50 Ways to Make a Difference without Spending a penny!

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Making a difference doesn’t have to cost a lot.  


We all desire to give to others, to make a difference but feel that we can’t because of finances.  


So many people have been laid off of their jobs or have had significant cut backs as to the amount of hours worked (which is the case in my family – my husband is not getting a full 40 hour week and boy does that hurt.) The head says “you can’t afford to give and make a difference” while your heart screams “you can’t afford NOT to give and make a difference!” So, what is a person that has a desire to give BIG (and I’m talking give “Oprah big”) supposed to do when the money isn’t there? Forget about the “BIG” portion of giving and simply do what you can with what you have.


I truly do love to buy things for the sole purpose of giving them away. When my children see things are obviously not for them, they will immediately ask “Who is that for?” because they know that I normally don’t keep things – I give them away.


With my husband’s hours being cut back, I’m still going to give or do something daily to make a difference.


I’m still going to be reminding others to do what you can with what you have…and don’t feel guilty about it!  When finances increase, you will likely increase your giving because you’ll be in the habit of spreading joy to others.


Have fun spreading joy!


Here are some of the ways I’ll be Spreading Joy while the finances are extremely tight!


1. Pass on a book that you’ve enjoyed. Write a note in the front saying what you enjoyed and instruct the next “owner” to pass it on after they have read it.

2. Instead of “googling” when searching – use Good Search and these guys will make a donation to Spreading Joy. (there is a button on the right that will take you there)

3. Donate gently used dvd’s, vhs tapes and video games – I’m sure Spreading Joy can find those that will love to use them.

4. Be Positive today – with the depressing economy, bills falling behind – this can really be tough, but it will encourage those around you and in the process bring joy to yourself.

5. Donate expired coupons to the troops overseas.

6. Thank a Police Officer today (hopefully NOT while you are getting a ticket!)

7. Give time to your spouse – do something together, visit a park, bookstore etc.

8. Donate household items to Spreading Joy to pass along to others in need.

9. Hold a yard sale and donate half of the proceeds.

10. Taking the 30 day challenge? Tell me about it here.

11. Baby sit for a friend/neighbor for free.

12. Serve a meal at a homeless shelter or women’s shelter

13. Encourage our soldiers. Send a free letter here.

14. Mentor someone – have you started your own business? Are you an expert in a certain field? Share that talent!

15. Donate unused craft items to a daycare or elementary school.

16. Turn in those Box Tops for Education – found on Pillsbury items. Keep these, even if you don’t have kids. There is a school near you.

17. Smile at everyone you come in contact with today.

joy is net of love

18. Offer to let someone ahead of you in line.

19. Volunteer in a Nursing home.

20. Donate blood.

21. Donate Plasma – and get paid for it.

22. Organize a book drive – get your neighborhood to donate gently used books. Pass out a flier asking for books – giving instructions to leave them in a bag on the porch letting them know you will pick them up the next week.

23. Turn in your Campbell’s Soup Labels

24. Have a family meal at the table – talk about current events in the family.

25. Give a handwritten note of encouragement.

26. Start a Gratitude Journal – leave it out for others to see as they visit you.

27. Donate gently used magazines to a nursing home

28. <-this has been missing for a year and a half, and NO one has said a thing to me about it. LOLOLOL just realized today 10.10.10 hahhaha. I LOVE it!, Leaving it and thank goodness for bonuses. LAUGH at YOURSELF is #28 :)

29. Call someone who is not feeling well and talk until you make them laugh

30. Volunteer at an animal shelter – play with the animals.

31. Visit with the elderly or someone who can no longer get out as much as they’d like.

32. Pick flowers from your garden and give away.

33. Volunteer for your local church.

34. Give a thank you card to someone who has made a difference in your life.

35. Run errands for a new Mom (or someone that is sick)

36. Pick up trash you see as you are walking on your route.

37. Volunteer to read to a class at your local Elementary school

38. Write a thank you note to your child’s teacher.

39. Seek out a store manager and let them know what an excellent employee your grocery bagger was. (or cashier).

40. Donate gently used clothing.

41. Volunteer at a hospital.

42. Donate your “free items” from the buy one get one free – to a local food pantry.

43. Leave a note hanging in or on your mailbox thanking your mail carrier for always being so dependable!

44. Speak to the elderly you pass – look them in the eye and smile. We tend to forget about the great individuals who paved the way for us.

45. Say Please and Thank you – show sincere appreciation.

46. Go to Church. There are so many churches. When people get discouraged, that is one of the first places they’ll go. You can encourage so many people this way!

47. Make extra chili and cornbread muffins – and take to a neighbor.

48. Bake homemade cookies with items you have in your pantry and share with neighborhood children.

49. Donate extra blankets to a homeless shelter.

50. Give a basket of home grown veggies.

51. (a bonus!) Host a game night with your family – eat dessert first! Turn off cell phones (ok – kids, you can leave yours on….) but spend time laughing together playing games!



There you have it – 50 ways to make a difference without spending a single penny.

If you loved this article then you’ll absolutely LOVE our book – Spreading Joy Daily!  Easy to read with ideas of inspiration for every day!  Men, Women and Children can do these things and impact others!  Click Here to Check it Out

Everyone can absolutely make a difference! The real question is – will you?
How are you Spreading Joy? Do you have any other ideas of making a difference without spending any money? If so, please share them in the comments! (that would count a too – because we all need as many ideas as we can get!)


Below is a PDF version of this post you can easily print. Enjoy!


If this has helped you, then check out ANOTHER 50 Ways to Make a Difference Without Spending a Penny. You will LOVE it!
Have fun making a difference!
hugs yall


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  1. Jolie B Studios says:

    A most beautiful list, thank you for scattering this piece of joy!

  2. Very nice article and these activities are what life is suppose to be about. In these times we need to draw together, help each other and give what we can when we can. More people need to read and act upon the thoughts in this article, I know I will. Thank you… Peace!!

  3. @Jolie B Studios – thank you for stopping by! I'm glad you found joy in this list! Spreading Joy -It is such an easy and wonderful thing.

    @Mike – You are correct dear sir – imagine if everyone we knew would spend some time doing a few things for others every day…the world would be such a different place.
    Thank you for stopping by!

    I hope you'll both check back often!

  4. Thanks for this list! It’s nice to have some brainstorming material when it comes to looking for ways to serve people!

  5. Spreading Joy says:

    Thank you for stopping by and also for the link to this article on your website!! I love the title you gave it – Loving for Less.

    You are correct in that many people that do not have children simply throw away box tops for education. They live near a school that could benefit from them. So, I hope everyone that sees your article and these comments will take a second and rip those off and put in a special place until they can drop them off by the nearest school. It is literally money in the trash if they don’t!!

    Thank you, again! Love the concept – becoming Last – as YOU know, the last shall be first!! *HUGS* for what you do!!

  6. Dear Marie…..I knew I liked you for a reason!!!! I think it’s because you’re a lot like me!!!!
    I also am a kind tender hearted person that would love for everyone in this world to be happy. I would love to see more respect, and compassion in this world.
    In my writings on the Mazukin Adventures I try to show the importance of loving one another – being kind, respectful and showing children how important family, friends and togetherness is.
    I hopw that some how we can help each other out by spreading the word. I read your articles on your site – and it’s simply AWESOME!
    I am going to have a mom’s forum…maybe we can incorporate you into it!!! I will also post comments on Mazey’s MySpace and let them know about your site there I reach about 8,000 moms there. I hope to hear from you we can talk further.
    You’re an awesome person, I am very grateful that I have gotten the chance to get to know you and be friends…

    Lots of hugs


    • Spreading Joy says:

      Kat @mazukins
      I have ALWAYS loved Mazey and will be honored to help you in any way that I can. Children has so much power and yet many do not even realize it. They can make huge changes – just by being their cute little selves!!

      Looking forwards to spending more time & working with you!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. What a great list! Thanks for sharing :)

  8. Samantha says:

    You are so COOL! Great ideas all and I’ll work down the list. :)

  9. Thank you so much for this great list.
    I have a passion for helping people any way I can even
    If it’s just a smile or a laugh, just something to make their
    day better. You are so kind, have a great day. Maybe we can connect on skype? I would love to talk with you sometime.
    Tske care :)

    • Spreading Joy says:


      That would be awesome to chat with you. Having the passion and actually helping are such wonderful things. Many miss out on simple acts of joy because they feel it doesn’t make a difference. Even when I’m answering phones – or calling someone, I try to make the experience as pleasant as possible. You just never know.

      Thank you – you taking the time to stop by and comment is awesome.


  10. Spreading Joy says:

    @Samantha @Alicia thank you both for stopping by and checking it out. I hope this list has inspired you and that your heart will soar as you work on some of the things listed here!

    {{{HUGS}}} yall

  11. I’ve started my 30 days of spreading joy and am posting on my website! Thanks for the ideas! Hope you have a great day! God Bless!
    Sherry recently posted..Truly blessed!

  12. I have found a way to spread some joy and peace of mind too. When I am in heavy traffic or situations where people are trying to get in lines to exit etc., I am the one who lets lots of people in, over, whatever the situation requires… feels good and I get lots of smiles and waves. I always hope that they will return the favor to other drivers.

  13. Spreading Joy says:

    I love this idea! I do the same and love it. AND I’m with you! I always hope that they will remember it and be a little more generous when someone else needs out and they will let them too.

    Thank you for sharing this!!

    hope your new year is off to a fantabulous start!!


  14. Great list! I am also spreading the news/give/joy as it does not take a lot to help others. I appreciate othersmwho alsomfind that the seemingly small stuff can be BIG stuff to others! Keep it going and you may find some other ideas on the blog that can spread lots of joy

    • Spreading Joy says:

      Thanks Jacquline – I appreciate you taking the time to encourage others here. I am looking forward to learning more about you and your efforts at 365give!!



  15. I spread joy by donating meals to starving children around the world.

  16. H.Dieter Schmidt says:

    Thanks Marie,iam warry impressed, i like to give all i have to people there have nothing,not ifen a thirt or a drink,behabs a penny,that makes me so sad,that i found to give it all,gives me happyness, Joy and peace,”Jesus loves us so much,that he gives his live for all of us.”And this is the most braches gift of all.God bless you so big,with a huge hug from me,your friend.H.Dieter

  17. Great list.Thnks for your sharing.This is an awesome way to make a huge difference!
    van025 recently posted..do college students go on vacation with their family

  18. WONDERFUL ideas! Thank you for encouraging us spread the JOY far & wide!

  19. Crissy Flegel says:

    hey there and thank you for your info – I have certainly picked up something new from right here. I did however expertise some technical points using this website, since I experienced to reload the website many times previous to I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your hosting is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will very frequently affect your placement in google and can damage your quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I’m adding this RSS to my email and can look out for a lot more of your respective fascinating content. Make sure you update this again soon..

  20. These are just so great! Also wanted to share a great little fact that I heard recently: when you smile at someone even if they do not smile back; the place in the brain where smiles originate actually lights up, spreading a little bit of joy to the person! So, your smile not spreads only joy to your own soul but also to the soul of others!! Such great work you are doing here. Glad I ran across it on Twitter!

  21. Wow!
    First of all,God bless you…most times people think when you want to give it has to be something really big and expensive before people will appreciate it,but no,the little things count the most because the are always available to us!thanks for the great post, these ideas can effortlessly give YOU and the PERSON your given JOY,keep Spreading Joy dear…
    olabode oluwatosin recently posted..Stop COPYING PEOPLE And Start COPYING JESUS…

  22. Great post and tips! I think we all can and do something, as often as possible, to make this world a better place! I started a non-profit, The Tweet It Forward Fund with cash given to me, to give to others! I give out random gift cards for people who may need a boost of encouragement or support. It is phenomenal how grateful people are and how they turn around when they can and pay it forward! I also have been greatly influenced by yearofgiving.org, a previously unemployed man who gave away $10 a day while he was seeking work! Everyone can check out the annual World Wide Day of Giving here: http://www.facebook.com/events/466734986674879/

    We can all make a difference!

  23. We have a side street across from our house where an officer frequently sits to catch those speeding down our road. (Amazing how often he takes off after people, one after another!) Last Easter I had made cake pops. Before we left the house to go to our family dinner, I took one across the street & gave to him telling him Happy Easter… wearing my bunny ears and all! He looked at me like I had 13 heads but I’m sure it gave him something to go home and tell his family about at the end of his shift.
    Mimzy Wimzy recently posted..Dinner Dilemma: Solved!

  24. THIS post is linked up with 208 others amazing thrifty posts over at

    check it out!
    Marie recently posted..God Promised

  25. This article is listed at the following sites: please stop by and visit all the other great links there!

    Spreading Joy recently posted..God Promised

  26. Peggy Wimmer Vader Armstrong says:

    I read this on facebook today, then clicked on your link to read more. You are truly an awesome person! I believe in all of the things you have listed, and this is what I posted when I “Shared” it with the “Public”. Thank you! I do so many of the things you have listed above, and my oldest son asked me one day, “Mom, how is it that you can make a cashier that was not smiling when we got to the register, leave her laughing as we are done checking out, with everything that you have gone through in your life?”. I told him, “I believe in trying to touch others lives, by being able to make them laugh, even though others may be having a bad day, I like to try and brighten as many lives as I can. Whether it’s by making them laugh, holding a door open for someone, talking to that elderly person who I may be passing some where, even jumping in front of them where there is are automatic door openers saying, “Let me get that door for you”, then having them laugh. It’s the simple and easy things in life that make an impact on others, and brightens even the smallest part of their day”. The following is what I posted on FB, thank you for being you! :)

    This is an “Awesome Share”, please check it out! So many ways to get donations for good causes by simply using a different search engine instead of “Google”, and many more good ideas. Also “Because” schools would love to do this, ask you child’s school if they would like to write letters to soldiers in rehab at “Walter Reid Memorial Hospital”. The address can be found easily by doing a search, do it by using the search engine called “Good Search” and on the right hand side of their page is a place to click on “Making a donation to “Spreading Joy” where the Good Search” will make a donation just for using their search engine, instead of Google. I had my sons whole school, all the teachers wanted to have their classes write letters to the soldiers. I also included some cards from “Dollar Tree”, some humorous, some get well cards and even some jokes that I had. Just think of how many lives and how many soldiers lives will be brightened by receiving these cards and letters, not to mention how the children, and even myself, had such an AWESOME feeling for having known that “You” can make a difference in someone else’s life. “Pay it forward” and “Pass it on”, some of the smallest things can bring so much joy to others by simple acts of random kindness. :) Please check out this website, it’s very cool at the number of items listed, as well as simply holding a door open for someone going in, or coming out of a building, smiling at that cashier when you check out, talking to that elderly person that you may pass in a store, Post Office, etc.. Things that I live by, and also have taught my two sons to do as well. Thank you for this share Maribeth Terry Richards?! :) Simple acts of random kindness can bring so much joy to those who may need a smile, a door held open for them, a kind word, and so much more!
    Peggy Armstrong

    • Thank you for this! I’m glad you clicked over to read more! I hope that you also clicked the link for the 2nd batch of ANOTHER 50 ways to make a difference.

      Thank you for the kind words of encouragement! I love that you are showing your son how little things can add up to be HUGE!

      Thank you for sharing this on FB as well! I know others will enjoy it!

      I hope that you’ll continued to be encouraged by our facebook posts from http://facebook.com/spreadingjoycorp

      Thanks for taking the time to share, and then to come over here and let me know! And…thank you for the smile today and have fun spreading joy daily!
      marie recently posted..Galaxy Nextbook Tablet

  27. Thank you so much for sharing this outstanding resource full of free & easy ways to make a difference with us at Make A Difference Mondays! Love what you are doing with your site here!!

  28. Great ideas! Love #45.
    Nisha recently posted..Day 1422: Being me unashamedly

  29. Hi!
    Tried number 13. The link for letters to the troops is not working. Do you have another link that will work? Thanks!

  30. Such great ideas! I’m always looking ways to serve with my daughter I homeschool. Thanks for sharing!
    Amy Dowling recently posted..Ask Amy! {25 Random Facts or Thoughts About The Life From Home (LFH) Author}

  31. Great list! I do offer extra big thank yous and compliments to customer service people especially if service was both exceptional and my child(ren)’s behavior(s) not so much.

  32. Loved these ideas. I shared this post on Pinterest and in my church’s FB group the other day.
    Jelli recently posted..Rustic Chocolate Picnic Cake

  33. I love your list! Can’t wait to try some of them out today!

  34. Love your list! Can’t wait to try a few of them today!

  35. These are some really thoughtful ideas. I did have a thought about your police officer comment though. What if you DID say thank you while getting a ticket? What a witness that would be! I really struggle with driving slowly. We live in the middle of nowhere, and I’m really bad at spending 30 minutes sitting in the car. I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago.
    Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard recently posted..Celebrating the Days of Summer

  36. This is a GREAT list! Thanks for taking the time to create them!
    Roxanne recently posted..Teaching your Children to Pray

  37. Mother Teresa sure knew about joy, didn’t she? This is an exceptional list. Thank you for spreading the news about Good Search. I wasn’t aware of them.
    Pamela recently posted..Finding the Holy in the Mundane

  38. giving to others is SO inexpensive :D
    Andi recently posted..Today, You Can Save Over $11 When Shopping!

  39. What good ideas. We have no reason to say we don’t have any money to help someone. These are things that anyone can do. So practical!
    Mary Collins recently posted..Nowhere for Christmas

  40. Love it! I’ve been doing the minimalism thing for a couple of years now and I think your list definitely reflects a lot of those same ideas — simplicity, spending money and energy on experiences rather than material things, challenging the American dream. Awesome!
    Jodi Spencer recently posted..Where is God when I hurt?

  41. Love these ideas. :)
    Melanie recently posted..Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness

  42. that is an amazing list! I had never heard of the donating expired coupons one… I’m going to look into that!


  43. I’ve just been doing the first one on your list. While I was organising and decluttering my Study I found some books that I have really enjoyed and knew my friend would enjoy them too. She is a great reader but well money is not plentiful at the moment so off these books went to her to bring her a little more joy. Every time I see a free ebook I think she might like I send her a little message too so that now she will rarely have to spend anything on books but still have loads to read.
    Sandra @ Sandra’s Ark recently posted..The Spider in the Hall! – A Dose of Encouragement 81

  44. This is a great list! i was raised on the idea that making a difference is essential. I have done some on this list, but I mist do more

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