How to Give Generously When You Don’t Have A Dime

How to Give Generously When You Don't Have a Dime - You don't have to have a lot of money to give generously. I'll share with you several ideas on how to give today for little or no cost! @ littlegirldesigns.com

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I’ve been thinking about this post for a while. Little Girl Designs is about living a creative life. It’s about having a generous heart and giving to others out of that overflow. But I know that there are many people out there who don’t have much. They might read this blog and think, “Well, she doesn’t know how it is. I have so little to buy groceries with, the last thing I can do is be generous.”

But the truth is, I do know what it is like to not have much. I’ve gone through seasons where the budget was so tight there wasn’t a budget. It was food for groceries, gas, and rent. The end. And we’re in a season right now of me staying home to take care of our daughter while we finish paying off our student loan debt. Things are tight, but God always provides.

We realized early on that if we decided to focus all of our energy on paying debt and building up our savings, we would most likely develop stingy hearts. Giving generously is a heart habit–if you stop doing it, it requires an adjustment and growth to start again. So, that being said, we decided to continue giving as we could.

And I write this with a lump in my throat because as we opened our hearts to the possibility of giving, doors opened for us to give in ways we thought were way out there (sponsoring children through Gospel for Asia being one of the big ones!) It is incredible how our saying no to some things has opened up the doors to help those who are in true need.

So with that said, I wanted to share with you some of the ways we’ve used to give as generously as we can at this time. Some of them are easier to do than others, so pick and choose what works for you. You might even be inspired as you read this list to think of your own ideas!

(**Update: This list started as 9 ways to give generously, but I’ve added to it over time because I couldn’t resist! Hope you enjoy. :))

FREE BONUS: Click here to get access to 33 MORE ways to give generously along with free gift-giving printables.

 

How to Give Generously When You Don’t Have A Dime

  1. Make something. A handmade gift can be a thoughtful way to let someone know you love them and appreciate their friendship. I try to create frugal gift ideas for this site and there are many other sites out there that have great tutorials for crafts and gifts that are very low-cost.
  2. Go through your books and sell them online or to a local used bookstore. We sell our old books locally because we are given a gift card to use at that store. We’ve used that gift card for birthdays and Christmas and just-because gifts. It’s so fun!
  3. Give your time. Your assistance could mean more than any present. A friend might need help with a move. Carrying boxes into a house isn’t glamorous but, wow, what a gift. From someone who has moved more times than I can count, some help on moving day would be appreciated. You could also babysit so your friend can get away on a much-needed personal creative retreat for a couple of hours. Time is so precious these days; don’t underestimate what a gift it can be to someone else.
  4. Use the Ibotta app. If you have a smartphone, you can download the Ibotta app for free, and use it claim rebates on your groceries, crafts, and clothing. Make it a habit to quickly check the app before going to the grocery store—I’ve done this and often get items for nearly free (or more than free when paired with a coupon!) Once you’ve earned $20, you can cash out your rebates for cash or a gift card. Of all the couponing apps I’ve used, this one is my favorite by far. And if you use my referral link to sign up, you’ll get $10 added to your account after your first rebate. How cool is that? :)
  5. Keep a giving jar. We use cash so when we have change, we put it in a jar. I drew up a little label and called it our “giving jar.” Here and there throughout the year, we’ll go to the bank for coin roll wrappers and fill them with our change. We’ve been able to use that money for several things, from helping children through Gospel for Asia to buying staples for our church’s food pantry. I never would have believed that change could actually add up to make such a difference.
  6. Use local couponing sites to buy gift items on extreme sale. I am by no means an extreme couponer, but I have learned a few tips from local couponing sites. I like to check a couple of sites each week to see what is on sale (some of them even post what coupons will be in the paper that Sunday so I know if I should buy a paper or not.) Doing this has allowed me to buy staples for very low prices for my family and for our food pantry. I’ve also found great deals on fun items like lip gloss, which is always a fun gift for the girls in my family.
  7. Make a gift list for the year. At the bottom of this post is a free printable gift list I made to keep track of what my family and friends like and what I’ve bought them. Buy little items as you can afford it throughout the year and store these gifts in a plastic storage bin or box. Put post-it notes on items so you’ll remember which gift goes to each person. This way you won’t be spending hundreds of dollars before Christmas or at birthdays. You’ll already have many gifts (or maybe all of them) ready and waiting to be wrapped. I’ve just recently started doing this and LOVE it. It greatly reduces stress around birthday and holiday-time!
  8. Swagbucks. If you earn just 15 Swagbucks a day, you will earn a $5 Amazon gift card each month. I don’t usually spend too much time on this site but often I’ll use it as a search engine and do the daily poll so I can earn a few ‘bucks’. They do add up. There are so many items that are under $5 on Amazon, and our favorite (of course!) is used books. I love children’s books, and the old library editions usually have my favorite illustrators.
  9. Use your gift cards to buy presents for others. This might be a hard one for you, so I don’t recommend it for everyone, but consider finding something (or several things) for people on your gift list with a gift card someone gave you. It will be the gift that keeps on giving!
  10. Make a treat. My chocolate cake mix cookies, mini-batch chocolate chip cookies, and peppermint bark brownies are all ridiculously inexpensive to make. (For the chocolate cake mix cookies and brownies, I buy the mixes around Christmas-time when they are on sale. You can also check your store’s bulk bins since mixes are usually very inexpensive.)
  11. Write a note of appreciation. Take the time to write a thank you, make a phone call, or send an email to an employee’s boss when you see they’ve gone the extra mile. So often companies only hear from the public when there is a complaint. Sometimes sharing your appreciation for a teacher to the principal or a receptionist to her boss means more opportunities for them as an employee. (If you’re the letter-writing type or want to write more, take a look at The {10 Minute} Letter-writing Retreat. This is an inexpensive resource that includes prompts, tutorials, and pages of printable stationery! It’s basically a gift to yourself that keeps on giving. :))
  12. Make a set of cards. I love making sets of cards for gifts and have several tutorials on this site. You can package these together with a treat for a thoughtful gift. (Here are tutorials on hand-stitching cards and a watercolor leaf card. Sign up here to gain access to a library of resources for creatives including a set of printable watercolor flower cards that you can print and give away.)
  13. Show some blogger love. If you’re a blogger, you know the importance of social media to get exposure for your posts. A great way to be generous is to share posts by pinning them, sharing on Facebook, or mentioning them on Twitter. Once a week, choose a blogger you want to promote and share their stuff. Even better, don’t tag them so it’s a secret. They will so appreciate your kindness!
  14. Give your stuff away. Once a year, go through your clothes, books, and other household items and donate what you don’t use anymore. You can also ask around and see if anyone you know needs those items. My sisters are great at giving their kids’ clothes to friends who have younger children. This has been a great blessing for us, especially since so many of those tiny outfits were only worn once before their child outgrew them!
  15. Show kindness. When you see a mom struggling to keep a door open while maneuvering a stroller through it, take a minute to grab the door for her. When you notice someone’s smile or cute hairstyle, tell them. When you walk by someone, say hello. It is so easy to stay in our own busy world, but simply showing some kindness can change someone’s day.
  16. Ask how you can help. If you go to an end of the school year party at your child’s school, stay for a few minutes afterward to help clean up. If you work in an office and there is a working lunch, help throw the trash away before you go back to your cubicle. At the end of a long day, I am always so grateful when my husband says, “How can I help you?” It is such a simple thing and doesn’t cost a dime!
  17. Share your talents. How can you use your talents to give to others? Brainstorm a list of things you could do for people by using your natural abilities. You might love organization; could you help a friend who struggles in that area (and who has asked for help :))? If you know how to play an instrument, you could give lessons as a gift to someone. If you love to cook, there are always new moms who would so appreciate a home-cooked meal.

Ultimately, generosity is a heart-thing. You can be the richest person in the world and be incredibly miserly. And you can have hardly anything and have a warm and welcoming heart. When it comes to giving, your heart attitude is what really matters.

So, now it is your turn!

What is another thing you would put on this list? How have you learned to be generous even in times when you didn’t have much to give? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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P.S. Below is a gift list I made that tracks gifts by each month of the year (with lots of extra space for Christmas!) You can use this for jotting down ideas here and there and for trouble-shooting so you know how many birthdays are coming up in the next few months. There’s a box for checking if you bought or made a card, for when you bought or made the gift, and whether or not you’re shipping it. This tool has been invaluable for me, and I hope you enjoy it!

104 thoughts on “How to Give Generously When You Don’t Have A Dime

  1. When I was in college, I had a business professor who recommended writing thank you notes to our references, among other folks. This prompted me to write personalized thank you notes to my professors who wrote scholarship reference letters for me. I visited one of those professors two years later to discuss another class I had with her, and I saw she had my very note from two years prior on display. I never knew she would keep it, and am so touched that she did. I think it goes to show that a simple thank you really can mean a lot. I also think I want to start giving heartfully. Just because I don’t have much to work with financially, doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways. Thank you for this post, it really is inspiring :)

    1. Thank you for your beautiful comment, Crystle. I’ve been surprised at how simple cards and gifts I’ve sent to others end up being so meaningful to them too, though now that I think about it, I do the same thing. An encouraging card really is a precious gift–we don’t get them very often these days! I’m so glad that you’ve decided to do this more often. You’re going to make so many people’s days! :)

  2. Hi, I just found your site and so grateful that I did! So many creative ideas and I love these about giving. Many years ago, a lady told me to always give. If you had no money, give a quarter or some change to a homeless person or someone in need. Also, just drop change on the sidewalk ~ someone that needed it would find it.

    I love doing RAOK’s, especially anonymous ones. :) Leaving notes in books, on a car windshield, on neighbor’s doors, etc., and there’s no cost. Leaving flowers or plants at someone’s door if you have a garden, etc.

    I’ve volunteered with Chemo Angels and Soldier’s Angels for years. There are a jillion ways to help! Just sending a letter or card weekly is so appreciated by the recipients. Chemo Angels also supports Seniors. They don’t necessarily have cancer but so many are alone and away from family. Writing to them brightens their world tremendously!

    Pat

  3. This is such a great list! Too often I get sucked into the mentality that generosity has to do with more cash flow than what I have right now. I so want to be generous no matter where we are at financially!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Sarah. I’m so glad this post resonated with you. It was an ‘aha!’ moment for me when I realized I really could give no matter what our financial situation looked like. It might look a bit different, but generosity comes in different forms. :) Hope you have a wonderful day!

  4. I don’t know what religion you are but today it cost’s me not a dime to give some life saving blood, in a local blood drive. Plus they gave me a t-shirt for giving blood. I asked for a size my brother wear’s since it was college football themed shirt, so I ended up giving two gifts!

    1. Hi Penny, Thanks so much for your comment! :) I’m a Christian. I LOVE that you donated blood and gave that precious gift to someone in need. I can’t believe I forgot to add that to the list so thank you so much for your thoughts! And the fact that you also gifted the free t-shirt you received…What a wonderful thing. :) :)

  5. Just found this post via Pinterest and love your ideas! Show kindess – yes. Show some blogger love – what a gift that others would never think about! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on giving.

    1. And thank YOU, Alison, for your kind words! I just stopped by your Pinterest boards and followed you–love the images you’ve curated/chosen. :) And your site–so much wisdom and truth. Your thoughts on perfectionism being a grace killer were spot on. Hope you have a wonderful day!

  6. As I get older, I really don’t value “things.” I appreciate things like someone cutting my grass (using my mower and gas, helping me paint a room, or helping me take stuff to the emergency assistance center, and of course, if I’m giving something you need, you can get it.

    1. So true, Nan! Thanks so much for sharing these great ideas. :) I think we sometimes forget how far kindness goes!

  7. Thank you for writing this article! I feel as if it were written for me. It use to be so easy for us to give… when times were good we use to whip out our checkbook and write all kinds of checks to help all kinds of people but things are different now. Because I considered myself talentless, I found myself asking God to please show me what my talents/gifts are so that I can bring a little cheer to people who need it. I realized that I was pretty good at propagating plants from plants I already had and thus giving beautiful plants to people who needed a little cheer became my gift of choice because it was nearly cost free to me, it just required some of my time and love and care. After all, I cant think of anyone who doesn’t love getting beautiful plants and flowers?? I found that the easiest plants to propagate are bromeliads, the wandering jew plants, crown of thorns, and succulents. If you propagate often, you will always have gifts on hand ready to give when the need arises. Because not all plants can be propagated, I have also found that fresh cut flowers from my garden are well received. If you dont know how to propagate, you can find videos on youtube for each of the above specific plants among others on youtube — just search propagating and the name of the plant that you would like to propagate. Give it a try, its easier than you think and it spreads so much joy.

    1. Monica, thank you so much for taking the time to leave this amazing comment. You might think you “have no talent” but let me tell you, I can barely keep a succulent alive so anyone who has a green thumb is super talented to me! (My whole family has amazing gardens so I’m always in awe of the beauty they cultivate.) What a gift to give to others. And I agree, a plant or flowers is such a nice way to brighten someone’s day. Thank you so much for sharing! Have a lovely summer! :)

    2. Thank you for your kind words…. You certainly made my day!! I hope you have a wonderful summer too!!

  8. These are great ideas of giving generously,Jen! We can always give in many different ways even if we have no dime to give. :-)

    A simple handmade card or three pieces cookies can make someone happy. :-)

    Thanks for the brilliant ideas. God bless your giving heart.

    1. I completely agree with your handmade card and cookie idea! That would make my day. :) Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Great article. This is not a idea for gifting but is an easy way to increase your generosity. Try to round up your dollars. You can do this when paying certain utilities such as the water bill and it will go in a fund to help those who are struggling to pay. In little stores leave your change in the tip box. Many grocery store chains such as Giant Food raise money by letting you ada dollar during checkout.

    1. What a great idea, Marcia! You don’t really notice those extra cents when you round up but it truly adds up and could greatly help someone. Thanks for sharing this!

  10. Sorry the most important one I forgot to write is. When making your dinner, make a plate for someone especially
    The elderly. Any meal is greatly appreciated by anyone.

  11. I didn’t read through all the posts but these are some of the ideas we have done.
    – Have a box where you buy nice items that you find on sale or on clearance. Look through the box
    For items to add the gift or as the gift.
    -if you are giving your time or talent, let it be something that is somewhat of a challenge for you.
    My husband recently decided to bake people birthday cakes. He never baked a cake in his life so
    It has had more meaning for those who received it. They love getting one of his unique cakes.
    – Buy items at the dollar store to wrap or decorate.
    – Set a limit on all gift amounts.

    Hope this helps.

  12. Great tips!! There always seems to be more of a blessing to the person giving their time, than the person receiving the “gifts”. God put us here to do great things in His name…simple things like helping someone, talking, or just sharing a meal can make such a big impact!!

  13. I love these ideas! Just in the past couple of years I’ve realized that so many of my friends & family (adults) would much rather receive a card with a very heartfelt sincere message on the inside for birthdays, anniversaries, etc… In the past I thought that I needed to purchase “things”, when in actuality they would prefer something that meant a whole lot more. Thanks for the great post!

    1. Such a great point, Megan. I love receiving heartfelt cards from friends and family–they mean so much. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

  14. Excellent! A 10th thing would be ‘your time’. If you really have nothing material to give, your time is always the best. It could be to listen and pray together, or help with a project around the house, watch children, teach a skill or to just foster a relationship.

  15. Great ideas! A smile would light up anyone’s day, a hug, a phone call, a note, our time. So many ways to give. Like Anne Frank said, “No one ever became poor by giving.”

  16. Thank your for this post! We can get so caught up in our world thinking about what we don’t have that we don’t realize how generous we can be no matter our current situation. A way I have given before is buying dollar store picture frames, and printing out pics (total cost about ), especially for family members, they always like pictures!

  17. Great ideas – and good idea to turn it into a free .pdf! We are really cracking down on debt this year too but my husband both have noticed that we are blessed more – financially and other ways – when we are generous with what we have.

  18. Wow, what a great post. We have four children and are aggressively paying off debt. I watch friends’ children so they can have a night off. We have little money to spare but giving others’ a break is huge when you have little ones. Thanks for linking up at Simply Inspired Wednesdays!

    1. Sarah, wow, watching your friends’ kids is such a gift! Thank you so much for stopping by and adding your thoughts. :) Have a great weekend!

    1. Thanks! p.s. if you sign up for my newsletter, I’ll send you a pdf of many more ideas + printables. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  19. I just adore this post!
    I came upon your site by accident and I’m so glad I did. This is a wonderful topic and my addition would be a handmade card/note.
    I can spend hours making cards (I love papercrafting) but a simple card made and sent with love can be just what the doctor ordered. We all have times of feeling low or maybe alone and to open an envelope that brings a smile is priceless and it can be a true blessing at times.
    I’m just getting myself back into making handmade cards (after a 3year break due to a bad menopause) and this time I am making cards for charity. I have been lucky enough to build a good stash of crafting items over the years and now it’s time to give something of me and my time beside just monetary donations.

    1. Oh, I just love this! I agree that cards are such a wonderful gift. We don’t receive nearly enough of them these days! What a gift to make them for people–I’m sure they will be so appreciated. :) Have you ever tried to hand-stitch cards? I wrote a tutorial on how to hand-stitch cards here. They are so fun to make. Have a great day! :)

      1. I used to cross stitch my first ever handmade cards. My mum has saved every one I ever made, bless her. Now I like to crochet lace or flowers to accent my cards. The creating gives me immense pleasure, the giving and seeing smiles just makes my day!

  20. Great ideas and giving does not mean a monetary gift. My #10 would be giving encouragement in the way of sending a card to someone, an email to let someone know you are thinking about them or a quick text. It can make the difference in someone’s day. Glad to be your neighbor at Sarah’s linkup today.

  21. I really love this list. I am going to share this with my daughter so she can understand that you can do something without having millions of dollars. I’m going to share this. Thanks for linking this up at Totally Terrific Tuesday last week. It goes live tonight at 9pm CST. Can’t wait to see what else you have to share! Hope to see you there!

    Sharon
    herorganizedchaos.com

    1. Thanks, Sharon. It really is such a good thing to learn that you don’t have to be rich to be generous. I love all the reader’s comments on this post–so inspiring! :)

  22. You always brought the most charming idea to our party! Thank you. Pinned and tweeted. We feel honored that you take the time to stop by our party. I hope to see you on Monday at 7 pm. We love to party with you! Happy Saturday! Lou Lou Girls

  23. jennie, it’s so true – it is easy to become stingy when we are saving and paying off debt. i love this reminder of so many small and creative ways to give, that add up to much. thank you so much for sharing (found you through women with intention, and glad i did!).

  24. We live in a college town, and every year, we befriend students and bring them into our home. When they’re stuck over a holiday (usually Thanksgiving), they eat with us. This year, five of them came with us to my in-laws’ home, and they ended up coming home with us and staying until 3 in the morning playing board games and talking. We didn’t even know two of them beforehand, but their friends gave them our numbers. It was one of the happiest Thanksgivings I’ve ever had. My favorite gift would definitely be opening my home. This is a lovely (and much needed!) list!

    1. Amanda, thank you so much for opening your home to students! I was away from home for Thanksgiving during college and my early 20s and I cannot tell you how nice it was to go to a real family Thanksgiving instead of making myself a turkey sandwich! Thank you for what you do!

  25. This is a really great list. It’s so easy sometimes to just think “I don’t have the budget for that”. I really appreciate you creating a list to remind me of all the ways I CAN help.

    1. You’re so welcome! It has helped me so much to realize that wow, I really can give, I just have to be a little creative. :)

  26. I love “painless giving!” I have been able to donate several reams of paper from Staples to my church. With the rebate, sometimes a ream was one penny (plus tax). Menard’s has great rebates which have to be used at their store, but they deduct the rebate before adding taxes so in Indiana, where I live, I save an additional 7 per cent on my purchase. I save “freebies” and have most of the gifts for a shoe box for Samaritan’s Purse at Christmastime. My library has a box of coupons for patrons so I make a habit of clipping coupons from the Sunday newspaper & donating them. Kind words and beautiful or funny pictures on Facebook are a “gift”. And so are sites like yours :)

    1. Doris, I love that you clip coupons for others to use. We’ve been clipping the “boxtops for education” for a school for special needs kids (we don’t have school-aged children). Even though they are usually quite small, we also put our eBates checks toward giving. And we have signed up for smile.amazon.com so that most purchases we make via Amazon result in a small amount being given to the charity of our choice.

  27. I loved this post! These are all such great ideas! For #10 I have to agree with the others who have mentioned the power of words. One of my favorite ways to give is sending a kind text, email, Facebook message, or card. Even just a few words can go a long way to let someone know you care.

    Thank you for sharing this!
    Sarah K.

  28. You can save seeds from fresh fruits (tomato, lemons, kiwi,…) and veggies (green peppers, zucchini, cucumbers,..)you eat. Grow plants and give the plants as gifts or grow the veggies and give canned tomatoes, canned sauce, piccalilli, etc. as gifts. You can also donate what you grow to a local food pantry. Those who rely on food pantries rarely get fresh food. A home bound senior neighbor might also appreciate fresh picked produce.

    1. What a great idea! I think most people just throw out the seeds of the fruits and vegetables they eat, never thinking that they could use them to help others. Thank you so much for sharing!

  29. Wow, this is such an inspirational post. One of the lines from my eBook is “We can have generous hearts even when our hands may be empty.” So you can see why I was nodding my head time and time again as I read through your list. I personally think the gift of our time is one of the best gifts we can give…and I think I’d like to work on #6 and plan ahead better with my gift list–especially now that we’re working with a budget! Off to pin this gem, for sure.

    1. Thanks so much, Lauren! I so agree that time is so precious these days! My sister was here for the past few days and we just hung out and talked our heads off…just having her here has been a gift! Have a great day! :)

  30. Jennie – I would like to tell you that my #10 would be to be generous with your words through note writing!! This is something that helps me show love for others for the cost of a stamp and a handmade card!! I have a goal to send out 1 letter per day and so far I am achieving it!! What a blessing this kind of generosity has been for ma and those I love and care about!! My blog daisiesgirl.com is all about my desire “To make Beautiful Things to show others I care!! I would love if you swung by for a peek!! Up at the top of my blog is a tab that talks about my goal of “365 cards in 365 days” – it is by the home and about button!! Any way – this was an excellent article!! I agree with you that you don;t have to be a millionaire to be generous!! Thank you for such a great article that I will refer back to often!! Have an a amazing day!!

    1. What an incredible goal to write 365 cards this year…wow! I agree that that is a wonderful gift. A friend of mine gave me ‘write me back cards‘ this last year and it has been so fun receiving a note from her (and sending her one!) each month this year. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Well said – I agree that it is important to maintain generous hearts even when our means seem small. Love your ideas and we like Gospel for Asia too. Its not as easy to do now, but when our kids were younger I’d save things we received as gifts but didn’t really need and keep them in a box to give away. There have also been times when I’ve found amazing things from yard sales.

    1. What a great idea about yard sales…I need to keep an eye out for gift ideas when they start again this summer. Thanks for stopping by!

  32. Jennie, thanks for this. I love the idea that giving will help keep our hearts ready to give more.
    I have a sister-in-law who, while not hard up for money, gave a gift she made to each of her immediate family. She made some light up lettering for her 4 year old son, who is afraid of the dark. She used 50 T shirts of her husbands and made a t shirt quilt, etc. I just thought her different gifts were so cool and thoughtful, and cheap.

  33. I think another great gift is the gift of being happy. No one will want to be around a grumpy person. You will make them smile if YOU are happy. Awesome post!

    1. You know, you are so right. I just love being with people who are truly joyful–it rubs off on everyone. :) Thanks for stopping by!

  34. A thoughtful card (2 for $1 @ Dollar Tree) is a very thoughtful and appreciated thing especially for elderly people who don’t have family around them. Many are very lonely and to stop by for an hour and chat means so much! Our time is a great gift!

    1. Kathy, you are so right. Thank you for sharing this idea…I know my grandparents love it when I call or send them a letter in the mail.

  35. This is a wonderful list of ideas to make giving easier whether you have a lot or not. Regardless of how much we have there are always people who have less and I love that you are reminding us to share with those less fortunate.

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