Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The $5 Project

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If you had an extra $5, what could you do with it?


Not much huh?

I probably spend that much on the gas used to get me to work but with nothing left over to buy coffee to keep me awake. Five dollars doesn’t seem to go very far at all anymore.

photo by Sarah Gilbert

photo by Sarah Gilbert

A Risky Investment

I’m always looking for a guaranteed investment. The kind that always pays off in the end.

As a math nerd, I do the numbers. The numbers and I take a little journey. What if I had $10,000 to invest into that one stock nobody has discovered yet? And then what if it went up 100x in value over the next year? And then what if I sold the stock?

It’s fun to think about isn’t it? I bet I know what you will be doing the rest of the day.

Of course, those are big if’s. Anything but guaranteed. There is always the threat of the other potential story.

What if I had $10,000 to invest, and I lost it all?

Pieces of a Rainbow

Last week I attended the Love Does Stuff conference hosted by Bob Goff. The building was decorated with floating balloons. A sea of orange and blue and red and yellow.

Each balloon seemed to possess a little bit of extra bounce. It felt as if each one was smiling at me. Each one a piece of a rainbow willing to endure separation to join us for 2 days.

I wondered if the balloons were filled with whimsy instead of helium. I wondered if Bob blew them up himself.

After parading through the disarticulated rainbow, I was given a bag of goodies, similar to what is received at most conferences. Inside were advertisements by sponsors. A coffee mug. Fresh balloons waiting to be filled, as if Bob was hoping we were full of whimsy too. And a card.

I opened mine and was surprised. Inside was a 5 dollar bill and a note.

How far does $5 go these days?

Maybe you can’t buy a ton, but you can certainly change someone’s day! What if you bough that stranger behind you in line at Starbucks a coffee? What if you bough some stamps and and handed them out at the post office.

$5 goes a lot farther than we could imagine. Especially if the person you inspire pays it forward. So what are YOU going to do with your $5?

How much fun is that?

A Worthy Investment

Bob was teaching it that it doesn’t really take much from us to make someone else’s day a little better. These little things are worthy investments.

  • Smile.
  • Bring donuts to work.
  • Engage in a conversation with a stranger.
  • Call an old friend.
  • Promote a friend’s website or business.
  • Send someone a card when it isn’t their birthday.
  • Do $5 worth of something for a random stranger. Just because.

The $5 Project

What can you do with $5? Not much. But it could be one of the best investments of your life.

In case you haven’t noticed, I am asking you to join me in a project. Would you be willing to do something for someone else today?

I know what you’re thinking right now. How is Jeremy going to get $5 through the internet and into my hand so that he can give me the opportunity to experience making someone’s day brighter.

I’m not.

But I am generous enough to let you use $5 of your own. Consider it a sacrifice on your part. The beauty of sacrifice is that the more it cost you, the more benefit you receive.

There is no pressure. I won’t be disappointed if decline. After all, you wouldn’t be doing it for me. You would be doing it so that you can catch a taste of generosity and whimsy.

I hope you discover that although $5 won’t buy you much, if you are generous with it, generous with your life, you could get way more out of it than the face value. You can turn $5 into a guaranteed investment.

If you do choose to join me in this experiment, encourage the rest of us by telling us what you did with your $5 in the comments.

Leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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12 Replies

  1. I would have loved being at the conference! I actually was looking forward to hearing about the cool things that would come out of that experience! I will be home all day with my kids and unlikely to encounter any strangers. But I will look for opportunities to invest in someone through the internet or phone!

  2. What an awesome challenge! I might just have to accept it 🙂

  3. I am in Jeremy.

    I know what $5 will do; feed three children 3 simple meals for a day (in an children orphanage in Kenya).

    It’s interesting reading this today ( I read your posts but am not always able to click through and comment : ) ) because tonight I am posting about building a new kitchen for the orphanage in Kenya.

    Your thoughts are timely for me 🙂 thanks for the encouragement.

  4. Jesse Hoover

    Well Jeremy I did it….at Starbucks I left money at the counter to pay for the next person who walked in. I ducked away in a corner because I can be funny like that. I didn’t want the next person to come in to feel akward about someone else paying for their drink. Hopefully it will have an impact on them to show kindness to another person. Great little project to help me think of others. And fun too!

  5. I’m in, I’m in! But not tonight…too late, but tomorrow. Watch out tomorrow!

  6. Love this! Challenge on.

  7. Christian Writers

    I’m in. Thanks for the challenge. My church in college did something similar where you buy the person behind you their fast food, coffee, etc and leave a note for person giving them the “Good News.”

  8. Jennifer

    I was just at a store where they were selling four children’s chapter books for $5. I took it as a sign. I bought four books for my neighbour’s child who is just starting to read chapter books and tucked them into her mailbox.

  9. This is awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I would do the same. Hide so the person doesn’t know who it was. Sometimes we are better off doing good in secret instead of in the open.

  11. Is there a link for the orphanage website?

  12. The orphanage doesn’t have a website (another thing i am hoping to help them do) It’s a very humble home, deep in rural Kenya (200 miles from the capital, Nairobi). this is the post i did about the project . I’d be happy to send you more details though, if you’d like.

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