Investing in Others: Helping Out Even When You’re Short of Cash

“Can you help me?”

How many times has someone asked you this question? More importantly, what’s your response? These days, with prices rising and paychecks stalling or even becoming nonexistant due to job loss, there are a number of us who could use a little help. And, on the flip side, there are a number of us who would actually love to help – if we could. So what do you do if someone asks for help in a monetary form but you really just cannot fork over the green they need? Here are some ideas on helping out even when your own wallet is thin.

Everbody Eats

So you really don’t have a lot of wiggle room in your budget this month to lend money for a person to buy their own groceries. Chances are, though, you could whip up a double portion of your family meal for that person. A large pot of spaghetti sauce is easy to whip up and is something that can feed a family without spending a lot of dough; send along a generous portion with a box of pasta (usually right around or under a buck). Or, invite the person (and family, if applicable) over for a lunch or dinner.

Another way to help out where food is concerned is to help the person in need link up with a local food pantry. These days, many people are receiving assistance from food pantries to help get them through a rough season. Just be sure to check with the food pantry to see if there are any guidelines to meet to partake in their services (i.e., a person might need to live within a certain zip code to particpate in the pantry).

Fill a Specific Need as Able

This is something I try to keep in mind if someone asks me for monetary help. Often, a person might ask for twenty bucks to buy X or Y. You might not have the amount they’re asking for, but you still might be able to assist the person in getting what they need. So you don’t have money to fill up another person’s gas tank, but you could help out by giving him/her a lift to where they need to go. A person needs money for diapers (or shampoo or insert any material need here)? Consider buying a pack of diapers (or a bottle of shampoo) and giving it directly to him/her.

Helping someone out doesn’t necessarily mean you need to take money you require for your own bills and fork it over. But just because you don’t have extra green around to give doesn’t mean you have to give up helping those in need. Trying your best according to your own abilities and means can still be extremely helpful.

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Anonymous's picture

femmefrugality wrote:

Thu, 05/31/2012 - 15:29 Comment #: 1

Love this. Being aware and connected with people is the best way to find opportunities to help them. Sometimes even just being a listening, sympathetic ear can be of great service to someone. And it doesn't cost a dime.

Anonymous's picture

jefferson wrote:

Fri, 06/01/2012 - 12:01 Comment #: 2

We've been very charitable this year, even tho we haven't donated any cash. We can always find an extra few cans from the pantry, or even moreso an extra bag of clothes or home supplies to donate.