This post brought to you by Capital One. The content and opinions expressed below are that of The Humbled Homemaker.
Both my husband and I spent our childhoods in middle income families (mine being in the upper end of middle). We were accustomed to giving to others year-round–not just during the holidays. As children, we were never the recipients of charity, but in our adulthood, for a few years at least, we found ourselves in that very spot.
Still, we did not want to stop giving despite the fact that we were barely making ends meet. We knew it would take a little more creativity, but we felt called to give what we could–even when it felt like a widow’s mite.
Naming these ways we were able to give while living on a tight budget is not to toot our own horns. (Really, I was embarrassed back then by just how little it seemed we were able to give!) Rather, I’m hopeful that it will encourage you with ways to give to others while living on a tight budget if that is your family’s current life situation.
Check out these 6 ways we were still able to give while living on a tight budget:
1. Put Together an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox.
This is an intiative through Samaritan’s Purse, and it’s a relatively affordable way to give to others during the holiday season even when you don’t have much to give.
When we were living on a super tight budget, we only put together one box per year.
Samaritan’s Purse provides the shoeboxes, and families fill them with small toys and hygeine items. We typically get our supplies for the shoeboxes from the Dollar Store or the dollar bins at Target. The only cost besides filling the box is a $10 processing fee.
To make this an even more affordable way to give, you can collect the items year-round, putting even $1.00 from your budget aside each month or picking up items like soap or toothpaste when you find them in the clearance bins.
2. Commit to a One-Time Sponsorship (instead of something ongoing)
My family now sponsors a child through Compassion International. This is a monthly committment and one that we are excited to now have the means to support.
But I remember a time when we were afraid to commit to a monthly sponsorship because we did not have enough money to support our own family from month-to-month, much less a child from another family.
We were thrilled to discover Hope 4 Women, International. This is a widow sponsorship program that is only a one-year committment. At the end of the one-year sponsorship, each widow has been trained in a trade that will allow her to suppport her family for life, making Hope 4 Women, International a way to support both widows and orphans at the same time.
If you are able to raise the funds for a whole year at one time–around $400–I would encourage you to give in one lump sum. This eliminates the stress of having to come up with a monthly sponsorship contribution.
There are many things you can do to raise the money needed for the sponsorship–like selling your unwanted items via a consignment or yard sale.
3. Go in with Another Family
There is no rule that says you must give to the charities you love on your own. If you can only give $20 and the need is $40, why not ask your neighbors, relatives or friends if they will join you? After all, they might also be living on a tight budget, and inviting them to go in with you might give them the freedom to give as well.
As for the previous examples of ways to give while living on a tight budget, if your budget is extremely tight, there is nothing wrong with putting together a single shoebox with another family and splitting the $10 fee to make it just $5 per family. You can always go in with another family for one-time sponsorships as well.
4. Use Your Rewards Points
I do not personally use Swag Bucks or eBates, but I have friends who rave about these ways of earnings Amazon bucks and even hard cash via online shopping and browsing! Being able to gift a charity the cash or gift cards earned this way comes at no real cost to you.
Giving the gift certifcates to families who need items from these online stores or even ordering the items and giving them to a homeless shelter or food pantry is another way to give without emptying your pockets of cash from your tight budget.
Re-gifting may sound tacky to some, but if you’ve been given a nice, brand new item that you do not need and will not use, there is no good reason not to re-gift it! Homeless shelters, pregnancy centers and other ministries would love your unwanted gifts for those receiving their care!
6. Give Sacrificially (even when “sacrificially” isn’t much)
Maybe giving sacrificially for some families is donating thousands of dollars, but that probably isn’t the case for you if your family is living on a tight budget.
Perhaps your family can only afford to eat out once per month. What if you took one month out of the year to not eat out and, instead, donated that $20-$50 (depending on your family size!) to a worthy cause?
Or perhaps your budget allows enough wiggle room to eat out once per week or more–or enough space for some fancy coffee shop visits several times per month. Why not cut out just one dining experience or other outing per month in order to build up your giving fund?
Capital One is currently holding a campaign called #WishForOthers. Share your wish for someone else–a family member, a friend, a neighbor or an entire community–using the #WishForOthers hashtag on Twitter, Instagram or the Capital One Facebook page through December 23 for a chance to make it come true!
Create a video sharing what you and/or your family wish for others this holiday season. Videos must be :30 for Facebook or :15 for Instagram.
You can share a picture instead of a video on Twitter.
What are your ideas for how to give while living on a tight budget?