When you are living on a tight budget, it is easy to feel like there's not much you can do to give to others–especially if you are barely making ends meet yourself. However, just because you are not independently wealthy doesn't mean you can't be a generous giver, it just means you have to be more creative!
Here are some simple ideas of things we have done or are doing which anyone–even those on a very tight budget–could likely consider doing. In fact, most of these were things we did when we were living on less than $1000 a month during my husband's tenure in law school.
1) Share from Your Stockpile. Many of you probably already do this, but it is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to bless those in need–especially if you are a coupon shopper!
When you find a good bargain that you're able to stock up on while still staying within your grocery budget, stock up! In addition, take advantage of coupons and play The Drugstore Game to purchase items for free or almost-free.
Over time, you'll likely develop a nice stockpile of extra groceries and household products. Having these extra groceries and household products will not only save you a lot of money since you'll be paying pennies on the dollar for most products you use, but you'll also be able to bless others from your abundance.
Maybe you can't give a $50 check to a needy family or individual, but you could likely put together a box of canned goods and household products worth $50 to share with them. Or you could use items in your stockpile to make up a loaf of bread and a pot of soup to bring to a family who is going through a difficult time.
Really, the possibilities for blessing others with your stockpile are practically endless. Start looking for ways to bless others with what you have on hand and you'll likely have more than ample ideas!
2) Give of Your Time. If money is tight and your stockpile is slim, that doesn't mean you don't have anything to give. What about volunteering your time to help mow an elderly neighbor's yard, or clean a new mom's house, or watch a weary friend's child for an afternoon?
Again, the possibilities for giving of your time are practically limitless. Think of what your strengths and gifts are and how you could use those to help and reach out to others.
3) Pass It On! Do you have items in your home you no longer need or use? Why don't you pass them on to someone else who can use them? Of course, I'm not saying to pass along junk to people! But if you have items which still have plenty of life left in them and are in good condition but you are not using them, find a more appropriate home for them!
From clothes to books to coupons, I love to share extras with others. One thing I always do is to tell people they are free to pass the item on themselves or get rid of it if it's not something they can use. I certainly don't want others to feel obligated to hang onto something just because I shared it with them.
4) Sponsor a Compassion Child. One of our very favorite ministries is Compassion International. Dedicated to helping poverty-stricken children, this organization lets you choose a needy child to share love, support, and prayers with.
We have so much here in America and it is very easy for our children to take the wealth and abundance of stuff for granted. One way we are seeking to help our children understand the poverty and difficulties children around the world face is through sponsoring "our" Compassion children.
It has been so eye-opening to read the letters and see the pictures that our sponsored children send. And 4-year-old Kathrynne has especially begun to grasp just how little they have in comparison to her. She often talks about these children and writes notes to them because she wants to brighten their day.
Sponsoring a child costs $32 per month. This money goes directly to provide food and clean water, medical care, educational opportunities, and life-training skills for these impoverished children. While that amount might seem impossible for you to make room for in your budget, consider how little these children have.
Perhaps you could give up eating out once a month, or have a meatless dinner once a week, or cut your grocery bill by $8 per week in order to come up with the extra money to sponsor a child? You could even consider splitting the sponsorship costs with a few other families, if your budget is especially tight.
If you're anything like us, you will find that the blessings you reap from sponsoring a child are well worth the small monetary investment.
Go here for more information Compassion International.
5) Support Widows and Orphans. Gleaning the Harvest is an organization dedicated to providing for the needs of widows and orphans. I love the concept of this and would love to see many more people begin committing to support these needy families every month.
The best thing of all is that it is set up so you can donate money in whatever amount you are able to. Surely all of us could spare a dollar or two every month? And if a few thousand of us gave a dollar every month, the results would really make an impact!
Go here for more information on Gleaning the Harvest.
Those are just a few simple ideas of things we've done and things just about anyone could do on any budget. But I know this list barely even scratches the surface of ideas on how to practice generosity on a limited budget, so I'd love to hear from you. How is your family giving to others, even while on a budget? What simple and inexpensive ideas do you have for reaching out to those in need? What creative ways have you used your bargain-shopping finds to bless others?