How to Show You Care without Breaking the Bank

Injured Piggy Bank WIth CrutchesWe all like to feel loved — and we like our loved ones to feel loved. At times, though, it can seem as though showing you care goes hand-in-hand with spending money. Whether it’s buying an expensive present, or whether it’s helping pay the rent, showing you care can get really expensive, really fast.

But do you really need to spend a lot of money to “prove” that you care? Of course not! Here are some ways to show you care for someone without breaking the bank:

Listen

Active listening takes effort. It’s not just about hearing someone else; it’s about truly listening and trying to understand. One of the best ways you can show you care is by listening to someone else. I realized this one day when it occurred to me that I wasn’t a very good listener while I was reading. Yes, I could repeat back the essentials of what my husband or son told me when they finished, but I wasn’t truly engaged.

After this realization, I began putting aside my book or closing the computer when a loved one wanted to speak with me. Reducing distractions and focusing attention on the speaker shows that you are listening, and that you are truly interested in that person. No, I don’t always care about whatever minutiae is going into my son’s latest LEGO creation. But when I pay attention to him while he is talking about it, it shows that I care about him. I don’t need to buy my son a bunch of things for him to feel loved; I just need to truly listen to him for a few minutes, giving him my undivided attention.

Thoughtful Gifts

Even when you give gifts, there is no reason to spend a bunch of money. The thought really is what counts — when you take the time to provide something that truly applies to the recipient. Thoughtful gifts don’t have to be expensive. However, they should reflect what’s important to the recipient. If you can provide something that’s tailored to the recipient, or that you know he or she can use, that’s a good way to show you care. It means you’ve paid attention and you are “in tune” with what the recipient will really enjoy. These truly thoughtful gifts are often simple and inexpensive, but show that you’ve considered the matter, and that you want to give something meaningful. There is no substitute for this.

Share Your Time and Talents

In many cases we might have time available, but not a lot of money. If this is your situation, you can show that you care by offering time and talents. This is especially true when it comes to the wider community. You don’t need to give a large amount of money to show that you care about your area. You can give your time, volunteering as needed, or you can offer your talents, providing work gratis for organizations that need help.

I’ve also been willing to help my friends and neighbors with my time by watching children when someone needs to go to a job interview, or go to the doctor. There are times when the service you can give is more valuable the money. Plus, the investment of time shows that you are engaged in something. It really is often easier to just write a check for something and be done. To actually engage and give of time and talent often requires a bigger sacrifice. People who truly value you and understand this will recognize that you willingness to share your time and talents is a mark of how much you care.

Helping Out in Other Ways

You can also show you care by helping out in other ways. When we lived in Utah, we had college student relatives near us. They often came for dinner (and went home with leftovers). The simple act of having our home open to others let them know we cared, and it didn’t cost much extra to make a bigger dinner.

Other ways to help might include offering rides to someone without a car, providing a place for someone to stay until they can find a job, or keeping an eye out for applicable opportunities. Just connecting someone you know with a job prospect can show you care, and it won’t cost you any money.

When showing that you care, think outside the box. These meaningful actions often show you care better than a fistful of dollars ever could.

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Ease the Pedal to the Metal: Gas saving Tips for your next road trip

Tiny Car #1Are you planning to hit the road for your next vacation? Road trips are great if you don’t mind long drives, bugs on your grille and the occasional snoring of one of your passengers. How you drive affects the overall budget of your trip because aside from your accommodations, fuel is probably the other major thing you have to consider in allocating your vacation fund. Save money on gas and add it to your fun budget by following these tried and tested fuel saving tips.

Drive a Fuel Efficient Car

OK, this is pretty obvious, but if you plan to go on a road trip in your 25 year old Toyota, you may as well scrap the whole trip. Older cars burn through fuel faster than a bank loan-denied Human Torch, so you should consider this first and foremost before planning any road trip. If it’s a trip to the Costco a couple of blocks from your house, fine. But a cross country road trip from Vancouver to Montreal? Better call in ahead to a Toyota dealer in Toronto because you may have to buy a new Toyota – if you even get as far as Ontario. If you don’t have a fuel efficient vehicle, rent one.

Fill ‘er up on Weekdays

Gas prices soar over the weekend and skyrocket during the holidays. If you’re smarter than the average bear, you may want to do all you’re pumping on the weekday, preferably Mondays through Thursdays, but not past 10AM on Thursdays because this is when the stations are most likely to manipulate the pump prices in anticipation of the weekend.

Stop emulating Vin Diesel

Ease off on the accelerator. Driving between 40-60 mph is ideal because going over 70 mph significantly increases vehicle drag, which in turn increases fuel consumption because the engine has to deal with the extra wind factor. On the other hand, driving below 40 mph compromises optimal engine efficiency and makes the car sip more fuel.

Also, avoid jackrabbit acceleration. The other drivers that you share the same stoplight with aren’t there to race you. Accelerate slowly when the light turns green. One last tip is that when you see the light go red, step off the gas and just coast. Stick to the middle or the slow lane if you do this to avoid getting rear-ended.

Follow That Truck

If you’re on the highway, there are bound to be big container trucks. If you don’t mind going a little slower than usual, get behind them (drafting) and let them act as a wind break for your vehicle. This will significantly decrease your own drag, saving you a little bit of gas in the process. Don’t go on tailgating them though, because the last place you want to be in is under the truck when the driver slams on the brakes all of a sudden.

You also may want to close all your windows when drafting, because trucks and other vehicles spew out deadly carbon monoxide and you don’t want to be on the receiving end of that. Also, driving with your windows open increases your vehicles’ drag, so if you really want some fresh air, wait till you get to the city or the nearest town. Here, you can roll down your windows and turn off the AC for more fuel savings.

Check your Tire Pressure

Probably the most overlooked gas saving tip is poorly inflated tires. Check the doorjamb of your ride for the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) of your tires. Always carry a tire pressure monitor in the glove box. You can also use the ones in the gas stations. If you use aftermarket rims that are a few inches bigger than stock, you may want to call the manufacturer because the PSI of your tires will most likely be different than stock.

See ‘Ya

On your next road trip, it won’t hurt a bit to plan ahead. Map out your route well and know where the nearest gas stations are from the roads you plan to take. Use your phone and download a gas saving app like GasBuddy so you know where the nearest gas station is relative to where you are. Use the money you saved on gas to buy more beer for the trip, but please don’t drink and drive.

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