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How to Save Money When Helping Others

The following post is from Christina of Northern Cheapskate:

helping hands
photo credit: Judit Klein

The holiday season has a way of reminding us that sometimes we have more heart than wallet. 

We want so much to help those who are less fortunate and to give generously to the people we care about.  Yet, we have to balance that with our own family’s needs.  It’s enough to stress anyone out.

Fortunately, there are some simple ways you can save money when helping others.

Use your coupon clipping and freebie hunting skills.

Watch the sales and combine them with coupons to get groceries and personal care items for free or almost free.  Donate the groceries or personal care items to your local food pantry or use them to create a special care package for someone you know is struggling.

Look for free samples you can request online (Freebies 4 Mom is one of my favorite resources) and create a cute little basket of useful goodies for a friend.

Shop for products that support a cause.

You know that there are certain grocery items and household goods that you will always buy.  So consider buying products that support programs like Box Tops for Education or Labels for Education and help out your local schools.

Check out the websites of your favorite causes.  You’ll find that many of them offer a variety of gifts you can purchase in which a portion of the proceeds goes to the cause.  Veterans groups, churches, schools, and hospitals may hold special fundraisers that allow you to get some of your holiday shopping done while helping their organizations.

Since you’re already planning on making these purchases, why not help others while you are shopping?

Give the gift of time.

If you don’t have extra money and you’re not a super coupon-clipping shopper, then you may have some time to give.  Help a single mom by offering an afternoon of free babysitting or offer to do some Christmas shopping for a housebound senior.   Chances are you know someone who has a project that needs an extra set of hands., and it won’t cost you a cent to help out.

Give away something.

Look through your closets and pull out all of the clothing, coats and boots you aren’t using, and donate them to a local church or service organization.  You’ll clear out some of your clutter and feel good about helping others.

Take a few deductions.

Donate your items to a non-profit organization and get an itemized receipt.  Then save it for tax time and claim the deduction.  And be sure to track your mileage to and from that non-profit where you volunteer.  The IRS will let you deduct 14 cents per mile when your driving is done in service to a charity.

What are some ways you save money when helping others?

Christina Brown is the creator of Northern Cheapskate, a blog dedicated to frugal living through coupons, freebies, and money-saving ideas.  She lives in the rural north woods of Minnesota where she clips coupons, pinches pennies, and chases her three boys (a 6-year-old and twin 4-year olds) as a stay-at-home mom.