First paycheck of the year and boy have we been giving a lot of money away

We give to political causes.  We give to donorschoose.  It’s just so easy to spend when you’re hitting all the obvious savings goals.

When I got my paycheck, I was seriously contemplating putting 10K of our savings into taxable stocks (note:  my paycheck is not 10K!  We had some additional excess in savings from reimbursements etc. after the unpaid summer was over that gave us close to 10K over my target for cash).  But then we lost a tree and then another tree and DH decided it was time to replace all our fluorescent light fixtures with LEDs (including the ballasts– which we had an electrician come out and do) and those little emergencies/home repairs ate into our excess so we no longer had 10K to move.*

Which makes it easier to donate to political stuff even if it’s a black hole (hopefully it isn’t!), because we have the money.  Because there’s money just there wanting to be used.

And then we talked to DC2’s first grade teachers and thought we should give them visa gift cards like we gave the kindergarten teachers last year.

Since we’ve been meeting our tax-advantaged savings goals and aren’t really aiming to move to paradise anytime soon (we really don’t have enough money for that), I can’t really think of a better use of our money at a time like this than to give it where it is needed more.  There are a lot of things we could be spending money on that people spend money on, but we’re good with our house and our cars and not having personal assistants or housekeepers (I’m not sure we could comfortably afford those anyway) or fancy vacations… so the money we could be spending on those things just kind of builds up.  It’s a nice feeling.  I feel a little powerful knowing that I can give $1K (anonymously) to DC2’s teachers without it being likely to impact our bottom-line in the future.

We don’t yet give until it hurts.  And it’s crazy to me how much we can just give away without it hurting.  My Catholic upbringing tells me to feel guilty about this, but my pragmatic academic training tells me that good causes prefer larger amounts of money that don’t hurt to smaller amounts that do.  (My Catholic upbringing then tells me that charities would prefer even larger amounts that do hurt.  I tell my Catholic upbringing to shut up and maybe I’ll be more generous when I’m dead.  Then I feel guilty.  Because.  Well, you know why.)

The trade-offs we’re making are for some unknown future.  10K in the stock market will bring us closer to being able to move to paradise or to weather a permanent job loss or to flee to Canada or to even to pay for someone to travel to get an abortion should that become necessary.  10K spent now eases suffering now and may help the fate of our country come January.  Giving now seems to be the right choice.

*If we don’t come up with better ideas, the next couple of money Mondays will probably be about our spending on home repairs/improvements… we are slowly inching down DH’s repair list to the kitchen remodel, but we’re not there yet because things keep breaking, as things are wont to do.  Of course, kitchen remodeling is another way to feel artificially poor and to use up money that would otherwise be going to taxable stocks or good causes.

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12 Responses to “First paycheck of the year and boy have we been giving a lot of money away”

  1. Foscavista Says:

    Since I am waiting for my car to be serviced, I am curious about your diversification in your taxable investments (or your ideal diversification). Do they mirror what you have invested in tax-deferred/tax-free investments? I am not looking for the names of the exact investments (stocks, mutual funds, etc.) but more of percentages in stocks (domestic vs. international) and in bonds (again, domestic vs. international).

  2. rose Says:

    Thank you for giving to a improving future for all our children and grandchidlren. Every cent I give hurts so I can’t do larger amounts. That you can and do is appreciated.

  3. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    Since it already hurts when we give and it’s not even nearly as much as I think we SHOULD give, I’m very very grateful that you are able to do more without it hurting.

    Reading about the urgency of the situation with climate change, it’s definitely hard to see how we can plan for a future with retirement if we don’t stop the warming starting now but that’s such a tough one to reconcile because the actions needed have to happen at a much higher level than the individual. Obviously we’re going to do everything that we can to help reduce our own emissions but it’s hardly even a drop in the bucket for what needs to happen.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The depressing thing is that house prices out where you are seem to be going up faster than DH and I are accumulating. It’s an odd sort of money thing– way more than we need to keep doing what we’re doing, nowhere near enough to make a big change. If we focused and cut back, we could make a move happen, but it would still take many years. So… we have disposable income because we paid less than 300K for our house.

      Structural changes are so important for fighting climate change. I love those laws charging for grocery bags, for example. It makes it so much easier to bring cloth.

      • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

        We keep saying that it’s got to crash at some point, there’s no way this is sustainable. But we also said that 6-8 years ago and it’s still bizarrely bad. Part of me just wants to get our mortgage down to halfway under whatever point it crashes to so I don’t feel horrible about being underwater though that is entirely a mental thing and not at all relevant to reality which is that we’ll still have “lost” hundreds of thousands.

        There’s a fixer upper right across the way going on the market soon, I wonder if the condition will keep the price down any lower.

        We need more structural changes, stat!

      • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

        @Revanche, 32 years ago people were saying that the California real-estate bubble would crash soon,as prices were so high compared to the rest of the country. My Santa Cruz house then cost about twice what I sold my Ithaca house for. Now it is valued at about 4 times what the Ithaca house is valued at.

        The California real-estate market might crash, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        CA RE market did crash during the last recession. We could afford an 800k house now, but sadly those same houses are valued at over 2 million.

      • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

        You’re right—median house prices in California dropped about 60% between April 2007 and Jan 2009.
        [https://www.car.org/-/media/CAR/Documents/Industry-360/Excel/201808-MedianPricesofExistingDetachedHomesHistoricalData.xls]
        Part of that was an artifact of foreclosure sales—the prices of non-forced sales did not drop as much and I did not see the Zillow estimates for my house dropping anywhere near that much—but it was a big enough change to count as a crash. Of course, housing prices in other parts of the country did much the same thing then, so I don’t think that it was the California-specific crash people were predicting.

  4. nicoleandmaggie Says:

  5. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Today is the last day to register to vote before the midterms in many states. Maybe I should make a new post.

    • hypatia cade Says:

      I am also having trouble thinking about saving for retirement/college when climate change could obliterate that before my kids are even old enough to use those funds. If you are short on money monday topics what about structuring your savings so that you can move to Canada (or other northern climes) or how to organize US based retirement funds so that they are most useful if you live outside the US or the finances of moving someplace like canada if you are already retired in the US (healthcare? pension? cost of living?). I sort of assume that if one makes this move there’s no point in planning to come back so previous questions I might have had about structuring savings while abroad to maximize the opportunity to return are moot.


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