a better place.

So, together we have decided to choose something “global” and something “local”. Global can be causes such as animal cruelty and disaster relief. Local needs to be closer to home.

Because, once we were a family with no money for food or gifts. Once we were a family who needed help too.

MENTORING

As a society, one of the best things we can do to ensure an incredible future for our country is to ensure our young people are raised with respect, thankfulness, education and opportunity. That’s why mentoring programs appeal so much. There are two you can contact.

Sister2Sister’s Big Sister program pairs up women with teenage girls.

Sister2Sister runs an amazing mentoring program. work. Image: Provided
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The Smith Family runs a program for children in disadvantaged circumstances, who are paired up with someone who becomes their educational mentor, helping them to learn and inspiring them to do their best in school.

GIFTING

Sometimes, children receive so many extra peripheral gifts after Christmas and birthdays that many of them remain in their packaging for weeks. These are the items you can encourage children to give to others, through the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and St. Vincent de Paul. Kids can re-wrap them beautifully and drop them off themselves.

ANIMALS

Children love animals, but they can be hard to take care of, particularly if your family is busy with school and activities. Instead of bringing a permanent pet into your home, families can foster kittens until a home is found for them, spend time with dogs at 'no kill' dog shelters such as Monika's Dog Shelter by playing with them, bringing them blankets and towels. There's also the Good Samaritan program, where volunteers can offer to take care of pets belonging to sick elderly people while they spend time in hospital.

Watch this adorable cat shelter video.

Video via FurKids
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REFUGEES

Refugee organisation VoRTCS introduces families to refugees to spend time together, tutor them in English and and help them develop skills to live a better life.

HOMELESS

With so many homeless people in our own backyards, there are many opportunities to help out, including volunteering with organisations that provide showers for the homeless, laundry services and blankets, clothing and sanitary items. Streethearts is one such amazing organisation, but there are many in your local area.

Skilled volunteers such as doctors, nurses, accountants, writers, teachers, builders, plumbers are incredibly valuable to people in need who can't afford such services. Find volunteering opportunities through Volunteering Australia to offer time and skills.

Everyone remembers their childhood pet. Sometimes we get lucky and our childhood pets grow up right alongside us. These amazing before and after photos show just how special that bond can be, even when they're all grown up. Images courtesy of EliteDaily.com.

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