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:


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.  There are a few companies that specialize in selling experience gifts so that might be a good option as they contribute to charity. 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.

photo by:

2 thoughts on “How to Show You Care without Breaking the Bank

  1. I find this hard sometimes because there are expectations for giving and they’re not always in our budget.

    Being a good listener is really a skill I wish I had. I find it really difficult, but I’m working on it! I think that would be a good way to show someone you cared all through the year.

  2. It’s kind of like shopping for Christmas. Finding a unique gift that’s special to the person you love is a stronger showing of your love than a generic gift such as chocolate or flowers — though those work well too as an additional gift!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *