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Practical Gift Ideas for Someone Struggling Financially|Awkwardness Free

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It is hard to see a loved one struggle financially, especially if they refuse any offer of monetary help such as cash. It is a touchy subject and even though you want to do everything in your power for them, you want to avoid unnecessary confrontation.

If you are wondering if there is any other way to make their life easier without hurting their feelings, then you are in the right place!

Here are some amazing ways you can help someone or a family struggling financially, without being too obvious.

I have listed a variety of ideas, so you can choose what is best based on your relationship with the recipient. The list also includes many ways you can help them anonymously without complicating your relationship.

P.S: This post contains affiliate links from Amazon and other retailers. If you make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small commission. Pls check Privacy Policy and T&C for more information.)

Gift Ideas for Someone Struggling Financially

Top 20 ways to help someone who has recently lost their job or suffered a financial setback. Tips for offering help to families without mentioning monetary help.

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1. Babysitting

Do they have kids? Every parent knows how difficult it is to find time for each other and catch a break with kids around. No matter the age of kids, all parents can use some babysitting help.

An offer of babysitting their child/children can free up so much time for them and cost you almost nothing. 

It is a thoughtful way of helping them out if they can’t afford to pay a nanny at the moment- which does not come cheap, but they need to go to work as well. 

2. Hire Them for Small Tasks

Hiring them out for small tasks in return for payment is another great option. Is there something they are good at? Knitting, gardening, hemming, lawn mowing, etc.?

If not, do you have a dog you can ask them to take for a walk or kids of your own that you need babysitting help with? They will feel less shy accepting money for tasks they did for you.

You know them the best so find something that they can easily help you with and it does not take away from their regular work hours. It is up to you to decide how much to pay them, but it is a good idea to bump up the number higher than what you would normally pay for a similar job.

3. Help them Celebrate Any Big Occasions

friends and family celebrating at home

If they are cash strapped, chances are they are not going to throw a party to celebrate the many days in the year that demand a great party, like anniversary, birthdays, etc.

Host a party for them at your place. Invite some close friends and family members and surprise them. Make sure to invite people who will not pester them with one hundred questions about their financial hardship- there is always one in the family!

Even a small celebration will help lift their spirits, and that’s what family and friends are for- to show them how much they are loved!

4. Carpool

Not applicable in all cases, but if they happen to be lucky enough to live close to you and your workplaces are in the same area, you can offer car rides to and from work so they don’t have to take their own car or spend money on gas.

They will not have much reason to refuse the simple offer.

It depends on your comfort level and the time you have, of course. But if it works out, it will be a big help indeed. 

5. Offer Clothes You No Longer Wear

Between my sister and my friends, we have given each other clothes/ shoes that didn’t fit us anymore.

I, myself, am guilty of having clothes hanging in my wardrobe, with price tags on them, that I have never worn and most likely never will. I am learning to part with such items and offering them to friends and family who I think these clothes will probably fit. 

I am not implying that you give away brand new clothes only!

If you have any wearable clothes, in good condition, that are just sitting in your wardrobe that you think they can use than make it a point to run these items pass them before donating.

You can avoid any uneasiness by letting them know you plan to give these items away and if something catches their eye, you will be happy if they keep it.

It is not just limited to clothes for adults, if you have kid-sized clothing you think they can make use of than go for it.

6. Movie Tickets Voucher

voucher for movie and popcorn

Let’s admit it, we all go the big screen to catch a break from our daily grind and relax our minds. Going to the cinema can be a healthy break they need from all the constant worrying.

Plus, movie passes don’t seem like a monetary help they would think about refusing.

Buy them tickets for an upcoming show you think they would like or a gift card that will allow them to go multiple times. If your budget allows, you can also add something extra in there for popcorn and drinks.

7. Amusement Park/ Zoo Tickets

The most difficult part of struggling financially is the impact it has on kids.

Every parent wants to give their best to the kids but their financial situation might be limiting how they spend time with their kids at the moment.

If they decline your offer of cash, buying them groceries, etc., then get them something they can enjoy as a family and brings smiles to their kid’s faces.

A day at the amusement park (if there is one in their area) or a trip to the zoo can help them forget about their troubles and just have a good time with their kids. No doubt, the kids will love it too.

8. Amazon Prime Membership

We all know sometimes it is cheaper to buy on Amazon and even faster, than any other retailer. They have goods under all imaginable categories, from grocery, clothing, tools…and they offer a huge library of movies, shows, and music.

They will not need a separate Netflix, Hulu subscription, etc. which makes this membership one of the most valuable gifts.

Oh, and did you know that Amazon Fresh always has good deals on all sorts of grocery and household items? It is definitely worth checking out than making 4 trips to different stores trying to find a great deal.

9. Food Delivery Gift Card

Birthdays, anniversary or any other celebration can be a wonderful excuse to give them a gift they cannot decline.

A gift card for any food delivery website or their favorite pizza store is another way of making sure they can enjoy some relaxing quality time at home without worrying about fixing meals or washing dishes.

However, if you can’t spend that much, and still want them to have relaxed evenings then the next one on the list is another great option.

10. Cooked Meals

food boxes for freezer

You can casually just drop by with some great tasting home-cooked food. No one can say no to that!

Add some freezer-friendly meals they can use later on, especially on days when they are too overwhelmed or too tired to cook.

It is a healthier option and it will cost you much less. A packed freezer full of good quality food made with love will bring a big smile on anyone’s faces.

Look up some freezer-friendly recipes like lasagna, burger patties, chicken dinners…easy to prepare and they last a long time in the freezer. If you can’t do it all alone ask other family members if they would like to chip in.

11. School Supplies

The start of the school year means buying a lot of back to school supplies that the kids will need. Pick up some school supplies for their kids like notebooks, pens, pencils, school bags, etc.

Keep your conversation casual and light while letting them know that you noticed some great deals on supplies and couldn’t help buying them! 

12. Bottle of Their Favorite

Buying our favorite wine or liquor is not even the last thing on our mind when the money is tight. Treat them to their favorite bottles they can savor for a longer time.

Drop-in with their favorite bottle/ bottles with some snacks for an evening of chatting and catching up.

13. Socialize at Home

When they are feeling low and vulnerable, they may start avoiding invitations to socialize with friends and family over dinner at restaurants, bars, etc.

Plan to meet at their place, your place…other friends and family’s places so they don’t fall out of touch completely.

Potlucks are a great way of ensuring they can still get to hang out and have a great time with people who love and support them minus the huge restaurant bill.

Things You Can Do Anonymously to Help

You can also do so many things anonymously that will not make your relationship with them awkward.

14. Surprise Them with Household Items

Small, but essential, household items like laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid/ powder, cleaning supplies, shampoo, body wash, etc., can run out so fast! It probably sounds weird to gift somebody such mundane items, but they will appreciate it, nonetheless.

If you don’t want to make them, or yourself, feel awkward walking in with a basket of these essentials every month then here is a great option- Ship it to them anonymously.

On Amazon, most of such household essentials have a ‘subscribe and save option’.

They will get a new box at a set interval, for instance- every 8 weeks, that you can select at the checkout, AND you don’t even have to tell them it was you!

15. Monthly Snack Box Subscription

A small snack like a granola bar, pack of peanuts, popcorn, etc., is what keeps most of us going through the midday slump, and sometimes even substitute for breakfast.

Small snack bags also come handy when packing kids’ lunch bags.

However, spending a few bucks on them can seem like luxury with a limited grocery budget. The overall cost for a family can really add up even if they cost just $1 or $2 per bag!

Consider sending them a snack box every month with 40 individually packed snacks that will cost you less than $30/ month!

You can find a snack box subscription that includes different types of snacks, even gluten-free.

16. Grocery Delivery

Having enough groceries at home means more packed lunches from home, less dining out, more money saved, and less stress overall!

There are so many grocery delivery services out there you can choose from with respect to your budget.

All you need to do is place an order and the groceries will be delivered right to their doorstep.

17. Phone Bills

Another one of those essentials that can cost much but is impossible to live or function without.

See if you can add them to your family plan to bring their monthly bill down or if they use prepaid phones, you can drop gift cards in their mailbox they can use to reload their balance.

You can also anonymously pay off their monthly bill, in most cases, without asking them! Just call their phone network and talk to a rep.

18. Diapers/ Baby Food

If they have a baby in the house, then you know they need diapers. On average, a baby needs 6-10 diapers a day- that’s a LOTTA diapers!

You can anonymously have diapers delivered to them every month or so using Amazon or any other retailer that delivers.

19. Commuter Pass

Talking about money with them can be a touchy subject. But, living in NYC where public transport is a must and monthly commuter passes run over $100 each, I think paying for their monthly passes is a great idea!

You don’t have to offer cash every month; it is easy to buy a rechargeable card if you plan to reload their cards for a few months.

20. Gas Card

The same as commuter passes. If they are driving to work, to get groceries, etc., gas bills can add up quickly. So, a gas card can be a useful gift they will most likely not refuse.

The same as commuter passes. If they are driving to work, to get groceries, etc., gas bills can add up quickly. So, a gas card can be a useful gift they will most likely not refuse.


I hope you found some great ways to help out families and loved ones when they are struggling financially.

An important aspect of helping them during this time is to make sure they don’t feel obliged to return the favor as this is one of the biggest reasons why people refuse help in the first place. 

Keeping it casual, going anonymous and not going overboard will help keep your relationship as good as ever!

20 helpful gifts for someone or a family struggling financially

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