The Blessing(s) of an Empty Wallet

This post is our Thank You to fathers everywhere, who repeatedly open their wallets to serve the greater good, and in particular those who have been behind Gifting Sense from the outset: Mark, Jeff, Niilo, Geoff, George, Robert, Howard, Peter and Hugh.

One of the unexpected good things about doing not-for-profit work is that people often give public good organizations their professional expertise. For example, we have been given untold programming, design and editing hours by fathers who work in digital development. Most recently, we were given some required legal assistance and the book which we are reviewing below. The standard interpretation of the phrase “the blessing of an empty wallet” usually involves the unanticipated lessons one learns when having to choose between alternatives because both cannot be paid for. But we have experienced the generosity of others who see our work and understand that it can be furthered from donations in kind. And the author of The Soul of Money, has seen the blessings that not only the recipients, but those doing the giving receive.

The Soul of Money is both a memoir and a call to action. It chronicles the work of global activist Lynne Twist, who has worked towards eradicating world hunger for over 40 years. At the risk of over-simplifying, it is 257 pages written to explain the importance of examining our attitudes towards money, how we earn it, and spend it, so that we can joyfully give some of it away to make the world a better place.

The Soul of Money offered Gifting Sense a number of insights on how best to proceed with our mission of immunizing children in the first world against developing poor spending habits. It also reminded us that the resources freed up from ceasing to spend money on items that are under-appreciated, can be wonderfully employed elsewhere.

We knew we had to bring Lynne’s work to the attention of our users when she asked, among others, the following questions: 1) “Does…anyoneneed more than a few thoughtfully chosen birthday presents to feel celebrated?” and 2) “How do we guide our children to…thrive…when the consumer culture drives them to want and to buy things they don’t need?”* Note Lynne doesn’t suggest a world without presents, merely one with fewer gifts that have been more thoughtfully chosen.

Her description of how consumption becomes habit is one that many of us will recognize. Her unbridled commitment to ending world hunger, and belief in our collective ability to do so, was also very familiar – because if you haven’t noticed, we believe in the core of our souls that we can help parents give their children one of the best gifts ever, the habit of thinking before buying. To help parents do that, we created mobile Gift Surveys, specifically designed to bring about quick but frequent conversations regarding how best to spend holiday and birthday gift dollars. It’s a small start, but infinitely scalable and we are already seeing what can be accomplished when kids research if a gift makes sense, and learn how to graciously ask for what they will use and appreciate.

Life eventually teaches us that few things are as satisfying as helping others. But if as Lynne suggests, we can help our children resist the culture that sometimes drives them to want and buy things they don’t need before they leave home – we can give them decades of personal finance freedom and a much earlier ability to be part of the world-wide community of givers. In other words we can give our kids a truly rich life. Lynne’s book will show you how.  Gift Surveys are a solid place to start. To see how easy they are to navigate, and what they can accomplish, click on the pink or green buttons below.

*Pages 53 and 204, The Soul of Money, Lynne Twist with Teresa Barker, W.W. Norton & Company, 2006.

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