This post brought to you by Capital One. The content and opinions expressed below are that of The Humbled Homemaker.
One of the hardest pills for me to swallow during our lean years of living on a low income was not being able to give as extravagantly as we wanted.
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.
Although I do not personally earn points or cash in this way, I do regulary earn $5 gift certificates to Vitacost.com and $25 gift certificates to Tropical Traditions through my referral links.
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?
Wish For Others
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.
Check out Wish For Others for more details on how to make your #WishForOthers come true!
Heather @ My Overflowing Cup
Operation Christmas Child is one of our favorite ways to give. Each time I am in the dollar store (which is only a few times a year), I buy a few items to save for the shoe boxes. It helps offset the cost when it comes time to pack them. I love the idea of going together with other families. You could even do it as a church or a youth group, etc. We have also used our credit card rewards because like you said, it really is free money. Giving sacrificially is important even when it isn’t much because I believe it is as much for our good as it is for the recipient. I think that God grows us the most when we give in a way that hurts. We need to remember that we are only asked to be faithful. It is God who causes the increase. Thanks for the post, Erin!
I agree that OCC is such a GREAT and easy way to give!!
I LOVE this post. It speaks right to my heart. 🙂 If you don’t mind me sharing … every week on my website, I have a Thursday service challenge, and I try to make sure to add suggestions for those who are on a tight budget. This is my “giving on a budget” category. 🙂 http://www.letsdosomegoodtoday.com/category/giving-on-a-budget/
I try and give back by being involved in things in my community. My daughter attends a headstart program and I participate in their policy council. I also donate clothes of hers that she outgrows to other families and to her headstart facility
Great article…I try to give through out the year, but alot during the holidays..I know in advance two organizations I’ll give back to, but always looking for more ways. I love the operation box…I’m planning on buying a storage box and fill it up as I go for 2015+and by October begin to create packets to organizations who I will donate, but also donate on the streets..I needed to read this
more ideas from my life:
1. buy bulk basic needs and offer from these: I bought a package with 10 teeth brushes, 10 towels, 10 identical socks etc. – and I prepared some showboxes etc.
2. offer services: I am selling homemade products with the message: the money are going there (jam, bread, cakes, sewing, I sold made shopping bags etc ).
3. offer to the others to transport/to promote/to add what is really helpful there.
4. offer training, formations, education for the people in need. Help to another person to find a job. Offer the menu steps and some hints to the person in need, share the home for a person in need. If they ask how to mercy you: give the social cases around you.