The idea of free money sounds good at first, but the reality of it is that it’s rarely free. Even if it is free in a monetary sense, some other price is usually paid in exchange for so-called free money. The price paid for free money varies greatly, but it’s always there. When we feel bad about a free money transaction, it means we’ve acquired an unwanted, unwritten debt that we feel we must repay. Sometimes we’re lured into accepting free money in exchange for a stealthy commitment of some kind. Other times we may be aware of the conditions attached to the free money but accept it anyway. For example, most of us have gotten the “You’ve won a FREE cruise!” or “Win a FREE shopping spree!” mailings at some point or another; reading through the material quickly gives a clue as to what they’re really after – your time and YOUR money.

The bottom line in all these scenarios is that there is some form of exchange going on, so it’s truly not free. One possible exception might be free grants or scholarships for college. But, even these aren’t free – taxpayers are usually paying the bill and the expectation is that you will go to college, do well, and enhance society with your learning at a later time. If you make a lot of money, you one day may be approached to set up a scholarship to help others…and so on – which leads to the relationship between free money and giving.

Free money isn’t really free unless it is being given with no strings attached. Even among family members, this is rare. This may cause you to think a little bit more about what’s really going on during Christmas and birthdays. Giving without guilt being part of the equation takes practice and understanding. The same is true of receiving. To be a good giver, we also need to be good receivers. The degree to which we can allow ourselves to receive we will also grow our ability to give. It’s all about keeping the flow going in our lives. If money is being offered to us with strings attached in any way, we have every right to refuse the transaction, especially if it’s for a price we don’t want to pay. But, if money is being offered to us with no strings attached, we can gladly accept the money as long as we also accept the responsibility to create something new and good with it or pass it on in some other way to someone else, keeping the flow alive.