18 Tips for Giving without Going Broke

by on March 28, 2012 in Personal Experiences

I hope you’re getting excited about giving back to your communities after reading about the 10 Lessons from my Couponing for Good shopping trip and How You Can Get Started Couponing For Good!

I know that giving back sometimes seems difficult when you’re just making ends meet to begin with, but I’ve put together a big list of ways that you can give without breaking the bank.

I hope you find these helpful!

Tips for Giving without Going Broke:

1. Check your pantry first.

I usually have no trouble coming up with a couple of cans of something or some boxes of pasta noodles whenever a collection team comes around our neighborhood, or an event requests a donation of non-perishable items. After I bought three boxes of Tuna Helper in my Couponing for Good shopping trip, I hit up my pantry for some tuna to add to the donation. I found three tuna pouches that I had snagged at Kroger for just 25 cents each after coupons! I also grabbed a big bottle of mustard that was a few months nearer to its expiration date that I’d like and a huge 52 pack of oatmeal that I got for free as a prize in a Twitter contest. These extra items only cost me an additional $1.05 out of my pocket and will make a big difference!

2. Give in small amounts.

Who says you have to make a huge donation every time you want to give back? You can drop a few things off when you have them, or collect a few things at a time until you feel it’s worth a trip to your chosen donation center. I tend to do my regular shopping in several small trips because it’s often easier, so keep that mentality with giving, too!

3. Get a little extra each time you shop. 

Focus on getting a little more of what you’re already getting, or look for one or two free/cheap items you can pick up during each trip. If getting something extra during each trip isn’t feasible, then consider trying to get something once a month or once a pay period.

4. Use B1G1 coupons.

This piggy backs on the previous point. If you know you need body wash, then look for a B1G1 coupon and give the second one away. This goes for virtually anything you are buying. By using these coupons you are getting a second product that cost you nothing!

5. Use reward programs like CVS ECBs to get things for free, even if YOU don’t need them.

I love the CVS Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) program! I you look at the CVS sales ad each week you will often see items that are totally free after ECBs back. You do have to spend the money up front out of your pocket, but then the ECB prints on your register receipt and can be used like cash the next time you go.You can also use coupons with ECB deals, making your out of pocket even less, but your ECBs back are still the same!

6. Check clearance.

Clearance is not only every bargain hunter’s favorite spot in the store, it is also a donation center’s favorite stock up point! During my Couponing for Good shopping trip I found several clearance spots in Walmart and was able to snag 8 winter stocking caps for just $2.00!

7. Buy store brands.

Who says you have to give name brands? When it comes to food, home items and personal care products, no one care if they are name brand or store brand. This is a great way to save on items you want to donate but can’t find coupons for!

8. Redeem rebates.

Like CVS Extra Care Bucks, rebates require you to put some money out up front. Be sure to use caution when redeeming rebates so that you actually get your rebate. Pay attention to dates, details and receipt requirements. Rebates take a little extra work, but they are a great way to get items for free!

9. Request/collect samples.

Samples of products are an easy way to give back. Over the course of a year I amass quite a number of samples, all of which I get for free. Some come in the mail from companies after I request them, and I pick some up at events that give them away. I went through my sample box last night and collected everything that hadn’t been used or opened and was thrilled with how much I found that I could give. I bet I gathered up 20+ sample tubes of toothpaste plus tons of shampoo, lotion, deodorant, mouthwash, razors, feminine products and even some toddler formula someone gave me at church a few weeks ago!

10. Match coupons to sale ads.

Your coupons are most powerful when you use them in conjunction with a store sale. As I mentioned in my Getting Started with Couponing for Good article, there are a ton of coupon match-up/deal sites. Find one you like and start watching it. Here’s an article that might help: Finding a Good Coupon Match-Up/Deal Site.

11. Shop at stores that double coupons.

Unfortunately, not every store doubles coupons. My local Kroger will double a coupon up to 50 cents in value, but I’ve heard of some stores that double up to $1.00 or even triple coupons! See if you have any stores like this in your area, and you can save even more!

12. Price match.

Walmart has a price match policy, which means you can take a competitor’s ad in to their store and they will match the price of their item to the price in the ad. The item has to be the exact same item and on sale for the same dates you are shopping, but this is a great way to reduce an item’s price before you even hand over a coupon!

13. Give away your coupons if you can’t use them.

If you can’t use your coupons, don’t just throw them away. If they are not yet expired and you can’t afford to shop with them, then just donate the coupons so the donation center or the people there can use them to shop. If the coupons have already expired, then consider sending them to a military family overseas.

14. Just buy food.

Depending on your state, county and individual stores, there may be no sales tax collected on food. Prepared meals almost always have sales tax, but the individual items needed to create meals often do not. Check to see if food is taxed in your area and if it is not then you’ll save the tax on the purchase every time you shop to donate!

15. Use “special coupons” requested from companies.

Everyone loves coupons for totally free products. Sometimes you can find them on company websites if you sign up for something, and periodically they might come in the mail, but the best way to get them is to contact companies and ask. Companies like to get feedback from their consumers, so get in the habit of periodically writing your favorite companies and letting them know what you think about their product. Request coupons, and they often send them. They won’t always be free, but when they are these make perfect donation items!

16. “Give at the office”.

If you are employed outside of your home, check to see what payroll deductions are available for giving. Many employers have programs set up that can take a donation out of your paycheck before taxes. This reduces your overall taxable income. A pre-tax donation of $5 per pay period might not seem like a lot, but every little bit helps!

17. Work with a friend.

If you want to give back to your community, but don’t feel you’re able to make a big enough impact, then recruit a friend and ask them to help you find coupons, sales and donation items. The more, the merrier when it comes to giving!

18. Become a collection point.

If you can’t afford to give a lot financially, then consider giving in other ways. Use your time to collect items in your neighborhood. Put a food basket out at church. Send some emails and collect things in your office. In many ways, your time is more important than you money!

I hope these tips give you a few things to think about as you consider how you can begin Couponing for Good. You don’t have to be rich to give back, and you don’t have to go broke doing it either!

Please feel free to share how you give back!

#CBias #AllYouCFK – I am thrilled to be able to participate in this campaign, and hope you will join me in my efforts to raise awareness of the Champions for Kids SIMPLE service projects! My post about my shopping trip will be compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All other posts regarding “couponing for good” are NOT compensated unless otherwise noted.

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