Monday, May 16, 2011

Money Saving Monday: How to give on a budget

Lately, I have been VERY aware how fortunate I am. I have a wonderful family to help me when I need it, I have enough money to be comfortable {(even if I can't be frivolous!)}, I am educated {(and hopefully getting more education!)}, and I have a fantastic network of friends, school peers, supervisors, and professors to help me get me where I want to go. And, I've had those things. I have never worried about a natural disaster, or abusive parents, or having enough to eat.

I've been conscious of helping those who need it, even when I can't afford to do so. Although I one day hope to sponsor children, give college scholarships and adopt many animals, I can't right now. Here is a list of things I've found to be helpful in my quest to give back on a budget:

1. Coupons: I have no need for coupons for baby products, animal products, and most of the personal care stuff that I get. You know who does though? Shelters for children and/or their mothers, animal shelters, shelters for survivors of domestic abuse. I'll clip the coupons and send them in with my {small} monetary donation. If you play the drugstore game, you can easily buy shampoo, conditioner, razors, toothpaste, soap, etc. for little to nothing and simply donate these items to the appropriate shelters. Other good ideas would be non-perishable pantry items, and food for Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter dinners.

2. After-holiday sales: These are especially helpful for baby items like socks, onesies, blankets, etc. They're drastically reduced in price, but no less warm or useful than they were before whichever holiday.  Sometimes you can get baking supplies {canned pumpkin, anyone?} after big baking holidays, and often kitchen items go on sale right after these same holidays. If I can get them, I donate all of these to appropriate charities.

3. MyPoints, Credit Card Rewards, Swagbucks: Did you know that with your MyPoints you can donate money to the American Red Cross? Or if you don't qualify for a survey on Opinion Outpost you can donate $0.10 to the Red Cross? I make regular donations to ARC out of my own pocket, but these are excellent avenues if you want to donate and can't come up with the cash. Other ideas are gift cards for teachers, new moms, etc. Grocery store gift cards to food pantries, or gas cards to non-profits will also be appreciated.

4. Yard sales, thrift stores, etc.: You can often find gently used kids clothing, books, movies, etc. at yard sales, and if you don't need these things, why not donate them to those who need them?

5. Time: This is perhaps the most obvious thing you can do to help when you have limited means. I'm a Girl Scout volunteer {disclosure: I also work for Girl Scouts} and have volunteered in the past with Habitat for Humanity, NAM {Northwest Assistance Ministries in NW Harris County} and other various organizations. I guarantee there is an organization out there for you to donate you time to. All it takes is a Google search!

6. Your old stuff: As part of the simplification of my life {and my move!} I'm getting rid of a lot of things. Extra coffee mugs, a BUNCH of t-shirts, shoes I don't wear, etc. Some of these things will fetch a good price, but most won't. Instead of throwing all of these things out, why not donate them to Goodwill, Purple Heart, VFW, etc. Yes, some of these charities will turn around and sell your items, but I'd personally rather they have the profit off of my clothing than me. They'll also probably be able to sell it for more than I would.

How do you give back on a budget?

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