Free Money Day set to stir up fresh thinking on economics

Free Money Day next week prompts people to think about concepts of value and sharing by handing out their own money to strangers. How would society be transformed if our relationship with money was more conscious and heartfelt?

How would you react if a complete stranger turned to you in the street and handed you money, expecting nothing in return?

That is the premise of Free Money Day – taking place on Monday – an annual, global event to open people’s eyes to sharing and alternative economic ideas. Participants are asked to pass money to strangers, two coins or notes at a time, asking that they keep one and pass the other on to a stranger in turn.

Donnie Maclurcan, co-founder of the Post Growth Institute, organised the first Free Money Day four years ago and the concept has since sparked events and exchanges all over the world. Last year’s Free Money Day prompted people to take part in 138 events in 24 countries, distributing money and unlocking fresh conversations about the benefits of economies based on sharing.

Donnie urged people to visit the website and pledge to take part on Monday, offering anything from 20p coins.

He told Positive News: “I think people do have that sharing, pay-it-forward instinct but we have simply been so conditioned out of that practice. For many people, offering and accepting ‘free money’ places them in a space of real vulnerability. In my experience, many are unwilling to accept money for themselves but when they are asked to pass half on to someone else, they’re more at ease with the idea. It opens the door to so much exciting potential in terms of sharing.”

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Free Money Day has previously prompted the manager of a shop in Portugal to hand out free DVDs for 24 hours, and the owners of an organic food project in south-east Asia to give away $30,000 worth of their land for free.

Donnie recounts another moment which he found particularly poignant, when two elderly women were shocked to be given some coins on a Free Money Day in Sydney, Australia.

“They walked away, had a discussion, then one woman returned to me with tears in her eyes,” he explained. “She said that in all her 80 years, no one had ever given her anything for free. Just thinking about it now makes me feel warm. All it took to unlock such emotion in her were two coins.”

Not all responses to Free Money Day participants are as positive however, and some have questioned why money should be at the heart of a day promoting sharing at all.

“We have very good support from the likes of Mark Boyle, author of the Moneyless Manifesto and one of the biggest proponents of living without money,” explained Donnie. “I think people understand that combining sharing and gift ideas with the concept of redistribution of money really is a step in the right direction.

“This is a chance to turn things upside down, have some fun and feel liberated, and give some money away in the process.”