Financial Priorities: How Charitable Giving Has Helped Our Budget

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.

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Ivan here.

In 2017, Jennie and I plan on spending anywhere between $36,000 to $37,000 - or roughly $3,000 a month (including all fixed and variable costs). Included in this budget is $1,000 in charitable donations, payable at the end of each quarter to a non-profit of our choice.

This is the first year we’ve done this, and we’re still pretty clueless about philanthropy. We rely heavily on transparent/trusted organizations like to tell us where we can do the most good. In the future, we’re hoping to do most of this research ourselves.

Now that we’re nearly three quarters of the way through the year, Jennie and I have come to a surprising discovery: the act of giving money away has helped us manage it better.

3 Ways Charitable Giving Has Helped Our Budget


1. It’s forced us to think longer term.

$250 (or ~$83 per month) at the end of each quarter is a non-trivial amount - especially if we’re working off a $3,000 budget. For example, knowing that another $250 is due by September makes us a lot more careful with our spending in July and August.

2. It puts our non-essential spending into perspective.

Compared to this time last year, we’ve saved nearly $2,000 on eating out. A major reason is that we can no longer justify spending $100 on sushi (for non-special occasions) when we better understand the impact of every dollar.

3. It motivates us to grow our earnings.

Earning more just so we can buy more stuff makes for a pretty empty existence. Our plan is to give away a certain percentage of our budget each year - for the rest of our lives. What puzzles me about wealthy philanthropists is how they’d devote decades of their life to making money, but use only their last senile years to give it all away.

This doesn’t make any sense.  

First of all, shouldn’t the process of learning how to earn and spend money be carried out at the same time?

Second of all, isn’t it more fun that way?