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At Christmas we are often bombarded with different charities needing our help. If you are on a tight budget it can begin to feel hopeless. How can you give something, when you have very little extra yourself?
By thinking creatively, having open eyes to opportunities, and a heart that is willing I think even those on tight budget can give at Christmas time.
9 Ways To Give At Christmas Time When You Are On A Tight Budget
Please note you might not be able to use a lot of the tips on this list to help out others this Christmas but you can use it to start planning for next Christmas. Over 12 months some of these actions can make a big impact in how generous you can be at Christmas time without blowing the budget.
1. Collect free samples to give
When I wrote my article on where I find free samples one of my readers commented that she bags up her free samples and donates them to homeless shelters where the residents are happy to receive them.
If you are a coupon queen I know that you can get items for low to little cost. Grab extra free to almost free items now and then and donate them to your local food bank.
3. Donate your time instead of cash
Could you help stock the shelves at the food bank? Ring the bell for a shift at a Salvation Army Christmas donation center? Help serve food at a homeless shelter?
4. Collect your change
My family does this. We spend our quarters, but we throw all our pennies, nickles and dimes in a large glass jar. When it fills up I take the kids first to the bank to have it changed in for bills, then we hit the grocery store with a list of what our Church needs to line the shelves of its food pantry.My children are always amazed at how much money collects in that jar and how much food it buys, when their thrifty mom puts her thrifty ninja skills to work.
The jar doesn’t always reach full capacity by Christmas, but then again your giving doesn’t always have to be at Christmas either. There are needs year round.
5. Pick one point earning program or cash back site to use for giving purposes
There are so many different way to earn a few gift cards online. I personally have written about how to best use 18 of them. Pick one and make a goal for it and designate the points you earn for gift cards that can help you give to needs in your area. One way to do this would be to pick gift cards that can help you buy toys to fulfill needs of a gift tag program.
6. Sort through your home and donate to a local thrift store that supports local food banks or shelters
There is a thrift store in my area that is attached to a local soup kitchen. Every time I drop off my things there I am reminded by the aroma of the upcoming meal that my donations are feeding the hungry. It motivates me to toss more in the donation pile.
7. Use the donation options found in point programs
I mentioned in number 5 that you could use gift cards earned through point programs to give, but did you know that point programs like Swagbucks have areas where you can donate your points to national charities. Every point really does help.
8. Shop clearance
In late January when you see that bin of hats and gloves for $1 each pick up a few extra pairs and put them away until the next local warm clothing drive in your area. If you have a larger budget you can do this to pick up winter coats for as little as $10 a piece, and do the same thing. I have seen other charities asking for blankets which also go on clearance.
9. Give your words of encouragement and kindness
I love what Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom wrote last week about how a simple note she took seconds to write was able to impact someone. Perhaps you just can’t stretch your budget to do any of the above, and your calendar has your time stretched so thin. I bet you have a moment to use your words.
Those in need are not just the ones signing up for gift tags for their kids, or standing in line for a bag of food and warm meal. Sometimes those in need are the people right around you. The lady at church who never seems to smile. The cashier who seems very distracted. Give them a smile and say something nice. Ask about their day. Compliment them on the color of their shirt, or the piece of jewelry they are wearing that caught your eye. Chances are it will warm their heart, causing a chain reaction.
What inexpensive ways to give to others at Christmas time would you add to my list? I would love to read them in the comments below.
Be sure to check out my Thrifty Christmas Resource Page for great ways to fit Christmas into a tight budget