The Magic Wand of Generosity

Personal Money Planning |

By Gary Silverman, CFP®

In my grasp is a slightly pointy stick. I bought the stick for a dollar at the latest Wichita Falls downtown art walk. I’m guessing it used to be a chopstick and someone smeared the top third of it with gunk from a hot glue gun and then coated the whole thing with wood stain.

Or, in the mind of any young person or an older one like me with some imagination, it is a wand from Harry Potter. I know this even though I have never seen a Harry Potter movie, just like most people would recognize a light saber even if they never saw a Star Wars movie. It’s just so ubiquitous.

The stick is sitting on my bookcase now, not because I wanted a wand, but because young people made it and were selling it. As I walked by their table at the Art Walk one of them called out for me to look at their selection. There were various objects on display.

I stopped. The way I saw it, making and selling was a worthwhile experience for them. I wanted to be a part of it. The lead salesperson of the group was quite good at hawking their wares. Nothing interested me, and I’ll admit that the stick, er…wand, wasn’t exactly a masterpiece. It was priced at a dollar—for a stick smeared with glue and coated with stain that, as far as I’ve been able to test it, has absolutely no magical powers.

Yet I could afford to not have that dollar, and the detriment to my savings paled in comparison to the emotional (and perhaps financial) gain the young folks experienced.

Ever since a dollar or ten was no longer a problem to part with, I’ve been doing this. It probably comes from my father who was a very generous man. I’m a complete sucker come Girl Scout cookie month and no soccer kid walks away from my office without a chocolate bar being sold. The reality of the food not being all that good for me, and my sitting here with a stick I don’t need is not important. What is can be seen in the eyes of a child who experiences success in the scary and intimidating world of business.

So, when you are out there walking past a table with a child standing behind it, eyes beaming at you, and saying whatever sales pitch they’ve memorized for the occasion, do me a favor: Stop, open your purse or wallet, and make their day.

You’ll make your day as well.

Gary Silverman, CFP® is the founder of Personal Money Planning, LLC, a Wichita Falls retirement planning and investment management firm and author of Real World Investing.