Thursday, December 14, 2006

The First Financial New Year's Resolution: Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

I know, I'm early. Seventeen days to go. But this one hit me with the force of a truck sometime during my subway ride this morning.

I have to start giving money away.

Let me be frank. I take home $889 every two weeks. I pay $600 a month in rent. There is not a lot of slack in my budget. Not an awful lot of fat to cut.

That is not a good enough reason. That is, it's an okay reason, but there are better reasons to give money away, not least to get in the habit of doing it so that when I make more money, I give more of it. As I started thinking in the last post, I need to make sure my financial decisions support my principles. If Millionaire Artist can do it on a much-reduced income, I can do it on the biggest income I've ever had. I'll let myself start small, but from here on out--that is, starting with the paycheck I received today, a percentage of every paycheck goes to a good cause.

So I've just donated $40 (a paltry less-than-5% of my paycheck and slightly more than 5% of the project's total requirement) to support a teacher at a public school in my neighborhood in establishing a poetry library for her fifth-grade class. Seventy-nine per cent of this teacher's students come from low-income families. Check out the teacher's description of the project and consider making a donation to this project or another Donors Choose (which gets the full four stars on Charity Navigator) project. If I can do it, you probably can too.


Anonymous said...

I'm curious how did you manage to find $600 rent in NYC?! Do you live in Manhattan? When I was considering moving to NYC for a job, I looked at the rent prices and got scared. ;)

English Major said...

I've got it pretty much as low as it goes in Manattan, Wanda. I live with two other people in a two-bedroom apartment, which works because my boyfriend and I share a bedroom (the bigger of the two, which makes the even three-way rent split sensible). I also live in East Harlem, a neighborhood that scary real-estate types call "pre-gentrification" (it's perfectly safe, and I really like it). My friends live or are looking to live mostly in my neighborhood, or in West Harlem, or in neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens that haven't yet become trendy (places like Bushwick, Astoria, Flatbush, Jackson Heights, &c.). Word of mouth is really powerful when you're apartment-hunting in New York, which is really why you have to be here to do it effectively.

It's funny--even as a native New Yorker, I got sticker shock when I started apartment-hunting. Back in Portland, I shared a three-bedroom with one other person and paid $350.

Millionaire Artist said...

Oh, wow! I'm so happy for you! Congratulations on your decision — I am sure it will bring you plenty of satisfaction and joy. Really. Its so empowering to feel that you are taking an active role in making a corner of the world better. (And not just once a year!) I find that its the best money I spend during the week. This isn't to say its always easy to feel like giving but I can assure you that in the act you will feel very rich, indeed.