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Friday, July 10, 2009

Frugal Friday: Five Free and Frugal Ways to Give

You might guess from the name of this blog that I'm big on being generous. The old saying "It's better to give than to receive" is so true! Not only does giving make us feel good -- who doesn't need some warm fuzzies now and then -- but it keeps us focused on what's important. God calls us to be givers! There are over 100 verses of Scripture that deal with generosity.

"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
- II Corinthians 9:7

"A generous man will prosper;he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."
- Proverbs 11:25

The list goes on and on. God doesn't demand that we give, but I can't help but think that He smiles when we lend a hand to someone who needs it.

I've heard reports from several non-profits that their donations are down right now. Struggling with job losses and other financial difficulties can make it harder to give. It's time to get creative! Here are a few ways that you can give without breaking the bank.

1. Shop with giving in mind. Most of us scan the ads looking for sales on items that our families use. That's great! Our first responsibility is always to take care of our own. But have you scanned the ad with an eye for giving? You may already have enough toothpaste to make it through the next year. Instead of skimming over the Colgate deal in the CVS ad, why not use your shopping skills and coupons to get some free or almost-free toothpaste for your local women's shelter? It's pretty convenient to sit a bag somewhere in your home and drop in freebie items as you find them. Once the bag is full, it can be dropped off at the women's shelter. The same thing can be done with many American Legion posts. They take the personal care items, pack them in boxes, and ship them to soldiers. (Of course, I recommend calling your post to verify that they participate before you just drop by.) Note: If you're new to bargain shopping, you may have to wait a little while to do this one. Your first responsibility is always to take care of your own family. You'll be amazed at the extra deals you can grab once you have a few extras stashed away for your family.

2. Make a meal from your pantry stockpile. Do you know someone who just had a baby or who is sick? Do you know someone who could just use a break or a little pick-me-up? If you've been filling your pantry for pennies, maybe you're able to make a quick meal for someone else. Or, if you're cooking for your own family, you might be able to double the recipe and share with a friend or neighbor. My brother's group of friends is very faithful to do this when one of them has a baby. The other couples coordinate so that a fresh meal is brought to the new parents every other day for the first couple of weeks. What a blessing to not have to worry about cooking when you're sleep deprived!

3. Share information about how you bargain shop. Why not help others help themselves? This might take the form of casual conversations with co-workers and friends, or it might take the form of teaching a class for a small group at your church. It might even result in a blog!

4. Give away your unused coupons. For those of you without pets, local animal shelters are a great place to donate your pet food coupons. They usually run on a tight budget and appreciate any way that they can save some money. If you don't have children, you might be able to find someone who can use your diaper and baby product coupons. I have a friend with a one year old who gets mine. I've also started watching for diaper deals for my brother and sister-in-law who are expecting.

5. Share what you have. You may not have much money to share, but everyone has something to give. Do you have time that you can give to a local group in need of volunteers? Sometimes that's worth more than a monetary donation! Do you have some personal care items in your cupboard that could be shared with a family who lost their home to a fire? Can you babysit for a friend who's job hunting? It's amazing what you can offer when you stop to think about it.

I've found that the best way for me to be a giver is to always keep my eyes open for opportunities to give. Sometimes the best way to help is through a donation of money. But usually there are other ways that are just as helpful... and at the same time quite frugal!

For more great frugal ideas, stop by Frugal Friday sponsored by Life As Mom.


Melissa said...

Great tips! Here are two more:

Do web searches through You can help an organization of your choice this way.

Shop through a charitable website that has affiliate programs in place. This is an easy way to help your favorite organization. GoodSearch has a GoodShop section, but other organizations (e.g., BoxTops for Education, HSLDA, etc.) have their own lists.

Tia @ Tia Saving Cents said...

Great tips. I have been discouraged recently with reading blog articles that discourage this type of giving and I am glad you have written this article. We support a few programs thru our church and on the side with drugstore items and over the counter medicines and I know that these donations are 2 fold for them because they save money not having to buy these items AND no one has to spend the time shopping for them from the non-profit.

mommyhastowork said...

Thank you for the post. I always 'want' to give and help out, but I can always use a reminder.