Couponing for the Rest of Us

Time2Give: Creative Ways to Give, Using Coupons or Your Time!

Post by: Deal Detective Kim

Today I’m going to step outside the pantry and talk about a subject that’s near and dear to us here at Time 2 $ave –giving. If you’re sitting there thinking to yourself, “Give?? I can barely take care of my own!” then don’t go yet; hear me out before you decide you just can’t. And if you can’t, that’s ok, too. God has blessed me richly in the past fifteen years, but I struggled financially before that. I’m not saying I wasn’t blessed–I was–but they were different blessings. And I’m certainly not rich, but I no longer worry about where the money for a particular bill will come from. I have enough.

There is more than one way to give, and some ways require no money at all! When I was flat broke and barely scraping by, I gave time when I couldn’t give money. Many very worthwhile charities use lots of volunteers to keep costs down. Have a favorite charity? Call and say, “I don’t have money but I want to help. What can I do?” You might be surprised to find that they need volunteers almost as much (sometimes more!) than they need money! In Chattanooga (and many other communities), you can call the United Way office for a list of charities that need volunteers.

Speaking of United Way, many employers offer payroll deduction as part of the United Way campaign. I could never work a $104 check to United Way into my budget, but I never miss the $4 a paycheck I give through payroll deduction. I started years ago, in the flat broke days, with $1 a paycheck. Every little bit helps. Team up with a group–maybe your “Mommies group” or your Sunday School class, take one name from the Angel Tree at the mall, pass the hat, and provide Christmas for one needy child or senior. One of my co-workers started her own informal charity. She took the amount she would normally donate to her charity (Catholic Charities) and supplemented it by collecting aluminum cans for recycling. With what we co-workers pitch in, she usually ends up with close to $200. She goes Black Friday shopping with it and then donates it all to Catholic Charities. You’d be amazed what you can do with that much on Black Friday! This would be another great way to get the kids involved. You home-schoolers could tie in recycling, Earth Day, and charitiable giving in one lesson!

Couponing is a wonderful way to help out without spending much money. Almost every week we have a post of top free/cheap items that make good donations is posted. If it’s non-perishable food items, find a place in your house for a box you can put them in. You don’t have to wait for the holidays; the Food Bank needs help all year long.

This week, for example, Dollar General, for example, has Libby’s canned veggies 2/$1. There were coupons for $1/4, making 4 cans of corn, peas or green beans $1! I recently heard that McKamey Animal Center here in Chattanooga operates a pet food bank. In these tough economic times, many families are having a hard time. Would you want to tell your child that his 4-legged best friend, who sleeps on his bed, has to go? I wouldn’t! I did a Bi-Lo fuel perks deal last week; by combining coupons and the sale price, I scored 14 bags of cat treats for under $2, and got .20 in fuel perks to make it a moneymaker. At Publix, I was able to get 9 Whiskas trays for $1.50. That and 6 cans of another wet cat food that my cats turned their noses up at got donated to McKamey. The other day, I spied cans of Fancy Feast on clearance at Bi-Lo for .23. With coupons, 24 cans came to $2.76. The customer ahead of me didn’t get a $2 catalina that was still hanging on the printer, so I used that to make those 24 cans $.76!! They are in the car for my next McKamey stop, hopefully tomorrow. Even if your local shelter doesn’t operate a pet food bank, chances are they can use the food to help the animals waiting for a “forever family”…please consider helping them. God loved the animals enough that he included them on the ark, right?

The Toys R Us deal posted here is a great way to donate AND teach your kids the joys of helping others at the same time. Take each of your kids shopping, help them select a “buy this” toy for a family member, then let them drop the free toy into the Marine Corps “Toys for Tots” collection bin. No child is too young to understand that there are others less fortunate. If you participate in Swagbucks, consider redeeming for amazon.com giftcards and turning those into toys for donation.

This is the time of year when I go through my stockpile and pull out those things I overstocked on, the things that will soon go out of date, and donate to the food bank. A clean sweep before the New Year. Another good “clean sweep” idea is to go through your kids closets and toy boxes and such and donate the things still in good condition to one of the thrift stores. A lot of families are “on the bubble”…not poor enough or too proud to get help from one of the social services agencies. The thrift store might be the only way they can afford any Christmas at all.

Another good idea is to take some of that free stuff you get at the drugstores and have a box set aside that you put it in. Then donate it to a shelter or nursing home in your area. The little old ladies are so adorable when they still want to do their makeup and nails, aren’t they? Seniors get left out of the holiday charitable things so much but many have little or no family and get very little holiday cheer.

I guess the point to all of this is you don’t have to “give til it hurts” to make a difference. You know what your budget can handle. Pray about it, think about, and be creative.

Talk Back: Point us in the direction of your favorite way to give, your charity strategy, or a cute story about your kids and giving. Leave a comment or email me at DealDetectiveKim@gmail.com


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