How to Be Generous When Money is Tight

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piggy bank with coins


Dear friends,

This is Day #5 of Money Triage, a special 5-day series about dealing with financial uncertainty. Today’s post is about how to be a giving person while in the midst of dealing with a money crisis.

Taking Care of #1

Can I be honest with you? A few weeks ago, I got into a very self-centered kind of frenzy as I tried to build up the recommended two weeks of quarantine food and supplies. My heart raced for a few days as I went from store to store trying to find essentials like toilet paper and ingredients for meals. The bare shelves at some of the stores put me in a mindset of scarcity, and the nightly TV news and rumors of lockdowns only made my self-focus worse.

The last thing on my mind was helping anyone else; I was too busy trying to build up my own inventory at my own castle.

When I finally slowed down long enough to be still, reflect, pray, and breathe, I was disappointed in my initial response and knew this was not how I wanted to respond to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis.

On her podcast this week Emily P. Freeman said, “This is all new, and we are all beginners at navigating a global pandemic….Give yourself a break, and remember there are things here at play that you’ve never had to process before.” I appreciated her grace-filled reminder that we are all learning as we go.

Giving When Needs are Great

As I write this, it’s March 27, 2020 and we are only a couple of weeks into the Coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis in the U.S.

Already, the needs around us are great. Our favorite nonprofits need money to continue their good work. Our churches and mental health institutions need support. Hospitals and health workers need protective gear. Animal shelters need money. The list of needs is endless.

At the same time, many of us are facing our own financial challenges like job losses, reductions in income, business closures and volatile investment markets.

Yet all around us, people are still finding ways to give.

10 Ways to Give When You Don’t Have Extra Money

Here are some ways we can be generous, even during times of financial uncertainty.

  1. Share food and supplies.
  2. Give the gift of time and energy – raking leaves or shoveling snow, for instance. 
  3. Send someone a handwritten letter or thank you card.
  4. Give away clothes you no longer wear.
  5. Reach out to someone who might be lonely.
  6. Cook double and deliver a meal to a busy friend.
  7. Offer to pick things up at the store for someone.
  8. Share a skill, such as sewing a clothing repair or helping someone with a DIY project.
  9. Leave a positive review online for someone who’s doing a good job. Or take a few minutes to review your favorite author’s book.
  10. Give blood or plasma at your local blood bank.

Generosity During a Pandemic

Here are some examples I’ve seen recently of amazing giving in my own neighborhood:

  • People are setting up food banks.
  • People are donating blood.
  • People are sewing face masks.
  • People are sharing their rationed food and toilet paper.
  • People are donating protective gloves, masks and other gear for health workers.

People are giving money generously, too; our state’s Help Colorado Now relief fund has already taken in $7.5 million.

I’m no theologian or expert on spiritual matters, but what I’ve found is that if I am willing, if I can get out of my own head, and if I pray that God will show me needs and ways I can help, He always provides a way to give.

The great paradoxical mystery is that the more we give, the greater abundance we experience. We receive more, and then we can give away even more. In the process of sharing with others, we also feel happier.

Perhaps generosity is at the heart of how we will ultimately get ourselves out of this mess. All of the COVID-19 best-case scenarios rely on humans working together and helping each other. If we each give and do what we can, the outcome will be so much better for all of us.

How About You?

Have you found a way to help during this crisis? What examples of generosity have you seen in your community? I welcome your thoughts in the Comments below or over at the Money Diet Group.

As this 5-day series winds down, I hope you are staying safe, healthy and well. I promise we will lock arms and continue sharing ideas and information to support each other in the days ahead.

Best always,

Signature for Eliza Cross

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7 thoughts on “How to Be Generous When Money is Tight”

  1. Well written Eliza, so so true what Emily Freeman said, we do need to give ourselves a break. I find trying to drill down my own personal efforts to my family, extended family, my neighbors is where I am able to dive in right now. Be well my friend, be well!

    • Kathleen, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. You are one of the most generous souls I know, and I will never forget the Quarantine Care Package you brought me with homemade broth, fun magazines and a precious roll of TOILET PAPER! Love you, my friend. xo

  2. Your blogs this week have brought me some peace and calmness. When one is in the high-risk group, it’s harder to decide where to help. God is good and we are in good shape. He has been impressing me all week to give to those who aren’t getting a paycheck and to reach out to those who are alone and shut-in. Thank you for your tender heart and willingness to walk this road with all of us.

    • Dear, dear Penelope, it’s so good to hear from you and thank you for your kind words. I’m smiling as I imagine you brightening the day of someone who has been lonely during this time. And your financial gifts will have such a very real impact. I just visited your website and it was like taking a little vacation to see your pretty photos and books!

      Readers, Penelope has written several wonderful books, including “The Art of Afternoon Tea” and “Tea on the Titanic.” Check out her website at: .


  3. As ‘geezers’ (high-risk age group), our outreach is limited but we walk our neighborhood a lot, chatting (from a distance), laughing, loving nature, encouraging/praying for neighbors. The neighbors have been fantastic, offering to shop, etc. – we are blessed. (Our church’s online services, too, have blessed us!)
    So, how to help? In addition to allowing others to help us, I am trying to make surgical scrub hats for our granddaughters working in hospitals – hope it works out – something I can do to support these dear gals………….
    Thanks for YOUR wonderful words – as always. God bless you, ALL!

    • Carolyn, I love your sunny outlook, and your neighborhood walks sound divine. How WONDERFUL that you are sewing surgical scrub hats – what a great way to respond to this crisis and a blessing for your granddaughters. I will keep them in my prayers along with all of our courageous healthcare providers. Take care and stay well. xo

  4. I think the initial knee jerk reaction to get out there and stock up, to fill up the root cellar, is pretty deep seated in us all. It’s a “Darwinian” identified survival trait that allowed you and I and others to be here today, 70,000 years later (your choice of early mankind years here). The response is not so easily tamped down. You and I can be forgiven. And good news for now, the Black Friday Cabbage Patch Doll frenzy moment has passed.

    There can be a 2020 lesson here for us all though. There was for me. Yesterday I visited my store again. This was 7 days after my previous shock and awe visit where 70% of the store’s shelves were empty or war tattered. Yesterday the shelves were almost back to normal. Meat, refrigerated items, cans, produce and yes, even a little toilet paper. Not all the shelves were deep with product. But there seemed a general representation of most products. Visiting yesterday, you would never know we don’t favor canned Black Eyed peas like I learned on my shock and awe visit. They were once again surrounded by more popular canned vegetables. I was taken aback at the recovery in such a short time.

    My lesson… the store shelves are simply where we move a can into our cart. They do not testify to the store’s back room, the trucks, the railroad cars, the store chain’s centralized warehouse, the food vendor company warehouses, grain silos and all things deep locker frozen. We can’t see beyond these shelves – so we forget or can’t comprehend that we are a very rich country. I speak for me. There is no need for Darwin right now.

    We are so better off than were our own recent ancestors who endured the Great Depression, which is ill-named. As bleak as the photos of those food lines are, more people died from despair then starvation – from being in line at all.

    What is ahead will not be as visible as empty store shelves. There are people, invisible behind their own walls, now jobless and pacing with anxiety and fear. The shelves in the store will be full, but must these unfortunate Sapiens stand in a line of despair for work, for benefits, for health repair, and maybe for food too? The tips about generosity in this blog are prudent and necessary despair whipping strategies – if you are kind heart-ed. You are.

    Thanks Eliza for the work you put in…. (and your personal confession – I think most of us would slip into those shoes easily). Jerz


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