Personal Finance Challenge #42: Pay It Forward

In keeping with the subject of social capital and good will toward everyone I decided to talk about a somewhat well known idea called, “Pay It Forward”

I first came upon the subject after being enticed to watch the movie of the same name, “Pay It Forward

It is an emotionally moving movie that was adapted from a novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

The basic idea is that when someone pays you favor, instead of paying that same person back, you pay it forward to another equally deserving person. Hence, you are paying it forward instead of backward.

Wikipedia has a great workup on the whole concept of Paying It Forward, and shows it dates back as far as a Greek play written in 317 BC.

Perhaps another way to think of this concept is to give freely without expecting anything in return. Many people give with expectation of return. I will lend you this money and you will pay me back. “Tit for Tat

I would argue that it is better to give without an expectation of return so as to avoid harsh feelings with those you give to, and to free your mind from the doubt and worry that accompanies an expected return.

I would argue even further that should that same person return to you what you have freely given you should ask them to find a person in similar need and give it to them. Thus, you can put into practice the art of paying it forward.

Do not underestimate the importance of good will in all of this. Most good people do not make light of gifts given so freely. They will tell of your good deeds to the next person and your social circle will gladly expand.

As always, I note that the reward for such an investment is an eventual return. But do not let the motivation of greed be the main factor in doing such an act. Let it be more love and empathy that motivates you. And think about how many gifts you have been giving in your lifetime. How many have you repaid?

It is good to be thankful for all gifts received, and to give gladly and freely when you are able. Pay It Forward when you can, and you will be better off for it.

This is our 42th challenge in The Personal Finance Challenge Series…