Often people are leery to Pay It Forward because they think it requires a lot of money. It Doesn’t!!! You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to help someone out in need. My favorite ways to Pay It Forward don’t require contacting an organization, spending a ton of money, or even volunteering dozens of hours of time, although all those ways to help out are always needed and appreciated too. Paying It Forward for me is simple anonymous gestures. In the midst of so much chaos in our world lately, I was inspired by the first one on my list so we did it recently, too!
1. Treats Are On Us! Have you seen the movie ticket prices recently? How about prices for popcorn, drinks, and candy at the theater? That is why we use Redbox on a weekly basis! Many other people are doing the exact same thing because of the outrageous prices at the movies nowadays. To make someone’s day, tuck $3-$5 in the case of a Redbox movie when you are returning a movie with a note that simply says, “Treats are on us tonight! Enjoy your movie!”
2. Buy Someone Breakfast! This is one we do quite often when going through the drive-thru. We just tell the cashier that we would like to pay for the car behind us. If you are concerned about price, you can always ask first how much their order is before paying to make sure you don’t have a car behind you that is picking up for their whole office! We have even bought a bag of $1 biscuits and dropped them off at our local doctor’s office, dentist’s office, car repair shop, and even our favorite grocery store on a holiday when they were open.
3. Flowers for a Neighbor. Check out sales for plants, flowers, or hanging baskets that run from $4-$9 at your local hardware stores or farmer’s market. Tuck a note in that says, “Hope you have a great week!” and leave it on a neighbor’s doorstep. You can even leave it on a colleague’s desk if you can go unnoticed putting it there.
4. Post It Here, Post It There, Post It Everywhere! One evening I was sitting at home watching TV with a pack of post it notes beside me, simply because I have a Post-It note addiction and they are all over my house, car, bags, everywhere. I just started writing random notes on each one- “You Are Awesome!” “Thanks for all you do!” “Your Smile is Contagious!” “Have a Stupendous Day!” and many more. The next day, as I walked by colleagues’ doors, I just stuck the notes to their doors. How cool would it be to just randomly stick them up at grocery stores? Maybe even with a few coupons for someone on a product? You could stick a note on a gas station pump for the next person getting gas. You can also go to your local library and leave notes in books or on shelves for anonymous people.
5. Water Bottle Kindness. We always have a case of water in the car. During the hot spring and summer days, when we are out running errands, we usually grab a small cooler so we can throw a few bottles of water in there to keep each one cold. When we go by a construction worker standing in the hot sun, a police officer waiting patiently for whatever traffic duty he/she has (sporting events, etc) or the school traffic officer, we offer a bottle of water. These are always accepted with extreme gratitude.
6. This Mail is for YOU! Mailmen and women are often left out of small gifts of kindness but they work hard each day in organizing and delivering mail throughout our communities. Some are in cars and some walk so keep that in mind when doing something generous for them. A bottle of water and a snack cake in a small bag that just says, “Thank you for your hard work each day!” will definitely make them smile! Legally, you are not supposed to put anything into a mailbox that is not mail so you could hang it on the outside of the mailbox or catch them at the door before they deliver your mail.
It doesn’t take much to make someone smile when you show a little gratitude. The best part of paying it forward is doing little random acts of kindness that you want no credit for and that you want to be anonymous just to make someone’s day brighter. Even better is that it usually creates a ripple effect. The person getting a Redbox movie, might do the same when they return their movie. The next person in line at the drive thru, might pick up the tab for the car behind them. Someone might be having a horrible morning, and something you did turned their day completely around, which makes them react to others in a more positive manner. Think about how much better our world would be with just a few, inexpensive ways to tell someone to have a great day and that you care.