How to Show Others You Care (Without Money)

Woman working at a table


Tis the season to be giving! From the familiar sound of a bell ringing at a grocery store to the warm fuzzy feeling that settles in around the season, many of us find ourselves in a bighearted mood come the holidays.

Unfortunately for our wallets, many of us also find ourselves a little strapped for cash between gift-giving, holiday meals, and end-of-year bills. December can be a notoriously expensive time of year!

That shouldn’t deter us from paying it forward, though! There are many ways that we can still give without putting our bank account on the line.

Think about your capacity!

Just as with considering your financial situation, it’s important to also consider your physical abilities, emotional availability, and calendar space, as well. It’s never a good idea to pay it forward at your own expense.

The first step is going to always be thinking about where you are now and what you’re capable of giving. It’s not going to be helpful for anyone if you commit to volunteering ten hours a week but are only available for two. That commitment ultimately won’t get met, you’ll feel burnt out and likely guilty, too.

The same goes with considering your emotional space. The world has been riddled with stress for everyone and that only gets worse around the holidays. If you know you are worn thin emotionally, looking for a way to pay it forward that demands a lot of your emotional bandwidth will be not only taxing but possibly harmful to your mental health.

Remember, you come first!

So think about these things as you consider how you want to pay it forward this year.


The Lovet Planner

Your Time

How much free time do you have? Look at your calendar. Make sure it’s updated with work, family events, holiday parties, anything that’s going to get your time.

Now think about how much down time you need. Even the most outgoing among us need a little time to ourselves, and this is a season that can demand a lot out of our time. Consider and even write onto your calendar areas that will be blocked off just for you.

Now that you’ve gotten everything up to date, see what you have left. Not only how much time but where that time falls. Are you free on weekends? Afternoons? Early mornings every other Thursday? This can help you figure out what some good areas might be for you to give.

If you are super busy and you know it - or after looking at your calendar you realize 24 hours is way less time than you thought - stay with us! There are ways to pay it forward that don’t require big time commitments, as well.

Your Physical Capacity

Our bodies aren’t all built the same. We all have different physical capacities, and that’s a wonderful thing! It can also be a challenging thing. Either way, it is a very real and important consideration to make when thinking about ways to pay it forward.

Think about what you’re able to safely and comfortably do physically. If you’re someone who is able to be on their feet, carry things, and/or move around quite a bit, that can help determine what kinds of giving activities might be a good fit for you.

If your someone who has a harder time getting around, struggles with low energy, or even needs to take a nap at a certain time a day, these are all things to think about.

Your Emotional Capacity

Not only are our bodies unique, so are our minds. Thankfully a lot more attention and care has been given lately to mental health and its care. However, even though giving can be seen as a “feel-good” activity, it can take an emotional and mental toll.

How are you feeling? No, really. How are you feeling? Think about where you are mentally and emotionally. Are you drained? Stressed? Joyful? At peace? Dreading seeing those family members you try to avoid the rest of the year? Whatever it may be, take into account everything about how you’re feeling and the things this holiday season that could be a factor in affecting your mental health and your mood. 

Try writing a list of feelings and thoughts you’re experiencing now. Then add situations and things coming up that might affect your emotional capacity. Once you’ve done that, look it over and take stock of where you are. This will help you determine what could be a good giving fit that won’t leave you emotionally drained and mentally weary.

Ways to Pay it Forward Money-Free

Now that we’ve talked and taken time to really look at how you’re doing, let’s look at how you can give in ways that will fit where you are in your life now.


Volunteers at a food bank


A big way to pay it forward is to do so with your time and presence. And that in a big way is done through volunteering!

Many nonprofits and charitable organizations work even harder through the holiday season, which means they’ll need more help. This is where you can step in! By offering your time to a cause that matters to you, you are directly helping to improve things in your world.

Food bank: According the the USDA, 38 million people in America right now are food insecure, meaning they don’t have reliable access to enough quality and affordable food.

During the holidays, it’s easy to take those big meals for granted when we aren’t wondering where our next meal will come from or if there will be enough food on the table.

One way to volunteer is at your local food bank! During the winter season, thankfully there are numerous food drives which also means more food to be sorted and distributed.

Additionally, you can opt to run food drives, fundraisers, or bring food in to donate.

Food is one of the major things we need, and volunteering at a food bank can be a real game changer for a lot of people.

Animal shelter: If you’re like us, you love animals full stop. From dogs to cats to fine feathered friends and anything in between, animals are second children and we want to see good things happen for them.

According to the ASPCA, about 6.3 million pets enter shelters every year and around the holidays things can get especially hectic.

Volunteering at an animal shelter can include a wide variety of activities: walking and washing dogs, spending time with cats, and even stuffing envelopes and helping at adoption events. If you call your local shelter, they will certainly help direct you into their area of the most need.

And if you’re feeling really open-hearted, you can even think about fostering a pet. Many times shelters will provide the supplies you’d need, plus you’ll create more space to help with overcrowding.

Overall, volunteering with a shelter is a wonderful way to pay it forward that has some very immediate and gratifying paybacks as well.


Clothes on a rack

Donating Items

In the days when we’re all trying to Mari Kondo our homes, we may find we have a lot more stuff than we thought we did. One great way of both paying it forward as well as reducing clutter in your home is to donate gently used items you no longer need.

Clothes and household goods: A lot of smaller things that are good to donate can go into a box or back and straight to your nearest donation drop-off location. 

You’ll want to make sure everything is clean and nothing is broken! After all, you wouldn’t want something old, smelly, and broken, so why would anyone else?

It also is helpful to organize your items by category. Put clothes with clothes, books with books, and so forth. This will make things easier on those who will be later sorting your treasures, and it can help keep things from breaking or getting messed up during the donation trip.

When you drop off your goods, make sure to pick up a receipt then save it for tax donation purposes. And when you get back home, you’ve not only done something to help pay it forward, you’ve made some more space for yourself, as well!

Larger appliances: Many larger items like refrigerators and stoves can also be donated. For items like this, you can actually call and schedule a time to have donation sites come pick your old appliance up.

Again, you want to make sure it’s working and as clean as you can get it. Unhook everything before the pickup arrives, and that’s it!

Specialty items: Did you know you can donate old glasses? A lot of glasses shops will take old glasses complete with your old lenses. They are then given to organizations that put them into the hands of people who can’t afford to get to the optometrist or to buy new glasses.

Likewise there are many specialty items that can often be reused in surprising and wonderful ways! We recommend doing an internet search before throwing something into the trash, because there is a good chance it could be used to do some real good.


One hand giving a paper heart to another

Acts of Kindness

A lot of us think about being around friends and family this time of year, but that’s not the case for everyone. There are many who struggle both around the holidays as well as the rest of the year.

One way of paying it forward in a more close and immediate way is to check in on those around you. Perhaps see if an older neighbor needs their dog walked or drop a meal off to someone you know who may be struggling.

If you’re not sure how to reach out, one option is to post on social media to friends and family saying that you are looking to offer help or an act of kindness in some way. 

Paying it forward doesn’t have to be a big, grand gesture. In fact, many times it is small, simple acts that we can do every day. Performing an act of kindness for someone nearby not only can help fill a need, but let them know they aren’t alone.

Start a Fundraiser

If you want to pay it forward in a way that does deal with money but you don’t have a lot to spare, a fundraiser could be the way to go.

Sometimes charitable organizations will already have a fundraiser going around the holidays that you can share. There are also a lot of websites now that are geared toward crowdfunding and fundraising, such as GoFundMe that are easy to use to set your own fundraiser up.

If you think about a cause that you really care about and know you want to raise money for them, this could be a great option.

Make sure to research your cause to find the organization that you want to donate to. Then go to a fundraising site, start your fundraiser, and share it. It’s that easy!

Whatever you choose to do this holiday season and however you want to pay it forward, there is a way for you to do it while honoring yourself, your mind, your time, and your bank account. You’ll not only make the world a better place, odds are you’ll feel a little better, too.

And speaking of making you feel better, one surprising way to consider doing this is through the Lovet Self Care Planner! We know it’s important to fill your own cup before filling any others and self care is one of the most vital ways to do that. What you may not have known is that this amazing tool doesn’t just have self care ideas for you but for others, too! Because we know how it feels to make someone’s day.

The Lovet Self Care Planner

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Instagram: @casuallystyledgirl

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