giving gifts en-US 25 Frugal Ways to "Pay It Forward" <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/25-frugal-ways-to-pay-it-forward" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="donations" title="donations" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We&rsquo;ve all seen the movie where little Haley Joel Osment starts a movement that compels others to commit random acts of kindness. And after we watched &ldquo;Pay It Forward,&rdquo; we were all like, &quot;I totally want to do that&quot; &mdash; except we never did.</p> <p>Now&rsquo;s your chance. Here are 25 small, inexpensive ways you can do something nice for someone you know &mdash; or a stranger, even. The only caveat is that the recipient of your good deed should pass it on. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="">Gratitude and Frugality</a>)</p> <h3>1. Pay for Somebody&rsquo;s Coffee</h3> <p>What a nice treat it would be if you ordered your coffee and the barista told you it was already paid for. To brighten someone else&rsquo;s day this way, leave $5 with the barista and tell him or her to use that cash to pay for the next person&rsquo;s joe. If there&rsquo;s any change left over, they can put it in their tip jar. Two smiles, one stone.</p> <h3>2. Hold the Door Open</h3> <p>It seems simple, but I see so many people in such a rush that they neglect to hold the door open for another person. It only takes a few seconds, and the guy or girl on the other side will definitely appreciate it.</p> <h3>3. Donate Goods to Charity</h3> <p>Whether you're donating your closet clutter to the Goodwill or handing over warm coats and blankets during a drive, your surplus may be someone else&rsquo;s saving grace.</p> <h3>4. Give Your Favorite Restaurant a Positive Online Review</h3> <p>So many people focus on the negative when leaving a review, so why not go to Yelp and sing the praises of your favorite place to eat? It&rsquo;ll be good for business, and it&rsquo;ll give the owner of the establishment a surge or happiness, however fleeting it may be.</p> <h3>5. Donate Blood</h3> <p>Your donated blood could mean the difference between life and death for someone who needs it.</p> <h3>6. Volunteer at a Nursing Home</h3> <p>There are many <a href="">ways to volunteer</a>, but I&rsquo;ve always liked the idea of spending some time with the elderly. Many residents of nursing homes have been abandoned by their families, so your presence can cheer them up. You don&rsquo;t have to do much, either. Chatting, watching TV, and playing games are all acceptable activities to help ease the loneliness of living in a nursing home.</p> <h3>7. Welcome New Neighbors With a Housewarming Gift</h3> <p>We used to see this all the time on TV, but do people really do this anymore? Resurrect an old tradition when a new family moves into your hood by bringing them a basket of baked goods or a small herb garden. You&rsquo;ll start out on the right foot with your neighbors and perhaps gain a new friend in the process.</p> <h3>8. Let Someone Check Out Before You at the Supermarket</h3> <p>I have let someone who only has a few items in front of me at the grocery store, and others have let me go before them too. Unless you&rsquo;re in a serious rush, there&rsquo;s no harm in letting someone get out of the store before you if their purchase will be quick.</p> <h3>9. Send a Friend an Unexpected Gift</h3> <p>As part of my job I&rsquo;m often sent CDs, DVDs, and books to review, and when I&rsquo;m finished with them I pop them in the mail and send them to the friend who I think will be most interested in that particular item. You may not have access to this kind of media all the time, so think of other small things a friend might like to get in the mail and send them their way.</p> <h3>10. Bring in Breakfast for the Office</h3> <p>When I worked in an office, I loved when a coworker brought in donuts or homemade muffins for breakfast. Sometimes it&rsquo;s nice to have a sweet treat first thing in the morning.</p> <h3>11. Offer Your Parking Space in a Crowded Lot</h3> <p>We&rsquo;ve all been in this situation, especially around the holidays. You will totally make someone&rsquo;s day if you actively help them get the parking spot you&rsquo;re about to vacate. Just signal to a nearby driver that you&rsquo;re about to leave as you&rsquo;re walking to your car so they can swoop in for the win.</p> <h3>12. Make a Care Package for a Member of the Military</h3> <p>They&rsquo;re risking their lives on a daily basis to keep America safe. The least we can do is pick up a few essentials and mementos from home to make their tour more bearable.</p> <h3>13. Provide Roadside Assistance to Someone in Need</h3> <p>My dad has stopped on several occasions to help a stranded motorist on the side of the road. If you&rsquo;re particularly good with car problems or know how to change a flat in a flash, lend a hand to someone who&rsquo;s currently not having a great day.</p> <h3>14. Give Someone Who&rsquo;s Short on Change That Extra Dime</h3> <p>Have you ever been behind someone at the checkout counter who&rsquo;s 5 or 10 cents short? If you&rsquo;ve got the extra change in your pocket, hand it over to help your fellow consumer.</p> <h3>15. Offer Someone Your Seat</h3> <p>If you&rsquo;re in a situation where there are more people than seats &mdash; I deal with this everyday on the subway &mdash; give up yours so someone else can relax for a bit.</p> <h3>16. Give a Homeless Person Your Leftovers</h3> <p>When you leave a restaurant with your doggie bag and you&rsquo;re approached by a homeless person, give them your food so they don&rsquo;t have to go hungry another night.&nbsp;</p> <h3>17. When Someone Drops Something, Pick It Up</h3> <p>Don&rsquo;t just stare at it. Lean over and get it for them if it&rsquo;s close to you.</p> <h3>18. Pick Up Litter in Your Neighborhood or a Park</h3> <p>If you see trash in your local park, pick it up and put it where it belongs. We all need to pitch in to keep our neighborhoods beautiful.</p> <h3>19. Teach Someone a Skill That You&rsquo;ve Mastered</h3> <p>I have a good friend who was kind enough to offer my husband guitar lessons for free, a gesture that is totally appreciated and not soon forgotten. If you have a teachable skill, impart your wisdom on someone in your life to make them a more well-rounded person.</p> <h3>20. Offer to Take a Picture for Tourists</h3> <p>When you&rsquo;re on vacation and you see a couple trying to take a picture of themselves, offer to take the picture for them. Nobody wants a photo of smushed faces and huge foreheads.</p> <h3>21. Bring Your Friend&rsquo;s Pet a Treat</h3> <p>We often think about the people in our lives, but what about the pets in our lives? If your good friend has a pet, pick up a treat for it. The pet &mdash; and your friend &mdash; will like you even more.</p> <h3>22. Pay the Toll Fare for the Person Behind You</h3> <p>Just like buying that <a href="">cup of coffee</a> for a stranger, paying someone&rsquo;s toll fare will put them in a better mood. Hopefully a mood good enough to pay it forward.</p> <h3>23. Add Change to an Expired Meter</h3> <p>If you see an expired meter near your parking spot, add a little extra change to help that person avoid a costly ticket.&nbsp;</p> <h3>24. Give Your Neighbor Produce From Your Garden</h3> <p>If you have a garden that&rsquo;s produce <a href="">more fruits, veggies, and herbs than you can eat</a>, share them with your neighbor so they don&rsquo;t go to waste.</p> <h3>25. Leave Unused Coupons on the Item at the Grocery Store</h3> <p>If I have a coupon for a food item that I don&rsquo;t want and the coupon is about to expire, I leave it on or near the item for which it&rsquo;s intended. It&rsquo;s a nice money-saving surprise for someone else to find.</p> <p><em>There are lots more small ways you can pay it forward. I'd love to hear your ideas. Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">The Benefits of Having a Roommate (Besides Saving on Rent)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">10 Fun, Practically Free Ways to Make New Friends</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">5 Bridesmaid Dress Ideas From a Bridesmaid</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Should You Talk to Friends About Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Can you talk to your friends about debt?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle friendship Giving Back giving gifts Mon, 13 Aug 2012 10:36:42 +0000 Mikey Rox 948754 at Budgeting Hack: Gift Calendars <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/budgeting-hack-gift-calendars" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src=" Calendars.jpg" alt="calendar" title="calendar" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">I do it all the time. I figure I&rsquo;m right on track with my budget. I&rsquo;m so proud of my budgeting prowess. Until&hellip;my friend&rsquo;s birthday comes and goes. Then an anniversary, Mother&rsquo;s Day, a few more birthdays, more holidays yet, and of course &ndash; the ever-present Christmas. When I&rsquo;m left to pick up the pieces at the end of the year, I wonder what happened to my excellent budget. That is, until this year: I started keeping a gift calendar.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Planning out gift giving occasions on the calendar not only helps to create an accurate budget, but it is also a great way to organize yourself. Until recently, the birthdays of my friends and family were either committed to (my rather shady) memory, or scribbled on a piece of paper I inevitably forgot to reference in time. And missing a birthday or (gasp) an anniversary is rarely a good thing.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>The premise is easy. Simply sit down with the following:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Monthly Calendar</li> <li>Pen/Pencil/Markers</li> <li>Your Budgeting notebook/spreadsheet</li> </ul> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Brainstorm all the gift-giving occasions you can think of</strong>. Be sure to include all the standard holidays, for example:</p> <ul> <li>Valentine&rsquo;s Day</li> <li>Easter</li> <li>Mother&rsquo;s Day</li> <li>Father&rsquo;s Day</li> <li>National Holidays</li> <li>Thanksgiving</li> <li>Christmas</li> </ul> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Then concentrate on birthdays:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Mum</li> <li>Dad</li> <li>Kids</li> <li>Siblings</li> <li>Other Relatives</li> <li>Friends</li> </ul> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Mark these gift-giving occasions on your calendar, and write them in your budgeting notebook or spreadsheet, leaving space to fill in specific gift suggestions and price tags.</strong> Your gift suggestions and price tags will likely be a work-in-progress throughout the year. But for initial budgeting purposes, fill in amounts that are reasonable estimates given the occasion.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">This exercise is not an invitation to find more opportunities than normal to buy stuff and stress your budget! So<strong> if you wouldn&rsquo;t normally give your friend a birthday present, don&rsquo;t put it in the gift calendar budget</strong>. It will still be nice to remember the occasion now that it is marked on the calendar. However if you know that a celebrative evening could entail a night on the town, you may want to include this expense in your gift-giving budget if it is not worked in somewhere else.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">As another example, if on Thanksgiving you don&rsquo;t tend to give gifts, consider the expense you might bear bringing a nice bottle of wine over to a Thanksgiving dinner, or even hosting the dinner itself. What about decorations? <strong>If there is an expense associated with that holiday that makes sense to incorporate into your gift calendar budget, then do so.</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p>Even with this level of planning, your budget can still go completely awry with unexpected gifts. So, while you are brainstorming, <strong>build a contingency into the budget for those gift-giving occasions you can&rsquo;t anticipate, for example:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Birthday gifts for parties your child attends</li> <li>Office pools for retirements, maternity leave, etc</li> <li>Gifts for new friends (birthdays, baby showers, etc)</li> <li>Wedding &amp; Engagement gifts</li> <li>Condolence &amp; Get Well gifts</li> </ul> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Since you can&rsquo;t accurately anticipate the cost of these unexpected gifts, it is best to air on the side of caution. Better to overestimate a budget and come in under than it is to underestimate and have a nasty surprise.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Gift calendar budgeting is an activity the whole family can participate in.</strong> Kids will enjoy coloring each day of celebration in the calendar, and teenagers can help with budgeting and gift selection as part of their own <a href="" target="_blank">financial education</a>.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Using a Gift Calendar is also a great way to schedule out your year. <strong>With these events clearly laid out, you can avoid unwittingly scheduling in conflicts</strong> &ndash; or at least forgetting to call on the big day. And with a decent budget in place to help you stay on track, you can use your gift calendar to proudly eliminate one of the biggest budgeting pitfalls.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Nora Dunn</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Flashback Friday: 38 Money Lessons We Can Learn From Celebrities</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Raise your standard of living by focusing your spending</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">12 Personal Finance Skills Everyone Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">February Roundup</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">3 Ways to Travel Free (Or At Least Really Darned Cheap!)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living Life Hacks budgeting gift calendars gifting giving gifts planning presents Mon, 04 May 2009 07:33:31 +0000 Nora Dunn 3116 at