Money needs to keep moving. Money is energy and like fat molecules moving through the bloodstream, it needs to be constantly flushed and recycled. If not used it clots and festers and ultimately shuts down the system. Keep it flowing. Lend it, spend it, give it away.
Money karma comes around fast and just because you don’t have a lot of cash is no reason – in fact it is the worst reason – to hoard it. Wade Davis tells a story of a tribesman who was given a box of matches, and went from person to person in the village, giving a match to each – knowing that sharing is key to survival. If you had a basket of apples you would share them with your neighbours, and they would come to your door with an apple crisp in a pan. Money is no different. We should use it wisely and redistribute the excess intelligently. Share what you have and ask for what you need.
I find that lending is a very handy way to activate money.
IÂ recently made two small but significant loans. My dear friend Robin needed some cash to pay a carpenter friend to help build a structure at her Edible Landscape farm on the Sunshine Coast. She was telling me her problem, and how she really needed to start the structure right away. I was listening and commiserating, and suddenly it struck me, and I was amazed that it had not crossed my mind before – I could lend her the money she required. Her business is doing well, and one day she will come into some money,Â so there is a high chance the loan will be repaid in good time – but more importantly, I thought about all the good work Robin does in the world. I remembered the many times I have shown up distraught and city-frazzled on her doorstep, and she has fed me the last of her new potatoes, comforted me, and enriched my life beyond money’s measure. It was absurd to even hesitate! So I wrote her the cheque, and she hired the man (who no doubt needed the work), and now the structure is almost finished – a sweet new guest cabin, which she dubs “Carmen House”! I am thrilled. And can’t imagine how that money could have been better employed.
I also lent some money to my friend Erik Paulsson, to help him launch his new documentary/educational dvd, The Edge of the World. Erik is a dedicated artist and a big-time mensch, and I am so proud to have been able to help. And very excited that he will be bringing his doc on tour to Cortes Island soon.
And when I consider these loans,Â I ask myself -Â would I be happier knowing that money was sitting rotting in my bank account, accumulating a few pennies interest for me and a few more for the shareholders of the globe-raping multinational corporations who keep the banks afloat – or knowing it was out there doing such good work in the world, for the people I love. An easy choice, and energy well directed.
Of course I am not suggesting lending money to scammers or flakes; use your brain. And above all don’t ever lend money that you cannot “afford” to lose. My well-considered loans will probably come back in monetary energy; the odds are good – but even if they don’t, I know I will still eat, and on my deathbed I will feel well satisfied with the work my money has done in the world.
The second thing to do with money is spend it. That’s a whole nother pile of blogs/book chapters, how to spend money…but the point is, it exists to be spent. My mother told me that – she said “the money we have is for us to use – not to be left to you when we die” – and though it might have sounded harsh at the time, I am grateful for her instruction. You can’t take it with you, so spend it, carefully and well. And the more you can spend it within your own community the better – that will speed up the karmic cycle considerably.
Lend it and spend it, these are satisfying modes of exchange – but the most efficient thing to do with money is to give it away.
Lama Marut says that when you are down to your last 20 dollars the smartest thing you can do is give away ten dollars immediately. My friend Janet told me thereâ€™s a busker whoâ€™s often outside the local grocery store, who she always gives money to. He told her that heâ€™s found that if he hangs on to his money then his car breaks down! So he always tries to give away a little every day. Now, that might be verging on superstition, but I do find that giving away money engenders monetary karma so fast it makes my head spin.
I like PayPal. It allows me to move energy quickly and intuitively. When someone I respect has the courage and humility to ask me for money for a specific need, I give – usually just a little bit, $5, $20 – as truly, I don’t have much. But it feels like an immediate and tangible act of support. Putting it where my mouth is, so to speak. It is always received in kind. And I know that if and when the day comes for me to be doing the asking, I will do so without shame.
I don’t even necessarily need to understand or agree with the specific need. I just need to respect the asker, and I know that my demonstrated support will be come back with interest.
IÂ occasionally give money to causes and charities and global emergencies, as I feel called – which is not consistent or constant or predictable. I go by my gut. I no longer give money to political parties, as I believe they are the death of democracy – but occasionally i will give to individuals running for office, if I believe in their integrity.
I extend the same “rule of gut” to people on the street who reach out for spare change. I don’t feel able to judge them, or to evaluate their motives or their needs. They may spend the money to feed themselves, or to feed their kids, or to buy cigarettes or crack – I don’t know, and I don’t want to try to guess. They may be capable of “earning” money, or not – who am I to say? All I know is, they are individuals, and they asked. And in the moment of the ask we either connect or we don’t. If we don’t, then the give is not authentic. If we do, then the spare change comes from my heart, and I am satisfied with the exchange.
Lend it, spend it, give it away. But keep it moving, because it is always an exchange, energy for energy, as the wheel goes ’round.