Giving on a Small Budget

Not only can using coupons significantly lower your grocery bills each week, they can also allow you to donate to those who are needy–even when you’re strapped for cash yourself.

See a real-life example of this over at Living the Domestic Life. Like Amy encourages in her post, if you’re already taking the effort to match coupons and sales, why not just buy a few extra of things as you’re able in order to donate them to others?

Have you blessed someone with your coupon freebies recently? If so, tell us about it in the comments. I’d love to hear!

See more ideas for giving on a small budget here.

photo credit: Mindful One

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Comments

  1. Jan says

    All the time! I often hand out coupons to folks in the stores, but I’ve also been able to donate regularly to our local food bank. And last winter, our church youth group challenged the kids to take $10 each and give back to the community in some way. Thanks to coupons and deals, my son was able to donate over $200 worth of food and personal care items to another local food bank. Fishes and loaves, coupon style!

    • Bev says

      @Amy @ Living The Domestic Life, Amy, I’m so glad to read your article via Money Saving Mom. Saving to donate is my passion, too! (see my post below) I’m hoping to get more women excited about this too, when I teach a seminar at my church in July.

  2. jo says

    we were able to get 150 boxes of Betty Crocker boxed potatoes for the food pantry for free…..usually $1.69, on sale for 5/$3…when you bought 5 you would get a $3 catalina for your next shopping order…that was awesome to get that many free…

    • Emily says

      @jo, WOW, 150 boxes. I’m curious as to how you were able to get that many. Was it just by rolling the catalinas over and over?

  3. says

    We recently had a “Scouting for Food” drive in our neighborhood. We were able to donate over $80.00 worth of stuff (food and hygiene) and it only cost us around….maybe $8.00. It was awesome, and felt pretty good too.

  4. Sonjia says

    I have amassed a huge cache of free schick razors and toothpaste. I am planning on sending a rather hefty box of supplies to ‘Soldier’s Angels’- nearly 100 packs of razors and 20 or so boxes of toothpaste- to the wonderful men and women that sacrifice so much to keep us safe. These items were purchased at very little cost to me, and it’s the least my family can do to express our gratitude.

    I have also become quite efficient at purchasing cereal and other non-perishables for pennies. Every three/four months, I drive my donations to my local food bank. Once, I stumbled upon 16 containers of powdered formula at my local CVS on clearance (90% off). I purchased them for $30 and donated them to my local teen pregnancy center. I received a major charitable donation without spending too much.

    Spending so little and doing so much makes me feel great, and it encourages my daughter to be compassionate by teaching her to pay it forward. I don’t have much, but I do have more than a lot of people do. I’m very blessed!

  5. Amanda says

    I am fairly new to couponing. I mean, I have always used a coupon if I happened to have on when I was going shopping, but now I am getting into what I like to call “hardcore” couponing. I am planning to fill my stockpile and then give back where I can. Since I will be getting most of the items for free or near free… its a win win.

  6. says

    I’ve played coupon fairy a few times when I had coupons I couldn’t use before they expired.

    I rarely get items for free with coupons, though (no double coupons here).

    However, even when I have no money, I’ve still found ways to give. This week I found someone with chickens who could use the things in my garden that went to seed to feed her chickens.

    Here are some ways I’ve found to give when you don’t have monetary means to give:
    http://theprudenthomemaker.com/helpingothers.aspx

  7. Kelly says

    Everytime an item is free, I will get as many as possible even if my family can’t use them or doesn’t want them. They unwanted and extra iems go straight into the food pantry bag and taken in when full. Couponing has been a blessing to my family and others. My husband and I are a two-income family; we have been able to maintain our old grocery budget of $500 a month. With coupons, I spend less than half a month for us and the other half goes directly to food pantry items. Fortunately with coupons, I am still able to give LOTS and spend less than our allotted amount.

  8. Jana Biel says

    Our church sponsors a rehad facility called Teen Challenge. The people from the center usually come about once a year to give updates and testimonies about changed lives. When they are here they church collects hygiene items and clothing for them. I LOVE being able to bless this ministry with very inexpensive, yet quality hygiene items. I was able to drop off a bag filled to overflowing with suave deodorant, dove men’s care soap, right guard, colgate, toothbrushes, and more! I also love being able to give a bag of groceries to someone who is down on their luck. I always want to be generous with the blessings God has given me!

  9. Heather says

    Our family donates all the time. We love getting our kids involed and teaching them no matter how tough things are you can always help someone else.

  10. Nat says

    A local food drive company comes to our neighborhood every few months. We try to donate at least 10 food items and 5 personal care items every time.
    I also leave coupons I don’t have a use for on our bulleitn board at work.

  11. Susan says

    I keep a big box in my guest bedroom of items that we don’t like/use, but that I got for free. When the box is filling up, I drop it off at a local food pantry.

    If I have B1G1F coupons for something I don’t buy and I see someone with the product, I’ll give them the coupon and encourage them to donate the free one

  12. Nicki says

    I actually have been wondering if there is a local women’s shelter or somewhere that I can take some of my feminine products. I got a bunch during the Kotex freebie and I am running out of room in my bathroom. I also have some soap and deodrant.

    Is there a site that lists these kind of places in my area?

  13. says

    I shared a $10 off coupon with a man in Kohl’s. I had two of them and the expired the next day. He was on the phone and told the person he was talking to that “some nice woman” just gave him a $10 coupon. He thanked me 3 times before leaving. I have shared coupons at Michaels, too.

    I also donate to a local food bank when my stockpile gets excessive. (No one needs 10 deodorants!) It’s amazing because a year and a half ago, we had to get food from the food bank and now, since I have learned to use coupons, we are giving back!!

    • Kelly says

      @Vanessa, I love giving coupons to others in line with me. Sometimes, I’ll notice they have items that I may have a coupon for and I give it to them.

  14. Julie Finch says

    Last fall, our women’s group at made gift baskets for a local women’s shelter. It was a great opportunity to give away extra soap/deodorant/razors I had stocked up on from good deals and coupons. I love having that stockpile to go to for giving without having to worry about if I’m outside of my budget!

  15. says

    I never pass up a free deal and an opportunity to pass it on to someone else. Last yr I had a HUGE bag of toiletries, cold medicine etc… I had collected over several months and donated it to the local shelter. It feels good to help others and most of the items were free or $1 or less. We are moving soon and I know when I clean out the cabinets I can fill another bag or two or three!!!
    I often pass along these type of items to friends or family as well in addition to food from time to time!

  16. Bev says

    I just started couponing in January, and immediately I decided I wanted to coupon for our local Rescue Mission as well, since our church is actively involved in ministry there. In the first two months, I picked up $326 of toiletries and other supplies for $7 (but it was probably lower than that, since I didn’t subtract money I “made” on a few of those products). This past month, I didn’t go out of my way to get the freebies–just picked them up as I happened to be in a store, and in one month I had $138 of items that I paid a total of .61 cents for! I’m so excited to be able to do this. I never would have had the extra money to buy items for the Rescue Mission, but with couponing I’m able to give them NAME BRAND items for almost-free! I’ll be teaching my first couponing seminar to some ladies in my church in July, and will be encouraging them to coupon for the Rescue Mission as well. If everyone picked up a few extra items each week, the Rescue Mission would be well-stocked. :-)

  17. Lauren Greutman says

    I use my stockpile of toiletries to support a local prison ministry. It is a Christ based ministry that helps rehabilitate drug addicted women. When they get out of prison they have NOTHING, only a bus ticket. So I put together care packages of everything they need to get started like deoderant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, makeup, mouthwase, shampoo, body lotion, and even some gum and candy and a devotional book. The ladies have loved it and I even have gotten a few thank you cards in the mail telling me how much they loved it and made them feel like God was smiling down on them!

  18. Jennifer says

    My BIL is going to be watching my kids this summer while I work. He doesn’t want any $ (even though they are struggling) so I have decided that we are going to make them a package of food and health and beauty items as a payment then. I know they will appreciate it!

  19. says

    One of the greatest joys I receive in couponing, is the ability to share with others. My family and I have had the privilege of being used by God to help a needy family in our church, many times over.
    I often pray and ask God to lay on my heart who might have a need. The Lord will lay someone or something specific on my heart. I can’t tell you the number of times the grateful recipient will state, “How did you know”? , You don’t know how much we needed that, or I have been praying for that need. So often I respond, I didn’t know, but God did.
    I believe God has blessed my couponing ability ten fold because He knows he can trust us with His bounty. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive.

  20. ~*Anon*~ says

    I’ve gotten a lot of the Betty Crocker pouch potatoes to donate because of the awesome catalina deal! I don’t particularly like them, but I’m sure our local Union Rescue Mission would appreciate them very much!

  21. Ashlee says

    I know this isn’t the same thing as giving things to other people, but I never clear a shelf or take all the deals for myself. I always think that someone else who really needs free/cheap products will come in after me. If I take all the items, then no one else can get the items. No matter what it is I never clear a shelf.

    I do share my spoils with friends and family too.

  22. says

    We have a community food bank which will take anything, including gently-used magazines. I hate to just throw away (even if it’s recycling), a perfectly good magazine. Because it is community-based, their only stipulation is that it not be religious or political in nature. They also take hotel toiletries. My new hobby is free samples, and we give them all the baby-and-kid samples we get. (We’re DINKS.)

  23. anonymous says

    This is one of the hiddens joys of couponing! When I began more seriously couponing a year ago (when my husband lost his job), I realized how God was using this to provide for our needs. This was truly our manna. We had food each week for way less than I ever dreamed we could get it. Over the months, I began to collect many personal hygiene products for free. After I collected a stockpile of products for ourselves, I started looking to see who else I could help with these extra free personal hygiene products. Family was my first thought, then friends, then my church. I’ve been able to share with some of my family & friends. I’ve also shared the things I’ve learned & how to maximize savings by couponing & they are excited about this too! I was able to donate 10 bottles of lotion in a drive our church did at Christmas for a local personal needs pantry. I got them all for free. A friend’s son is currently in school & without a job. I’ve been able to keep him supplied with toothpaste & soap & deodorant. Although this has been a rough year for our family (my husband has just found temporary work in the last month), couponing has been a lifeline for something very positive. My mom has always said that when you are feeling discouraged, look for someone else you can help or liftup. It’s truly a blessing to be able to give & couponing enables me to do that.

    • Stephanie says

      @anonymous, I can not agree more even if you have nothing to give but free items and a smile you feel greatly encouraged and so does the other person. God will provide for us all if we learn to lean on Him.

    • says

      @anonymous, I couldn’t have said it better. No matter how tough things have been for our family, I’m blessed to be able to share $1 with someone else for toiletries, I can. We snagged 4 blankets for 2.50 the other day at Target’s clearance at the dollar spot, and we’ll be donating those. Anythign we can do helps!

  24. says

    I’ve taken a special interest in donating to the local Senior Spectrum. This is a quiet, proud group that can be overlooked. They benefit greatly from items I pick up for free at Rite Aid. Little things that take the edge off their fixed income and grocery budget.

  25. says

    I have a box for the local homeless shelter full of toiletries and personal care items that I got for free or less than $1. I enjoy the thrill of the hunt every week trying to find free items for my box- it’s one of my favorite aspects of couponing.

  26. says

    A friend of mine was living at our house as she is going through a nasty divorce and her and her 2 kids have been homeless since she left her ex. Well about 2 weeks ago she was able to get her own place! This was such a huge step for her and her two sons. But she had nothing for her new apartment… I was able to fill a big bag FULL of stuff from my stock pile that I gave to her to get started. She was so thankful that she cried! & I won’t even miss the items I gave her because we are so well stocked. I love having my stock pile so I can give freely to others, it felt so good!

  27. Monica says

    I am brand new to the couponing thing and I am learning a lot. I am working on stockpiling the stuff my family needs but I am really looking forward to being able to donate to my church. They have a basket that they keep in the lobby for donations, I know the toiletries will be appreciated since it is not a common donation. I like having something to bring each week.

  28. Mickie says

    When I stumbled into the world of couponing about 6 months ago, I realized that the benefits are not just for me to keep for myself, but to also bless others with the savings that God has blessed me with. So every time I do my gorcery shopping, I also look to buy things that I may not necessarily use but that I can donate to our church’s food pantry. For example, there have been a bunch of coupons for No Yolk noodles the last few months. Due to egg allergy in my family, we don’t eat them. But I still get them (most times for free) and give them away. Same with canned soups, there are usually great sales and money makers. Since we don’t eat those either, I buy them either for free or close to free and donate them. God has taught me that you don’t have to have a lot of money to bless someone else, you just need a little more creativity and a giving heart.

  29. says

    I so enjoy blessing others! I have given my free (or cheap) Olay lotions, hair care products, cereal, and eye care products away to a dear friend of mine who doesn’t have as much. She also doesn’t do the coupon match-ups like I do, so she is always grateful to get whatever I find. She calls it my hobby. I would have to agree with her. Its mostly stuff I get with coupons and single check rebates from Rite Aid. I usually try to go to Rite Aid once a week. I have also given away medicines and men body wash products (my husband doesn’t use them) to my parents.

  30. Dottie Peters says

    You can often find a $1.00 off coupon for Johnson & Johnson products online. Their Bath Buddies soap for kids is around a dollar (1.09 at our Shop-Rite) which makes for an inexpensive item I like to include in the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Also, just scouring the store ads, I can usually find a good buy on something for the shoeboxes – this week it’s half price for a 10-pack of Hotwheels!

  31. Jen says

    I have about 25 pouches of BC potatoes sitting on my kitchen counter (thanks to the great catalina deal), just waiting for me to give them to someone. I know I can give several to my parents (they both have jobs but my dad’s company is iffy and he keeps getting laid off). I don’t think they’d ever tell us kids if they had financial difficulties, so if I can do something to help without it looking like charity, so much the better. The rest of the 25 will be going to a food pantry run by a fellow church member.
    Up to now I haven’t made it a point to donate excess to charity, but recently I have felt the need to do so. I’ve been spending about $30/week for my family of three (five if you count the dog and cat), including diapers, dog food and cat food. I can afford (thanks to couponing) to buy excess with the intention of donating to someone less fortunate. It makes me feel good.

  32. Nicole Z. says

    From the beginning of my coupon-cutting days (only 7 months ago), I decided to acquire one item a week that I could donate to charity. I figure that if God has blessed me with these coupons and great blogs like this one, the very least that I could do is give back each week. So far, I have been able to help a very kind family from Haiti and our local teen pregnancy resource center with a variety of items. I also plan to give another part of my stockpile to Soldiers’ Angels. AND…since I buy in smaller-sized quantities now, it’s easier to give away from my pantry. It’s hard to divide up a gallon size jar of peanut butter from Costco, but much easier to give away two of my 15 oz. jars that I got for pennies from Target.

  33. Sandra says

    I was recently on the receiving end of coupon blessings! The woman in front of me at Publix had a TON of coupons. She was really friendly and the cashier was also really friendly about the whole transaction. Well, in the end, her total was negative so she looked over at my items and offered to buy my milk and biscuits! Doing so got her total up to 12cents (or something like that) and I got free milk and biscuits!! I thought that was really cool of her when she could have just grabbed a magazine or some gum. I was touched by what she did and made it a point to pay it forward!

  34. says

    Several times, I’ve been about to donate items to a food drive when I received a call that people I knew were in need. I took the items to them, instead. It’s a good feeling to know that you can help provide some basic needs when someone is having a hard time.

  35. Lacey says

    I donate regularly to a non-profit charity that helps Moms and the kids in abusive situations. They often have to flee in the middle of the night with just want they are wearing and can hold. Last week, I had to seek out another charity to help out and I found our local Help Center. They work with people from those who experience a house fire, pregnant teens, CPS, and the list goes on. The place is the first place they take kids who are taken from their families before they go to the CPS office. So, I took her a box of all kinds of items (shampoo, bodywash, toothbrushes, deodorant, toothpaste, J&J first-aid kids, etc.), so they will have something immediately before they are placed or taken to CPS. Little did I know that drop off would result in me getting to teach a coupon class at our local high school. Talk about God’s favor! It was very exciting! I am so glad that I learned how to do all of this stuff. 2 years ago, I would not have believed you if you told me I would be doing all of this and getting to help so many. Praise God!

  36. says

    We “adopt” a family every year and take groceries to them every 2 or 3 months. I always try to find someone who really needs the extra stuff.

  37. Amber says

    I love that you included baking a loaf of bread and a pot of soup to bring to a family who is going through a difficult time. As college students we don’t have a lot of money or time, however, I find time to bake dessert for our community meals program and meals on wheels. I like to fix dessert because many of these people are struggling to simply put food on the table and get several meals a week from the soup kitchen. They certainly don’t have room in their budget for treats. And I think everyone deserves a treat.

  38. says

    It felt really good a couple of weeks ago when the Boy Scouts had their “Scouting for Food Drive” and I was able to give without feeling like I was breaking into my food storage, and I was able to give more than canned food this time. I love having extra stuff that I can give to those who need more.

  39. says

    By combining coupons and deals, I was able to pile up a nice collection of deoderants, soaps, body wash, shampoo and toothpaste. I arranged it in a basket that I didn’t need anymore and gave it to a local women’s shelter.

  40. says

    I filled a bushel basket full of health & beauty products and donated it to a silent auction to raise money for Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society. I hope they get a high bid!

  41. Natalia says

    I’ve been so grateful to learn about couponing in the last few months and so far I’ve mostly shared toiletries with family members who were out of work. This year I decided to cut back most of my working hours to attend school full time and I was concerned about how I’d be able to continue giving. Learning all these skills and strategies has opened so many new possibilites for helping others!

    ~2 Corinthians 9:8~

  42. Susan J says

    We’ve been able to pass along free toiletries we’ve gotten to a ministry that works with the homeless. I’m so glad to be able to give them to folks who can really use them!

    Also, from time to time we let our babysitters (and others) look through our “freebies” box and take anything they need. It’s a fun and easy way to tip the sitters!

  43. says

    I like to leave coupons at the stores as well as pass them on to friends. Also, our church regularly holds a food drive and it’s easy to grab several items out of my stockpile. The local radio station just did a drive for household items and I went through those cupboards for that drive. It’s easy to give when you have a stockpile and you know the sales will come around again!

    I also send expired coupons overseas to a missionary friend on a military base. My kids are penpals with their kids, so we do double-duty. :-)

  44. says

    So many have mentioned getting many items for free–especially tolietries.

    We don’t have double coupons here, which is how I have seen many of you get items for free.

    I would love to know how to do the same in an area that doesn’t have double coupons. We do have Walgreens and CVS.

    Also, for many tolietries, I need to be brand-specific, as I am allergic to almost all lotions and deodorants.

    I’ve found some great deals, but rarely do I get the free deals that many of you mention. I would sure love to be able to do that.

    • says

      @The Prudent Homemaker,
      I do agree with you – my family has lots of allergies as well. I do a lot of my grocery shopping at Walgreens & CVS – they have great deals with their RR & ECBs.

      I haven’t made a deodorant switch, but I print the coupons for the deodorant I do use and check to see if it’s in the clearance section of Wags or CVS every time I go. The same holds true for moisturizers, diapers, and lotions. Then, stock up!

      Also, there are some sites that have coupon trades – if you have a coupon someone else needs, they will trade you for the ones you need. [I havent used these personally but have heard they are out there.] Good luck, from a fellow allergy-woman.

      -jenna (but not the one who posted right after you!)

      • says

        @jenna, I usually find the lotion I buy cheapeast at Target (on sale and with a coupon) but not free.

        I did take advantage of a CVS deal on diapers recently; it was great! But with two in diapers (plus one at night), those packages don’t last long (how can they call it a Jumbo pack when there’s only 5 days of diapers in it?) Normally I get diapers at Sam’s Club for .18 each (size 4). The CVS deal a couple of weeks ago was great; diapers for .07 when I combined coupons, costing me $4.98, and getting back $5 in ECBS. Are dealslike these real common for diapers, or just once in a while? There was a limit to two packages per customer.

        I use Aveeno baby lotion for me and the children, Oil of Olay (I do know about the rebate and coupons right now), unscented Secret deodorant and unscented Speed Stick for my husband. Most places don’t even carry the unscented stuff. I did find my husband’s deodrant on an amazingsale at Smith’s (our Kroger affliate–but no double coupons) for $1 each recently, so I stocked up then.

        I’m used to stocking up on low prices, but I haven’t seen these particular items for free.

        I know someone who often buys items she doesn’t use when the coupons give overage at WAGS, and then donates the items. Is that what the rest of you are doing to get so much for free?

        (Oil of Olay, for example, is $1 more per bottle at CVS than it is at Walmart and Target).