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10 ways to bless someone without spending a lot

I’m traveling back from Texas today, so here’s a post from the archives. I wrote this almost four years ago, during my first marital separation, so I probably was drawing from personal experience of what blessed me in my own trials!

I had a thought yesterday, which was this: if you are on a tight budget and you have a friend or family member who is going through a rough time, you might feel a little bit helpless to assist them.

Because let’s face it, money is sometimes useful for blessing others in hard situations.

But as I was pondering this, I thought about how you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot to bless someone who is struggling.

So, I’ll share some ideas, and I’d love for you to share your ideas in the comments as well.

1. Listen and empathize.

Using your ears is free. And so is the act of offering empathetic responses.

You don’t necessarily have to solve someone’s problem or come up with a solution; if you put yourself in their shoes, imagine their pain, and let them know you understand that what they’re going through is really hard, that will probably mean the world to them.

2. Give a hug.

Assuming, of course, that they like hugs. You’ll have to go off of what you know about the person you’re trying to bless. 😉

Kristen and Zoe.

I do like hugs, and so I can tell you that for someone like me, a hug means the world. And it costs nothing.

3. Make them some food.

And as a general rule, do not ask them to let you know if they need it, because at least here in the U.S., people are terrible at asking for help, especially if they are in an overwhelmed state.

Say, “I’d love to make a meal for you this week. What night could I bring it over?”

It doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. For example, a pot of soup and a loaf of bread could seriously cheer someone up.

oatmeal bread cooling on rack

4. Buy a small edible gift.

Once when I was feeling discouraged, a friend brought me a chocolate bar with a little note, and it made me feel pretty darn loved. Five dollars or less can get the job done nicely!

5. Give childcare.

As with the meal, I’ve found it’s good to offer specific help rather than a general, “Let me know if you need me!”

So…”Can I take your kids to the park on Wednesday?”, or “I’d love to give you a break. Can I come get your kids one day this weekend?”

6. Share a song/quote that encouraged you.

If a quote or some song lyrics helped you through a tough time, they might help someone else too.

7. Send a text or email to let them know you are thinking about them.

Texts and emails are lovely because they don’t require interaction on the part of the receiver (as opposed to a phone call). You can just send your love to the person, and they can easily choose whether or not they want to interact.

It means a lot to me when someone checks in on me, so I try to remember to do that when someone else is having a tough time.

(Or even when they’re not! It’s always nice to know someone is thinking about you, even in the good times.)

8. Share encouraging words.

You have to tread a little carefully here, because some well-meaning encouragement sometimes makes people feel like you are minimizing their pain.

“This was meant to be.” “It could be worse.” “At least xyz didn’t happen.”

I find it to be most helpful if someone empathizes with me first, and then reminds me of some encouraging things.

“Hang in there.”

“I love and care about you.”

“You will get through this.”

“You are not alone.”

“I’m here for you.”

And since I’m a Christian, it helps if my friends remind me of comforting Christian concepts, like that Jesus walks with me through trials, that he weeps with me in my pain, that he will bring good to me, etc.   

So if you share a faith with the person you’re trying to bless, sharing something about your common faith might help them.

9. Invite them over for tea or coffee.

It’s pretty inexpensive to go out for a hot beverage, but it’s even cheaper to drink tea or coffee with someone at your house.

Or you could bring tea and coffee to their house.

10. Pray for them/with them.

Obviously this isn’t applicable for everyone, but if you are the praying sort, don’t underestimate the blessing that is to other people.   Pray for people, and let them know you are!


Ok.   Ten seems like a good spot to stop and have you guys share your ideas. 😉

How do you bless other people when you’re on a budget? And how have other people blessed you without spending a lot of money?

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Wednesday 27th of July 2022

We’ve had a lot of people in our church family go through some really tough trials and terrible losses in the last two years. We have had a number of people lose their parents (including my husband losing his father), a number of people dealing with chronic illness in themselves or their children, and a number lose babies through miscarriage and stillbirths. At times it has been very heavy, but I think we are becoming a community that is learning how to lament well and to weep with those who weep.

One thing I’m trying to get better at is writing down dates when very hard things happen to people so that I can bring them a card and small gift (usually a favorite treat) or even just send a text on some of the hard anniversaries. Because I know something that has been hard for some of my friends has been feeling like everybody moved on after the first week or month.


Tuesday 26th of July 2022

I agree with offering specific help. Our adult son has major anxiety and struggles to keep up with house work. If I generally say I can come over to help, he doesn't take me up on it since it is difficult for him to ask for what he needs. But if I say, for example, I'm coming over to sweep and mop the floor, then he seems glad to accept the help.

Rebekah in SoCal

Monday 25th of July 2022

There have been times when I would have been SO relieved if someone had offered to clean my bathroom, but I would have been too embarrassed to ask. The last time I had surgery (and a long recovery) our bathroom got so dirty. If someone had offered, "I know you probably haven't had energy to clean. Could I come clean your bathroom?"

A gift of a few cookies or sweet treat always brightens my week even in good times.

A. Marie

Monday 25th of July 2022

An excellent post, Kristen, and well worth repeating! And so many good suggestions from the commenters.

I see so many complaints on the caregiver forums about people who say "Call if you need anything" and then disappear that I may just direct folks over here. It may be really helpful among my buddies in the caregiving trenches.

Best regards to everybody.


Tuesday 26th of July 2022

@Liz B., They want to hold the baby while you clean the house or make everyone food. Tiresome. My ex MIL was the only one who really helped when I had a newborn, cleaning without being asked.

Liz B.

Tuesday 26th of July 2022

@A. Marie,

I understand where those folks are coming from. After my husband and I adopted our son as a newborn, people asked us "what do you need?" or "call if you need anything". When I told them "a home cooked meal" or "help cleaning the house", no one was interested. Same when my husband and I were taking care of my mother in law when she had dementia; one lovely friend did bring us dinner, which I will always remember.


Tuesday 26th of July 2022

@Ruby, It breaks my heart that your Mom's friends didn't come to see her after she could no longer go to church.


Monday 25th of July 2022

@A. Marie, one of the most painful things about my mom's long illness with Alzheimer's was that people in the church she had been a member of for nearly 40 years never came to see her once she could not longer come to church. It was as if she dropped off the face of the earth. The minister from my church (a different denomination) took her communion and performed her funeral service because he had visited her for years.

In her obituary, I listed that she was a faithful Baptist, but did not list her church because they were certainly not faithful to her. It would have meant so much to her on her good days to have seen her old friends, if only they would have come.


Monday 25th of July 2022

I posted on this originally and I've mentioned here before that my kind neighbor mowed my lawn until I could hire a crew full-time, when my husband got past being able to mow.

I've had wonderful people bring me things and I've had people do things for me at times of need so many times, but the one that really stands out recently was when a Crohn's attack had me in such pain I couldn't get up and I was at the same time horribly nauseated from the pain - my daughter, bless her heart, came over and held the bucket for me. Very specific and not something everyone can - or should - do, but it was sure what I needed right then.

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