5 Money Lessons From Street Solicitors

street solicitorOf all the guidance we can receive from observation alone, some of the most valuable lessons about budgeting and finance we learn from our parents and role models. As adults, the world becomes our campus, even the woeful street corners. Here are five universally recognizable street solicitors that have a thing or two to teach us about money.


The lady that asks for pennies

This lady is not going to give you a long-winded cautionary tale in a bid for your sympathies. In her wisdom, she simply asks, Got a penny?â. Her minimalistic style speaks to small-time investment and taking the low-risk stock choices on your 401-k. Do you have a single cent you can spare? Statistics would argue in her favor, just like the quantitative data arguing against lofty stock picks.


The unabashedly honest wino

This guy is looking for donations to the Get-Me-A-Bottle Fund, and he’s not above telling you so. He’s a high-rolling gambler, placing bets on the notion that transparency will both shock and appeal to logic. Keep your pennies â“ this guy takes nonchalant leaps of faith at every metropolitan intersection and has little use for anyone who wants him to change. Just like some of the more peculiar trading behavior on Wall Street, being purpose-driven but flippant is less likely to make you a millionaire on a whim. Just more likely to decimate your portfolio.


The ex-CEO still carrying a briefcase

This guy is easy to spot â“ he’s the one in the lounge-lizard’s collared shirt with a politician’s hand gestures. His entreaties for spare change are more polished than most used car sales pitches and will leave you walking away wondering what just happened. He could probably tell you more about avoiding capital gains and skewing the facts on your income tax return than anyone ought, plus, more than likely, a few scary stories reaffirming that the IRS are not to be trifled with. Don’t make deductions capriciously or without investigating the legitimacy of those breaks.


The man speaking to no discernible individual

On several downtown strolls, you might hear someone within earshot advising a mysterious party to exercise care when using that chainsawâ, except laden with enough slang to make a pirate blush. What he’s really saying, in so many flowery words, is that aimless networking is a practice in futility. Who are you trying to reach, and what are your financial goals? Don’t waste your financial ambition by sending it out into the wind. That’s about as strategic as putting a message in a bottle.


The lady that monologues her life story

She wants a bus ticket, but during the course of transmitting her request, relating her rich and storied childhood became a prerequisite to your charity. You may learn her father’s favorite sports team or her sister’s college GPA; how is one to know of its accuracy? This is basic resume-exaggeration and predictably, employing her tactics in the quest for employment can land you in hot water down the road, bus ticket or not. Relying on your true merits and genuine talents will only make your sense of accomplishment more vivid when the time comes.

(Guest contributor Rae Alton is a content specialist and tax dork from Greensboro, North Carolina; her personal hero is Alex P. Keaton.)

photo by fangel