My name is Phil. As of right now, I’m twenty-one years old.
My goal is to donate 10% of my post-tax income to charity for the rest of my life. Tithing, except I’m not religious and I give to the charity of my choice.
This blog is mostly about making money and giving back, but I’m sure I’ll write about other things as I go along.
I’m also using this blog as a way to make my goal into a sort-of public social contract and show other people that, just like investing in a 401k, little contributions over a lifetime can make a huge difference. Right now, I work as a freelance writer for Overcoming Odds, a non-profit that’s aiming to revolutionize the adoption process, along with whatever other gigs I can pick up on the side. I also own a small business, Quick Cup, that sells disposable shaker cups (think “a monthly supply of Blender Bottles that you use once and throw away”).
Put together, all this nets me roughly ~$15/week. Before taxes. If I record a profit.
My real day job is in a factory making shims and fastener equipment for the automotive and aerospace industries. I’m not an engineer or anything. I’m a grunt. On the bright side, though, just last week I got paid well above minimum wage to hand-deburr parts for a Space-X rocket while listening to an audiobook of The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life. Then I personally hand-delivered them to Elon Musk. Guess which part of that was true.
On the not-so-bright side, hand-deburring for 10 hours straight is boring as hell. The Snowball was pretty good, though.
My income depends on whether or not I get overtime, but I’m willing to wager that it’s at least $25-30k/year. Not too shabby for a junior in college who took a semester off of school because my university fucked me. (Will link to another post).
That amounts to roughly 2-2.5k of donations a year.
Admittedly, I don’t have a lot of money at the moment. I pay $850/month for a two-bedroom apartment (in Kent, Ohio!). My roommate backed out right after I signed the lease (bad, bad idea; even though I could technically afford it, signing something before it’s a 100% guarantee is just silly — it’s a mistake I will not make again). Instead of searching for a new roomie, I just talked to the landlord and got the lease reduced to five months. I like living on my own, anyway.
I might not have a lot of money right now.
But I do have vision. I have a killer work ethic. I know that one day I *will* make six figures — I don’t doubt it at all.
That’s not what I’m worried about. Those things are a part of my future. My nose will not leave the grindstone until I’ve made it.
Instead, I’m worried about what happens when I finally do have money. At that point, will I be able to practice what I preach and give $20k to charity? Financially? Sure. If I’m making a multiple-six-figure income I could afford it no problem. But psychologically? That’s what I’m worried about. If I don’t make it a habit to donate regularly now, will it ever happen? I’ve seen too many rich people, and too many people in general — including average, every-day college students — take the stance that “if I get rich now, I’ll have so much money to give away later” to write off any act of generosity that they could engage in today so that, in a feat of Olympian mental gymnastics, they can somehow maintain their pomposity, superiority, and self-assurance that they’re a “good person.”
My stance is simple and a little unrelenting: If you have money to spare and you’re not doing anything to help out the little guy, then you’re *not* a good person.
To the college student: You don’t get to claim that the multimillionaires of the world are evil because they stack up resources that they don’t need. When it comes down to it, you’re doing the same thing. You’re just worse at playing the game.
If you don’t have money, or the willingness to give up any money, but you have time on the weekend, why not volunteer at a soup kitchen once a month? Why not get some friends together and help out at Habitat for Humanity over the summer?
Plus, volunteering is a great way to learn first-hand that your life isn’t that bad. In that way, it counteracts social media.
For example, despite a lot of people’s mental representation of the average Millenial as a college-educated twenty-something living in a big city, 70% of Millenials don’t have a college degree. If you’ve even graduated from college, you’re already way above the majority.
And I’m sure that anyone who clicks on a site called “PhilanthroCapitalist” probably knows quite a bit about personal finance, so this statistic probably won’t come as a surprise to many of you, but most Americans are already in the top 1% of income-earners worldwide. It only takes an income of $32,400/year. Check out the Global Rich List to see where you stand in terms of income and wealth.
At worst, even if you live in poverty in the United States, you’re still probably in the top 5-10% world-wide. That doesn’t mean that you should be giving any money away, though. I’ll get to that later.
I think, with everyone insisting that social media is blowing up our standard of living (or at least our expectations of what “living good” should look like), these statistics are an excellent way to keep grounded.
And, even though his own net worth stands at 80 billion dollars and it’s a little hard to take his views on the average American’s lifestyle, if you think about the actual substance of that statement, it’s true. Despite all the prestige that Rockefeller’s money brought him, he couldn’t have even imagined installing air conditioning in almost every building in America. He wouldn’t have Netflix or Youtube. Or hot singles in his area.
Even if you work at McDonald’s, keep in mind that there are literally millions of people around the globe living in squalor who would kill for that opportunity.
My point, and philosophy, is this: Everyone can do better.
That’s especially true for the average, ambitious young man.
Is it true for the struggling single mother-of-three who works two jobs and lives paycheck-to-paycheck? Fuck no! Save every penny you find.
But my bet is that the struggling, hard-working, single mother-of-three wouldn’t even have time to read an article like this. If you’re in a sticky financial situation, you know who you are. Take care of yourself first.
If you’re not, if you’re wealthy and hoarding money because you have a poverty mindset, you also know who you are. While reading the above, you probably realized that some of that stuff applies to you.
But if you’re starting a family, save everything you can get.
If you’re making minimum wage, save.
If you’re in massive amounts of debt, pay it off first.
But if your student loans are fully paid off, if you’re making six figures and you’ve already put a down payment on a $300,000 dollar house (that’s effectively 100% yours in ten years), give some back.Some people didn’t get the same opportunities as you.
10% is a good goal, I think. That way I can splurge on whatever I want without feeling like I’m screwing over someone else in the process.
To anyone reading: Do you know of any way that I could give a verifiable report on my monthly income without giving away any financial information? At worst, I’ll probably just create a post with a bunch of snapshots of my checking account history.