When someone you love has a tight budget, it can be hard to know the best way to help lighten the load or otherwise bless them — especially if you’ve never been there.
Here are some tips to help you understand how you can help:
Don’t (Just) Offer To Help Out
Like many people with limited finances, if you ask me if I need help, I’ll usually say “no.” We can almost always make ends meet. Accepting help can be humbling, and I just don’t want to be that kind of person that has to always be on the receiving end; I’d much rather give.
However, if you don’t actually ask or offer — but simply help us out with a gas card or whatever, it can be a huge blessing!
The other side of this idea is that if you do offer, please actually follow through.
For most of my adult life, I’ve lived at a significant distance from family, and just traveling in to be with them for a holiday is often hard to swing.
One year, things were particularly tight, and my dad offered to pay for our gas if we came in. We came, but he never delivered. I never asked, and we spent the next couple of months barely scraping by.
Get Others To Pitch In
I really love to give and entertain and play hostess, but it’s really hard when money is tight. When I was single, my apartment was kind of the hub for my group of friends. As a result, I’d often end up buying and preparing the food when we’d get together.
While I enjoyed doing this, it was really hard on my very limited budget.
One time, I actually mentioned in an e-mail that it would be great if everyone would pitch in a few bucks. Many of my friends lived with their parents and made far more than I did, so I knew they could afford to help with food. When the evening came, I desperately hoped someone would remind everyone about pitching in, but no one did.
Carefully Consider Gifts
It can be awkward to receive certain kinds of gifts when money is tight.
First, there’s the gift that requires you to buy things in order to use it. Toys with batteries are infamous for this, but I’ve received other money-pit gifts, as well. One example was a tart warmer that required me to purchase tarts to use it. I’ve also received accessories like necklaces or scarves that I had no outfit to match.
Next, there’s the frivolous, extravagant gift that just doesn’t seem to make sense when I live so paycheck-to-paycheck. I’d much rather receive something I can use or a small gift, along with a gift card, so I can buy that thing I’ve been eying at the store.
Even $10 or $20 to spend on me can be so much fun when you rarely have extra spending money! I also love it when people ask if I have a “wish list.” (I keep one up on Amazon.com for use when I earn gift cards from Swagbucks, Plink, or Viewpoints.)
Third, there’s the generous, anonymous gift. If you really want to spoil me, I may feel bad about your generosity because I can’t begin to return the favor. That’s when an anonymous gift can be the best gift of all. You can hear me telling everyone about how wonderful it was and secretly know that it was from you!
The author is a freezer-cooking, baby-wearing, stay-at-home mama who does freelance writing while her 3 young kiddos nap. She’s married to a wonderful man who’s the pastor of a small country church and prefers to remain anonymous due to the content of this post.