Sunday, 9 May 2010

Don't make an issue out of giving!

A funny thing happened to me as I walked to a meeting in London this week, across Covent Garden and Leicester Square. 
A Big Issue seller caught my eye around Cambridge Circus (I’ll leave you to ponder that image) and, as there was no-one else around (to diffuse my responsibility) I gave in and bought a copy from him.

He had no change. 

I only had a fiver.

So I gave him the fiver and he gave me the BI.

I tucked it under my arm and, spotting it there, the next three BI sellers I passed on my walk all chirped up with happy greetings, like ‘God Bless Ya Luv’. Each one made me smile and feel warm inside. Not like the shifting discomfort I usually feel as I try to sneak past them and not buy. 
It was the best fiver I’ve spent in ages.
Yet the cover price of the BI is £1.70 and, I confess, there was a bit of me that said ‘I’ve just paid £5.00 for something that costs £1.70. That’s generous.’
Not generous. Pretty mean actually.
What I’d done was give just one measly fiver to charity. 
That’s actually a mean-spirited, less-than-the-price-of-a-glass-of-wine, stingy amount to give. And I’d got so much more than a fiver’s worth back! 
Those friendly guys were brimming with appreciation and had brightened up my morning - plus I didn't have to skulk across town avoiding their eyes.

Talking to a lovely friend about this recently told me that whenever he gives money away he ends up having more. He sets up an annual pledge to give and pointed me in the direction of this website

I was also reminded of the US research study into the link between money and happiness. Students were given $10 to spend, either on themselves or another. When their happiness levels were measured after the study, those who had spent the money on another were twice as happy as those who’d spent it on themselves.

In Sheconomics we stress the do something different approach to giving our money mindset a makeover. So perhaps if we want more money we should  start by giving some away?

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