Cash and hors d’oeuvres

My friends and I have discovered an interesting way to celebrate events like finishing a milestone or the coming of a new year: we’re giving each other cash.  Specifically, today we’re giving each other $20.11.  I’ve never had so much fun passing cash around before.  Suddenly, cash is as cool as a party favor or hors d’oeuvre.  What is it about WingCash that makes cash fun, and will others have this experience, or is it just me?

Cash has always been serious thing for me.  I count and save it carefully.  I have devoted a lot of thought to deciding how to spend it or give it away.  For most of my life, I operated under the impression that money I give away never comes back to me; I believed every cent I receive comes from personal labor.

I would like to relate a little story.  Around the age of ten, I once noticed the design of the packaging of my family’s Commodore 64.  The entire box was a single sheet of corrugated cardboard with no staples, glue, or tape required to maintain the structure.  It had an origami-like flavor: with nothing but folds and cuts, someone had created a box that was strong, easy to open and close, and stayed closed when you wanted it closed.  (At the time, I attributed the brilliant design to Commodore, but today I suspect it is actually a very old design.)

I made my own cardboard box after the same design by cutting a laundry detergent box.  I was impressed to discover my box was built well even though my measurements were not very precise.  That box became one of my treasures.  I made a second, larger one and painted it silver, but the first one lasted longer.  I still have that box now, and it is still sturdy, though it is worn.

That treasured box is where I kept my pile of coins.  I collected coins there for a long time, saving them for something important, though I did not know what.  Those coins had extra value to me because they were stored in my box.  For years, nothing seemed valuable enough to pay for with my coin collection.

In 1999, I finally found a good way to spend those coins.  I spent them on something useful, fun, and not just for me.  I spent them as part of the down payment on my first new car.  I still thoroughly enjoy that car and it still seems to work as well as the day I bought it.  But why did it take so long for me to find something valuable enough to spend my special coins?

I did not think it was right to spend those coins until I found something useful, fun, and not just for me.  Nothing before my car qualified: everything was either just for me or just for someone else, or it was fun but not very useful, or it was useful but not something to get excited about.  A new car is certainly useful, the car I chose is definitely fun (for the driver at least), and it has 4 seats so it was obviously not just for me.

So now here I am, a penny pincher from birth, passing coins around freely.  What changed?  Well, cash has always been useful, but not really very fun, and too formal to call it “not just for me”.  I feel like WingCash is changing that.  The formality of cash is gone; what replaces it seems to be an emerging culture of passing cash around at will and taking what you need.

What makes it fun?  It’s easy, but ease alone does not make something fun.  There has to be some challenge.  The challenge is to use the cash wisely.  I think the wisest thing to do with cash is to help the people around you, especially your family and friends, but also the good people who run businesses and non-profit organizations.  That is who I want WingCash to be good for, in that order: family, friends, businesses, and non-profits.

So happy new year, everyone!  It looks like 2011 is going to be a great year.

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