Being rich isn’t about having money, says Grandad Ron

Grandad Ron disapproves of the motivation behind league tables based on the size of individuals’ bank balances. He believes ‘being rich’ ought to measure other things too, which is why he’s so keen on the Secret Pillow Project, the latest organisation to join the list supported by the Solo Expenses money management app in its Giving Back initiative. He explained why to his son Ollie…

“I suppose the classic example would be Ebenezer Scrooge. A man with a lot of money that didn’t make him happy,” said Ron, walking over to the bookcase and picking up his tattered and dog-eared copy of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

“Here’s a man who was so driven about generating more wealth that he was miserable, and inflicted that on the people around him – at least at the start of the book,” he said, tossing the volume onto the sofa beside his son Ollie.

“We get too wrapped up in having a lot of money. The Sunday Times Rich List, or what about Forbes in America – they have lists of Billionaires, Millionaires, the richest people in Texas or the 400 wealthiest people in America. It just goes on and on. And all of them are based on raw numbers, and I think it’s all wrong. Are these people happy? Who knows? Are they doing anything to make others happy? I’ve no idea. That information isn’t recorded. And when you’ve got so much money, can you actually feel the effect of having it…?”

He paused to catch his breath, and Ollie jumped into the conversational gap. “You’re pretty passionate about this, aren’t you, Dad?” he asked.

“I am son, I am. They have all that money, and they’re surrounded by ‘things’ that they don’t really need half of the time. And yet if they were to give just one percent of one percent of every million they owned to the right kind of worthy cause, they wouldn’t feel any different – but the money they give away could be life changing for someone.

“Being rich ought to be about quality of life; not just for the individual, but for others as well. That’s what makes the Secret Pillow project so good, and why I’m so pleased to see that Solo Expenses is putting money into it on a regular basis.”

Ollie held up a hand, not wishing to interrupt his father. “Why is it a secret, if it’s so good?” he wanted to know.

Fritha Vincent’s idea
“The project’s not secret; it’s the pillows they make and sell that hold a secret, because each one folds out to be a quilt. It’s a social business empowering women in India through making and selling of useful, purposeful products. A woman called Fritha Vincent started it. She’s in the picture at the top of this blog. The vision of the project is for all women to have the confidence and resources to make their own choices for themselves and their children.

“It’s a brilliant idea ­– and that’s the clever part is that when you buy one of their products, the money you spend goes to someone, somewhere, who needs the money more than you do. There’s a woman called Shaheena in India. The money she gets from making secret pillows will go towards school fees for her son, and who knows what he could become with the power of a proper education behind him? And if that’s not enriching the lives of him and his mum, then I don’t know what is. And I’m richer as well, because I’ve bought one, so and I feel good about being part of the journey Shaheena and her son are going on.”

And it’s Mother’s Day too…
He realised his voice had been rising as he had grown more emotional. In a softer tone, he added: “And that one pillow is enriching your life as well. You’re sitting on it. All over the UK people will be buying gifts for their mums on March 26th because it’s Mother’s Day. Buy one of these secret pillows for your own mum, and she’ll get a lot of pleasure from wrapping your kids up in it, and the woman who made it will probably be someone’s mum as well, so she’ll get a lift in her spirits too. I don’t know why you haven’t got your phone out to order one already. Their website is at www.secretpillow.org.uk , son. Crack on.”

Picture: Julia Neal Photography 2015