10 Ways to Be Charitable on a Budget

Frugality doesn't mean insensitivity. Use these 10 tips to turn your savings ideas into a smile for a friend, neighbor or your favorite charity.

10 Ways to Be Charitable on a Budget Photo (cc) by HowardLake

The following post comes from Susan Sundwall at partner site The Dollar Stretcher.

Frugal people aren’t cheap – they’re some of the most generous people I know. They usually give without fanfare and are very creative in doing so. Here’s how to be generous to those less fortunate without breaking the bank…

  1. Roll your coins – 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’ve also given my 20 bottles to someone ahead of me. They’re always pleased to take them, and I can go on my way knowing I’ve given a little something back.
  3. Clothing roundup – 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 partially outweighed by the tax write-off.
  4. Food pantries – Did you buy one and get one free? Maybe you don’t need two. Then get that deal anyway and start a pantry box. When you’ve got five or six items saved up, deliver them 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. And it’s in short supply 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 2-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 enginesGoodSearch.com will donate to your chosen cause 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.” I hope you are able to enjoy the virtue of giving to others even as you guard the economy of your hearth and home.

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