The Best $20 You’ll Ever Spend

Every issue of The Sun magazine has a section called “Readers Write,” in which readers contribute personal stories related to the month’s theme. The theme for the May 2018 issue is “Broke.”

I loved this story because it shows how a small gesture can mean the world to someone who is struggling — and how it inspires those who read it to heighten their awareness about opportunities to help someone who’s struggling who they might have otherwise not noticed.

I’ve been on the receiving end of such kindness, and I can tell you that my gratitude for what I was given extended far beyond the material gift itself. And I can also affirm how tremendously rewarding it is to help others in this way.

That’s why I recommend that you always keep an extra $20 bill in your pocket or purse. You just can’t imagine how meaningful it may be for the person you offer it to.

Here is the story that is in the May 2018 issue of The Sun.



Bankruptcy allowed our family to breathe again but took away instant gratification. No more lines of credit or safety nets. If we didn’t have the cash in the bank, we didn’t buy it.

I’d recently promised to make a meal for our family and two others, one having just lost their house in a fire: a total of fifteen people. Pulling this off on our budget would require an act of divine intervention. My husband had five dollars in his wallet, and I had fifty dollars in change.

I told my husband I was not going to buy groceries with change.

“Then I guess you aren’t making the meal,” he responded.

I couldn’t let down the family who’d lost their home. So, my purse heavy with coins, I headed to the discount grocery store to get the ingredients for three casseroles, rolls, and salad. I have to admit, I kind of enjoyed the challenge. I was excited when the total came in at just under fifty dollars.

As I counted out the nickels and pennies, the woman behind me in line said, “It gets tight toward the end of the month, doesn’t it?” She was being kind, I could tell, but her comment made me want to cry.

“I’m making a meal for my friend whose house burned down,” I told her.

“The universe will reward you,” she replied.

I hope so, I thought, my eyes getting wet.

In the parking lot I was putting my key in the car door when tears started to fall. I got in and let the sobs come.

A tap on the window startled me, and I looked up to see the kind woman from the checkout line. I opened my door, and she placed a twenty-dollar bill in my hand and then held it with both of hers. “Thank you,” I managed to say. Then she placed another twenty dollars in my palm. I just kept thanking her.

Paradise, California


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4 Responses to “The Best $20 You’ll Ever Spend”

  1. Gina Says:

    Thank you Phil . . . again! I just renewed my subscription to The Sun which I let lapse a few years back. I adore this publication. Sy Safransky has created and maintained such a beautiful vehicle that brings us personal, artistic and often raw glimpses into what makes us human. Like you, “he discovered that the real news is what connects us all”.

    I am so grateful for connecting with you and look forward to reading more of your writings. You get it. See you again soon, I hope.


  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Likewise, Gina. See you soon!

  3. toblogtoday Says:

    I loved this post! Thank you. Have a great day, Phil.

  4. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Glad you found value in it!

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