If you’d do it for free, do I still have to pay you?

Two guys were talking on the city bus.  One is a musician and the other is his friend/fan.  The musician had recently released his special jazz CD and is telling the friend/fan all about the music.  They discuss the names of his original compositions, what instruments are on the tracks, the musician’s influences and other details of the CD.

The friend/fan asks “How much is it?”

The musician says “I’m not asking that much for it… only $5.00.”  The friend/fan reaches in his pocket for the money (one would think), at which point the musician says “No that’s alright.  I’ll give it to you.”  The fan protests and says “But, I want to support you.” The musician insists on giving the friend/fan a copy of the CD but doesn’t have one with him.  But from their conversation, I know that he will give the friend/fan a copy.

I have seen this scenario time and time again.  A face-to-face salesperson feels guilty for charging for their own products or services.  Lately, this scenario has caused me question this modus operandi.  Cam anyone make money without charging?

If you would do it for free, do I still have to pay you?

Do you want to make money or not?

If you do it for free, shouldn’t everyone else do it for free too?

Don’t get me wrong.  I have generous friends and I am generous with them too (at least I hope so).  I favor charitable giving as a wealth building tool, and have my own favorite charities.  The world is a better place when people donate time, money, used items and in-kind gifts to help the less fortunate.  Giving creates a win-win situation. When we give and expect nothing in return, we are liberated from the attachment to things.  Giving is not just about things, it is more importantly about putting value on people.

We can step up our give-back when we create opportunities for the less fortunate ~ the “hand up, not the hand out” as my friend John Hope Bryant, would say.  Financial donations, training programs, expertise, books, workshops, clothing, tools, consultations are all well intentioned donations to people and organizations that improve society.  Yet, one has to have money to have money to give.  So why do some people have a hard time charging their clients?

Just starting out

Lack confidence

No track record

No system

Need training

No coach

Making money is about more than money!  It is about adding value to the world which rewards us back by increasing our finances.  Making money from your own talents (whether it is your own business, vocation or avocation) is an empowering experience.  When businesses (small, large or even side hustles) make money, more people can be reached, helped and served.  More money can go back into the economy, even it is only within the community.  Every dollar is not mean to go global.

I didn’t know either of the gentlemen on the city bus and it is certainly not my place to judge.  But I felt as if this was a symbolic conversation of what is possible for artists, musicians and their fans and small businesses everywhere.  I hope that people become more confident and systematic with their sales, when the people that they know, like and trust want to purchase from them.  Especially for this guy, I was impressed that his friend/fan wanted to support artistic talent at a time when so many musicians have seen better days. Regardless, I suspect that musician is a person who gives to charity.  The money moguls that I know all have their favorite charities, and some have their own nonprofits.

And here is the big leap from this bus conversation to my main concern ~ kids and money.  One of the most important skills to develop in life is financially stability.  By circulating money – which includes making an income, using money wisely and donating money to charity – the chances are improved.


Candi Sparks is the author of children’s books about money Can I Have Some Money?.
Educating Children About Money, Max Gets It! 
and Nacho Money.  She is the Brooklyn mother of two and is on Facebook and Twitter.

About candi sparks

Candi Sparks is a fully licensed financial professional and a Brooklyn mother of two. She works with private clients, business owners, the NYC Department of Education, faith based, non profit and community organizations on financial education and implementing financial strategies for success. Events are fun, interactive and solid financial information. Sparks Fly, financial literacy for YOU(th) Learn more so you can live more! toll free: 866.556.2432
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