Posted by Tim Stobbs on September 19, 2007
Perhaps one of the least discussed expenses in personal finance blogs is charity, which I define as a voluntary given amount of money to any organization to benefit others. Why is that? I think perhaps we don’t know how to categorize the expense. Is is a bill, a personal expense or something to be avoided?
Some people just consider charity an expense that just occurs regularly, like a church donation or an annual bill to support a particular fund raising campaign. They feel they are required to give it. It could have been either programed into them by their upbringing or a personal choice yet in either case in their mind it is required.
On the other side some people believe that charity starts at home. That you should look after your family and yourself first, since they are the most important charity case you can provide to and this keeps you from using a charities services yourself. You can donate time and your service to something, but they avoid donating money.
I end up in between. I consider charity a personal expense. It is something I chose to do if and when I want to. I’m not required to give anything, but I don’t avoid giving money either. So in this case we tend to choose causes that have touched us personally with amounts that tend to vary year to year depending on what we can spare. I also tend to chose things close to home. I like to help provide things to the local community, which I may need myself one day or at the very least help someone I know.
Perhaps one only rule about charity I have is I don’t donate money to feed people. Not ever. Not to the food bank, not to local charities with an annual Christmas supper and not to international organizations feeding kids in third world countries. Why? I personally believe that most of the misery in the world is from too many people trying to use to few resources, which is something that is getting worse on a daily basis. And people aren’t made of sand, moon beams or anything else but food. You limit the food, you limit the population. It’s simple way to deal with the issue.
Now for those who are thinking ‘Are you nuts? What about those kids in Africa?’. No I’m not nuts. In fact in my mind you people are nuts. If a population is undergoing a massive crop failure during a year and you send over food, yes you will save lives. Then after the crisis is forgotten those people have children so during the next crisis, which by the way was caused by trying to get too much food out of a given area, you end up with bigger problem. You see you can’t win this war. It is natural state that at some point in the world someone will go hungry.
For those truly die hard defenders of feeding people, who will ask ‘what if is was you?’ I would gladly accept my fate for me and my family if that came to it. It’s not likely going to happen here, but I would use all my resources to avoid such a fate. Yet it that was the end. So be it. We all die at some point, it’s just a matter of when.