I knew it was only a matter of time. Yesterday I was running errands and at the end of the day when I tallied what I’d spent on groceries, my new Wii remote (so I could get back to “The West Wing” on Netflix, of course), and other various and sundry items, I instantly translated the final sum into my new metric: How many days’ worth of donations had I just spent?
It’s less than two weeks in, and yet now when I spend money, especially on something that isn’t essential, I think about it in those terms. I’m not necessarily looking to make this exercise a zero-sum game, where I somehow find a way to cut expenses by $3,650 to make up for the money I’m giving away. But I do also see this as a way to think before I spend.
Many of the charities I’m choosing are organizations that help people far less fortunate than I and that’s made me a little mindful about how much more I have than I need. There are times that I buy something new just because I can and that’s a luxury many people don't have.
I’m really fortunate to be friends with Derek Sivers. Derek started a company called CD Baby. It was a great business idea and, more than that, it was one that treated everyone fairly. He sold it for $22 million a few years ago and put the proceeds in a charitable trust for music education. He loves seeing how few possessions he actually needs. He hasn’t taken any kind of vow of poverty. Far from it, but he has absolutely no sentimentality or attachment to material possessions. I don’t think I can reach his level and I probably don’t want to, but, if nothing else, I have a feeling this year is also going to bring about some physical shedding of real baggage that goes along with the emotional shedding of some baggage I’m hoping to achieve.
In that spirit, today’s $10 goes to Goodwill Industries of Southern California. I wonder if they could back a truck up to my apartment and I could just throw things straight from my closet into a truck?
Jan. 13: Goodwill Industries http://www.goodwill.org/