Our Giving Goals – 2019 Edition

To help us see our giving, and grow our impact, we track our giving. One benefit of tracking how much we give year to year is it gives us the opportunity to challenge ourselves to increase our giving! 

Like running a marathon it can be hard starting big on your first training day, similarly we didn’t start with giving as much money as we do currently in our practice of giving. Partially, because when we first started our practice of giving we were both students. We didn’t really generate much income to justify donating a large part of our living expenses. We also didn’t have a strong sense of where our money would do the most good when we first started giving. 

So like going from couch potatoes to marathon runners, we started small. 

When we first started giving we were inspired by Giving What We Can’s donor pledge. Typically people who take this pledge aim to give 10% or more of their income to highly-effective charities, but for students or people who wanted to try giving they had an option to pledge 1% of your living expenses. So to start, that’s what we did.

Giving 1% got us excited to learn about charities and their impact, and with highly effective charities even giving this amount we knew it would make a difference in the lives of others. Giving regularly got us in the habit of budgeting our giving and considering what expenses were truly “non-essential” compared to the opportunities to help others.  

We gave around 1% for several years, so when I graduated with my Doctor of Pharmacy and got my first job as a pharmacist, it was painless to raise our giving goal to over 5% that first half-year, and then to 10% the first full year after that. At that point we figured, with being in medical fields with fairly predictable reliable salaries and with set periods of time before we would finish our programs, that we could set out more goals for the future. 

As we find better opportunities to give, progress in our careers, and pay off our debts, we are excited to push ourselves to give more than the year before. 

So with that in mind, we figured a good way to motivate ourselves to stick with our giving goals is to make them public! Both to motivate ourselves, and hopefully to give you an idea of how you may want set your own giving goals or to increase your giving gradually over time. 

Our Goals As of 2019

2018: Goal was 10% — We gave about 11.5% this year
2019: Goal of 15%
2020: Goal of 20% — This will be the first year we get money from Paige’s medical residency
2021: Goal of 25% — Full year of medical residency money
2022: Goal of 30% — We expect loans from pharmacy school to be paid off around this time
2023: Goal of 30% 

Currently we feel these goals are a conservative estimate of what we can do, with the increases in giving primarily happening during years in which we will gain income, or resolve a debt. But, we feel this provides a solid base level of giving for what we want to achieve as well as allows for us to take care of other financial goals during this time. 

These goals are also specific to our impact focused giving — primarily donating to charities identified by Givewell, The Life You Can Save, or Centre for Effective Altruism. We have a separate part of our budget for our giving to community organizations, clubs, or most political contributions that we do not set specific goals for.

For now I will leave it at our thoughts for the next 5 years, but we hope to come back to this topic annually to update how our goals have evolved.

Disclaimer: We do not run marathons.

Budget With a Purpose

It can be hard to be mindful about money.

It is easy to be anxious about a lack of money, anxious about debt, anxious about “keeping up” a certain lifestyle.

It is easy to be ambivalent about money when we have more than enough, to avoid the discomfort of budgets and long-term planning, and to just play it by ear when times are good.

Often we are either worried about our financial situation or just not thinking about our financial situation. Financial planning can often feel like an unnecessary burden, or an insurmountable task.

However, in both times of plenty and times of scarcity, I believe money can be approached with a sense of purpose for ourselves and our community. Financial planning should be the process of finding ways to align our spending, saving, and giving with our needs, hopes, and ambitions.

Now can be the time to shore up our financial picture, planning for risks, paying down debts, and saving for emergencies. To build a foundation for our own lives as well as foundations from which we can help others. Stable lives that then allow us to take risks with our careers and give deeply when great giving opportunities come along. Stable buffers that prevent our goals from being derailed by surprises and emergencies.

Now might also be the time to prioritize. When we have more than we need, it can be easy for money to be soaked up in expenses that do not fulfill us, or help us in our giving practice. Budgeting can help us move money the may go towards a luxury car, a larger than necessary house, or superfluous expenses and directs them to helping others, saving lives, and building skills that will help more people in the future.

So in many ways the practice of saving, budgeting, and planning personal expenses are inseparable parts of our practice of giving. We have built budgeting and reflection in to our weekly and monthly routine. Throughout the month we are mindful of our spending and earning through tracking money that comes in and out of our lives. Then we have weekly and monthly “Money Dates” were we take a moment to reflect on our recent spending, take care of routine financial tasks, and set goals for short term spending and long term saving and giving.

This is how we have begun to look at personal finance, not just as a way to get rich, or an unnecessary chore, but as an act of love that helps us to meet our deepest goals and aspirations.