How to Be Generous but Frugal

You’re proud of the frugal lifestyle you have adopted. Becoming a minimalist has served you well. You’ve become astute at tweaking your finances and your purchasing and spending habits to save money in little and big ways. So what are some ways you can continue to stretch your dollars by being frugal, yet not become egocentric, and maintain perspective that you are part of a much larger world, a world that you have the power to contribute to and make better for future generations? Can you be both frugal and generous?

The ABCs of balancing generosity and frugality:

Alter your time into money-saving assistance to anyone you can by volunteering.

Volunteer for anything and everything possible. You and your family can give to individuals or to groups. It’s a fun and rewarding family activity and a great way to teach children about generosity. Perhaps you have an elderly neighbor who could benefit from your help with their yard work. You’ll feel good about helping, not to mention the pride you’ll take in making their yard look as well maintained as yours.

You can schedule time for your family to cook at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. It will be very humbling for your children to see that there are decent people who don’t have the means to live on their own, often because of some bad luck or unfortunate circumstances. Get other friends and families involved and make this a regular family event.

Coordinate a work party at your synagogue or church to perform tasks indoors or out. Your children can pull weeds while you are trimming bushes. Or they can dust shelves in the Sunday school classrooms while you are doing some touch-up painting. You all may learn some new skills while beautifying your place of worship.

Barter and become an expert at making the best win-win situations.

Organize a babysitting club with other families who have children the same age as yours. If you can assemble eight families, each can host the children one Friday or Saturday night a month for a sleepover and early breakfast, giving each family the remaining seven weekend nights as a break from child care. If that number of families seems too unwieldy, work with only three other families, each one hosting on one Saturday night a month. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the friendships formed among these children as they grow to know each other.

Giving your time in exchange for someone else’s service or product helps everyone that’s involved. You can borrow your neighbor’s extension ladder to clean you gutters, but then offer to clean his also. Or maybe help a local proprietor in his shop in exchange for some goods; you might help the bike shop reorganize in exchange for a new bicycle.

Create useful items for others to personalize your giving.

Are you going to someone’s house for a party or dinner? Don’t spend an afternoon at the mall looking for the perfect hospitality gift. Instead bring something that you made. Bake some bread, making round or specialty loaves. Pick colorful flowers from your garden and decorate an empty jar for a vase. The gift of time is always a precious gift. Recipients of your homemade presents will be flattered that you took the time to personalize something exclusively for them.

Always remember your ABCs when attempting to balance frugality and generosity. It will cost you nothing in dollars and you’ll be able to go to sleep with a smile on your face. It’s a big and wonderful world out there and you have the power to offer your time and skill to make it a better place for your children and you children’s children. You’ll still have all the dollars you’ve learned to save. Try it!

This article by Debra Karplus first appeared on The Dollar Stretcher and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.