Can You Make and Keep Relationships If You Don't Have Much Money?

Jeffrey Kreutzer, Laura Taylor, and Lee Livingston, The National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury, Virginia Commonwealth Model Systems of Care
Can You Make and Keep Relationships If You Don’t Have Much Money?

Many people experience difficult life changes after brain injury. Feelings of loss and isolation are common. A good number of people are unable to work and many face financial strains. Many people feel that they have few, if any, good relationships. Good relationships ranks high on the list of things people want most in their lives.

After a brain injury, you may be thinking, “I have no money, how can I do the things I need to do to have good relationships?” We know that being kind to others is one of the best ways to build relationships and there are many ways to do so. Being kind doesn’t necessarily mean spending lots of money. The list below will give you some ideas about how you can be nice to others. Take a look at the list and try out the ideas. Be creative and try some other things that aren’t on the list.

Try to do at least one nice thing for someone every day. You’ll brighten someone else’s day as well as your own!

  • Don’t be shy about complimenting other people. Think about what you like about other people and tell them.
  • Pick flowers or vegetables from your garden and give them to others.
  • Share a comic strip, story, joke, magazine article, or book.
  • Hold the door or the elevator for someone.
  • If someone drops something, pick it up for them.
  • Tell someone who helps you how much you appreciate them.
  • Offer to babysit for someone, take care of their pet, or help with their chores, so they can have some time off.
  • Buy someone a snack, coffee, tea, or soda.
  • Bake someone cookies, brownies, or a cake.
  • Make someone dinner if they are having a hard week.
  • Listen carefully and patiently when other people are talking to you.
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt. Try not to assume they are doing something to be mean or difficult.
  • Offer to keep someone company.
  • Mow your neighbor’s lawn, rake their leaves, or shovel their walk.
  • Write someone a kind note, letter, or email.
  • Draw someone a picture or make and send a friendly card. A number of companies offer free cards you can customize and send by email.
  • When you find a helpful website, share the address with others who might be interested.
  • Offer a ride to a friend or family member.
  • Drop a few coins in someone’s parking meter if their time has run out.
  • Offer to help someone carry his bags at the store.
  • Offer to help someone in need.
  • On a nice day, invite a friend to go for a walk or go to the park.
  • Share a stick of gum from every pack you buy.
  • Donate clothes, books, or other things you no longer use to someone in need.
  • Give family or friends homemade coupons they can cash in for favors from you.
  • Adopt a pet from a shelter.
  • Help a friend or neighbor move in or out.
  • Offer to help someone organize or clean her house (including basement and garage).
  • Offer to pick up your neighbors’ mail and newspaper when she goes away, and water her plants.
  • Volunteer your time to your church, local library, or other community organization.
  • Smile and say good morning or good afternoon to people.

This column was written by Lee Livingston, PsyD, Jeff Kreutzer, PhD, and Laura Taylor, PhD from the National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury (NRC). The mission of the NRC is to provide relevant, practical information for professionals, persons with brain injury, and family members. For more information about helpful materials published through the NRC including the Recovering Relationships book, please check our website ( or call Mary Beth King at 804.828.9055 or toll free at 1.866.296.6904 to request a catalog.

Posted on BrainLine June 19, 2009.

From the National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury, Virginia Commonwealth Model Systems of Care. Reprinted with permission.

Comments (3)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

On a low income, it's all about survival and struggling to buy food, rent and medical stuff. Socially, new friends want to do what I call discretionary spending. Going out to movies, coffee, meals, theatre, sporting events, etc, things that people n low incomes can't do. Acquiring a brain injury, and living with it, has turned me into a social hermit. Without discretionary income, no idea how to be social. It's too glib to say, just hang out at their home, that gets old quick. Too depressing to have to keep saying, sorry, I can't go. Then people get tired of you constantly saying no, so they stop asking.

I agree with the other person, finances change dramatically when you are on disability because of TBI. And if you are fairly young when it happens and you havent had time to earn enough in wages or savings, well, in all honesty, you learn to do without and that includes food of all kinds, including home grown fresh veggies. And the government programs do not exist to help regular american people who HAVE to be on disability because there are no other options. Being kind to people should be part of our everyday nature regardless of TBI or anything else. What i read on that list was pretty much how i was raised with morals and good values. That list was more of how to find and make friends and thats good to help us get out and about instead of staying shut in. But... Thats not dealing with lack of money and cultivating relationships with that lack of money. Just my opinion.
now my financial situation is so different, i no longer have the garden veggie patch produce, to give away. i have had to move into an area with such severely polluted soil in the yard, that growing vegies has become an expensive thing to do. (to buy bags of potting soil, fill old produce boxes with potting soil). THings i took for granted, such as growing and gifting vegies, is now very expensive for me to do. I can't afford to grow enough vegies to feed myself, let alone give it away. i used to love giving away food i had grown myself. i'm reading this list, and keep finding things that i couldn't afford to do. Was this list written by someone who really IS on a low income? Because it doesn't read that way to me. Without family backup, or having a partner (who has a job), i have to find cheaper ways of being kind - and i do.