Does Frugal Living Mean Frugal Giving?

Having Baby Grasshopper has made me feel more plugged into the World. For better or worse, I was a tourist of sorts as a single gal, but mommy-me feels invested in this Earth and my community.

Grayscale Photo of Human Aligning Fingers

I assume this is some sort of biological urge, but it doesn’t seem like a particularly bad one. So, I don’t fight it. As I find myself sniffling and reaching for tissues as a particular injustice catches my attention, I also find myself reaching for my checkbook. I want to help in more concrete ways than a Facebook Like or a Twitter Heart. In other words, I’ve been putting my money where my heart is.

But, our new financial goals have got me thinking about how much I should give, and if there are non-monetary ways in which I could make an equivalent impact. I do not think that extreme saving, and doing good through giving should be mutually exclusive. In order to test the theory, I went on a hunt to find ways in which I could do both:

  • Save up.

    Save a little bit of money every week or month, and make a large donation every year.

  • Give time.

    I have been thinking about doing this with Baby G in tow. In addition to giving of my time instead of my pocketbook, I think this will be a good parenting moment. Here, in fact, is a handy article from the magazine Parents suggesting ways in which you and your little minion can make a combined difference. There’s a new Ronald McDonald House in town and I plan to check in with them to determine if there is something we can do to help. Alternatively, I like the idea of visiting a nursing home, or attending story time at the local children’s hospital. Baby G is rather rambunctious though and I fear she would cause mayhem in a medical environment.

    Let me know if you have any ideas.

  • Stop a service.

    Consider stopping a service like Spotify (you can get a lot of the same benefits from the free version while you rough it), or Cable television (see my post on why Cable television ought to be a thing of the past anyways, and give your monthly savings to charity instead.

  • Donate things.

    I already do some of this by donating to the YWCA and Goodwill, but have recently started to sell my used clothes and other items on eBay. This has left me feeling a little guilty. As an alternative, I was considering sending my used clothes to an online consignment store like ThredUp.

    According tot heir website, they donate a percentage of their proceeds to a number of charities. I recently sent my first bag of used clothes to them, but am waiting to hear back from them. I will keep you in the loop as the process takes its course, and let you know what I think about the savings and the do-gooding.

  • Shop effectively.

    Buy things from charitable shops. Or buy products from companies that support the same values you wish to support. Put your money where your mouth is!

    Many thanks to the blogs “Almost Frugal” ( and “The Balance” for these inspirations (

Yesterday, I spoke about how much money Mr. Grasshopper and I have determined is appropriate for holiday, birthday, and anniversary gifts this year. ( After mulling the issue of charitable giving and imminent holiday spending, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and asked Mr. Grasshopper for the entire amount as a lump sum that I can donate to the charity of my choice. I think it will be far more satisfying than buying whatever baubles I was otherwise eyeing.  For when I do want to give cash money though, I am often plagued by deciding who will best use my donations. After much googling (I use it as a verb. You might as well get used to it now.), I have determined that GuideStar ( gives you the most thorough insight into various charities. Focusing on financial health, accountability and transparency, Charity Navigator applies an analysis to each of its charities to come up with its star ratings. Once you drill down based on the factors that are close to your heart, it is much easier to find legitimate charities that will benefit from your patronage.

Here's a good New York Times article that tells you "How to Choose a    Charity Wisely."

One of the more attractive aspects of Early Retirement will be – I hope – to use more of my time to make the World a marginally better place. I don’t know if this will take the form of participating more fully in Baby G’s school, volunteering as a worker bee for a local charity, or sitting on the Board of a non-profit organization. Perhaps, with all that time at my beck and call I shan’t have to choose, and could do all three. But as I mentioned in my very first post, the most titillating thing about Early Retirement and Financial Independence is the freedom is can give you to try out anything – even if that’s just being a better you.


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