If you’ve ever read the King James Bible, then your mind is probably filled with thousands of memorable quotes that you recognize everyday in society. While actively practicing “turning the other cheek” or “treating your neighbor as you would want to be treated” may not really affect your financial bottom line, there is one that surprisingly does. Providing a helpful favor for family and friends when they need it is not only the moral thing to do, it’s also the best thing for your wallet. You may be shocked to find out that it is actually “better to give than to receive” in more ways than one.
The actual value of a favor is unique to everyone involved. The person needing the favor may be in a real jam and even the smallest of things can help them out of it. On the other hand, the person providing the favor may not even think of it as an inconvenience, so the cost is virtually zero. In taking a look at a few real life situations where a favor can actually be defined in dollars and cents, you’ll see that when the opportunity to provide a favor shows itself, you should jump at it–financially speaking of course.
Example #1: The Airport Pick-up – There’s a pretty good chance that everyone reading this has at one time or another had to either ask someone else to pick them up at the airport, or had someone ask you to do the same for them. Sure, sometimes it can be quite the hassle to leave work early or waste the good part of your weekend driving to and from an airport, but the value is simply too great to deny. Assuming you live 30 minutes each way from the airport, the cost in giving the favor is 2 gallons of gas and ~90 minutes of your time. Valuing your time at a premium, the total cost to the picker-upper is $40. Viewing this from the other end of the spectrum, a 30-minute taxi ride or keeping your car parked in an airport garage can easily run you around $100, so spending $40 to cash on something worth $100 in the future is a very wise decision.
Example #2: Helping Someone Move – Moving from one house or apartment to another can be a traumatic experience, especially if you hire a moving company to help you out. If you browse the web, you’ll find thousands of horror stories from movers about items that were lost, damaged, or even stolen. And unless you purchase insurance (an additional fee of course to ensure the movers do their job), you’re outta luck. Asking your friends to help you move is asking a lot, but once again the give is less costly than the take. Losing a weekend day is probably worth around $150-$200 to the average American, but the help you are providing is worth much more than that. Mover’s are expensive and there’s no guarantee you’ll get back everything they touch. With good friends, they’ll certainly respect your property a lot more than a stranger will, and if they steal anything, well you know where they live!
Far Out Example #3: Committing Perjury – Ok, so while the first two examples were more of the “garden variety” kind, this example, while somewhat unreal, also displays the value of give vs. take. Often times in court trials, defendants are in a real bind with no foreseeable way to escape big time charges. What would you do if a good friend of yours, whom you truly truly believe to be innocent, was up for murder and he/she asked you for an alibi? Granting your friend this favor could cost you a felony perjury charge (and a trip to the confessional) that is punishable by up to 5 years in prison (Perjury charges are quite rare actually), or it could cost you nothing (still including the trip to the confessional). The value of this lie to your friend might just be the rest of his life and should you come through, you can count on some extra special treatment from your friend in the future. Is it worth it?
All of the above assumptions are simply taking into account the financial gain and loss of asking for or proving a favor. You could certainly argue that the reason for helping someone out shouldn’t be about benefiting financially, but while that logic is admirable and respected, it certainly isn’t felt by everyone. Here’s hoping the next time someone asks you to help them out, you do it for any reason you can think of.
Published or updated February 5, 2010.