On September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers, one of the world’s largest investment banks, filed for bankruptcy. This incident, which has become symbolic of the Global Financial Crisis, triggered a series of events which contributed to global financial mayhem, the repercussions of which are still being felt today.
Free Money Day is a global invitation for people to explore, in a liberating and fun way, what it might be like if our relationship to money were a little different. On September 15th, worldwide, people will hand out their own money to complete strangers, two coins or notes at a time, asking the recipients to pass one of these coins or notes on to someone else. It’s an opportunity to start fresh conversations about money, sharing, and anything else that might come up.
Motivation for the day
Money, as a medium for exchange, helps keep many economies running. A certain level of income is vital for people within such systems to be able to meet their basic needs. However, research consistently suggests that, beyond a certain point, having more money does not increase an individual’s wellbeing. We also know that happiness is highly related to how socially connected we are, that giving money away can contribute to individual happiness, and that opportunities to have informal conversations with people in our communities are also significant for wellbeing.
Our obsession with making more money as individuals is mirrored by our societal addiction to unending economic growth, despite the fact that neither of these, at the end of the day, makes many us any happier. These fixations might be pretty comical if the results of pursuing them weren’t seriously impacting people’s employment situations, livelihoods, ability to access food, and even the stability of the climate. The money systems in which we are currently enmeshed are fundamentally unstable – they create bubbles, and a destructive boom-bust cycle, which result in loss of jobs, homes, health, and even lives.
The world financial systems, which are based on exponential growth, are fundamentally incompatible with a world that has limited physical, biological and energy resources. Profound changes, not band-aid measures to keep broken systems running a little longer, are needed regarding the way our dominant economic systems are organized.
Perhaps it’s time for ‘signal interruptions’ – things that get us questioning what we believe to be true and what we truly value. Free Money Day is one way to playfully interrupt the ‘more money/more economic growth’ signal. It’s a fun and exciting means to have the courageous conversations we need around things like ‘how much money is enough?’, ‘do we always need to grow our economies?’, ‘how well is economic competitiveness really serving us?’ and ‘does sharing make more common sense?’ With collaborative consumption now worth $110 billion, we believe the time is ripe for all of us to cash in on making some real change!