MoneySavingMom.com
FREEBIE LIBRARY!
Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

Tag Archive: 31 Days of Giving

31 Days of Giving on a Budget: The Hunger Site (Day 19)

Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please email me your story (or a link to your post on your blog) and a picture to go along with it, if possible. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

Reader tip from Cher: 

Your post about giving from our abundance made me think of a site I recently discovered — The Hunger Site. Thanks to the generous support of sponsors, every day when you click on the site, you can donate 1.1 cups of food. Cool!

I’ve had fun teaching my little guy about the beatitudes and he loves to crawl up in my lap to help work the computer and donate food for the hungry. Every little bit counts!

There are also other links on the page, like one for giving life saving medicine to children. -Cher

31 Days of Giving on a Budget: 3 Fun Ways for Children to Give (Day 18)

Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please email me your story (or a link to your post on your blog) and a picture to go along with it, if possible. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

A guest post by JessieLeigh from Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles

I love Christmas! I love the decorations, the music, the wrapping, the anticipation…I love it.

What I don’t love? Clutter.

So I love giving consumable gifts. It’s fun for children to have things to unwrap and it’s nice for me to know that once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Another way I like to cut back on clutter and help my children learn a little about giving is through gifts of charitable donations.

But how can we make this, well, more fun for our kids? How can we hold on to the joy and elation of surprise on Christmas morning while making the real gift something for others?

Here are a few tricks that help keep it exciting even for toddlers and preschoolers:

1. Double up.

Rather than purchasing a new or trendy game, pick up two copies of an old classic. Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders, Hi Ho Cherry-o, etc. often go on sale for $5 each during the holidays. Wrap them both together for your child to open and he gets to keep one, the other gets donated to a child in need.

2. Give a small toy that represents the charity.

Want to give to an animal shelter? Wrap up a little stuffed dog or cat. Is this the year you donate to the March of Dimes? Give your child a small baby doll. Let your little one know that while she takes care of her new treasure, your donation will help take care of even more in need.

3. Give them a gift card.

Children have amazingly giving spirits. They also love to get to choose things and to be “in charge”. Consider giving your child a ten or twenty dollar gift card to a local supermarket and letting them choose canned goods for a local food pantry. The adventure of getting to shop is as good as a new toy for many little ones!

Those are my three favorite ways to keep Christmas clutter-free and encourage a giving heart all while making sure there’s something to open under the tree.

Do you have any tricks for making charitable giving fun for children?

JessieLeigh is the mother of a former 24-week micropreemie and two full-term blessings as well. She is a determined advocate for the tiniest of babies, including the unborn, and a firm believer in faith and miracles. She shares about raising such a precious, tiny baby over at Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles.

photo credit

31 Days of Giving on a Budget: The Joy of Giving Anonymously (Day 17)

Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please email me your story and a picture to go along with it, if possible. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

Anonymous reader testimony. 

We recently had the pleasure of giving a sizable gift to an acquaintance who is in great need — and we gave it anonymously. It reminded me once again of how fun it is to give!!

We recruited an out-of-town aunt of a friend to hand-deliver an envelope for us. She didn’t know the exact contents of the envelope, but just that it was meant to bless the recipient. Afterward, the friend’s aunt even thanked us for the chance to be part of the process.

In addition, the acquaintance who received the gift chatted with me for a minute and told me about the gift, calling it “the biggest blessing of my life”. It was so fun to be able to rejoice with her, all while she had no clue the gift originated from us!

After several years of doing this type of thing, my husband and I agree that it’s our favorite way to give personal charitable gifts. The fact that we are anonymous means that our relationship with the receiver is not affected at all; there is no sense of obligation or superiority whatsoever!

We also reduce the chance of being approached for an additional gift in the event that the receiver would do such a thing. We truly can say that it has been a pleasure, and that we feel like we are God’s instruments rather than the ones really giving the gift!

Have you ever given a gift (large or small) anonymously?

31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Freezer Cooking for the Elderly (Day 16)

Welcome to Decembers series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please email me your story and a picture to go along with it, if possible. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

A guest post by Jody

My grandmother is ninety-eight years old, and until she fell six months ago she was still living relatively self-sufficiently at home. Her independence was important to her, and so she was still making most of her own meals.

Like the ideal farmer’s wife, she had spent a lifetime making spreads of pot roast, mashed potatoes, applesauce, green beans, corn, gravy, rolls, apple pie, pecan pie, butterscotch pie and cherry pie – the woman could make some pie!

At ninety-eight she just didn’t have it in her to do all that anymore. About twice a week she would make enough Cream of Wheat to last for a few days. For lunch and dinner she made simple things like grilled cheese or bread and butter. Besides that, she just couldn’t eat very much, so it seemed pointless to cook an actual meal.

During this time she started paying a service to provide meals a few times a week, but couldn’t quite boast of the flavor. We knew it was bad when my parents’ dog (who eats everything) was left in the car with one of the meals and refused to touch the main course. When even the dog won’t eat your meat, you know it’s bad!

Living over fifteen hundred miles away, I was at a loss as to how to help. I was concerned that she was not getting enough variety or nutrition in her diet, and I knew that it was quite a feat for her to pull together even the simplest of meals.

But, I had an idea!

Last November when I was there for Thanksgiving, we had our usual feast at her house — the kids and grandkids did the cooking. Despite the gluttony, there were still plenty of leftovers.

So, I pulled out her muffin tins and went to work. Using one leftover at a time, I filled the muffin tins with all the typical Thanksgiving fixings. When a tray was full I put it in the freezer and pulled it out a couple of hours later. I would let it sit a couple of minutes to loosen the food from the edges, then I would dump out the cubes, put them back into the freezer and move on to the next leftover.

I thought about putting all of the little circles into Ziploc bags according to what they were, but then decided that would be too complicated for her to get all of those bags out for one meal. Instead, I utilized her endless collection of empty cottage cheese containers. I put a cube of each item into each container, so that all she would have to do would be to pull one container out of the freezer, arrange the items on a skillet or a plate for the microwave and presto! She would have a nutritious meal of very little portions with plenty of variety and hardly any work to get it.

Since I did this at Thanksgiving, I didn’t need to do any extra food preparation for this — however I started wondering if other people would want to incorporate this kind of thing into their freezer cooking days. It could be helpful for the elderly or even a single person who wouldn’t likely be able to eat an entire lasagna or casserole if it was offered to them.

Extra Tips

Some tips I would have for doing this would be to:

  • Ask about any dietary restrictions.
  • Label the container with large print.
  • Attach any directions.
  • Write a note of encouragement or a smiley face.

Compared to all of the meals my grandma has made me over the years, I know this is just a drop in the bucket, yet I hope to bless her as she has blessed me.

Jody loves cooking in huge portions and is still learning to try a recipe out in a multiple of one before doing eight batches at once – and then realizing it’s not such a good recipe – and then eating that from the freezer for a very long time.

photo credit

31 Days of Giving on a Budget: 7 Ways to Give Generously (Day 15)

Welcome to Decembers series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please email me your story and a picture to go along with it, if possible. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

Guest Post by Katie from Intentionally by Katie.

In these uncertain economic times, it’s wonderful to see how many people are finally accepting the benefits of budgeting. I still remember many of the frustrations I felt when we transitioned to living on one income in preparation for our first child.

One of my biggest challenges was reducing the ability to give generously to friends and family. After nine years of marriage to a very frugal accountant, I’ve wised up about the money dedicated to “gifts” in our budget, I have learned how to get creative when giving… and am quite proficient at stretching our dollars.

Here are 7 of my favorite tried-and-true bargain shopping methods:

1. Develop a Gift Stash

I’ve always kept some generic gifts on hand. It began in the form of a box of picture frames, bath soaps, and candles. Gradually, it transformed into a small shelf in my linen closet and is now a large under-the-bed storage bin full of gifts for adults and children of all ages.

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that last-minute shopping can cost 2-3 times as much as you could have paid had you planned ahead. Having small items available at a moment’s notice for a hostess gift or a birthday celebration can save you time, money, and stress.

2. Shop the Clearance Sales

One particular Super-Target location in our area always seems to have the best clearance sales. Whenever I am near that side of town, I plan a trip to that store with the sole purpose of roaming the end caps. They often have toys marked 75% off, so I can grab $20 gifts for upcoming birthday parties for $5.

The key to shopping clearance sales is to think ahead. Plan for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and any upcoming birthdays and baby or wedding showers.

3. Think Generic

Don’t get hung up on buying a Hello Kitty present for little Sally Sue because you know it’s her favorite. If you know that Sally Sue’s birthday party is coming up and you see a Hello Kitty item on sale, by all means, get it!  But don’t feel trapped into individualizing your gift purchases. You can be generic, while still keeping it thoughtful.

There are lots of easy ideas for generic gifts for kids of all ages including: art supplies, puzzles, dress-up items and board games. I also like to stock up on nice picture frames to fill with our annual family picture and give them to my extended family for Christmas. It’s amazing how much they appreciate a 5×7 picture I printed for $0.50 in a pretty $3 clearance frame!

4. Shop After-Holiday Sales

Personally, I don’t go nuts with this, but I do try to hit a few clearance sales after Christmas each year. Why pay full price for a Christmas ornament in early December when you can pay one-fourth of the price in early January and hold onto it for a year?

Again, keep your eyes open and think ahead: Does your office have a White Elephant gift exchange each Christmas? Would your parents appreciate a picture of your child in an ornament frame? As always, don’t buy clearance items just because they’re a good deal. Give it some thought and have a recipient in mind when you make your purchases.

5. Shop Throughout the Year

We had no income this past Christmas because my husband had recently been laid off, so I was very thankful that I’d stashed a few particular items away throughout the year for our families. I’d found a great doggie gift in July for my brother-in-law at 75% off that I hid under our bed until Christmas, I took advantage of some free photo book offers in September and made books for each set of grandparents, and I had a pair of earrings for my mom that I’d found at a bargain a few months back.

However, don’t forget that you bought items for certain people once the holiday arrives!  I suggest putting a sticky note on the item with the recipient’s name and the intended time frame you want to give the gift.

6. Keep a Small Stock of Cards and Gift Wrapping Supplies

I save gift bags from presents I receive and store them in one giant gift bag near a standing box of wrapping paper and ribbons that I’ve bought on clearance. In addition to keeping stocked on wrapping supplies, always have a stack of greeting cards handy.

Before I learned to make my own cards, I used to go to Hallmark every few months with a list of upcoming birthdays and buy several $0.99 cards to have on hand. You can also buy a set of 8 or 10 blank note cards and write “Happy Birthday” inside. No one says you have to buy a card with a poem that someone else wrote!  Let’s be honest: people usually throw away their greeting cards, so don’t spend too much money on them.

7. Build it into the Budget

This is so important! None of these ideas will work for you if you haven’t built a line item in your budget specifically for “gifts.” Pretty much everyone buys gifts, whether they can afford them or not… so why not write down an amount that you’d like to spend on certain people for holidays and put it into the budget?

If you use the cash envelope system, put a little money in the gifts envelope each month so you have a pool to pull from when you find a great sale.  If your budget is strictly on paper, take some time with your spouse to write out who you plan to buy gifts for, and the amount you’d like to spend.

Having a $50 bouquet of flowers delivered to your mom for her birthday will likely seem excessive once you see the grand total of your gift-giving budget at the end of the year. You can buy her a beautiful bunch for $10 and deliver them by hand and save yourself a lot of money 🙂

Are you beginning to see a common theme here?

Plan ahead!

Put money aside for gifts, intentionally keep your eyes open for good deals, and pretty soon you’ll find you’re able to give generously while staying within your budget!

Katie is a Christian wife and a stay at home mom of 3. She blogs about managing her family, frugal living, cooking, organizing, and all things homemaking at Intentionally by Katie

photo credit

31 Days of Giving: Giving Away as Much as We Save (Day 14)

Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please email me your story (or a link to your post on your blog) and a picture to go along with it, if possible. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

Katrina from The Poorganic Life emailed me sharing a post on a creative giving challenge did in 2011. Here’s a snippet of her post:

During 2010, we as a family decided that we were going to try to increase our generosity by giving away as much as we spent on our consumable items like groceries, paper goods, household supplies, and medicines. We didn’t quite make our goal that first year, SO we decided to up the ante and give away as much as we SAVED in 2011.

Since we typically SAVE more than we spend by shopping sales and couponing, I decided to keep track of all our spending and savings. We wanted to GIVE away at least as much as we consumed.

Read her whole post here to hear how it all turned out and the blessings that resulted from this challenge.