This is the cry of a giving person who does not have much disposable income. My late, saintly grandma comes to mind. Grandma Lillie was one of the most loving, giving, praying women I have ever had the pleasure to know. I shudder to think where my family would all be right now if it had not been for her fervent prayers. Still, even though she prayed for us all (and there is nothing on Earth more valuable than the prayers of God’s saints), she still wanted to give to others.
She was always receiving from others. Someone would clean out a closet and come by with tons of clothes for her. People brought food by just because they wanted to. It does not surprise me that she was so well cared for because she was so much fun to bless. She would get excited. She would cry. She would say, “What did I do to be so blessed?” in her sweet, Southern drawl. Who does not love giving to someone who acts so appreciative?
As much as she thanked God for these blessings, she also wanted to be a blessing. What she did not understand was that she was a blessing just for being who she was. Her smile made you think, “Everything is going to be alright.” There was something comforting about knowing she was in the world and on her knees praying. She was cuddly, warm, and the entire church’s grandmother.
For those like my grandma who want so badly to help ease the burden of people’s trials but have little money available, there are ways you can bless on a budget:
- Create a Giving Envelope. Life has a way of taking our money. Have you noticed it? When I do not create a cash flow plan ahead of time, my money leaves and I am left scratching my head in confusion. Did Starbucks get my money? Olive Garden? But, when we plan a path for our money, it goes where we tell it to go! Before the month begins, budget out a small amount of money – even if just $5 – and set it aside in an envelope marked “Giving.” When a need arises, you can go to your stash and pull out some money to give or spend on someone in need. This way you can have some cash available instead of feeling helpless when needs arise.
- Instead of Giving Money to a Friend or Family in Need, Give a Meal or Products Instead. A friend of ours has perfected an inexpensive way to make pizza. We love enjoying her pizza creations and I know they would be appreciated by people who need a little extra help (e.g., just had a baby, preparing for a monstrous exam, struggling to make ends meet, etc.). Giving meals which can be easily baked or reheated is not only saving the recipients’ money but time as well! If cooking is not your strong suit, maybe you can put together a gift basket of necessary items such as toilet paper, paper towels, soap, detergent, and other goods families go through quickly. Put yourself in their shoes and think of what you would need in that circumstance.
- Offer Your Services! Can you babysit while Mom and Dad run errands or take care of some business? Do you have the skills to fix their leaky faucet or clogged shower drain? Can you help them clean out their home, organize their belongings, and find items to sell? What are your gifts and how can you use them to be a blessing? Babysitters, plumbers, and professional organizers are not cheap. Do not underestimate your contribution even if it is not directly financial.
- Organize a Giving Group. There is power in numbers! And resources add up when many are involved! Do you have a group of friends who all have giving hearts and want to offer helping hands? If you organize a giving group, you can let everyone in the group know when there is a need and whoever is able at the time can contribute. A few people can make meals. A few more can collect money. Others can offer goods or services. As a collective force, think of how much you could accomplish!
- Research and Write Your Own “Book” of Money-Saving Hacks. This booklet will not only bless you over the years, but you can offer copies to others who are going through financial hardships. You can list the best places to buy certain local products – stores which offer money-back options. You can list couponing hints and cheap ways to make otherwise expensive products (detergent, mouthwash, etc.). If you want to take it a step further, you can set your personal savings aside for your giving envelope!
There are times when people need a bill paid or funds for unexpected travel and when you feel led to give someone money, it is best to do it. But, in most situations, you can be a blessing to struggling families in frugal ways. A while ago, when Eric was not feeling well, a family from church came by with a simple soup, salad, and bread dinner for us. It was delicious and it warmed our hearts in a way handing us a $20 bill never would. It did cost them something, but it was the time and love put into the meal that was the biggest blessing.
What ideas do you have for blessing others on a budget? We would love to hear your ideas below! If you find you are so busy you often miss out on opportunities to give, consider creating a giving calendar or setting reminders on your phone to research the needs in your church and community. There is always someone who could use tangible support and prayer.
What are a few ways you can make a difference without breaking the bank? [Comment below!]