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12 Inexpensive Ways to Financially Make Someone’s Day

My husband and I recently bought a fixer-upper. During the ongoing renovations, a really cool thing happened. My sister-in-law showed up with three ready-to-eat freezer meals. All we had to do was pop one in the oven, chow down, and get back to work. What cost her the price of a few ingredients and some time saved us a small fortune on running to Jimmy John’s or dining out. Her simple act of generosity and thoughtfulness prompted me to assemble a list of other ways to financially make someone’s day.

Why Should We Give?

I’ll let these two gentlemen take this one.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston S. Churchill

“Your decisions from today forward will affect not only your life, but your entire legacy.” – Dave Ramsey

In the wake of the Orlando tragedy on June 12th, the nation watched as individuals and organizations volunteered their time and resources to help the recovery efforts. Countless people stood in line to donate blood while Target brought them food and water, and Chick-Fil-A fired up its kitchen on a Sunday and brought sandwiches and ice tea.

This goes much deeper than simply handing over a few dollars and sandwiches to a noble cause. That might be the action, but the more I study personal finance, the more I realize there is a reason it’s called “personal.” Money is simply a tool. It’s our behavior with money that moves and shakes our world.

So, work hard, turn a profit, invest, and provide for your family. Just be sure to double check your hands from time to time and see if they’re clenched into fists or open to the world.

On that note, here are a few small giving ideas that can make a big splash in someone else’s life.

12 Inexpensive Ways to Financially Make Someone’s Day

The following list is made up of real-life examples I have witnessed either by word of mouth or as the direct recipient. Nothing beats being handed a receipt and the cashier saying, “You’re all paid up. Someone’s got you covered today.”

financially make someone's day1.  Pay for someone’s meal at a restaurant.

This might be my most expensive example, depending on how much you’re willing to give. But even treating your friends to ice cream isn’t that costly and can brighten their day. I mean, it is ice cream, after all. In fact, I’ll volunteer to go first. Two scoops of chocolate chip cookie dough, please.

2. Pay for the coffee behind you at Starbucks.

I see this one the most often, so it’s definitely getting a mention here. I also see people pay for someone else in a fast food drive-thru.

3. Cook a meal during a time of transition or loss.

My sister-in-law gave us some easy meals while we moved. A very popular option is to bring a meal after the birth of a baby. What about some less common options? Here are a few I’ve also witnessed that take just a few dollars to financially make someone’s day, and can speak volumes to someone who is struggling.

  • After a medical diagnosis
  • After the loss of a loved one
  • After a miscarriage
  • While a family member is in the hospital or a newborn is in the NICU
  • While someone is on medical bedrest

These are all real examples of ways to support the people around you.

One word of caution: Ask first if they want a meal; never simply show up at their door.

financially make someone's day4. Pay for someone’s snacks via Redbox.

I saw this circulating social media a while back and thought it was cool. Slip a $5 bill into a Redbox DVD when you return it. Add a sticky note that says “Enjoy your movie night.”

One word of caution: You may want to secure the money and note in a place that is away from the center of the DVD case to prevent it from covering up the sensor. I’ve not heard any reports of malfunctions happening; I just have a smart engineering friend who made this observation when he heard about the idea. Listen to your smart engineering friends, you guys.

I think you’re starting to see my theme. If you want to financially make someone’s day, one great way is to feed them!

5. Leave a gas gift card at the pump.

If you can find a good place where it’ll be visible and won’t get blown away, leave a gas card at the pump. Or hand it off to the customer next to you. Talk about shock value.

6. Double your tip.

Servers work their tails off. I still remember how my feet throbbed after a busy shift waiting tables. If your server did a fantastic job, make his or her day by doubling your tip. I guarantee they’ll remember the gesture for a long time.

financially make someone's day7. Volunteer to babysit.

If your friends have children, can you watch them for an evening while mom and dad go on a long-overdue date? Or perhaps it can be while they run some errands? Or just nap? (The parent(s), I mean.) Believe me, free babysitting is a major way to financially make someone’s day.

8. Loan out the popcorn bucket.

One evening, when our good friends volunteered to watch our two children so that my husband and I could watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the theater, because I am a MAJOR nerd and proud of it, they handed us a bucket right before we walked out the door. To our surprise, it was a refillable popcorn bucket from the movie theater we were visiting. Lying folded inside were a few dollars to cover the cost of refilling the bucket. Classy.

9. Toss a gift card in your next greeting card.

Perhaps there is someone in your life who is going through a rough patch. Perhaps you want to say thanks for a good deed by a co-worker that could easily go overlooked. Perhaps you just want to brighten someone’s day. Even a $5 gift card with a personal message is a way make a difference in someone’s life.

financially make someone's day10. Share your entrepreneur friends’ products, blog posts, giveaways, etc.

Do you know anyone who posts info about their business on social media? One completely free way to show them some love is to interact with and share their posts. Any likes, comments, pins, retweets, shares, etc. go a long way in the world of an online entrepreneur. It’s like sending a virtual high five.

Psst! Derek didn’t ask me to do this, but if you’re enjoying this content and want to show Life and My Finances some love, then jump over and follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

11. Leave a review.

Did you go to a restaurant that you enjoyed? Did you read a good book? Have you recently taken an online course that improved your business? One tremendous way to make a difference is to leave a review. It’s free and helps the business as well as potential clients who want honest feedback about the product offered.

12. Public shoutout.

The cousin to a review is a shoutout. Did you have a “Wow” experience, recently? Try tagging the company or individual on social media in a public shoutout. I see people doing this after receiving a hair cut they love or a photo session that turned out beautifully.

What’s one shoutout you could give in your life?

Your Turn: Being generous doesn’t have to break the bank. Share one way people can financially make someone’s day in the comments below!

Battle of the Mind Money


My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Meals during hard times are so wonderful. New parents should not have to worry about feeding themselves for at least two weeks, in my opinion. This is a lovely list. Thank you for making it.

    • They definitely are, ZJ. My husband and I were so grateful and fortunate to receive meals after we had our children. Someone roasted a whole chicken with cooked potatoes and carrots and put it in a large disposable container. That was a magical experience, haha. Thank you for your kind feedback on my list.

  2. These are so thoughtful. Thanks for the reminder to look outside ourselves and truly see others.

    • I’m honored that you appreciate my post, Julie. Glad to spread the message. 🙂

  3. These are all very good suggestions to financially make someone’s day.
    Here is one I’ve used in the past and also benefited from: While grocery shopping, leave coupons on products that you either use or know cost a lot. I have four cats and sometimes it can cost a pretty penny to buy their food, litter, treats and flea meds. Someone where I regularly shop leaves pet supply coupons. It makes my day a little brighter when I can save a little cash unexpectedly. I also do this when I come across a coupon getting ready to expire. I’ll leave it on the item for someone who can use it.
    Leaving coupons is a small but meaningful act of kindness and feels good for all involved!

  4. Great article. Enjoyed it.

  5. Great list!

    I always try to donate to friends who are fundraising for marathons, etc, even if a small amount.

    • That’s an awesome way to help your friends out! Glad to hear it, NZ!

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