How to empower your budget to give right now

How to empower your budget to give right now

With the tragedies and countless lives affected by Hurricane Harvey, hearts are motivated to give and help. And yet, sometimes, our budgets seem to prevent us from helping as generously as we'd like. With this article, I hope to encourage you with ways you can give, even this very week.

How to empower your budget to give right now…

Execute a pantry and freezer challenge. For at least a week (longer if you can), make all meals and snacks only from what you already have on hand and the bare necessities from the store. Using the amount you typically spend per week on food and subtracting those necessities, send the difference to your charity or relief organization of choice.

Skip the extras for a week or even two. For each person or family, this will be different. I personally consider extras anything you really could live without or work around. Things like stopping at the coffee shop on your way to work, buying hot school lunches, or going out for dinner. Save the money you'd normally spend on those things so you can give. Find ways to work around the extra spending by making coffee and bag lunches and planning meals at home.

Save gas in every way you can. Maybe you can carpool to work or school or even bicycle, maybe combine errands so you drive less, or possibly take a different route to your destination. Sometimes we spend extra fuel – not to mention time – by simply not planning ahead or looking ahead well enough. (Think not picking up milk earlier in the week when you could have and needing to go to the store again.) Do anything you can think of to spend less on gasoline so you can give instead.

Fasting a meal or even a day. Fasting is not only good for the body and mind, it is a great way to free up giving money. Maybe commit to fasting your lunch every day for a week so you can send the money you'd normally spend. Or consider fasting a whole day and figure out how much per day you typically spend on food. Once you have your numbers, send that amount to your charity of choice. (Note: With this tip, please be cautious. Only execute fasting if you do not have a medical condition which would prohibit safe fasting.)

Launch a coupon attack. Commit to using coupons for nearly everything for the next week or two. (You'll likely do it longer once you see how much you save!) To effectively use coupons, you need to spend the time to locate them and even be willing to alter your purchases and your routine. Choose a different brand of cereal or switch the store where you'll buy that needed shirt. Coupons exist for almost every need, service, and purchase. You just have to be diligent to find them.

Change where you shop. Store loyalty can be a strong emotion. But shopping lower-priced places like Aldi can save you a ton of money. And don't be fooled by the old thinking that store brand tastes bad. In fact, many people actually prefer the less expensive store brands over national brands on many products. On top of that, fresh foods are often cheaper at smaller stores like Aldi because they carry a more specific selection.

Give away your points and miles. Numerous points clubs and loyalty programs are making giving your accumulated points to relief efforts available right now. You can easily give by donating your points. It's a no-money way to give and give instantly. Check all your points programs to see who is participating in this effort. Companies doing this include Best Western; Choice Hotels; Hilton Hotels; Swagbucks; Southwest Airlines; Alaska Airlines; JetBlue Airways and nearly all credit cards with points or rewards.  Taking another angle, United Airlines and American Airlines are giving frequent flyer miles to those who donate to Hurricane Harvey relief.

No matter how you come up with your donations, be sure to ONLY donate to reputable organizations and charities with a proven track record. Ones like the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army are safe choices. Because, even in times of crisis, criminals take advantage. They don't care about others. They will steal your donation money. So stick to donating through solid organizations, and be sure to go directly to any donation sites yourself – not through links floating around the internet.

Here at SavingsAngel.com, our hearts and prayers go out for all who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey.