Helping Others Without Spending Money

by Elaine on June 7, 2010 · 10 comments

in Family,Finance,HowTo

Since I do not work outside the home right now, I try to save money wherever and whenever I can. I carefully study the grocery sale papers every week and clip or print coupons. I closely monitor how my children and I spend my family’s money.

As much as possible, I try to do my part to help others while still maintaining our finances. The biggest way I do this is by sharing my children’s clothing with family, friends, freecycle, and the Salvation Army. We appreciate receiving hand-me-downs, so we always continue the cycle.

Another thing I do is donate my unused and/or expired coupons to the military families stationed overseas. I clip ALL the coupons from my Sunday newspaper, even the pet food ones and others I know I won’t use. Sometimes I’ll even ask my friends and family for their coupons when they are done with them. Then once a month, I mail all the coupons to a military base in Japan that I adopted through the Overseas Coupon Program. Military families are allowed to use expired coupons up to six months past their expiration date. These families often have just one income, so these coupons can really make a difference. The postage to send the coupons overseas is the standard domestic rate since it goes to a US base, but an international customs form is required. This is an easy and inexpensive way to support our military.

“The Drugstore Game” is a method I learned from sites such as Money Saving Mom and Krazy Coupon Lady. Money Saving Mom wrote “In a nutshell, the Drugstore Game is taking advantage of the rebate programs at CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens to get household and beauty products for pennies on the dollar — or even more than free!” I go to CVS and Walgreens at least once a week to purchase items that are either on sale, have coupons, or generate Extra Bucks or Register Rewards. Sometimes a product is all three of those things, allowing me to spend only pennies for tax and then receive free items AND vouchers for future purchases. My bathroom cabinets are filled with body wash and toothpaste that I received free, or even got paid to take. I often collect these drugstore game goodies and take them to my local food pantry. I’m sure they would be greatly appreciated at a battered women’s shelter or homeless shelter as well. My local pantry is the Niles Township Food Pantry. They collect and distribute food, personal items, and even school supplies for children.

One of the easiest ways that I help my children’s school is by clipping the Box Tops for Education that are on all kinds of General Mills products such as Cherrios cereal, Nature Valley granola bars, Chex Mix, and Gogurts yogurt as well as other household items like Kleenex tissues and Huggies diapers, Pull Ups, and OverNights. Each little pink logo is worth ten cents to the school. While this may not sound like it’s worth the hassle of cutting out, participating schools earned more than $10 million in the 2008-09 school year alone! My children often bring me empty boxes and ask me to help them cut out the “moneys.” Then I just send their teachers an envelope full of the little pink papers so they can submit them and receive money for their school.

SuperValu and General Mills have partnered together for the Box Tops for Education program and are generously offering one lucky winner a $25 American Express gift card through MyBlogSpark. I believe this gift card can be used anywhere, including any of the SuperValu stores (ACME, Albertsons, Cub, Farm Fresh and Jewel-Osco.) If you would like a chance to win this $25 gift card, please leave a comment with a creative or unusual way you help your family, school, or community by June 8th. The winning comment will be randomly selected and announced on June 9th.


1 Sonia Jaime June 7, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Great article. I give my child’s school the empty Capri pouches so they can receive money in return. Plus it’s environmental friendly. I also donate old toys to my church do that can use them in their childcare rooms.

2 Dulce June 8, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Since my kids are not yet at school, we collect the soda can tabs and give them to our friend’s son who then gives them to his school. Unfortunately, we drink too much pop!

3 Neal June 8, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Wow, that is a great idea. Thanks for posting.

4 cwaltz June 9, 2010 at 1:08 am

I help out by donating clothing that is gently used. I also helped my elderly neighbor when she first had diabetes and am helping another neighbor with seizures adjust to not being able to drive.


5 Joan June 9, 2010 at 6:41 am

Hi, we are always finding ways to help others. We donate clothes, use freecycle and keep a watch on elderly neighbors.

6 eunice b June 9, 2010 at 9:25 am

We save boxtops, too, and donate to our local school. We love to share our produce from our gardens with our neighbors and family. Also, we do the same thing with extra items from cvs and grocery stores!

~eunice b
rsmile2u @dejazzd .com

7 Elaine June 9, 2010 at 11:19 am

Congratulations to the MarloElaine raffle winner Neal! I will e-mail you privately for your mailing information.

The gift card giveaway is now closed, but please feel free to continue posting inexpensive ways to help others. Thanks for reading.

8 Missy June 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm

I’m a volunteer with It’s an organization that helps people donate clothes and household items to a local charity.

Donation Town makes it easy for people to donate because we only deal with charities that offer free donation pick up service.

This is a valuable free service that anyone who want to help charities will be interested in. Thanks!!!

9 Liz July 14, 2010 at 10:15 am

You are saving lots of money. I only want to mention that there are ingredients in personal care products that may be harmful or toxic. This is why I buy very little of those products at CVS etc. I buy toothpaste, shampoo etc mostly at Whole Foods and read all labels to be sure not to buy anything with parabens,triclosan, oxybenzone, 1,4-Dioxane, Phthalates (fragrance), talc, DMDM Hydantoin (formaldehyde), DEA, TEA, propylene glycol, fluoride, or sodium lauryl sulfates in them. There are many sites on the web telling you more about these and other ingredients you especially do not want to expose to children or put on their skin or in their mouthes. is one of my favorites.

10 Elaine July 14, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Thanks for sharing, Liz. I do follow, but mostly for products for my kids. I will look more closely at the labels for the adult products as well.

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