You don't always need to pull out your checkbook when helping others

Helping Others without Spending Money

by Lynn Bulmahn

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You're a generous person. You like to help people. But money is tight!

Even if you are in between jobs, flat broke or on a fixed income, you can still be a generous giver. Here are a dozen ways of helping others without spending a dime:

  1. Give blood - If you're healthy and weigh at least 110 pounds, you can donate blood. One unit of blood (slightly less than a pint) saves three lives! You can donate once every two months (56 days). That's six times a year. Contact your local blood center for details.

  2. Saving materials - Throwaway items can sometimes help others. For instance, a local charitable thrift store doesn't buy plastic sacks for bagging merchandise; instead, it reuses bags from other stores. Its supporters bring in plastic bags along with other donations. We save cans for a teacher who recycles metal to purchase classroom supplies, trimmed/fallen tree limbs for a friend's fireplace, and egg cartons for a farmer. Such help doesn't cost a penny!

  3. Volunteering - If you can't spare a dime, could you spare some time? Perhaps you can tutor a child, teach Sunday school, coach sports, or pick up litter. Unemployed folks must devote weekday work hours to job searching, but could volunteer in evenings or weekends. This is a great way to network and possibly find a job! Retirees have lots of time and experience and are valuable resources for schools, churches, civic organizations, and charities.

  4. Chores - Know an elderly person or someone in poor health? Could you do yard work, clean gutters, shovel snow, or buy groceries for them? If they can't drive, could you give them a ride?

  5. Babysitting - Some stay-at-home mothers never get a moment's peace. They are at their "job" 24/7. Could you give them a "Mom's Day Out" by watching their little ones? You'll have fun with the kiddies and mom can relax.

  6. Elder sitting - Don't overlook helping a family with an elderly relative. When my father was terminally ill, I became his in-home caregiver. It was grueling! Dad's friends Bob and Earl came over and told me to go rest. Dad greatly enjoyed the visit, and I got some desperately-needed sleep.

  7. Discards - Cleaning out your closet, attic, or garage? Too many books or clothes? Instead of throwing perfectly good items away, donate them to a charity or give them to someone who could use them! In the former case, you could get a tax receipt for a charitable donation; it will come in handy next April 15.

  8. Your expertise - Your knowledge may help others. Consider serving on a board of advisers for a church or charity. Retired business people volunteering for the Service Corps of Retired Executives can advise new entrepreneurs how to navigate the marketplace. Mentoring can be informal, such as a retired educator guiding a brand-new teacher or experienced parents helping first-timers care for their newborn.

  9. Garden extras - Gardens sometimes produce bumper crops of squash, tomatoes, carrots, or other veggies. Fruit trees may shower you with way too many peaches, pears, or apples. In addition to folks you know, sharing this bounty is a godsend to food banks, domestic violence shelters, Meals on Wheels, and other charities. Their clients may seldom enjoy fresh fruits or veggies.

  10. Computer help - Even in the 21st century, some people do not own computers. If an elderly or computer-less friend or neighbor needs some information, could you find it online for them? Could you contact a distant loved one via email and relay a message for them? Teach them computer basics, such as using the internet, so they can use the public library computers for job searches and emails.
  11. Are you heading for debt trouble? This simple checklist can help you.

  12. Hauling - There are items I need that I can't squeeze into my compact car. If you own a pickup truck, flatbed trailer, van or SUV, hauling large items like furniture helps those who lack bigger vehicles.

  13. Prayer - We all know people with problems. Do we pray for them? We should! A medical journal once reported about a scientific study on prayer. It concluded that prayer works. It's a way of helping that doesn't cost you a dime.

Take the Next Step:

  • For more on charitable giving, please visit The Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Could spending 5 minutes reading a newsletter twice a week save you time and money every day? Dollar Stretcher Tips readers think so. Subscribe and find out how many ideas stretch your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.

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