Even on a tight budget you can afford to be generous if you know how

How to Be Charitable on a Budget

by Susan Sundwall


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I count myself among those frugal types who are that way, in part, so that they may give to others. Frugal people are some of the most generous people I know and usually give without fanfare and are very creative in doing so. Here are ten ways to be generous to those less fortunate without breaking the bank.

  1. Roll your coins - and do it on a regular basis. Use half of what you roll to benefit someone else. Donate to the local animal shelter, disaster victim relief fund, or whatever else moves your heart.

  2. Bottle returns - Where I live there are machines that gobble our bottles and cans. A return slip pops out when all the bottles are deposited. Why not leave the slip there? Whoever finds it will be so happy and it could make someone's day. I have also given my 20 bottles to someone ahead of me who has 80. They're always pleased to take them, and I can go on my way knowing I've given a little something.

  3. Clothing round up - Sure, you give to the Salvation Army, the community clothing drive, or the women's shelter. Each time you bundle up your contribution make it a point to put in one new thing. Give a pair of socks, a new t-shirt, or a small toy. You'll feel wonderful and the cost is far out-weighed by the tax write-off.

  4. Food pantries - Did you buy one and get one free? But, you don't need two. Then get that deal anyway and start a pantry box. When you've got five or six items piled up, deliver it to the pantry collection point.

  5. Garden overflow - Last year we grew so many green beans we were sick of them by the time the last rows were ready to pick. I gave them away in bags and baskets at church, to neighbors, and to one woman who was having a tag sale a few doors down from me. She was so pleased that she let me choose some items for free as a thank you.

  6. Time - Yes, time is money. But it's in short supply sometimes for young mothers, the elderly, and volunteer groups. Commit one or two free hours a week to helping out. Rides to a doctor's appointment, sitting with a two-year-old and coloring while Mom shops, or taking a shift at the community center are worth their weight in gold to those with such need.

  7. Coupons - They're all over the place. While you're clipping yours, why not clip for someone who might not have the time? Don't need diapers? Clip the coupon anyway. Have enough pasta sauce? Maybe your neighbor doesn't. Coupons also make a great tuck in for a birthday or get well card. Who wouldn't want 50 cents off their cough drops when they're down and out with a cold?

  8. Plants - I have a philodendron plant that I've been taking slips off of for years. You probably have a Christmas cactus, some lilies of the valley, or any number of other hardy plants that are worth sharing. Presented in a pretty paper cup along with a cheerful smile, they can be a welcome offering to shut-ins, teachers, the church tag sale, or to spruce up a dreary corner in your spouse's office.

  9. Search engines - GoodSearch.com will donate to your chosen cause a small amount for every search or purchase you make through them. From pennies to dollars, it adds up quickly!

  10. Your blog - Use the power of the Internet to call attention to various needs locally, nationally, or globally. Don't beat your readers over the head with it, but a mention in one or two of your posts about Little Dresses for Africa or Pennies for Peace will help in ways you probably won't ever know about.

The Latin root word for frugal is frugalis meaning virtuous and is akin to frui to enjoy. I hope you are able to enjoy the virtue of giving to others even as you guard the economy of your hearth and home.

Take the Next Step:

  • For more on charitable giving and being generous, please visit here.
  • Share your favorite ways of being generous with others in the Comments section below. We'd all benefit from hearing your great ideas, so don't be shy!

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