Tuesday, April 22, 2008

When is enough enough?

I'm working through a few ideas on how to determine the right level of financial giving (as opposed to time or in-kind donations). My situation is a little out-of-the-ordinary because my income can vary widely from week to week, and is only slightly predictable (which means I have a good idea when to take a vacation, but that's about it). It's going to take some doing to find a comfortable plan, and darn it, I want to make a game of it.

GAME #1: My massage biz is mostly cash, so I decided to put all fives and tens into a jar earmarked for charitable donation. I mostly get twenties and higher - until I started doing this. I really thought it would be, like, $40 for the two weeks of the experiment, but it turned out to be $110. Okay, great, I'm sticking to my promise, but that represented 15% of my profits, which isn't really sustainable. Another problem is that the earmarked money is sitting here in cash, not conveniently in a bank account for check-writing. Sure, I could deposit it, but then it would just be part of the pool and not, y'know, distinct and special. So unless the charity benefiting is the panhandler on the corner (a 69-year-old drunk with high blood pressure, in case you're curious), this would need to be tweaked.

GAME #2: I figured out what my standard living expenses are (Manhattan rents, individual health insurance...it's ugly) as well as my First World financial needs (pension/IRA, rainy day savings). The plan for a couple of weeks is to donate 10% of any money I make over and above that amount, which could be anywhere from $0 to $80. Last week that figure was $445, so that means $45 goes to the greater good of the world. Perhaps that sounds a bit grandiose for an amount that wouldn't even cover my monthly cell phone bill, but that's how I'm feeling tonight. So wish me success in my work, since I'm not the only one who will benefit.

There will be more games and strategies as the weeks go on, while I find the perfect balance of fun and finance and filanthropy.

Charitable Act of the Day: Okay, it wasn't today, but over the weekend I saved a few bucks by getting to the train station in time to buy the ticket from the machine, thereby avoiding the on-board fee. So I took that $5 to The Bag Man on West 34th Street and bought a red knapsack for the school supply drive in Mexico that I'm planning to contribute to on vacation next month.

No comments: