I have recently been converted to the uber-crazy world of super coupon shopping. I scour the Internet for deal scenarios, print and clip countless coupons and shop every sale that I can. This obviously has resulted in a lower grocery bill for us. Additionally, we've been making cuts around the house trying to lower our monthly budget over all. Obviously this is all done in an effort to save money. Our spastic and meager income is definitely a driving force behind these changes. But, an experience I had this week made me realize that living frugally for selfish reasons really isn't that satisfying. What is satisfying, is finding a way to give to others that are less fortunate even when you have very little of your own. When you find a way to give, even when you feel you have nothing, you experience a whole new depth of service.
This week I dropped donations off to a couple places. I dropped off a bunch of clothes and shoes that I either didn't fit in or didn't want anymore to DI (Deseret Industries). That was pretty painless. They were just taking up space in my home - I was glad to be rid of them.
The second stop was to the donations office for the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. I had some things that I wanted to donate to families with children in the NICU. Some back story: Our last pregnancy was really difficult and we are really lucky that our sweet little boy made it. The whole experience has really helped me empathize with others who are in a similar situation and I have wanted to do something to help. A little while ago I did cupcakes for a wedding and made a small chunk of change from it. I decided that I would use the money to make a donation to help out families with kids in the NICU. So, I went out and purchased gift cards for Subway (there's one close to the hospital). It is hard to spend all your time in a hospital, away from the conveniences of home, having extra expenses like eating out, all the while worrying about how much the hospital bill is going to be and how you're going to be able to pay it. I knew that these families would really appreciate the gift cards. Additionally, I dropped off a bunch of books and movies for the hospital library (good ones too, like DaVinci Code and Twilight). These were a little more difficult to part with. But, I knew that they would bring much more happiness to those in the hospital than they would to me by sitting on our bookshelf looking impressive in our collection. In reality, the things that I donated didn't amount to much, but I knew that they would make a difference to those who received them.
After dropping these things off, a wave of emotion came over me and I started crying. I was so grateful that I was able to help brighten someones day, especially knowing that I was there to help them while they were experiencing some pretty heavy trials. I am grateful that the Lord provided a way for me to do this despite our lack of money. I am grateful that I had the courage to follow the spirit and take a leap of faith. I believe that we can all find ways to give to others no matter how little money we have. Even doing something simple like eliminating paper towels from your home and using rags instead can free up at least $25 over the course of a year (more if you have kids!). Think about how much you could do for others with that $25. It is such an easy, painless adjustment to make. And that is just one suggestion - there are so many other ways in which we can free up money in our budgets. Moneysavingmom is doing a series all year entitled $100 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year - you should check it out, she has some great ideas. I also know of people who pick up all the free (after rebates and coupons etc) items at Walgreens and other stores for the sole purpose of donating them to the Food Bank or homeless shelter. It takes 10 minutes of their time, but it means the world to those who are on the receiving end.
I sure get a thrill after scoring a great deal and finding ways to live frugally. It feels great and I'm completely addicted to it! But, giving that money to others who have a greater need feels ten times better. Imagine how great it feels when you combine the two together - it feels like you can change the world. And you can, one person at a time.