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9 Kindness Challenges for Adults (Affordable + Impactful)

Impactful kindness challenges for adults that are free or quite cheap to pull off. Use these to stretch your kindness muscles, and be great role models for your kids.

Why am I writing about kindness challenges for adults?

couple in red flannel giving high five, text overlay "9 kindness challenges for adults"

Because I understand firsthand how they can impact a family.

As a child, I witnessed my dad and step-mother do really fun Random Acts of Kindness towards strangers and it made a real impact on me. It also bonded our blended family together a bit more.

Not only do I want to continue committing acts of kindness towards others as an adult, but show my own child the gift for everyone involved – both the giver, the receiver, and the people who benefit from the ripple effects of kindness.

So, let’s dive into some fun, inspiring, and inexpensive kindness challenges for adults.

Kindness Challenges for Adults – Affordable Ways to Spread Generosity

I’m sharing some cool kindness challenges I’ve done as an adult, plus ones I’ve thought up that I’m dying to try.

Why don’t you choose a couple to try along with me? Could be a great November activity for adults.  

Kindness Challenge #1: Contact a Manager to Log a Compliment

Think about those doorbell ringers on the checkout lanes at Kroger's, where they ask you to ring it if you've had a stellar experience. And think about the beaming cashier when you do as her colleagues chant and clap their hands for their good performance!

It's soooooo easy to ask to speak to a manager when we've had a frustrating experience.

But what about when someone has done an excellent job for us? How often do we ask for managers then?

Challenge Details: I challenge you to make one phone call or write one email to a manager about an employee experience you can rave about. Doesn't matter if it happened last week, or last month. Take the 5-10 minutes to recount why it made you smile, made your life easier, made your day, etc. You will, in turn, make someone else's day.

Kindness Challenge #2: Create Spaghetti Jars of Hope to Pass Out

Instead of giving money or a granola bar to the homeless on my way to work (or not giving at all), I decided a few years ago to give a package of items with a message of hope.

So, I cleaned out a few spaghetti jars after we used them, saved each, and filled them each with the following items:

  • a hand warmer that works for up to 10 hours (from Target’s $1 section)
  • a disposable razor
  • a travel toothbrush and toothpaste
  • a granola bar
  • three Slim Jims
  • Blistex
  • a piece of chocolate
  • and a candy cane

I wrapped each jar neck with a festive ribbon, but not before including a miniature card with a message of hope. Throughout the month of December, I gave them out to anyone I saw begging for money (as long as it didn't hold up traffic).

I realize that my spaghetti jars will not save the lives of the homeless that I gave them to, nor did they make a significant impact on their financial situation. What I hoped to accomplish was to bring a smile and some hope to their otherwise dreary circumstances.

After all, hope could be the difference between another year on the road versus spending the rest of their lives there.

Psst: you might want to check out these 27 at home service projects so that you can volunteer from the comfort of your home. What a great, random act of kindness!

Kindness Challenge #3: Become a Coupon Fairy

Isn't it awesome when you come upon a product in the grocery store that you were going to buy anyway…and someone else was generous enough to leave a coupon on top of it?

It's your turn to be a Coupon Fairy for someone else.

Chances are, you can't use all the coupons that cross your path.

I know I can't!

Challenge Details: Even if you don't coupon yourself, you can complete this one. Get your hands on a circular from a Sunday paper, and clip several coupons. Next trip to the grocery store, take a few extra minutes to strategically leave these coupons on top or otherwise near the actual product they can be used for.

Kindness Challenge #4: Leave a Testimonial

Okay, so since I'm in business for myself, this one hits close to home.

People like myself pour our hearts into our blog posts, products, and business. And normally? We hear crickets.

What if you took just 5 minutes to offer a testimonial for one of your favorite small business owners? You could literally make their day, and change their business.

Challenge Details: Sort of going with the theme of the first challenge, I want you to think of a product or service that met or exceeded your expectations. Find it online and comment with a testimonial. If you can't easily leave a testimonial (such as on Amazon.com in the comments section), then locate the contact page and email the person to offer your testimonial. You'll generally want to offer a photo as well so that people find it more relatable. Just think about how important testimonials have been when you're deciding on whether or not to purchase a product online!

Kindness Challenge #5: Give Something Away for Free

I've recently been the beneficiary to this. I posted on a local Facebook Mom group, asking for recommendations for baby/toddler song CDs.

I got several recommendations. And guess what else was waiting for me?

Another mother whose children were older now said she had an entire collection of really great ones − The Wiggles, Mozart for Toddlers, Silly Songs, etc. − and was happy for me to have whichever I would like.

Major score! I picked them up and thanked her very much for her generosity. I also gave a few away to other Moms of babies that I know (because I can't possibly make use of them all).

Challenge Details:  This one might be a little tougher to pull off. You'll not only need to keep your ears open for what people are asking for, but it'll have to align with something that you own that you no longer use! Just keep your eyes and ears open and see if you can satisfy someone's needs/wants in the coming months. If you can, go ahead and respond with your offer. Then arrange to have them pick it up or you can drop it off if it's convenient for you.

Kindness Challenge #6: Offer Tickets When You Can't Use them

In my early 20s, I was given a set of Orioles tickets by a Professor who had season passes but couldn't make the game.

That was such a fun experience!

Several years ago, Paul and I were given two tickets to an Astros game when someone couldn't use them. It made for a memorable experience.

Several years ago when we couldn't use a pair of our season Opera tickets, we gave them to our sister-in-law and Paul's brother so that they could go to their first Opera ever.

And when I was given several passes to the Children's Museum? Well, we invited all of our in-laws plus their children to enjoy a day with us for free.

Passing along what you cannot use yourself passes along memories to someone else.

Challenge Details: Look at your schedule over the next few months and see if you have room for each of the pre-paid tickets you have. Figure out when you won't be able to use a pair, then decide on who you would like to offer them to. Craft an email, text message, or give a call and ask if they'd like to attend! If so, great. Either mail them the tickets or otherwise arrange a pickup. If not, move on to the next person on your list.

Kindness Challenge #7: Pass Along A Useful Resource

Some of the best things that have provided lots of inspiration + use in my life have not been something I stumbled upon.

They've been something a friend, family, or fellow blogger has taken the time to send me a link to (or told me about).

Like Soy Chai's, Canva, and a cloth diapering Facebook community.

loooovvveeee doing this for others. Things like:

:: Tried + tested + loved recipes
:: Magazine articles I think they'd find interesting
:: Book suggestions
:: Websites I can't seem to live without + why
:: A place I saw online or on a television show that is near where they live that looks SO fun to visit
:: A new television show I can't seem to get off my mind

Challenge Details: Is there anything you absolutely have fallen in love with…and want to share with someone specific in your life (but just haven't gotten around to it)?

Now's the time to pass it along. You can do so by:

  • Text message
  • Facebook direct message
  • Phone call
  • Card/letter
  • Email

What I like to include when I do this is a link to the source, as well as a quick explanation of WHY I want to recommend this to them specifically.

After all, we're trying to spread goodwill. We want them to not only enhance some aspect of their life, but also to know that we're thinking about them!

For example: for the last four years Swami Mukundananda has come to Houston and hosted a free, weeklong yoga + meditation event right near our house. Did I mention there's awesome Indian food served at the end? I've attended several days each year. When I heard that he was headed to PA, I immediately told my friend about it + included a link because she lives near there and I thought she would love to attend the event.

Kindness Challenge #8: $5-Left-at-the-End-of-the-Month Challenge

This is the challenge I created a few years ago!

Basically, you commit to staying within budget for the month, with $5 leftover.

With this money, you commit to doing one random act of kindness.

It could be a donation to a charity, buying coffee for the next guy at the drive thru, buying a sandwich to a homeless guy outside of Subway…the sky is the limit.

Not only will this help show kindness to others, but it will also give each of us motivation and purpose to stick to our budgets each month.

Hint: Why $5? It is a small enough amount that no one should be excluded from participating. It can purchase a lot to help another person, or to extend some kindness.

With a large enough set of dedicated people, we can truly make a difference.

So…are you with me?

Kindness Challenge #9: Pay for the Next Guy's Toll

My father used to take us on Sunday rides where he would purposefully get us lost in order to find our way back home.

These were always fun with a tinge of adventure, except for this one particular Sunday I can remember that was just darn exciting.

We'd been driving around for some time and wound up at a toll booth. Instead of paying for just our toll ticket we also paid for the driver behind us. All of us giggled and smiled at the idea along with the toll booth attendant — she could tell we were up to something.

We pulled ahead a hundred yards or so and watched as the car came up to the booth and sat there for a few minutes, most likely trying to digest the fact that total strangers had paid their fare. We raced off like bandits, except that the act we had just committed was for good. Quite frankly, I cannot remember the other Random Acts of Kindness (RAKs) we committed as a family, but the fact that I can recall just one in great detail means a lot to me.

Honestly, once you start committing your own RAKs, you'll start seeing them everywhere!

This is what's been happening to me lately. I seem to notice RAKs everywhere I look.

Some of my favorites I've personally seen have been:

  • I was standing in line at a Kohl's. A woman who was going to be leaving the country the next week had just earned $100 in free Kohl's cash that couldn't be used until after she left the states. So she gave it to the person in line behind her.
  • While walking through our local JCP store, there was a man in the center aisle who asked me if I wanted his $10/$25 coupon that he had no use for. I already had a $10/$10 one, but thanked him profusely for the kind gesture.
  • When I go into our CVS, I oftentimes notice a coupon or two left on the product by someone who decided not to use it or who had an extra.
  • Our local HEB grocery store tapes coupons to products all the time.
  • In the various local Facebook Groups I'm a part of, there are always people giving away valuable items for free to a “good home”.
  • When we rented a vacation home for four days at the beach with several other couples a few years ago, there were cupboards full of unused, non-perishable food items left by previous vacationers that were ours for the using if we'd like.

Kindness Challenge #10: Light ‘Em Up Challenge

Each year, Courtney hosts the Light ‘Em Up Challenge, where she and her family encourage everyone to commit generous and kind acts towards others. She's got lots of resources, so be sure to check them out.

All of these simple acts have really touched me, and got me thinking about ways I can pass on the kindness to others. I hope these kindness challenges for adults and ideas have got you thinking, too. Just think about the kindness chain of events we could set off as a community.

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Amanda L Grossman

Personal Finance Writer and CEO at Frugal Confessions, LLC
Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here or on LinkedIn.

Fru-gal Lisa

Wednesday 9th of November 2022

When I went to the oncology clinic for radiation treatment, they had stacks of brochures with $3 coupons for Ensure and similar nutritional supplements that tend to be rather expensive. So I grabbed a handful, took them with me, to the drug store, and asked the (little neighborhood independent drug store/pharmacy) manager if it'd be OK to leave the coupons for their other customers. They were happy to put them out by the cash register. A lot of times, the store's elderly customers have trouble navigating Target or Walmart so they go to the smaller stores, where prices tend to be higher. Hopefully, this helped some. But I didn't realize I was a "coupon fairy." LOL!

Amanda L Grossman

Thursday 17th of November 2022

Yayyyyy, you Coupon Fairy!! Thanks for sharing.


Monday 24th of December 2012

I loved this article. Homelessness is a huge problem in SF and it's something I've had conflicting feelings about for a while. Some homeless people are grateful to have food, while others will flat out refuse and insist on getting cash. There's also a lot of homeless people here who are drug abusers or the last free riding remnants of occupy Wallstreet who make a lot of people less willing to help the homeless in general even though there are those who are simply down on their luck.

I think your action of spreading hope in spaghetti jars is awesome and so perfect for the holiday season. Inspirational!

Fru-gal Lisa

Wednesday 9th of November 2022

@Untemplater, We have a homeless program to help teenagers in my city. It is not an overnight shelter, but a place where they can come and do their homework, laundry, and take showers. Sort of weird, I know, but that's what they have. Our church wanted to do something to help, so we called the director for ideas. We were told that a lot of these kids go "sofa surfing," spending the night with classmates. Sometimes, their hosts' parents let them do laundry there. Or the kids will go to laundromats (the program only has one washer/dryer set, and there's usually a long line of kids wanting to do laundry.) The director said that a big need is laundry detergent pods, because they can be easily carried in backpacks. I think such pods could also be something you could add to those spaghetti jar gift packs!

Amy Ledesma

Friday 14th of December 2012

I do give.I encourage everyone to give if the have it. I only give money. I never have very much just 5 or the most $10 As a person with severe allergys I know what its like and I dont know that the person Im giving to might not have a ,wheat,nut,milk,fruit allergy so I give money.I also am dyslexic so I know how hard it can be to get and keep a job when you struggle with a learning disability.If it was not for my sister sitting and teaching me at 30 how to count back change I never could of kept a job. Im blessed .Others are far worse off.Your a kind person and I like what you are doing.

Jessica N

Tuesday 11th of December 2012

This is honestly the greatest idea I have ever encountered in regards to dealing with the homeless. We are so easy to overlook, or label every homeless as a junky, when many of them are veterans, or simply too sick to make a living. I think I'm going to do something similar, minus the razor (because the bums around here get drunk and violent), and adding a can of ravioli (with the easy opening tops). They may not be able to heat it up, but if they leave the can next to them in the daytime while begging they can at least get a warm meal, and it will be something better than trash food. I've spent years giving my food to others especially since I came from a country FILLED worse than the US with poverty. In the end of the day all we can do is pray for them and hope they will use what we give them the right way (instead of trading it for crack, which happens more often than you think with just about ANYTHING hey have.)

Girl Meets Debt

Tuesday 11th of December 2012

I enjoyed reading this post and I really like your idea of spreading hope through those spaghetti jars. What a kind and generous heart you have!