16 Creative Responses for The Next Homeless Person Who Asks You for Money

Aeyrel Twone
6 min readJul 22, 2023
Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

What is the best response to give someone on the street asking for money from passersby?

It is embarrassing for both parties, but how can you deal with this phenomenon that is becoming even more prevalent in cities worldwide? A well-known Internet forum’s members answered this vital question with thoughtfulness and humor after someone among their ranks asked them.

1. I Can’t Hear You

For this to work, you must pretend you can’t hear the homeless person asking you for money. Point to your headphones and give your best excuse. Either tell them you can’t hear or you’re talking on the phone.

2. Say No, Politely

Responding to a homeless person asking for change is someone’s choice, but this commenter responded politely, even if they were saying no. It is an acknowledgment of the other person’s humanity, if nothing else.

They elaborated that they felt saying something, even if it was a denial of the request, seemed polite and the basics of what they owed to another human being.

3. Show And Tell

In this instance, the person responding answered inadvertently with the car they were driving in. He stated that he had a late-model car that was being held together with hopes and prayers.

His bumpers were taped to the car, so when he pulled to an intersection where a person was panhandling, the unhoused person reacted by throwing his hands up in the air and shaking his head no. The homeless person smiled and didn’t even ask.

4. Give Them A Smile

If you live in the city, you get a lot of requests for money from the unhoused. This poster had a solution for that. When passing by someone requesting money, he would smile and nod. Again, this was more of acknowledging the request and giving them the dignity they deserved, even if they did not want to hear the answer.

He stated that he didn’t always say no, but with the sheer volume of requests, he couldn’t say yes to everyone. Additionally, this user would take the time to repeatedly purchase water and food for unhoused people who lived near his home and who he saw on the street.

5. No Cash

During the pandemic, people were worried that paper money could spread the virus, and it was a legitimate concern since outbreaks have been traced to touch in New Zealand. The South Korean government steam-cleaned bills during the height of the lockdown years of the pandemic. It has become common that people don’t carry cash on them anymore because of this phenomenon.

A user explained how the fact that they don’t bring money with them became their default answer to people asking for handouts. It’s not intentional, but they can’t give what they don’t have.

6. Ignore Them Completely

Some cities like New York have a reputation for toughness, and New York City is probably the best-known American city with this reputation. A prime example of a New Yorker’s answer to a homeless person is that they ignored them like they weren’t even there. The commenter explained that they did this because they were from New York, and it was a typical response in their home city.

7. Apology Not Accepted

Another polite answer is what a Canadian had to offer in the discussion. Canadians are known for their politeness, so this isn’t that surprising. What is surprising is one of the reactions.

When a Canadian user replied to an unhoused person asking for money by saying sorry, dude, the homeless person yelled that they didn’t need that person’s sorry and then proceeded to chase them for a couple of blocks. Humorously, the Canadian responded by yelling back, “Sorry, dude! I’m Canadian!”

8. Changeable Answers

One wise answer was that the commenter’s response depended on how the person in need asked the question. They take each situation as it comes, which makes sense.

The unhoused and those who ask for handouts aren’t all the same. There were reports in the forum of swindlers who only pretended to be homeless to take advantage of passersby, but that probably isn’t the norm. This person said, “My go-to is, “sorry, try and have a good one!”

9. Tell Them The Truth

Can you help everyone? You can’t, but this individual recommended being honest and saying, “I can’t help you.” I say that because it’s the truth — no need to lie to your fellow human beings.” Honesty is for the best, even though it might not be the answer they seek.

Homeless people live on the edge of society and hang on by the skin of their teeth, so any acknowledgment that they are part of society and deserve to be treated as human beings can be helpful in boosting their morale and perhaps helping them get back on their feet.

10. Turnabout Is Fair Play

This jokester asked a street person for money, got a surprising answer, and then surprised the homeless person. At first, it might seem confusing, but the story has a happy ending.

The commenter said, “A few times, I asked them for money. One of them surprised me and gave me a five-dollar bill. I gave his five back plus a twenty and bought him a bunch of hamburgers to take back to his friends.” It was kindness through humor.

11. I’m Right There With You, Buddy

Sadly, many people are close to the financial threshold of being unhoused even though employed. An honest person said they responded that they could quickly be like the unhoused person themselves if they missed one paycheck. ‘

The person expounded on a conversation they had with someone asking for change. He said the person on the street had more money in their cup than in their bank account, which stunned the homeless person.

12. Run For Your Life

If you haven’t been to California recently, you may not believe it when you hear it’s like a “zombie apocalypse.” Seriously, it’s advised that you don’t walk alone at night and have a cab ready before you step outside.

There’s no shortage of tents throughout northern California, among other areas, where the homeless reside. Some even walk with their hands stretched out, asking for money, or perhaps hungry for brains.

13. “This Job Sux But I Need Some Bux”

One user recalls seeing a man covered in gold foil and makeup. The cherry on top was this man having piston rods in his arms and legs doing the “robot dance.” He had a sign that said, “This job sucks but I need some bux.” The user tipped this homeless person $5 and said it was well worth it. It was truly a win-win situation.

14. Create a Monthly Budget

Some may think creating a budget to give away wastes time. However, we must remember that most of us are truly fortunate not to experience the other side of things: begging for money. While our jobs can be stressful and life is hard, it could be worse.

Someone recommended creating a monthly budget to buy gift cards at various fast food places. The next time a homeless person asks for money, they may be surprised at how prepared you are when you present them with a fast food gift card.

15. Here’s a Dollar

You probably don’t see homeless people every day, and if you do, you can use this strategy sparingly. If you regularly carry some cash with you, have a dollar readily available. The next time a homeless person asks for money, give them a dollar and wish them a great day. Always be careful and do this with other people around.

A dollar won’t change a person’s life, but it’s truly better than nothing. Hopefully, others will do the same, and the person will have enough to buy what they need after a few hours.

16. How About Food Instead?

Before you do this, you may want to check with the homeless person, but buying them food can often be a win-win. The prevailing belief is that homeless people will use the money they receive for everything but food, but you can call them out on this bluff by offering them a sandwich with their favorite drink.

Now you can go home feeling like you’ve actually helped someone, knowing they’re fed for another day.

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Aeyrel Twone

Hi, I'm Aeyrel. I'm a writer and storyteller with a passion for exploring the world around me. I love to write about my experiences and turn them into stories.