According to a new CNN poll, “50% of Americans [are] spending less on gifts” this year, plus “51% of those surveyed will cut back in what they'll make in charitable contributions due to economic conditions this year.”

In a separate story by Fox 11 News, it was reported that the rich among us are tightening their belts as well, as “sales of luxury goods are expected to be down 16 percent from last year.”

If you’re one of those belt tightening consumers, maybe it’s time to put things in proper perspective. As reported by the Sunday Independent (South Africa) earlier this year, 1,000,000,000 people will go hungry around the world next year—for the first time in recorded history—based on a United Nations statement. It’s definitely a staggering number: one billion people. And here we are, upset because maybe we have to fly coach home for the holidays this one time instead of business class. Or we have to take the regular train instead of the Acela. Or little Timmy will only be getting a 32-inch HDTV to go along with his Playstation 3. Just saying… things could be worse for you and I. We could be fighting each other for food right now at a U.N. depot somewhere.

So, maybe buying cheap gifts for everyone this year isn’t such a bad idea. Remember it’s the thought that counts… for everything except charitable donations. For charities, it is actually the donation that counts. For someone who’s hungry, a "nice" thought doesn’t help much.

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