Why giving back is the cool thing to do

Grandad Ron Banks thinks we should all get involved in making life better for other people because it improves our own quality of life at the same time. He took some ‘man time’ with his son Ollie to explain why, using an explanation that started with a glass of lager…

I’ve always thought we should look for life lessons wherever we can find them, and the perfect example presented itself only yesterday, on the first sunny day we seem to have had for ever.

I’d taken Ollie to the pub; a bit of male bonding after his son Jack had been born (though Jack didn’t want to come with us). I’d bought the first round, as dads do; pint of Guinness for me and a half a lager for him.

Ollie looked at the condensation on his glass, and slowly drew his finger up it, and smiled. I said: “That’s a metaphor for life, that is, son.”

Ollie raised his eyebrows. “Frankly, dad, I could take you more seriously if you didn’t have a Guinness moustache.”

Well, he had a point, so I wiped it off and said: “Your glass of lager; it’s a metaphor for life.”
“Go on,” he said; “I’ll buy it. Why is a glass of lager a metaphor for life?”

So I told him; and now I’ll share with you what I said. A glass of lager is a glass of lager – but the sheen of condensation that forms on the outside of the glass adds something a little intangible. There’s no charge for it; it has no smell, and it has no taste – but somehow it makes the whole thing more appetising; more drinkable; more valuable.

Grandad Ron BanksIn life, we work and rest, eat and drink, and do the things we have to do on a day-to-day basis. But I’m firmly of the view that all of us could do those things with a lighter heart by adding in little acts of kindness to others; by doing things we’re not forced to do, but that we can choose, and that will bring a smile to a stranger’s face. And, like a glass of lager, that’s pretty cool as well.

Solo Expenses – an exciting way to give
That’s why I’m excited about Solo Expenses and its ‘giving back’ philosophy. Channelling a proportion of profit, as the company does, into worthy causes around the world is a great idea. It helps people we will never meet, and people who we might know, and it helps the planet too.

And what’s more, because Solo Expenses does it, its customers are doing it too, albeit indirectly. The money involved isn’t necessarily a huge amount, but it’s inescapable that even small sums can make a big difference.

There’s a real danger that we’re so busy in getting on with our lives, I told Ollie, that we overlook the lives of others, which are poorer than ours through no fault of their own. And in that context ‘poorer’ isn’t about only money; it’s about quality of life as well.

Everyone deserves a chance in life. Those of us in the privileged world should remember that. Even in our world there are people fighting their own personal battles that we know nothing about. Turning our backs on all of them is wrong. Spending a moment for a few kind words and to make a little donation makes a bigger difference than you can imagine, and, like the condensation on that glass of lager, makes your life better as well. And who doesn’t want a happier, more fulfilled life?

Now, I have to be perfectly honest. I don’t use Solo Expenses properly yet, and I admitted that to Ollie. But that’ll change. I will do it, and I’ll do it because I understand that managing my personal expenses with it will allow me to support everyone at Solo Expenses in their efforts to help people who really need it – blind people, Alzheimer’s sufferers, a Kenyan orphanage, a not-for-profit arts organisation. All of them are made better because someone cares. If we all cared a little bit more, life would be better for everyone, and to use a modern phrase, What’s not to like?

I’m a Solo Expenses convert
When I told him all this Ollie was pleased most of all that I’d promised to be a Solo Expenses convert. He’s loved it, and the results it’s given him at home and at work, ever since he started using it, but he became a real champion when he bumped into Sunita Nigam, who owns the company, when the family was flying to Florida.

Anyway, I made my promise. “Listen son,” I said. “I grew up in a time when we didn’t have supermarkets, television was in black and white, and we got things mended instead of throwing them out and buying new. I’d be the first to admit that I’ve let technology pass me by at bit. One day soon you’re going to have to show me in details how Solo Expenses works – but not now; you’ve got more important things to worry about. Mine’s a pint, and you need another glass of life metaphor. Off you go.”