Make a little money stretch generously

When you don't have a lot of spare cash here's five ways to make your money stretch while still maintaining a generous spirit.

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When money is tight we might be tempted to pull back and focus inwards but really the one sure way to make money stretch further is to be generous.

I learnt this from my grandpa, who was a champion lawn bowler with a big round belly and a friendly face.

He used to give my brother $50 for washing his car and me $20 for watching!

The fact he was generous is the thing I remember most about him. In my wallet I have his bowling pin with his name ‘Ross King’ on it and it reminds me each time I open my wallet to be generous as well.

You don’t have to give a lot; we can all make a big difference by giving a little – often.

So here’s some tips on how to make money stretch, when you don’t necessarily have much to spare:

1. Tip, often
Tip when you appreciate something, not just at restaurants which is standard unless there’s bad service or bad food, but try throwing 10 or 20 cents in the jar at your local café, every time. The clink in the jar shows your appreciation and it all adds up for the staff without making much of a difference to you.

2. Give to charities, lots of them
Support charities, even if you’ve got just $1 to give. When friends are fundraising for a fun run or a cause that matters to them give them something, even $5 and compliment them for their efforts. Giving something small is better than giving nothing at all.

3. Spend on entertaining, in a simple way
With the proliferation of cooking shows some are now frightened to host a lunch or a dinner party thinking they won’t be able to cook anything good enough, but have you noticed how much adults like to hang around the kid’s food table feasting on old-fashioned sandwiches, party pies and sausage rolls?

Entertaining can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be. Opening your home, preparing a meal and gathering people together is an act of generosity that can stay in people’s memories forever – certainly money well spent.

4. Buy thoughtful gifts, namely books
When money is tight buying gifts can be a drain financially and may even turn you off going to a party. Books have remained a cheap and accessible gift. There’s a book for every person – just ask at your local bookstore and they’ll find you something. With a thoughtful inscription it’s a gift that is sure to be appreciated – and last.

5. Forgo re-selling and re-invest instead, in charities
Rather than passing down old clothes and toys to friends or trying to make something back by re-selling, pass them on to charities instead.

They undoubtedly need it more and your original investment can extend to another family giving it a whole new life.

When people talk about making money stretch they usually cover all the usual things: buying in bulk, freezing food, booking holidays in advance, eating-in, mending clothes and all that.

I do those too but they don’t necessarily make you feel good, in fact it can feel the opposite – you can feel poor and resentful. Giving is a completely different story.

The social researcher, Hugh Mackay, in his book titled The Good Life – What Makes a Life Worth Living? talks of how we can live a ‘good’ life as opposed to a ‘happy’ one – which is invariably elusive.

He concludes, a good life is not the sum of our security, wealth, status, postcode or career success but rather our capacity for selflessness, the quality of our relationships and our willingness to connect with others.

Of course there are many ways we can give. We can give our time, our skills or love, but there’s money too and perhaps to give some of it away actually makes for a life worth living, and dare I say – a good life.

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