How to Give to Others — Without Spending a Dime

by Alexa Mason · 5 comments

Despite my occasional weather-induced moodiness the past couple months, I’ve been happy and just enjoying life.

My thoughts, which used to focus on money a tad too much, started to shift. Now I focus more on trying to do nice things for others — especially my friends and family. Maybe this is due to the life changes I’ve gone through the past couple of years, or maybe it’s just maturity.

Either way, what makes me happy now is not earning a ton of extra money — but instead, doing nice things for others and spending time with those closest to me.

I’ve also set a goal for myself to practice acts of kindness. And, since my budget doesn’t allow for helping anyone monetarily, I’ve started making lists of the things I can do for others that don’t cost a dime.

Here are my ideas so far:

Help Out with Cleaning or Other Hated Chores

My brother hates to clean; I mean, really hates it. I, however, don’t mind cleaning at all. I like to organize and don’t mind running a vacuum or picking up a broom. Plus, I love to look at the end results after I’ve spent a good hour cleaning.

For him, there’s no better gift I could give than cleaning his house. He already has all the necessary cleaning supplies, so a trip down to visit him and an hour spent cleaning will work out perfectly.

Give a Couple a Kid-Free Night

My other brother just had his second child: a beautiful baby girl!

I think it’s important that couples with children have kid-free nights every once in a while so they can work on their relationship with each other.

I recently kept my nephew for two nights so that my brother and his wife could settle in with the new baby. Once the baby gets old enough, I’m looking forward to keeping both my niece and nephew at least once a month so that my brother and sister-in-law can spend some time alone.

(Not to mention that this is kind of a double win, since having a baby around is so nice!)

Assist with Home Renovations/Repairs

My mom purchased a new house early last year. The place had almost nothing in it — not even flooring, cabinets, or complete bathrooms.

Over the past year, my mom and her husband have had contractors in and out of the place trying to make it a home. Finally, a year after purchasing the house, they’re down to the finishing touches. And, since my mom really dislikes painting, I’ve volunteered to help her with all of it.

How to Help Strangers

That about covers helping my family, but I also want to help complete strangers. Here are some ways to do that without spending any money:

  • Let someone go ahead of you in the grocery line
  • Let someone pull out in front of you in traffic
  • Volunteer your time for a cause you believe in
  • Smile at someone who looks frazzled

Sometimes, it’s just the little things you do or say that can brighten up a person’s day.

I’m not negating the fact that money is important: it is. The lack of money can make a person miserable. We shouldn’t forget, however, that there are much more important things in the world.

How do you give to others without spending money?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • property marbella says:

    I usually help a friend who has a dog, she does not have as much time as a dog requires, so I usually take with him when I go out and run a few miles in the forest while I’m training him in obedience, he (the dog) loves it and also my friend. It costs nothing and I get same time accompanied on the running track.

  • Alex @ Credit Card XPO says:

    I also find helping my old neighbor shoveling snow in this long winter quite rewarding. It gives me the chance to do some exercise without going to the gym!

  • Mel @ brokeGIRLrich says:

    What a positive, upbeat post! I think it’s sometimes a little too easy to forget that you don’t need money to help people out – time’ll do too.

    Growing up, my dad instilled in us that it never hurts to shovel out the neighbors path, or even just keep going and mow their lawn too (assuming you’re well enough acquainted that that won’t anger them). I’m glad he did.

    I learned years ago that the best way to give my mom a hand was to clean the house for her. She works two jobs Monday-Friday and takes care of my grandma. I go home on a lot of my days off and if it’s a weekday, I always try to clean the house for her so she doesn’t have to worry about it.

    One of my favorite activities was being a “cookie fairy” with one of my best friends in high school. We baked a ton of cookies and secretly dropped them off at friends houses. The first year, a lot of people were unsure about eating them (although, you know, 16 year old boys will often eat anything), but we did it for the next 5 years and people always kept a look out for them when we were home together during school breaks. It was a lot of fun and seemed to put people in a good mood.

  • Ruth Cooke says:


    My first thought after reading this is, “Won’t you be my neighbour?”

    Seriously, that’s a good list. Also, since I have a car and some of my friends, neighbours and family don’t, I’ll often drive them places. In return, they often offer to help pay for gas (I don’t ask), but also might do little things for me, like make extra when they make a really yummy dessert.

    Shovelling snow and clearing off cars is also a big thing around here at this time of year.

    Basically, it comes down to knowing your family and neighbours, and being alert for ways to do things for them that they’d appreciate. You’re absolutely right to point out that giving doesn’t have to cost a lot of money–in fact, it’s often the things that money can’t buy that are most appreciated!

  • John S @ Frugal Rules says:

    These are some great options Alexa! I think often times that people appreciate you giving of your time than they would your money. One of our favorite things is to offer to babysit for friends of ours. It can get so expensive that it holds a few of our friends from being able to go out regularly on their own so we love to be able to do that for them. It usually doubles as time for one of our kids with their friends so it’s a win-win.

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