Thursday, 7 May 2009

Being Frugal And Charitable

By: Notes From The Frugal Trenches

When I first began this journey into a frugal way of life, I wasn't sure it was something I wanted. You see I'd only known a couple of people who called themselves frugal, but there were so many aspects of their life I wasn't comfortable with, like the fact they wouldn't give to charity or help out friends/family in need because they were frugal yet you knew, because they shared it, that they were saving $1000+ a month. I then began reading, writing and really changed my perspective. I learned that there were a lot of people living the frugal life so that they could make good choices with their money, whether that was to get out of debt, give more, work part time and be charitable. Lesson learned!

So now here I am, over an year into my frugal journey, a journey which was involved moving, cutting back, finding nature, changing relationships, earning less and blogging through it all. Over the past year I've learned how to make choices so that despite a limited budget I can be charitable, I can give to those in need and provide random acts of kindness! There are so many ways you can be frugal & charitable, here are a few ideas that have worked for me!

Monthly Financial Commitment

The first thing I did was decide upon a monthly amount that I would take from my account on payday, some people tithe, others set a limit that feels comfortable to them. You can start small, even £20 ($40) can make a world of difference.

Choose one or two organizations that you feel connected to, you might decide to choose one that works on international projects or helps people in the developing world, child sponsorship is a great option, the other might be an organization closer to home like a woman's shelter or animal rescue centre.

As you get pay increases or pay off debt, try to increase the amount each month that you are giving away.


It makes you feel so special when someone provides a meal if you are ill or in need. When I was recently unwell, a friend who is my far the least economically well off person I know provided meals for a week for me. What a blessing!

The easiest and frugal way to do this is to have a couple of trusted frugal but healthy recipes that you can make when someone is in need. Soup is a great option! You can double your batch & make a meal for your family & another in need. You can keep some nice homemade soup & breads in the freezer ready for when you see need.

If you have chickens/hens you can give some of your eggs to families or people you know in need.

If you grow veggies or fruit, why not try to set aside a certain amount each week for people & families you know who maybe struggle with a weekly budget or affording healthy food.

When you bake, consider giving some cakes, biscuits, muffins & scones to someone without family nearby. Put them in a tin and hand deliver them, it might just make their day!

Open your home up - invite people without family close by for meals or to celebrate the holidays with you. This can be such an easy & frugal way to show some hospitality!

Instead of accepting birthday presents, ask people to bring a food item or toy to donate to the needy!

A Little Extra

When I go under my grocery budget, have money left over or am budgeting for the month, I find a couple of easy options to give a little something extra.

At my local supermarket there is a collection after the tills for animal shelters. I'd love a dog but it isn't possible at the moment, so I buy a little dog food and donate it at the end of my shop. You can do the same for food banks!

I keep a jar with lots of change and any left over money from my budget to giveaway. I use this if friend's children are collecting or people I know are participating in charity events. I also use this to support homeless people in my area, making sure I have change with me when I visit my city, so I can purchase food or drinks for people, buy the magazines they homeless people sell (in the UK it is called The Big Issue) or simply provide money. I also use this jar to put money towards special events - water aid week, charity drives at Church or school.

There is so much you can do to be frugal & charitable. In many ways I think it is easier to be charitable when you are frugal because you know how to stretch a dollar and you appreciate the little things all the more! Set yourself some charitable goals, we set goals for other areas of our lives, why not include supporting those in need? One of my goals is to pay for a child to have cleft palate surgery, putting away a little each month will make this happen!

I'd love to hear any of your ideas for how to be charitable on a budget!