Notes on Giving Away my First $100,000

For my 42nd birthday, Mrs. MM let me give away all this money

For my 42nd birthday, Mrs. MM let me give away all this money.

Here’s a little quiz:

Suppose you are living an extremely happy life  – all your material needs and wants are met, and there is still money to spare. Then suddenly, you get even more money. Do you:

a) Try to think of even more stuff you could buy for yourself with that extra money?

b) Try to find more efficient things to do with the surplus?


For many people, this might seem like a trick question. After all, needs are cheap but how could you ever have all your wants met?

I mean sure, you might already have a Honda, but you obviously still want a Tesla, right? And if you could afford it, why would you not forego ground transportation altogether and have a private helicopter on call, with a Gulfstream G6 waiting on the airstrip? Perhaps at that point you could be satisfied – you’re sensible and not one of those greedy people who needs a yacht. But that still leaves a long, long climb to full life satisfaction.

For me, the point of full satisfaction is also pretty high – not just basic food but fancy stuff from around the world. A glorious modernist house on a park in one of the country’s most expensive counties, and unlimited, bikes, music, computers, and whatever else happens to appeal. Hell, I even have a brand new electric car just to see what the buzz is about. The tab for this lifestyle – a little over $25,000 per year – is not quite at Gulfstream elevation but it still puts my family in the top 2% of the Global Rich List.

Since I hit my consumption ceiling a little earlier than a proper rich person, I have been thinking about option (b) above for a number of years now. And if you care about trying to be logical when dealing with surplus money, your research will very quickly lead you to the Effective Altruism movement, and indeed I wrote about it as far back as 2012 with a review of Peter Singer’s The Life You Can Save.  As with most useful things I’ve learned in the last five years, it was readers of this blog who clued me in to the idea.

Effective Altruism is an attempt to answer one simple question: where can our surplus money do the largest amount of good? When buying something for yourself has only a neutral or small positive effect, funding charitable causes in a relatively rich country can be a way of getting more happiness for your dollar. But meeting even bigger needs in a much poorer country can measurably outperform either of those options by a huge margin.

Taking an example from the video below, $40,000 can raise and train one beautiful golden retriever to help a blind person in the US – undeniably a good thing. Or it can pay for simple trachoma operations to permanently cure about 2000 people from preventable blindness in Africa – quite a strong argument to allocate at least some of your generosity there.

Watch: Peter Singer’s moving TED Talk explaining the ideas behind Effective Altruism in about 17 minutes. Or you can read the same ideas on his The Life You Can Save website. 

Even way back in 2012 I knew the idea was solid, and yet somehow the MMM family has managed to give away only relatively small amounts of money each year relative to our income, and thus other money has continued to accumulate.

I have been stuck in an analysis paralysis, wondering if I should give individually to conventional charities, or use wider reach of this blog to do something cooler that would make news headlines and thus create a multiplier effect. For example, what if I could:

  • Personally fund some critical bike path in my town, drawing attention to the highest-returning investment any city can make?
  • How about hiring some creative geniuses with an appropriately bizarre sense of humour to help me run a brilliant and educational YouTube channel?
  • Could we collectively buy up a few blocks of a neighborhood and permanently shut down the roads to cars, keeping a few shared vehicles in a lot at the periphery and tearing up the pavement to become a little woodland/garden for our kids, and our utopian living space? Imagine how much the US would change if this became the new model for town planning?

These are great ideas, but they all take work, and my power to get stuff done is quite finite. So by holding out for them, I am falling in to the classic trap of Perfection is the Enemy of the Good. Why not try something I know is good, right now?

So I resolved to start with a donation amount that feels big enough to be meaningful to me, but not so big I am afraid to do it, and just do it. For me, that number was $100,000.

It sounds big if you think of it as “Four years of the family’s spending!”, or “An entire University education for a kid!” but only medium if you consider it’s only a mid-range Tesla. And downright small at less than a quarter of what this blog earned last year (before tax at least), which I managed via only the occasional typing of shit into the computer.

By keeping our lifestyle* at the previous already-glorious level we set at retirement, we have found that 100% of the extra income and windfalls we’ve encountered in these subsequent 11 years has been a pure surplus.

Effective Altruism is based on the principle that All Human Lives have Equal Value. Thus, they suggest that you simply give to the charity has the largest effect on improving and saving human lives, per dollar. The intellectual headquarters for the movement is a website called Givewell.org

According to them, the most effective charity per dollar is currently the Against Malaria Foundation – a very minimalist organization that distributes protective Mosquito nets in Africa – efficiently and with a focus on measurement.

But being a flawed human, I wasn’t quite satisfied with such pure logic and decided to spread out my first donation just a bit, according to some of my values. What I came up with is this:

Health and Poverty: 


American and Local Causes:

  • Planned Parenthood: (helps people control when they have kids, but often under political attack) $5,000
  • The American Civil Liberties Union: (uses the law as a watchdog to prevent powerful established groups (whether corporations or religions) from overriding individual rights): $5000
  • Khan Academy: (amazing, always-growing great education, free for millions of kids and adults) $9000
  • Wikipedia: (via WikiMedia foundation – an independent, hard-to-suppress open source of information for the world) $1000
  • Bicycle Colorado: $5000 (works to push bold new bike laws and infrastructure into the fertile ground of Colorado, which are then copied by other states).
  • My local Elementary School (just a bunch of good people doing good work for kids): $5000

These are pretty arbitrary numbers, adjusted just to prioritize the Effective Altruism stuff most and still have it all add up to the right amount. My list is not meant to be expertly allocated, just to start putting some money to work, highlight a few causes, and give me a wide range of different things to start feeling good about.

What Does This Feel Like, and Should You Do it Yourself?

In summary, deeply satisfying and happy. I have known for years that I wanted to start doing this, but on the day that I actually dropped all those checks into the mailbox, I felt a great lightness. That night, I fell asleep with the happy peace that comes from letting go of just a bit of selfishness and fear. After noticing not even the slightest regret, I can see that it will become even easier as time goes on.

I get quite a few emails from readers asking if I think charitable giving should be prioritized early in life, or if it’s more efficient to wait until you reach financial independence. After all, certain religions come with the concept of tithing and suggest that people do it even if they are in personal debt.

For anyone with my personality type, this would not work – obligations imposed by others are counterproductive and you must decide for yourself what feels right. Getting out from a stressful situation – whether it is debt or an unsatisfying career, is a good use of your time and may even allow you to be more generous over your remaining lifetime.

On the other hand, if you’re a beginner and are curious, there’s no harm in just trying out the idea on yourself. You might try giving just $100 or so to a few favorite causes and noting the effect on your feeling. If you are financially stable and that amount is too small to cause a thrill, try $500 or $1000. If the practice proves satisfying, you’ll automatically decide to do more.

The thing about money is that even in a country like the US where almost everybody is rich by world standards, the top 10% of us own over 75% of the wealth. As a member of that lucky little slice, I won’t waste time complaining about the system. But I will suggest this: Since we obviously have all the money, and yet building a happy lifestyle for ourselves should not be particularly expensive, we might as well put the bulk of our money to efficient use improving the world – if we happen to enjoy that sort of thing. Meanwhile, since the bottom 90% is sharing the remaining quarter of the earnings, I’d expect a lower rate of philanthropy.  How’s that for hardcore capitalist libertarian socialism?

What Other Causes are Worth Supporting?

Since this is just my one round of donations, all the doors are wide open.

If you were assigned to do the most good for the human race with each dollar you had available, what would you spend it on? Please share your ideas in the comments and we’ll keep getting better at this stuff together.

* Actually this part about completely resisting lifestyle inflation is a lie. Since becoming richer than expected I have dropped all restraint in the area of buying myself fancy burritos. Especially on trips. I even pay for my friends’ burritos frequently. Man, have we had some good ones.


Other Helpful Stuff:

Unsure about the value of giving away your hard-earned money? Apathy towards giving ususally comes from believing in various Myths about charity.

Tax Strategy: A further bit of great news is that this $100k round of donations will actually save me about $30,000 in income tax. Contributions like these come off of your taxable income as “itemized deductions”. The limit is 50% of your Adjusted Gross Income, and the deductibility also starts to phase out slowly in certain cases if you make more than $311,000. A few details on my Accountant’s blog (The Wealthy Accountant), and on this Fidelity page.

During research, I wondered about  Charity Navigator, which ranks a larger number of charities based on administrative overhead and other stuff. How do they relate to GiveWell?

Freakonomics says the Givewell method is better, because there is much more to effectiveness than this ratio, and the ratio itself can be manipulated. When I saw this Angry Rebuttal by Charity Navigator founder Ken Berger, which resorted to name-calling and based his argument on, “Yeah, but who are YOU to say it’s better to donate overseas than in rich countries? If everybody did that, we’d never help anyone locally!” I felt even more confident about Givewell and Effective Altruism.

  • afox October 26, 2016, 11:22 am

    “And downright small at less than a quarter of what this blog earned last year (before tax at least), which I managed via only the occasional typing of shit into the computer.”

    Congrats, you win! So, fundamentally I think this blog focuses too much on saving and too little on earning. It should be noted that both are within ones control. I feel like readers of this forum need to be reminded of the fact that before this MMM endeavor, the author of this site had a very successful career, in IT I believe? Very successful based on the amount of money earned compared to other people. I feel like the impact and importance of this earning is under represented here. It is true, there is no limit to the amount one can spend but in the world of real numbers the math makes it quit a bit more difficult to achieve financial independence on a small income than a large one, not impossible, just more difficult. As a past commented pointed out here, there are plenty of other blogs focused on making money, so true, but in order to be truthful in its message this blog should focus on both ends of the equation.

    • Mixed Money Arts October 26, 2016, 11:47 am

      I don’t know if this blog needs to focus more on making more money. It’s not easy to give general advice on how to increase income without telling someone what kind of career they should pursue. And MMM talks about all the noncareer stuff like selling items on Craigslist, how to sell a house, etc. How to save money on the other hand is a more universal topic that everyone can benefit from.

    • Jay Holden October 26, 2016, 11:55 am

      First, he’s already covered the math on the path to retirement, which he did well before starting this blog. Income per person per year averaged about $80k IIRC. Certainly better off than the majority of Americans and the rest of the world, but hardly a staggering number.

      Second, he’s said on many blogs that a family should work hard for a six figure household income if they haven’t achieved it already.

      Third, monetary earnings isn’t what fundamentally needs to change – it’s equal parts lifestyle inflation and the reluctance to think about how small daily habits impact entire lives.

    • phred October 26, 2016, 12:56 pm

      It is unfortunate that all too many define a successful career as one that makes lots of money. The fact is that anyone can retire in eleven or twelve years with their retirement lifestyle being basically the one you live now.

      The wife and I never made anywhere near the wages of the MMM clan. Still, by each of us working a minimal wage full-time jobs plus a part-time one we generated lots of excess money which we saved and invested.

      The key was learning simple carpentry so we could repair our rundown two bedroom home purchased on a land contract (at first). We also attended the county vocational school at night between pt-time jobs to learn how to keep our cars running — none newer than six years.

      On the other hand, by forcing ourselves to become resourceful, we have backpackeded through the French Alps and bicycled around much of Germany. My sailboat is only a little day sailer, and not a sixty-two foot Beneteau, but on the other hand, I can take it out most every week while the larger boats seem rarely to leave their moorings.

      If you haven’t already, refresh yourself with a MMM post from 2012 (Ithink) titled ” The Race to Retirement — revisited”

      • afox October 27, 2016, 10:12 am

        Bingo! Here is the link: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/17/the-race-to-retirement-revisited/

        MMM earned a max salary of 125k. He doesn’t mention what year that was but lets say it was in 2005, that equals $155k in today’s dollars, with a combined family income well over 200k. That put MMMs family income in the top 5% of US households!!! In some geographic areas he was a “one percenter” at their familys peak earning. Im not pointing this out to devalue the importance of saving and spending less. Im also not surprised MMM was such a high earner since he is certainly a hard-worker and is very competent in everything he does. Since the amount one can spend is limitless this is absolutely CRUCIAL. I am just pointing out that income is important. If I could go back and do it again id choose the highest paying career for the least amount of time spent schooling.

        • Nate October 27, 2016, 7:34 pm

          Don’t say that… You get the job you _like_ : you’ll spend at least the third of your time doing it.
          And “schooling” it can be the best part of your life ! Ever heard of the pursuit of knowledge ?

          I don’t think this blog is much about finance, it’s more about lifestyle.

          • lurker October 30, 2016, 2:42 pm

            I am with Nate on this….and how your lifestyle changes your finances and your choices.

      • Michelle November 17, 2016, 7:03 am

        This is very inspiring. I live in NYC and have salary that keeps me comfortable. I would love to learn some carpentry skills. I feel foolish that I can’t even put a shelf on the wall. Local vocational school – never thought of that. Thanks for the tips and the motivation!

    • wolverine00 October 26, 2016, 4:05 pm

      While I’m sure MMM appreciates the recommendation about what his blog should focus on, the reality is that many people are earning multiples of was Mr. and Mrs MM did on their road to retirement, yet the majority of them are, at best, stuck in those high income jobs to support their unnecessarily expensive lifestyles, and at worst in serious financial trouble, buried under mountains of debt in credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages. I don’t believe MMM ever had a six figure annual income while he was working in IT. His career was successful because he saved his earnings and put them to work for him, so eventually he didn’t have to work anymore. The blog is about financial freedom, and how that is achievable even to people who make what most consider to be middle class wages, or certainly below what most people think it would take to be “rich.” Yes there is a role for earning – but someone making $500k and saving 10% and spending the rest will retire not a day earlier than someone making $50k and saving 10%. That is the reality.

      • alex October 28, 2016, 3:37 pm

        he did earn a six figure income 4 out of the 9 years prior to “being retired”, he did this in years 5, 6, 7, 8, not 1-4, or 9.

        MMM is the man.

      • Kevin October 31, 2016, 6:31 am

        I worked in the exact industry as Mr.MMM and he indeed made that much. Both my kids are now in the industry and making very good incomes. If one is interested in getting into a high paying industry, take the courses to become proficient, get the certifications, join the user groups read the newsletters become comfortably with every aspect of that industry. Then when you interview for a position you are demonstrating how committed you are and can interface with coworkers and interviewers speaking their language. It works at least that was my strategy 25 years ago!

        • wolverine00 November 2, 2016, 3:15 pm

          Fair enough, though the particular comment about MMM’s income was minor in relation to my reply to afox. One’s ability to retire early is much more dependent on spending and lifestyle choices as opposed to income. That is the takeaway. It’s great to make a huge income – but it doesn’t hasten the path to early retirement if you don’t save a much larger portion of it than most people do.

          • Bill November 10, 2016, 8:20 am

            Yes, as MMM said in the video, a doctor making 400k and saving 40k a year will retire the same day as a grocery manager making 40k a year and saving 4k.

        • philo November 11, 2016, 4:33 pm

          I wonder if you might share a bit more. I am searching for a better way to make money. I have always been pretty good with computers and even took C++ in college, but never pursued it further (despite getting an A.) I’m curious, what user groups, which specific certifications, and which newsletters?

    • RocDoc October 26, 2016, 4:53 pm

      MMM did point out in a past post that learning to use a computer well can greatly increase one’s income.

      • Johnny Responsible October 27, 2016, 6:11 pm

        He did indeed. Thanks for the reminder. –

        – User Interface Specialist, Software Designer, Web Developer and Web Designer… Decided against IT Guy at the South Pole. ; ) But the others…

        – 50 Jobs over $50,000 – Without a Degree (Part 2) –


      • lurker October 30, 2016, 3:13 pm

        of course in the future knowing how to grow food on a permaculture farm may be more valuable than computer knowledge…..predictions are really hard…..especially about the future!

    • Morgan Byrne October 26, 2016, 9:35 pm


      I’ve been reading your posts for years (well, since early spring 2014) and this is the first time I’ve felt compelled to say thank you. I am a fundraiser and strongly believe in the power of altruism. Not just for the charities (like mine) that benefit, but for the givers to feel connected to causes they care about. I’ve been a fundraiser for five years, and when I first (accidentally) landed in the job, I thought “well if I am asking others to donate, I better donate to the causes I care about myself!” Since then, each year I find myself wondering “how much money can I afford to give back?” (and still keep on track with retirement and my other savings goals). I just have to say again how pleased I am to see your post, and would be absolutely tickled to see more like it! Thanks for promoting this important element of doing good in our world.

      All my best,

      Morgan Byrne
      32 year old Fundraiser, Wife, Dog-Mom, and hopefully an early retiree-striving for age 51 (hey it beats 65!)

      • lurker October 30, 2016, 3:14 pm

        51 is awesome! go for it!

      • Sumeet December 27, 2016, 8:58 pm

        I differ. I’d rather prefer MMM to keep his ‘stache intact for few more decades and let it compound. For an engineer like MMM, he should probably be targeting big projects he can undertake and deliver by investing his funds. He could fund profit sharing projects with other bloggers, or he could take on a bigger engineering project or maybe even start/fund a small (profit making) company that furthers his interests and vision of reducing pollution, driving efficiency etc. Let’s begin to think if Elon Musk had retired after selling Paypal. MMM has ways to go. Charity is probably not the most efficient way for MMM’s dollars.

    • Dale October 27, 2016, 12:15 am

      The earning side has been covered. And I’m sure it will be again.

      One of the best insights I got from MMM is reducing your annual spending is 25 times more powerful than your ability to earn more in a given year. So if you target FI in 3 years (as I do) then spending less is 8 times more powerful than earning! If I want an extra 1k pet year in retirement I need and extra 25k in the stash. I have 3 years to earn that extra. So 25/3 is approx 8k.

      I’m not saying earning more is pointless. Just that it’s much less powerful than being frugal.

      Sounds like you missed a huge chunk of the early stuff.. I’d suggest going back and reading from day 1.

    • Kevin October 28, 2016, 7:43 am


      The issue is that advice on how to make more money is difficult. But if you want some quick bullet points:

      * Change jobs every 2 years earning a 15% increase in salary at minimum each time until you hit the top 20% of your pay on various pay estimators/aggregators online.

      * When choosing your career go into something in demand. HVAC is back in demand and it pays decent over time. Elevator techs are in demand, and it pays well. Software engineers are in demand and it pays very well. Information security pays extremely well and it’s in very high demand right now. The financial industry still pays well, financial analysts is a good entry level that positions you to move up.

      * Choose something that grows with time. Medical industry is going to continue increasing at the rapid rate it has as one of the largest generations of all time ages and has medical complications. The demand will be there very strong in 10 years or so.

      The truth is, people can live more frugally than MMM. And they can invest better. Just straight up S&P 500 like MMM did is really low return compared to something like a Roth IRA from Vanguard, and other proven to beat the market unmanaged index funds. Not only that, MMM did this in… what… 8 years? The point is to eventually be free. Not AS fast as MMM. Retiring by 40-50 would still be a hell of a lot earlier than most people.

      • Mr. Money Mustache October 28, 2016, 9:28 am

        I mostly agree Kevin, except “Roth IRA” is only a tax classification rather than an investment strategy. You would still hold “straight up S&P500” within your Roth IRA.

        And there are no, repeat – NO – funds that are proven to beat the market. There are index trackers which track the market, and then there are managed and unmanaged funds that will on occasionally randomly beat the market (and randomly underperform at other times), and there are a few aggregate companies (like Berkshire Hathaway) that function almost like funds that have very methodically beaten the market for several decades.

        But you can’t just reliably “beat” the passive index investment strategy (OK, technically a mild fixed asset allocation with rebalancing) we follow here – I’ve never seen any evidence that contradicts the Bogleheads theory that it’s really your best odds at making money.

        • BH October 28, 2016, 9:58 am

          There have been long time periods when stock indexes have delivered terrible returns. From early 1971 to early 1980 for example the market delivered a zero return.

          As more and more money shifts to indexed strategies there will be more and more opportunities to beat the market – especially during those occasional periods when the market goes flat (zero return) for a decade.

          At the extreme if all investors indexed who would determine the price of the individual stocks in the index? Answer: the few active investors left who are still doing analysis on individual stocks!! I hope more and more people keep indexing because there will be a massive opportunity for active investors.

          • wolverine00 November 2, 2016, 3:40 pm

            Sure, you can go back and cherry-pick 10-year periods where the market delivered zero or even negative returns. March 1999- March 2009 is another example. But almost everyone who left their money with active fund managers since the 2008 financial crisis has a lot less of it today than if they simply invested in the S&P 500. Hedge funds may be able to prevent significant drops in short term, and will on occasion outperform for a period of time, but if your goal is to build long term wealth, don’t bother with them.

            You speak in very general terms – if it was so easy to beat the market by stock picking, why aren’t these professional managers doing better than the S&P the last 7 years? The data on this issue is clear – even the best fund managers fail to beat the S&P consistently over the long haul.

            • Bill November 10, 2016, 8:26 am

              You’re both right, of course. It is the long-haul investors who are taking money from the active investors in the long run. It is the other way around too. If I wanted a job as a stock broker, I would have taken one. I prefer to let my money sit.

          • grisly_atoms January 8, 2017, 7:05 am


            From 1971 to 1980 the market did poorly, yes, but that was a sale on stocks. One of the richest people I know started investing in 1974 and that is how he got rich. Buy LOW!

    • Pellrider October 29, 2016, 3:26 pm

      MMM has already said that whatever your income is, you can tailor your lifestyle to retire early. Not many of the blog readers are higher income people either. I am not planning to give away the same amount of money when I retire. But, I am motivated to spend mindfully and to save more . While doing so, I can see I am not and accumulating stuff, like Keurig machines for no reason. The life is more satisfying . Yes, it might be easy to save more when you have a higher income. If you have only $28,000 per annum income, you will sure find a way to live on $20,000 per year, won’t you?

    • Markus October 31, 2016, 3:35 pm

      “It should be noted that both [spending and income level] are within ones control.”

      So true …
      It took me about 12 years in my career before I realized that I actually do have control over how much I earn and that only the sky is the limit. Better late than never I guess …

      BTW: I haven’t reached the sky yet income wise, but I am sitting very comfortably at the global 0.05% and nationally in the top 4% since approx. 1.5 years. The realization that actively marketing my skills makes a huge difference allowed me to reach this level at this stage. Go on, try it, you may be surprised …

      • Tyler November 5, 2016, 1:42 am

        Hey Markus, can I ask what you mean by actively marketing your skills? As in running a business? To give some background in why I’m curious is because I’m almost finished an undergrad in Canada, on an internship currently. And it seems like you’re doing something you like. Which is something I’m starting to appreciate more as I start becoming a working individual. Thanks

        • Ramsay November 22, 2016, 10:39 am

          Tyler, since Markus hasn’t replied yet, I thought I’d take a stab at it. To me, “actively marketing [one’s] skills” means being able to describe your skills in a way that conveys the value they would have to an employer, and finding opportunities to TELL potential employers (or people who might connect you with potential employers) about this. Describing your skills in this way often means Quantifying them. Instead of, “made tutorial videos for a software company,” say “Created 120 tutorial videos for X software company, with an average view-completion rate of 85%, and which led to a decrease of 20% in bounce rates on the support pages”. It would be even better if you could tie that to an increase in people sticking with the product instead of bailing (churn), but it’s often difficult to attribute that. You could maybe at least say something like, “This initiative was created in order to decrease churn of active users & increase the Customer Lifetime Value”.

          You can also approach your school work & responsibilities at your internship with the goal of being able to “market” them and “quantify” them. If you have an assignment, think to yourself, “How could I say that doing this work built a skill I could use in the workplace?” and make sure that you think about any ways it can be quantified right from the get-go.

          (I know my example above was software-heavy, but you can quantify lots of things. Just google “how to quantify soft skills” or something like that. Even something like customer support could be quantified if the responses you send have an “are you satisfied with this support?” survey at the end, because you could say that your rating was 4/5 stars or something).

          Then, it means talking these skills up — marketing them. Go to industry networking events, or join groups of young professionals in that industry. Ask people what they do at their day jobs; tell them what you’ve done *in those quantitative terms* and say that you’re looking for opportunities to do even more work in X area because you’re good at it but want to get better, or in Y area because, “unfortunately my current position hasn’t had many opportunities for me to develop those skills”. Post articles about your industry to your LinkedIn page, perhaps with a little bit of commentary (if you feel like you have something to say). Get people from your internship to “endorse” you for relevant skills on LinkedIn. Get a recommendation on LinkedIn from someone at your internship.

          When you get an interview with a prospective employer, ask about the daily responsibilities involved, and tell them when something they need is similar to (or requires the same skills as) something you’ve already done, and tell them the quantitative effect of what you did. You are then marketing yourself by proving how you can provide value to the company.

          I hope this gives you some ideas to mull over!

    • Frugal Bazooka November 6, 2016, 4:47 pm

      You raise a good point, but anyone smart enough and determined enough to follow the strategies on this blog doesn’t really need that info. Most of us understand the paradigm and math necessary for FI just fine. We mostly use sites like this for inspiration and community.

    • Undercutsyou November 8, 2016, 2:42 pm

      It has been quite some time since I have read the earlier posts. Yet, if I recall correctly, mmm does push you to gain the education to advance in tech or engineering. The crowd that he aims his posts towards are geared for “our” scientific mindset. The majority of his viewers are likely already in those roles but haven’t realized exactly where they’re going wrong. Therefore it’s not really needed to push income all that much, we’re already in higher brackets as is.

    • Blessedbeyondmeasure January 8, 2017, 10:53 am

      The value of a dollar means little compaired to the abundance of the universe. We may only have a finite access to that abundance currently, but my point lies more in the understanding that financial freedom has less to do with stuff and earning potential, more to do with impact, and most to do with finding fulfillment earlier than a “proper rich person”.

      That said, those with more money gifted to them in life are also gifted with a greater responsibility to make sure that excess improves the quality of life of others (let’s face it, not everyone than put’s in work manages to be gifted with money–not even the majority of great ideas put into action by good people make it to that place. Human error, both on the individual side, and en masse, is too great not to have money be a gift. Hard work, and perfect work, can still lead to empty pockets–while sloppy work can lead to great wealth. While it’s not the rule, the fact that it’s true is enough to assume earnings are not entirely based off one’s merits).

    • WanderingWhitehursts May 20, 2018, 8:47 pm

      In response to AFOX feeling the importance of earning more should be more discussed by MMM, I’m dumbfounded people haven’t brought up the following points already…
      First, MMM doesn’t give one “shit” about you becoming financially independent. Straight from his mouth. Watch the WDS video from a few posts back. (I contend) His primary goal in the entire Mr. Money Mustache cult creation is to save the planet (even if that wasn’t the original intent). It doesn’t take long to realize the underlying purpose of everything he teaches is to help the environment. Teaching someone to earn 10 times their current income doesn’t achieve this goal. Very likely the end result is just ten times the spending.

      In the same WDS video mentioned above, MMM shows Dr. George earning 400,000 and saving 40,000 (or some similar values) contrasted to someone earning 40,000 and saving 4,000. Both retire at the same point in their career, sure. But is the same goal achieved? If MMM was encouraging financial independence and early retirement, than sure, both people achieve that goal at the same (albeit slow) point in life. But what remains are two very different lifestyles. One person continues to spend $36,000 a year during FI, and the ex-Dr. continues to spend $360,000 a year, also FI. If he is consuming $360,000 in junk (cars, ridiculous house size, vacation homes, private jet charters, etc), MMM would make the case that the environment is what suffers.

      Ultimately, he doesn’t care about how much you make. Or how much you save. He cares about how much you consume. “Saving” is just a tricky way of getting non-environmentally thinking readers (like me, at one point), to change their lifestyle in a way that saves the environment.

      For (a small) example, I moved into a new place recently. I replaced most, but not all, of the light bulbs with $1 LED bulbs. 5 months later I replace a few more with LED’s and some 50 cent CFLs I picked up at Habitat for Humanity Restore. With 4 hours of use of those light fixtures per day, the bulbs pay for themselves in well under a month, and generate much less heat in the process. Without MMM, I might not be thinking this way.

      Anyhow, isn’t Ramit Sethi (never read his stuff myself), the voice for “earning more is the most important part of the equation”? Go read that stuff if you want that message.

      How dozens of responses to AFOX didn’t once mention this makes me feel like I’m the only one paying attention here. I know that’s not the case, and by most measures I’m not at all Mustachian, but I’m pretty sure I understand the point of why this blog isn’t about earning. And it has nothing to do with the reasons people have come up with in response already.

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher October 26, 2016, 11:23 am

    Wow, MMM, I didn’t think it was possible to adore you more!! I am seriously impressed that you put your money where your mouth is. I’m sure a lot of good will come from your generosity.

    Mr. Picky Pincher donates to Charity Water, which builds clean water wells in developing countries to prevent waterborne illness and improve quality of life. I really like how financially transparent they are. They also send you photos of the well(s) that your money funded so you can see the change. It’s awesome!

    • The Wealthy Accountant October 26, 2016, 11:32 am

      Pete and his wife are awesome people! Of all the people I know, they are more dedicated to making a positive difference than any. It is an honor to know and work with them.

    • Lillian October 26, 2016, 3:55 pm

      The only thing that Charity: Water guarantees is that YOUR donations go towards water projects, they still bring in close to 11.1 million a year that is spent from their separate “overhead budget” – funded by 100+ large donors, including half million in salaries for the top 3 employees. They also don’t measure the effectiveness of their programming at all – many many well end up not working.

      As someone who spent most of my career in nonprofit fundraising and programming, the absurd focus on the Overhead Myth (meaning overhead = bad) causing organizations like Charity: Water to have TWO SEPARATE BUDGETS in order to make donors believe that good can be done with their money by keeping it “pure” is silly- you always need to leverage staff investments, overhead, travel, and you need money for that. Charity: Water knows that, it’s just a marketing ploy to have two budgets.


      • Rich Schmidt November 1, 2016, 2:47 pm

        We’ve given to various clean water charities over the years but have settled on World Vision, specifically raising money (including some of our own) by running with Team World Vision. It keeps us healthy, gets others involved, and saves lives! We’re fans. teamworldvision.org

  • Phil October 26, 2016, 11:29 am

    Good things happen to those who give to others. Very well done. I’ve always believed that you reap what you sow. Great example to your followers as well.

    • The Long Haul Investor October 27, 2016, 10:46 am

      Congrats MMM! I would have guessed you would donate more to bicycle causes, but of course that doesn’t mean you won’t in the future! Looking forward to see what else you do.

    • Greg February 9, 2017, 8:45 pm

      Bit late, but congrats MMM all the same! A lesson for me here is that you can never really know everything about everything, no matter how hard you try. You’ll only really ever be able to find out what others want you to know.

      Thinking you know everything can be disastrous anyway as it can lead to over-confidence. As the Big Short reminds us: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

  • Link October 26, 2016, 11:39 am

    I’m going to be “that commenter.”

    If Planned Parenthood only helped people “control when they have kids,” I’d support them too.

    But they have to get better at protecting the people they serve. Over and over and over they’ve been caught helping people cover up pregnancy in young teenagers–teenagers so young that any sex they had was statutory rape. And it’s happened even when the people coming in made it clear that the man responsible for the pregnancy was much older than the young teenager.

    It’s really hard to believe they actually care about helping the people they serve and not just profiting off their desperation when they have a track record like that. When they start actually putting the well-being of their clients first, I’ll consider supporting them.

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 26, 2016, 11:56 am

      Link, I’ve followed Planed Parenthood for quite a few years and in my opinion their intent and effect is overwhelmingly good.

      As with any organization involving multiple humans, there is a 100% probability of people making mistakes and poor judgments occasionally. But since we’re not politicians, we don’t magnify and focus on stuff like that – we look at the overall picture and help them improve whenever possible.

      Also, for the purposes of this comments section whenever we make a claim about data, it should be supported with a link to some fairly established source. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/09/planned-parenthood-economic-benefits/405922/

      • Becky October 26, 2016, 1:34 pm

        Great job on giving away $100,000! I think this is the source Link is referring to: http://liveaction.org/projects/abortion-industry-examined-built-lies-run-blood/

        The links from that page go to actual video footage of undercover actors at Planned Parenthood facilities across the nation. The sex trafficking videos are the most disturbing to me personally. So sad that they just turned a blind eye.

        • Dan October 26, 2016, 3:30 pm

          Always fact check your sources, if you’re going to read the liveaction page then I recommend you read this one too: http://www.snopes.com/pp-baby-parts-sale/

        • Mr. Money Mustache October 26, 2016, 3:33 pm

          [note: liveaction.org is an anti-abortion / anti-planned parenthood site, pretty much the definition of the political attacks that this humanitarian organization continually endures. Why people would make this their life’s mission was a total mystery to me when I got to this country, but I have since been told it is a long-raging debate that has to do with the beliefs of certain religions (?) ]

          • CP October 26, 2016, 4:33 pm

            Read The Book of Virtues and understand why these attacks exist at all. I am amazed at how smart you with certain values but choose not to see the complete picture of values. I believe it is because you were raised a secularist humanist, one who has no time at all for religion and it’s perspective on values. Try to solve this mystery you must my son.

            • Naloxone October 26, 2016, 5:23 pm

              I’d say MMM has a pretty good handle on values. He makes rational decisions that science, combined with personal experience, suggests will yield maximum personal satisfaction and community benefit. The definition of faith – one of the values promoted in the book you link – is belief (without evidence) in one flavor or another of supernatural immortality. In context of alleviating human suffering, faith is at best unnecessary and at worst counterproductive.

            • LLBigwave October 28, 2016, 6:29 pm


            • lurker October 30, 2016, 2:45 pm

              look at history….at all the damage done by the “faithful” and in the name of “faith” and look at terrorism today…..or don’t…..

            • Alcuin October 31, 2016, 3:16 pm

              I am not 100% pro-life by any stretch, but it always seems laughable to me that the staunchly pro-choice side can not see that the pro-life side believes they are trying to prevent harm to the innocent. I don’t believe you – you know that it is a greedy act to abort those children, and because I will admit to having greed I can accept that I am pro-choice in many situations even though I know it is morally dicey.

            • Chris I October 31, 2016, 9:46 pm

              Judge not, lest ye be judged.

            • WW December 12, 2016, 1:08 pm

              First of all, I’ve enjoyed this blog tremendously and have nothing but good vibes regarding MMM. However, I would be more impressed with MMM had he given the money away without saying a word to anyone. A well written essay promoting charitable giving would have sufficed. MMM has received his reward but left so much more on the table. Keep up the great work. I really appreciate MMM!

            • Mr. Money Mustache December 12, 2016, 1:20 pm

              I have thought about this idea WW, and sort of agree with you. However, I felt that sharing the details would encourage more people to try some philanthropy themselves, so it was worth losing the personal awesomeness of anonymous giving in exchange.

              If it’s any consolation, I don’t bother telling you EVERY time I try to do a good deed :-)

          • Matt October 26, 2016, 5:47 pm

            Essentially, we lack the ability to express nuance in our political discourse. The left says women should be able to get an abortion up to the day before birth because they should have complete, unrestricted control over their own bodies. The right says 100% of abortions should be illegal, even the day after sex, even in the event of rape. They think a zygote must have a soul and therefore confers the same status of being a living thing that a new-born baby has.

            Personally, I think the UK has a very reasonable solution of drawing a line in the sand in the middle of the second trimester (with reasonable exceptions). If either side was willing to adopt a less absolutest position, they’d likely receive overwhelming support. But as a male atheist, I’m probably not the most authoritative person on this subject.

            • Naloxone October 26, 2016, 8:18 pm

              This is getting off topic, but as an obstetrician I must clarify. When you say “the day before birth” I’m assuming you mean 39 weeks 6 days gestation, or the day prior to the estimated due date. Nowhere in the United States is it legal to perform an abortion at this gestational age, or at any time in the third trimester. No reputable reproductive rights group is arguing for third trimester abortion, and no provider I know would perform them. In fact, Roe, 410US at163-165 specifies that abortion is only legal until fetal viability, meaning the gestational age at which the fetus may have a reasonable chance at life outside the womb. Currently this gestational age is around 23 weeks, or the middle of the second trimester – more or less the standard you endorse. I would ask in the future you learn more about the legal facts of abortion before posting about it in a high traffic forum.

            • Falafel October 27, 2016, 7:50 am

              Naloxone, your information is incorrect. Nine states allow abortion at any point during the pregnancy, according to no less than the New York Times:

            • Naloxone October 28, 2016, 8:32 am

              I can see how the NYT article could mislead folks. The states listed in the article lack laws prohibiting third trimester abortion. People in those states still are subject to federal law, which, as determined by Roe (see citation above), allows abortion only until viability.

            • Paul October 28, 2016, 9:18 am

              As a lawyer, hopefully I can add some clarity here. Roe v Wade does not per se prohibit abortions after viability. The decision holds that after viability the government (state governments) has a compelling interest in protecting the life of the fetus, and such a compelling interest would over-ride, in most cases, the individual right of privacy the court found that protects a women’s right to make private reproductive decisions earlier in the pregnancy.

              So, there are a handful of states that allow unrestricted abortions and Roe would not per se pre-empt such state laws. However, the situation is made a bit more complicated by the fact that a federal statute prohibits “partial birth abortions”. Making things further complicated is the fact that there is an exception in this statute when the life of the mother is in danger if the child is carried to term.

              As a practical matter late term abortions are extremely rare and almost always involve severe birth defects.

              It is too bad that this issue has become so politicized on both sides that getting to the truth is very, very difficult given all the demagoguery from our politicians.

            • Naloxone October 28, 2016, 4:56 pm

              Paul, thanks for your insight. Part of the confusion is due to differences in language. “Partial birth abortion” is not a medical term, and neither is “late term.” The other issue is what constitutes an abortion. If I induce labor at 32 weeks for fetal anomalies not compatible with life, the infant delivers vaginally and then dies, is that an abortion? Dr. Aaron Caughey, chair of OB at OHSU, was just interviewed by the NYT on this topic. He said, and I agree, that this scenario is an induction of a non-viable pregnancy, not an abortion. I would also not consider it an abortion if I delivered a 26 week fetus of an eclamptic mother and the infant later expired from complications of prematurity. Would the legal community disagree? If you know of surgeons performing abortions via dilation and evacuation in the third trimester I’d like to know about it just for my own information.

            • Paul October 28, 2016, 5:40 pm


              Thank you for your views. It is important to hear from someone from the medical community in this discussion. The purpose of my reply was to correct your mistaken belief that Roe v Wade prohibits late term abortions. That is not one of the holdings in Roe. I am not a doctor and cannot with any degree of expertise respond to the semantics issues you raise. I do know that the federal government passed a statute that makes “partial birth abortions” illegal, under most circumstances, and that statute was ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court. You can find that opinion on the internet and it describes in detail what happens during a “partial birth abortions”. If I recall correctly, Justice Kennedy uses this term in the opinion. I will not describe the procedure here. I cannot recall the case name, but if you cannot find it I can look for it and provide the cite.

              To my knowledge the Supreme Court has never ruled on the constitutionality of a law that prohibits abortions after viability. Given the dicta in Roe, I do agree that such a law would likely pass constitutional muster.

              I cannot name a physician by name who performs late term abortions (third trimester) by any technique. Of course, Dr. George Tiller performed such abortions, and tragically, he was shot dead, at church, by a religious fanatic. I cannot tell you what technique he used.

              Thanks for the interesting discussion.

            • DJLove October 30, 2016, 9:53 am

              As a fellow obstetrician, I concur with naloxone – I am unaware of any practitioner in the country that would perform an elective third trimester abortion.

              And as N. and other commenters have eloquently stated, there is certainly some confusion in the public mindset over the difference between “elective” abortion – and the appropriate treatment of a patient with a severely anomalous fetus.

            • Paul Atkin November 8, 2016, 1:20 pm

              Speaking from the UK, there’s nothing reasonable about our abortion law. We’ve had over 8,000,000 abortions to date. Most people here think that’s too many and that the social / mental health grounds used to justify UK abortions are too loose. UK abortion is legal up to birth for disability which contradicts all progressive attitudes to disabled people. Even a minor disability – such as cleft palate or hair lip – can justify abortion. Although not explictily legal, gender specific abortions are practised – simply because the child is female

              The official UK figures are here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/report-on-abortion-statistics-in-england-and-wales-for-2015

          • B October 26, 2016, 7:47 pm

            Religion has nothing to do with it. http://www.secularprolife.org/

            • James October 26, 2016, 11:22 pm

              Religion has *a lot* to do with it, in the sense that the two beliefs are highly correlated, but there are a tiny few secularists who are also pro-life.

          • FarmerPete November 23, 2016, 7:09 am

            I don’t believe you need to be particularly religious to believe that at some point in the pregnancy process, the fetus becomes enough of an individual to gain rights and protection from being murdered. The problem comes when you try to narrow that point down. Some argue it’s conception, which is a very hard sell. Others would argue it’s brain function (as early as 6 weeks), heart beat (6 weeks), ability to feel pain (~22 weeks) or sustainability (22-24 weeks).

            The biggest problem with this entire debate is that it has become a wildly divisive political debate. There are a large number of people who refuse to vote for anyone pro-choice. In their eyes, it would be like voting for murder. If Trump hadn’t changed his stance to pro-life for the election, he would have lost the presidency by a large margin. Hell, he probably wouldn’t have even got the nomination. Likewise, there are plenty of people who feel strongly that unborn babies have no rights, and that saying they do takes away the mother’s rights. They wouldn’t have voted for Hillary if she was pro-life. Because of how our political system works, it’s in these politicians best interests to do their best not to resolve the issue. Why fix an issue that can drive people to your side, no matter how good/bad you actually are. Sure, you can create the token bill every once in awhile so that you have the track record to motivate your constituents. But there is no way that bill would have ever have gotten passed.

    • sarahnel October 26, 2016, 12:05 pm

      Before Obamacare, I couldn’t get insurance due to a preexisting condition, and was just starting a business so couldn’t get insurance through work yet. Planned Parenthood provided the best, most thorough, and most heartfelt medical care I have ever received. They diagnosed a condition my “regular” doctors had ignored/missed for years, and followed up with me to help me get the treatment I needed. I am not the only woman (or man!) who has had a similar experience with this amazing organization, and I am so grateful for the work they do.

      • ZJ Thorne October 27, 2016, 8:53 pm

        As a lesbian who only has sex with my cisgender girlfriend, Planned Parenthood is one of the only healthcare organizations that provided me with culturally competent reproductive healthcare. Their questions related to my actual risk factors and I did not have to educated them about the medical issues for lesbians.

        I love PP for all that they do, but they have also been personally helpful to me.

        There are a couple of organizations I give to in small ways now, but they are all organizations I have at one point volunteered with directly. I have seen what they do with the money they have and I approve of it. Baphumelele in Khayelitsha, Cape Town is one of the best places I’ve ever been. Without any money, the founder did so much. She is still living in her community and doing amazing work. She is not trying to be rich or famous. Just helping orphans live.

    • Marcia October 26, 2016, 12:25 pm

      My sister got 100% of her prenatal care during her pregnancy AND her cervical cancer care (also during her pregnancy) at Planned Parenthood.

    • ChooseBetterLife October 26, 2016, 1:05 pm

      This is a tricky situation. I don’t know if your claims about PP are accurate, and there are clear laws about reporting child abuse.
      It’s hard to know the perfect line to draw because sometimes if people know that the police will be involved, they won’t seek help.
      This is why emergency departments generally don’t report people for drug abuse, driving while intoxicated, and many other behaviors that are illegal and harmful. If a woman is beaten by her partner, state laws vary, but she usually has the choice of whether she wants to file a report.
      There needs to be a safe haven where everyone is welcome. In the ED, we can help to counsel them about better choices and provide resources for detox, shelters, mental health services, clean clothes, food, and more, but if they knew they or their loved ones were going to be arrested they wouldn’t seek the help they need.

    • rollie fingers October 26, 2016, 1:28 pm

      Link, I am going to offer you a dissenting opinion.

      Planned parent hood provided birth control and screenings for my wife when we were so damned poor that we couldn’t afford it anywhere else.

      If that is not “putting the welfare of their clients” first, then nothing will ever convince you…

      • Jess D October 27, 2016, 8:50 am

        I’m very happy to see so many commenters coming to the defense of Planned Parenthood and sharing their personal stories. I too was a Planned Parenthood patient for many years during a particularly vulnerable period of my life, and I will forever be grateful for the expert and inexpensive care they gave me.

        You have to be very careful with your sources of information concerning “controversies” about Planned Parenthood. The organization has been the target of an extremely motivated smear campaign for literally decades. As a result, not only is there a lot of misinformation out there, but PP itself has had to take great pains to keep everything above board, to the point where they won’t even take donations from someone whose motivations are suspect (http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2012/04/05/planned-parenthood-was-right-to-reject-tucker-maxs-500k-but-who-won-this-round/#779c5e312553).

        I’m proud of MMM for making such a thoughtful donation to Planned Parenthood.

    • Katatonic October 26, 2016, 2:30 pm

      Planned Parenthood kept me & my friends child-free through high school, waaaay back in the 70s & 80s, through health screenings and low cost birth control. They will ALWAYS be part of my giving because they made my current life possible. As MMM said, human organizations run by humans will have problems & issues & make mistakes. Perfection is the enemy of progress.

      If YOU were that young teen who is pregnant by rape (statutory or otherwise) or incest and lived in a state where your (possibly fundamentalist) parents had to be notified of your every attempt to control your own health & reproduction, hell, yes, you’d beg your providers to keep your confidentiality. Medical privacy is a basic human right, as is the decision whether or not to pursue criminal charges against your assailant.

      Planned Parenthood is a not-for-profit organization. No one is profiting off desperation.

      If you want to reduce/eliminate abortion, you have to support free/low cost birth control for all (as well as comprehensive sex education). Colorado experimented with providing LARC (long-acting reversible contraception like implants & IUDs) through a grant and saw the state’s accidental pregnancy rate and abortion rate plummet. The grant program ended but the GOP controlled legislature declined to continue funding the program and now those rates are climbing again.

      • Paul October 26, 2016, 5:16 pm

        Great comment. I’d argue it goes deeper; if you want to greatly reduce poverty around the globe make sure all women have complete control over the decision to reproduce. Google Christopher Hitchens and read his writings on this subject and view his speeches on You-Tube dealing with reproductive rights in third-world countries. MMM/Pete, if you are looking for a charity to give to in the future look for one taking up this cause. There is a very compelling argument that world-wide poverty could be greatly reduced if women were not force into reproductive slavery.

      • B October 26, 2016, 7:53 pm

        The GOP is against it because you’re using tax payer funds to support such a controversial practice. Imagine if, using the 2nd amendment as an argument, the GOP pushed to make access to guns cheap or free to all who want them by giving tax payer dollars to the NRA. Maybe from that perspective you’ll see how ridiculous it is.

        I support birth control, and I support the fact that PP is providing affordable care to those who need it. I support the idea of giving your own money to a cause you believe in. But supporting that particular cause with tax dollars is unacceptable.

        • Jarom October 26, 2016, 9:43 pm

          The problem with that line of thinking is that it ignores the reality that we are already spending a ton of taxpayer money on the downstream effects of poor family planning. Could we cut funding to PP and save a few hundred million? Sure. But we would end up paying far more than those dollars in after the fact costs. I get that some people are morally outraged by abortions. But you don’t get to pick and choose how tax money is spent. There is surely nobody who is happy with all the ways that taxes get spent. And this particular area happens to have a really great ROI.

        • The MAD Consultant October 26, 2016, 10:14 pm

          Must say I’m a little surprised so many people feel the need to criticize donation choices. No organization is completely perfect. I myself may not agree wholeheartedly with each one, but I agree with the simple principle that MMM has decided to donate is amazing. Congrats Pete to making this large contribution to society and those in need. According to research those who donate feel even richer and happier.

          • Di October 28, 2016, 8:18 am

            I’m always struck also by how much all our views are driven by where we were born and what we’re used to. Growing up in the UK there were lots of places to get free contraception and family planning advice and it’s never been controversial (despite being mainly state funded – even Brook, which is our charity giving sexual health advice to young people, is mainly funded by local government). http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/sexandyoungpeople/pages/gettingcontraception.aspx

            So to me it seems really sad that people have to pay for this kind of support, when in the long run it is helping to avoid the trauma of unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

            But if I grew up in the US then I might have a completely different view of the role of the state and what counts as a legitimate realm of state protection for its citizens.

        • C October 27, 2016, 7:57 pm

          “The GOP is against it because you’re using tax payer funds to support such a controversial practice.”

          Tax payers support numerous deeply controversial practices, including unpopular wars and drone campaigns, fossil fuel extraction and conversion, and ‘factory’ animal farming. In a democracy there are going to be policies that a minority of the citizenry deeply opposes and yet are forced to subsidize. We all should learn to accept that fact.

          (It’s unclear the abortion is one of those policies, given the Hyde Amendment. But it’s fair to include abortion because Clinton has proposed overturning Hyde.)

        • becca October 28, 2016, 10:25 am

          Uhm, pretty sure the DoD budget funds plenty of guns that I morally disagree with. Also, tanks, nuclear weapons, and bombs that Saudi Arabia is using on Yemenese children.

          On a related note: if anyone knows of a charity that is effective and doing things like air dropping Gatorade into cholera stricken conflict zones, let me know.

          Abortion politics aside, I have personally benefited immensely from PP and do really appreciate people supporting it! And completely unrelated to the former experience (different time in my life), I was also one of those 16 year olds dating a 21 year old. He’s a mensch and we’re still FB friends, and hysteria about statutory rape does not serve 16 year olds well. Note that there are many factors that impact emotional maturity and skewed power dynamics in sexual relationships, and I in no way advocate any particular configuration, I just recognize the inherent complexity in teen sex and that our society is collectively a little incoherent about it.

          On another note: based on a rational analysis of giving efficacy (specifically the evidence microfinance is effective) and a rational analysis of my own irrational nature, I like to give to Kiva. The amounts needed allow you to get started right away, and the way it is cyclical and periodically I need to decide where to re-give the money is very nice. You get a lot of warm glow for your $- it’s just worth being aware of the cognitive bias that means we don’t actually care very much *how much* we give to get that warm glow. So, if you are prone to err on the side of selfishness (and most of us do, if we’re honest), you may under-allocate to charity by choosing such an intensive/specific approach. My overall thinking is that it will train my brain into seeing charitable giving as rewarding and that will lead to more giving as my financial circumstances allow.

        • David October 28, 2016, 1:15 pm

          There are a lot of people in the country who are pacifists and think all war is immoral. The GOP doesn’t mind spending those taxpayers’ money on controversial wars.

        • Mike October 29, 2016, 2:05 pm

          Intuitively, it would seem that automatic weapons would not even exist were it not for military r&d back in the day, and would not be even marginally affordable today without ongoing military spending. I would argue, in effect, that what you describe is exactly what has in fact happened.

      • David October 28, 2016, 1:22 pm

        The critics can always spin any action of Planned Parenthood as terribly evil but as MMM said above, in any organization there are flawed humans who will make mistakes. These are such difficult situations that I am not going to be quick to judge an entire organization on the mistakes of some employees. I myself would consider it quite a moral dilemma if I had a teenage girl needing help and not wanting to tell anyone what happened to her. Yes she is a still a child, but she is old enough to have an opinion and that should be respected to the extent possible. At the same time I would really want her abuser brought to justice. Unfortunately the legal system is also far from perfect and I might end up just putting her through a huge ordeal and then there isn’t enough evidence to convict her abuser and she ends up even worse off than before. There are really no good options in a terrible situation like that.

    • CZ_Technically_Frugal October 27, 2016, 12:32 pm

      It’s interesting, how religious people or any religion tends to force their belief to others. What it MMM will force his beliefs to you (no SUV nor TV for you, you’re nasty, nasty guy for even wanting it!)? Or what about atheists (you claim you can talk with god? Keep calm, there is hospital, you’ll get some diazepam, they’ll take care of you.)? Or satanists (google it for yourself, you’ll found that they are just negating two milenia old christian nonsense and NOT adding any religious offerings of goats described in movies often). Or me (you have no right to have a car if you’re unable to make one from things you can find on scrapyard :-)).

      Even in the bible is something like (I’m translating it form my first language): “Don’t do it to others if you don’t want others to to the same to you.”, so why are you forcing your religion to others?

      I’m glad I live in Europe with much less of these holly rollers.

      BTW: The whole “statutory rape” idea is stupid. Yes, it’s not good when 40 years old and 15 years old have sex, but if two 15 years old have sex it isn’t thing for law, state, police and judges. And what about two people one year difference in age (or one month, one week) having sex together for say two years, then they’re forced to stop for year (month, week) to prevent the older of them from being accused of statutory rape and then they can continue. Does that make sense for anyone (not including lawyers)?

      • Mikey October 27, 2016, 1:05 pm

        The whole logic of “Religious people forcing their religion on others” is kind of interesting. As far as I understand it, any expression of a firmly held religious believe, whether or not it’s backed up with rational arguments, is considered “forceful”, and therefore unwelcome. It is effectively censorship, or, put another way, a means to “force your non-religion on me.” Some people in our cultural (read lobbyists, politicians, and lawyers) take it even further and criminalize expression of certain views through “hate speech” legislation, which is a complete mis-characterization of “hate”.

        Meanwhile, this logic is not often applied to other areas. Take this website, for example. Whenever someone takes offense at MMM’s criticism of consumerism and sucka(rism), does he kow-tow and apologise for forcing his agenda on them? No! He playfully belittles them for being a complainypants (and rightly so, IMO).

        So, the million dollar question is this: Why religion? It’s a characteristic shared by most of the world; why is it the one no-go subject? What is making you so uncomfortable?

        • Mara October 27, 2016, 2:23 pm

          It’s not personal religious EXPRESSION that’s considered “forcing your religion on others”. It’s trying to force actual tenets of your faith on others, through government.

          Expression is keeping a blog (like this one, the example you use.) Expression is having religious symbolism in your house, your yard, your car. Expression is attending whatever religious institution you choose, wearing a shirt with your views written on it, or sharing your beliefs with anyone who asks (or doesn’t.)

          “Forcing your beliefs on others” is trying to put the symbolism of your faith in public buildings like court houses or schools. It’s trying to legislate medical procedures like abortion, based on a religious concept. Seventh-Day Adventists refusing blood transfusions is religious expression. If they tried to make it so that blood transfusions were illegal, so that nobody could have one, because transfusions go against THEIR beliefs– that would be forcing their belief on others.

          Bowing your head in prayer over your evening meal is religious expression. Insisting that my children do so over their public-elementary-school lunch, is forcing.

          • Mikey October 27, 2016, 2:51 pm

            Ok. Fair enough on most points. I wish everyone would make those distinctions. If they did, we wouldn’t have Christian baking businesses being shut down for refuses to bake a cake for gay “weddings”. I agree that religion cannot be forced on someone in the sense you state. I cannot force someone to have a certain faith; faith by it’s definition must be freely chosen and therefore such a forcing action would be self-contradicting. The thing I take issue with is the forced relativism that is common in society. Basically I’m not allowed to openly state that another religion is inferior to my own; such an act is “discriminatory”. Whereas is reality, one of the chief aspects of any major religion is that it claims to hold the sole truth while all other religions are wrong. Boom! To deny this is to effectively ban all religion.

            To use this blog as an analogy, a parallel would be some complainypants suing MMM for the hate-crime of “consumerphobia”, for his outspoken and uncompromising views against 2hr daily commutes in brand new pickup trucks. This would be laughable; people have the right to do so, and MMM has the right to say that they are wrong to do so. I would even suggest that there is a correct answer in this situation, although no one has the right to enforce it on the other.

            • Mikey October 27, 2016, 2:59 pm

              I would argue with your treatment of abortion as a religious concept though. I don’t think it fits the criteria. Yes, many religions condemn abortion, as they do rape, lying, theft, etc… but that does not make them explicitly religious concepts. The reason abortion is often cast like that – ignoring my somewhat biased belief that it is simply counter-propaganda – is simply because there are a disproportionate number of religious people who stand up against it. This implies religion is a strong motivator, not that religion is the only justification for holding a pro-life view.

            • CZ_Technically_Frugal October 28, 2016, 10:06 am

              There is no reason from my point of view to close bakery which refused bake wedding cake for two gays. It’s the same like car repair shop saying: “We’re not repairing your model, it’s too wrongly constructed, that any repairs are frustrating us, try to find another repair shop please.” for me.

              But eat of your own medicine – you have one closed bakery, the other side has hundred thousands of destroyed lives (death or serious medical condition) and people in poverty (I have unplanned child, I’m not going to study and I’ll work in McDonalds for rest of my live).

              It’s proved statistically, that legal contraception and abortions will make criminality going down in 20 years and ban of them will push criminality back up. Why? – you ask? It’s simple, wanted child will get better care. And even with the best care, if parent’s are poor because of early pregnancy, there is high risk of bad education and even malnutrition in some parts of society. But Christians care just about how many people they have in their church. Their quality of live is unimportant.

              Just imagine you’re girl, someone will rape you and some crazy holly roller will force you to have the kid. What will you do? Will your care be good? Will you suffer in time of lack of resources just to give kid the maximum like normal parents do? Or will you create stressed criminal, who will be forced out of house in the first legal opportunity to stop reminding you the rape?

              And even if you’re so extremely strong person, you’ll be able to not affect the kid in any way, how many people will too? And you have ALWAYS the right to NOT go to the abortion.

              Think about it please after you’ll see some criminality. Big chunk of it is preventable just by letting parents to have right to not have unwanted child.

            • Naloxone October 28, 2016, 8:48 am

              Assuming you live in a free nation, you are absolutely allowed to say that your religion is better than other religions. And people of other faiths may say the converse to you. Where did you get the idea that such speech is forbidden? Also, no need to put quotation marks around “wedding” when the word is preceded by gay. My gay wedding was entirely quotation mark free.

        • CZ_Technically_Frugal October 28, 2016, 9:45 am

          Let me explain i better.

          You’re religious (I expect according to your comment), me not. And let’s imagine person X, who is satanist.

          Is O.K. for me to say you, that I think there is no god plus some arguments to it? If yes, is perfectly O.K. for you to say me, that you think there is god. And X can say something like satan is better than god or whatever he thinks is appropriate.

          Is O.K. for me to have talk about biology and evolution? Then you can have talk about creationism (if you believe in it – it’s an example, I don’t know you of course). I don’t know what X would say in this case.

          Is O.K., for me to force you to not going to church? If yes, thus and only then is O.K. for you to force me to go to the church. And X can force both of us to attend in black mess in 1am in local cemetery.

          Is O.K., to force you to die in pain because I believe that cancer treatment is bad for the environment and you should die like Darwin proposed*? Then you can force me to die in pain after natural miscarriage, because you believe, that removing dead foetus would be abortion and it’s bad. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Savita_Halappanavar And Mr X can let you die in pain on his sacrificing stone by obsidian knife, because he believes, that exactly you are the right offering for Satan.

          * I don’t believe in that, but I don’t believe in any comparable bullshit, so I needed to make something up.

          Is O.K. for me to destroy all believers of all religions, because they’re slowing science and it can be reason, why all humanity will die in future due to some cosmic event we can prevent with better technology? Then it’s O.K. for you to want to destroy or convert all non-believers and believers of other religions to your version of religion for whatever reason you have. And Mr X can convert whole planet to satanism.

          So to answer your question – I want equal right. Choose wise what religion-related rights you want to have, because I’m going to grab just the same and use them for my defense.

    • Trudie October 28, 2016, 9:36 am

      To follow a statistics and facts based approach, this summarizes the services Planned Parenthood actually provides:

      For many women, it is a source of valuable primary care — including prevention, detection, and treatment of women’s cancers (the breast and all the rest) — for which research funding is lacking. For more on this, see:

    • Andrew October 29, 2016, 3:09 pm

      How disappointing that MMM writes an article where he discusses donating $100,000(!!!!!!) to charity, and there is “that commenter” who is offended enough to criticize an organization that received only 5% of his giving, starting a bile stream that ignores the point.

      Even if I didn’t like one or more of the recipients, he still donated ONE HUDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS for the satisfaction of it. Now that’s BADASS. He can’t buy more happiness for himself with stuff, so he gains happiness through giving, making a better world on the way. That’s some high-level Mustachian shit right there. I consider myself schooled.

      Things I learned from this post:
      -MMM is now taking his long term strategy, both for himself and the readership, to a beautiful and logical conclusion (consume less, it’ll be better for us all, then use your excess time and money to better the world while still living a badass, fulfilling and rich life);
      -there is a thing called “effective altruism”, which is a grand idea;
      -vicariously, I saw how good it would feel to make a large giving-spree, and will look forward trying it myself;
      -myopic commenting is a good analogy as to why progress is hampered in the world.

      Thanks MMM, for this blog, and all the good livin’ you’ve promoted.

      • Mindy November 17, 2016, 3:03 pm

        I assure you there are a lot of people offended. As a labor and delivery nurse, I have seen births of every gestational age over the last 20 years. Abortion is murder of an innocent person. It just is. There is always someone willing to adopt a newborn. People wait for years and pay thousands of dollars for that privilege. I have diligently read every post in this blog for years. And I’m okay with religious and political differences to a point. But this is beyond anything I can gloss over. I’m done.

        • The Wealthy Accountant November 18, 2016, 8:31 am

          I think you missed the point, Mindy. This is a personal finance blog helping people with personal finance issues. Passing judgment on a legal procedure IS religious or political in nature. MMM has worked hard to keep politics and religion out of his writings. If you are looking to be offended, and it appears you have been reading for just such an occasion, you did not have to wait until now. There have been plenty of folks offended along the way. If MMM wants to donate to a charity, pat him on the back for the awesome example rather than kick him in the nuts because it goes against your personal values. You know, it is okay to be offended. What is not okay is expecting everyone else to feel your offense.

    • Richard July 3, 2017, 8:27 pm

      Hang on … MMM has donated ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS to causes he believes in. And people want to argue about his choices???

      From my (humble) point of view, (1) Mr and Mrs MMM have earned every dollar they donated, through their own hard work, through living simply, and through very savvy and sound investment strategies (2) They donated to charities they personally believe in, that are trying to do real good in the world.

      We don’t have to agree with those choices (personally, I think all those choices are great!). But how about some respect for what this blog is doing for all of us. And now turning a tidy profit, a good chunk of which is going to altruistic causes

      People arguing about Planned Parenthood are mostly missing the point of this post, which is about the real good you can do in the world when you live simply, make great financial decisions, and actually care about helping other people live healthy, meaningful lives.

      I’d like to see a lot less criticism and a lot more support for this amazing blog and these amazing donations! Both are incredibly inspirational to me.

  • Paul October 26, 2016, 11:46 am

    Well done. In particular, as a card carrying member of the ACLU, thank you for your donation. The ACLU is likely the most important political organization in the US. The importance of the ACLU’s vigilant protection of the individual rights enshrined in Bill of Rights cannot be overstated.

    • Paula October 26, 2016, 2:10 pm

      Have to agree with this one; the ACLU is extremely important.

  • Abandoned Cubicle October 26, 2016, 11:46 am

    Good for you! I have an even higher appreciation for what you’ve accomplished with this blog. So don’t ever get bored with us, okay?
    One of the things I’m trying to reconcile for our situation, is whether to continue to make annual charitable donations year over year, or bank that money so we can be even more giving later on. For now I’m going with a balanced approach, but having your example here sure helps inform our direction. Giving dollars and time to save the planet – a core tenant to live by once you’ve escaped the cubical.

    • Shira in NYC October 26, 2016, 12:13 pm

      I would personally give NOW. Let your money go to work solving the worlds problems, instead of hoarding it with good intentions for the future. You’ll get personal payback now, too. (:

    • FinanceSuperhero October 26, 2016, 1:13 pm

      Kudos to you for having decided that giving is a priority! Many people have sadly decided otherwise.

      My two cents: it is difficult to give pennies on a dollar, how much more difficult will it be to give when you eventually reach the level of wealth which you desire? Just food for thought.

      • Abandoned Cubicle October 26, 2016, 2:12 pm

        You just need to factor it into your plan and make it a priority, regardless what level of wealth you desire (or achieve.) The key question I have is whether to keep giving what I’ve been giving at a set annual amount. Or, build up a sizable stash on the side to give to causes after you’ve passed on. Or, some mix of both?

        • Amy October 29, 2016, 8:48 pm

          If you aren’t comfortable making a financial donation, there are likely many local organizations that could benefit from your time, labor, or expertise. For example, my library would cease to exist without its volunteers.

    • ThriftyChemist October 26, 2016, 2:15 pm

      My personal opinion is that (financial) charitable giving should be limited during the accumulation of wealth. Once you’ve achieved a sufficient level of wealth that you are able to live as you choose, the overall level of contribution will be easier to maintain and therefore more effective.

      • Dee October 28, 2016, 5:42 am

        ThriftyChemist: I have been struggling with that one for a while now. The conclusion I have drawn is that when it comes to charitable giving, many need the funds NOW. They can’t always wait for ones to accumulate wealth before they begin giving to others. When one actually has extra resources, it is a slippery slope as to how to allocate that. YMMV? Just my 2 cents.

        • ThriftyChemist October 28, 2016, 3:00 pm

          That’s certainly a tough balance. Thing is, there is always someone who needs the funds NOW. That’s not really in question though, is it? The question is whether it’s my responsibility to provide those funds NOW. There might be times when it’s a personal priority to contribute while in the wealth accumulation phase (e.g. family member or close friend in crisis) but generosity directed to the general public or distant groups may not be my first priority until I have the time to spare.

          Ultimately, I think it comes down to adding happiness – if contributing is going to add stress or disrupt my plans, I’m unlikely to feel obligated to do it.

    • Doctor K October 26, 2016, 8:57 pm

      If you plan on giving yearly over a long period of time, the best way to do that is to set up a donor advised charitable fund. Most banks like Schwab offer this.


  • Dave October 26, 2016, 11:52 am

    Great stuff! I’ve been waiting for this blog post for a while to see what direction you went. I was trying to do a similar thing but by outsourcing the decision making to the Gates Foundation and giving to the same charities they did. I will definitely check out givewell.org

    • Bill October 26, 2016, 12:17 pm

      I like the Givewell approach. I read the rebuttal MMM links above, and thought, “Hyper-rational? I’m in!”

  • Justin October 26, 2016, 12:00 pm

    That’s very badass, Pete. I struggle with when to give because while we have a surplus by most metrics (withdrawal rate under 3%), we still have 3 young kids at home.

    If I ever end up with a six figure blog/other side hustle income I’m pretty certain I’ll start doing something like this (though perhaps starting out with a smaller amount – something with five digits feels right).

  • Alan B October 26, 2016, 12:01 pm

    Man, I love the blog, but this is generating more than $400K on one year? That I cannot understand.

    • Skippy October 26, 2016, 7:36 pm

      It’s just what happens when you have a factual thing that’s entertaining. Especially where the author is free to swear and write whatever he likes

      • Rick October 27, 2016, 12:43 am

        I am with Alan on this. I knew MMM made money from the blog but not that kind of magnitude! Wow! I know blogs mainly make money off ads and click through but his site doesn’t even have that many. So how is it done to make that much??

        • Johnny October 27, 2016, 9:17 pm

          Guessing here, but I believe it might be on his referral links – the credit cards, the savings accounts, etc. Fine by me – if these are the tools that helps one retire early, then thanks for sifting through the information superhighway for me.

  • theFIREstarter October 26, 2016, 12:01 pm

    Hi MMM,

    Wrote about this very subject on my blog a while ago! I’ve decided to donate 10% of profits from a side hustle to charity and wondered where best to send the money. Also been stalling due to analysis paralysis so these are some great avenues to explore. Thanks as usual for an informational and timely post.

    Obviously my giving will be nowhere near 100 G’s but it will be by far the highest amount I’ve ever given in my life and I’m selfishly looking forward to feeling great about it when I pull the trigger :)

    • Effective Altruist November 26, 2016, 6:46 am

      Hey, if you haven’t given away your money already, a safe bet would be directly to Raising for Effective Giving. Basically they support the most cost-efficient organizations, such as the Against Malaria Foundation (which is the charity that saves the most lives per dollar currently). Because they’re so good at fundraising and getting the word out about these organizations, donating to REG is like a multiplier effect.

  • Mr Crazy Kicks October 26, 2016, 12:02 pm

    Bravo! One of the benefits of being FIREd is also having more time to help others out. Shortly after I left my job, one of my extended family members got cancer. She was the sweetest lady to me as a child, but I had not seen her in 10 years. If I was still working I probably would have just cut a check for her cause. But since I had the time, I was able to attend a event for her and I herded up some friends to raise even more money. It made me think of how insensitive we can be when there is less time to spare.

    Nice job not just with the giving, but also with laying out some good charities. With all the bad press about charities that waste money the good charities need better press more and more.

    • Diane C October 30, 2016, 12:09 pm

      It’s nice, very nice, that you raised funds for your loved one. Somehow, I was thinking you were going to say that being FIRE allowed you to provide hands-on assistance such as transportation to appointments, meal prep, etc. I dunno, seems like a person could raise money regardless of financial status, but being FIRE means that you would be able to give hands-on time as well. Hope you actually did both.

      • Greg February 9, 2017, 8:33 pm

        And my hope is that you tracked this gentleman down and offered some hands-on assistance of your own. That would have been nice, very nice of you.

  • Bill October 26, 2016, 12:02 pm

    Yachts are awesome, at least sailing yachts are. They provide boundless opportunities for DIY learning, the wind is free, and they are relatively cheap to own if you do the DIY route. Racing them is a fun way to spend an afternoon, and the people who are around boats are some of the most frugal and self-sufficient people on the planet. Particularly in the long-term cruising community.

    • Bill October 26, 2016, 12:05 pm

      Incidentally the Mustachian way to get into all this is through OPB (other peoples’ boats). Show up at any yacht race anywhere and volunteer to crew and be willing to learn a new skill, and you will usually find someone willing to teach and lend a boat. These self-sufficient types like to own their own boats so there’s usually a need for crew.

    • PoF October 26, 2016, 6:00 pm

      I think MMM is referring to the mega-yachts of the rich & famous, like the one the GoPro founder bought himself when the stock was peaking. http://www.cnbc.com/2015/12/22/gopro-ceos-new-toy-a-180-foot-yacht.html

  • Megan October 26, 2016, 12:02 pm

    I donate $160 a month to four organizations that i like. Have for years. It’s not a ton, but it’s what i can afford now. Thank you for donating to PP. They’re one of the ones i donate to every month.

    • Chrissy October 28, 2016, 7:18 am

      We have always done this. Due to some life circumstances we have been on one modest income for 15 years. It’s fine, we are debt free and able to save a large percentage anyway, it is just that our “large percentage” isn’t exactly huge piles of cash! Regardless, we have always allocated a percentage of our excess to charitable giving because no matter how our income compares to our neighbor we are, in actuality, fabulously wealthy compared to most in the world. Our $2k spent annually on charities does exponentially more for the people getting the goat from Heifer or the house from Habitat than it would do for us. We have the ability to be secure and eventually wealthy anyway, so we also have the ability to help.

  • Sean October 26, 2016, 12:03 pm

    I think paying taxes in the USA is pretty much donating to the largest charity in the world, so I leave it to the “experts” in Congress to give my money away at their leisure.

    • Monk October 27, 2016, 1:21 pm

      Talk about overhead costs! ;)

  • Ace October 26, 2016, 12:04 pm

    I have been a long-time MMM lurker and have never commented on here before, but this post made my jaw drop. To make your money by helping others with their financial decisions and then give such a large amount of money to great causes is truly inspiring to your followers. I will go back to lurking, but I just wanted to let you know that this is fantastic and truly honorable. Keep up the great work and thanks for all you do!

    • lurker October 30, 2016, 2:56 pm

      i think it is because he is/was a Canadian…..what is it about you wonderful folks from up North????????

  • PoNoMo October 26, 2016, 12:05 pm

    Looking for a very worthy charity? Want to see first hand what you generosity buys? Sergio Castro Martinez is the most amazing man I ever met. Totally selfless. All of the profits from our business, PalmFree SunWear, go to help this remarkable human. My Partner, Patricia, makes semi-annual trips to Chiapas to assist him. These links tell the whole story:



    Thanks for what you do.


  • Fiscally Free October 26, 2016, 12:05 pm

    Bravo, MMM. I like the groups you chose to support.
    The top items on my site’s “Recommendations” page are three charities I believe in–charity: water, QuestBridge, and KCRW. I hope my readers support these organizations more than anything else on that page.

    I would like to see more personal finance bloggers list their favorite charities along with their favorite credit cars and financial tracking services on their sites.

  • Frugal October 26, 2016, 12:05 pm

    Dear, MMM

    I’m a Doctors Without Borders donator too. I put in my credit card automatically.
    I’m feel glad that you donate too. You’re a great man.
    Thank you so much. I wish you the best.

    Like a fan, I started my own financial and personal blog in Brazil because you inspire me a little bit.


    • Diego October 29, 2016, 7:04 am

      I’m from Brazil too. What is your web site?

      • Frugal October 31, 2016, 7:18 pm

        Hello Diego, my blog is at frugalsimple.wordpress.com


  • Mr FOB October 26, 2016, 12:06 pm

    Well done. I recognize the feeling. I have sponsored several kids in Kenia to be educated. And I was always very pleased to see them succeed and be extremely grateful. It meant relatively much to them, while for me it was only some of my money.

  • Linda October 26, 2016, 12:06 pm

    Wow. $100K is a lot of money, no matter how you look at it. Smart not to get too bogged down in the absolute scientific best way to help people. You have the absolute worst of human suffering covered with Doctors w/out Boarders – an incredible organization. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with allocating money to those causes closer to home, even if you can’t make a case that you are helping the people on the planet most in need. No one person can contemplate every heartbreak in all the world. We do need to look at our own communities and help make them what we want them to be. At least someone has to. The bonus is those are the kinds of things your children can see, which plants seeds for a whole lifetime of world changing.

  • Robert Lepage October 26, 2016, 12:06 pm

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned Kiva yet in the comment section. It’s a micro-loan service, where your dollars can go to a place where it has far greater value for applicant than you. You have to do a bit of your homework to find out which funding agency is running the show for that specific loan application (some are less good than others), but when you get your money back, you can just return it back into the system.

    • Melissa October 31, 2016, 8:05 am

      I second Kiva. Bonus: reading this blog reminded me to check my basket, and I had $31 to lend out again! Even if you only have $25, you can basically just keep lending out the same money over and over because nearly everyone pays the money back, so the cyclical nature Robert mentioned makes it feel like the world is microlending to itself.

      Kiva asks for a fee for organizational costs, but if you can’t afford it, you just remove it. I have to admit, I did 33 loans without paying an organizational fee only because it amused me to lend the same $125 over and over, but I finally paid a small fee this time, and I’ll add more to the coffer because they’ve been so good and y’all are inspiring.

      I give to other charities and individuals and have co-set up two fundraising dinners to stop rhino poaching after a trip to South Africa. I asked charities for their financial statements (not a big deal, because apparently they have to prepare them for taxes anyway, by law) and personally reviewed them before deciding how to allocate funds. One of the charities had problems with embezzlement and another asked me for direct transfer before vanishing off the earth, but the other three were above-board and I felt good about sending the money. I’ll append the information in case anyone else wants to save rhinos.

      Anyway, like everyone else, I love MMM and congratulate him on his transparency, choices of charities, and grace under criticism. I also had no idea he was making $400K per year from his blog with no overt ads. We salute you and everyone else here who likes to give. One of my few beefs with financial independence sites is that people can get judgemental and forget the overall picture, which is that in the end, love, community, and a healthy planet matter more than nitpicking over your budget.

      Rhino stuff (from 2012, so feel free to update it up you know more current information)

      SanWild provides armed guards for rhinos on private land. Their financial records seemed above board, and a Facebook friend who volunteers in Africa personally recommended them. http://www.sanwild.com/

      WWF-SA’s rhino group, led by Dr Joseph Okori, pledged that 91% of the money will go to the rhinos. He also wanted to audit the rhino population and collect DNA. http://www.wwf.org.za/what_we_do/rhino_programme/

      Wildlands Conservation Trust (http://www.wildlands.co.za/) was banding with other groups to get a helicopter for aerial surveillance of poachers. They also had an “adopt a rhino” program. They were independently audited and had sent me a copy of their records. They seemed trustworthy, but did not work in Kruger National Park.

      Sheldrick Wildlife Trust: After the dinners, I personally adopted rhino orphans Maxwell and Solio without requesting their financial records. http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/asp/fostering.asp

      WESSA (http://www.wessa.org.za/) works in Kruger, where the rhinos have been hardest hit. They are audited but had embezzlement issues in 2010 (1.2 million Rand, according to their own records). One of the Kruger guides worked with them and had received death threats for his work.

      Canadian groups, because some of our members wanted a tax receipt and/or wanted to focus on reducing demand for rhino horn:
      WildAid Canada (www.wildaid.org) now has a program to educate the East and reduce the demand for rhino horn. They are also independently audited. Make sure to write *rhino” on your cheques.

      WWF-Canada has no anti-rhino poaching program, but has partnered with TRAFFIC, which looks to be an organization to seize products containing endangered animal products, including rhinos.

  • Grasshopper October 26, 2016, 12:07 pm

    I was recently trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my Birthday/Anniversary/Christmas money this year when I realized that my frugal lifestyle left little room for charitable donations. But since the gift money was essentially a surplus, I could donate it to charity without any guilt. My money went to Save The Children’s Syria fund, and while it was nowhere near as generous as your gift, it made me feel yummy inside like no material object could. Good on you!

    I’m also glad you identified the charities you supported. I found it especially challenging to identify charities that would walk the walk.

    • Shira in NYC October 26, 2016, 12:30 pm

      Let’s not confuse “generosity” with the dollar figure. MMM gave 25% of one year’s surplus income. It sounds like you are giving all you can afford, which to my mind is just as if not more “generous.” All best to you!

  • Katy October 26, 2016, 12:08 pm

    Two suggestions for future consideration:

    You may not be a religious person, so a religious organization may not be your cup of tea. However, child sponsorship has been shown to work to alleviate long-term poverty (and there are some non-religious organizations doing this work). Great article here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2013/march/does-international-child-sponsorship-work-study-claims.html. For further reading, see the article about this long-term study in the Journal of Political Economy (July 2014). Compassion International is rated five stars and has been for more than 15 years (Charity Navigator).

    I work for a children’s advocacy center, so I’d contribute a significant chunk of change there if it were me. Long term costs of untreated child maltreatment in the US are astronomical ($200K+ per child). Giving a few months of counseling for traumatized children helps head off issues like substance abuse, teen pregnancy, suicide and high school drop outs. It’s a root issue of a whole host of other problems.

  • jimeddy October 26, 2016, 12:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing this detailed summary of your donations, as well as the thoughtfulness that went into your specific donation decisions. The rationale for why we do or do not donate is critical, and often we tell stories to ourselves about our relative ability to donate money in such a way that we get paralyzed from doing it at all…or perhaps doing it at a minimum level. I know this happens for me and my spouse. Your posting may be the nudge to get us off our ass.

  • Dr-in-Debt October 26, 2016, 12:09 pm

    Great Job MMM,

    I see more and more of the online entrepreneurial niche giving back. I don’t know if it is more than the rest of us or if it is just that much more visible due to the public nature of the niche. It would be great if the excellent examples of you and many of your peers helps encourage greater altruism in this generation and the next.

    In my experience, we can all give something, the two most common being either time or money. When I was younger and less employed, it was easier to give my time. Now with most of my hours spoken for, I find it’s simpler to give money.

    Keep up the great work of leading by example. Never asking anyone to do anything you haven’t done yourself.

  • sarahnel October 26, 2016, 12:10 pm

    As the director of a small nonprofit, I feel I have to congratulate you on becoming a donor! In my personal giving, my philosophy is to split donations between international organizations I find inspiring and effective (Partners in Health), national organizations that are crucial to our social safety net (Planned Parenthood) and local organizations that make a difference in the lives of people in my community (for example, the local bicycle advocacy group, food bank, or community garden). This last category definitely has a self-serving side in that I will benefit from better bike lanes, more beautiful gardens, and fewer hungry people in my city, but I also feel that my small contributions make a big difference locally, as well as personally connecting me to the people making those changes happen. As a local donor, you will know a lot more about where your money is going and what impact your donation has on your community.

  • Bob. Frugal+as+dirt. October 26, 2016, 12:11 pm

    Always knew you were a good man!

    Years back you mentioned adoption. Foster children everywhere are in big trouble around the country, and at epidemic levels. When I hit it big, I have a real soft spot for children who got dealt that particular shitty hand. That’s where some of my money will go.


    • Marcia October 26, 2016, 12:23 pm

      This is very sweet. I’ve often thought about charities that help out kids who “age out” of foster care.

      • Bob. Frugal+as+dirt. October 26, 2016, 5:53 pm

        Thanks Marcia. I’m FIRE and I have four little foster children in my home who are all siblings, so maybe I do my own small part, but the experience has opened my eyes to the huge need for more loving parents. No one asks to be abandoned.

        And for sure you are right about kids who age out of the system. Some aren’t at all ready at 18 (nor was I) and they have it super rough.

        MMM has my total respect… but my soft spot is here at home.

        • Jfig November 11, 2016, 7:48 am

          I have so much respect for anyone who takes in foster kids and really shows them love. There is no greater disgrace in our nation than the plight of foster kids who often end up in group homes where they are often treated like inmates.

          I’m a public defender and is alarming to see how many kids from the foster care system transition into the delinquency system then the penal system.

          So happy to hear that people like Bob.frugal+as+dirt are trying to make a difference.

    • Susan November 12, 2016, 1:26 pm

      For anyone who wants to help foster kids but are not able to be foster parents I recommend Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children. You get matched with an individual child who is in the system through no fault of their own and often having a tough time. It is rewarding beyond giving money (though that is always welcome!) as you are clearly making a difference.

      • SarahA December 9, 2016, 7:27 pm

        I am going to look into this, Susan. Thanks!

  • Good work October 26, 2016, 12:12 pm

    I’m so happy you chose to write about giving. My personal guidance for giving is to support 1. Where I grew up (Mississippi). 2. My current locale. 3. Places I’ve travelled (which happen to be poor countries usually).

    I’ve always wished I could use my professional experience in UX design to help charities as well, but I haven’t found a good route to that yet since the time needed to really help a charity would take me away from my family and job. I hope when I FIRE I can then use my brain/experience to help give as well through better UX design for charity.

    Thanks MMM for the inspiration!

    • AdamP October 29, 2016, 10:31 pm

      Have you heard of http://www.catchafire.org/ ? They facilitate skills-based volunteering, and they have some opportunities that ask for as little as an hour of time commitment.

  • PoF October 26, 2016, 12:12 pm

    I’ve been waiting for this post! I knew that money would burn a hole in your pocket.

    I commend you for publishing exactly where the money is going, too, especially since you KNOW some of the giving will anger up some readers’ blood. It’s your money. You’re giving it away to make you happy, so give wherever you want.

    I haven’t quite given away $100,000, but our donor advised fund is approaching that sum. With a little help from some blog revenue (I give half) I should have a six-figure sum there before I FIRE. Building up a DAF makes giving especially tax-efficient, particularly for those with higher earned income now than we will have as retirees. I highly recommend it.


    • Abandoned Cubicle October 26, 2016, 12:24 pm

      If you’re looking to give away $100,000, let me know and I’ll shoot you my routing information. ;-)

      Great job with your blog PoF, and appreciate seeing that money going to good causes.

    • CincyCat October 26, 2016, 12:38 pm

      I agree! It was very brave to put out there the exact organizations he decided to support, especially since some people have very strong feelings about some of them (thanks to the media!). On the other hand, I had never heard of some of the charities he mentioned and will definitely check them out.

    • Freedom35 October 26, 2016, 3:48 pm

      I second this recommendation for Donor Advised Funds (we used Vanguard Charitable). It really can make sense for people looking to retire early, and going from high income, to low income.

      It also helped us avoid analysis paralysis. I didn’t know what charities I wanted to support, but I knew I wanted the tax break so it was easy to allocate funds to charity while still working, get the tax break then, and have it distributed later when I get the chance to think more about where I would like the money to go.

      • PoF October 26, 2016, 6:06 pm

        Indeed! Donate now, give later. That’s our strategy. I think of it a different kind of nest egg. I’ll build it up while donating about 5% of it each year. As it grows and I age, we can be more generous.

        I have a Vanguard Charitable account, but I also opened a Fidelity Charitable account. Why? The fees are nearly identical, but you can give as little as $50 at a time, as opposed to Vanguard’s $500. Also, Fidelity has a lower minimum to get started (I believe $5,000 versus $25,000).

        • Doctor K October 26, 2016, 9:09 pm

          I “third” this recommendation for a Donor Advised Fund! It’s definitely the way to go, and the most tax efficient. I use Schwab since it’s linked to my taxable account and I can donate 10% of my income a year by transferring highly appreciated stock shares. Fees are comparable, minimum is $5K, and you can give as little as $50 at at time too. Bottom line is anyone who wants to maximize their charitable giving should have one!

      • Phil B October 26, 2016, 9:53 pm

        Great points re DAFs in general and Vanguard Charitable in partiular! Here’s one more which I think really makes the case that Vanguard Charitable is the optimal charitable vehicle for the Mustachian.

        In particular, Vanguard makes it simple to make in-kind donations of your Vanguard mutual fund shares directly to Vanguard Charitable. For a Mustachian, this can make more sense than donating cash, since she will accumulate significant assets (in the form of mutual fund shares) but may be somewhat more cashflow constrained, since the Mustachian lifestyle does not require much free cashflow (relative to assets). Moreover, she can improve the tax efficiency of the donation by donating her most deeply appreciated mutual fund shares. (This will require setting the cost basis method to Lot Identification if it is not already.) This way, she not only gets an immediate deduction equal to the full amount of the donation but also avoids the tax on the capital gains that would have been realized had she sold the shares. Over time, she can minimize her capital gains tax liability through a combination of tax-loss harvesting and donating her most highly appreciated shares.

        It’s also worth pointing out that every one of the charities MMM donated to here may have been willing to accept an in-kind donation of his mutual fund shares, but all the paperwork this would have likely required would have made it a huge PITA. With Vanguard Charitable, you do the in-kind donation once for the full amount, and then distribute the funds to the individual charities from your Vanguard Charitable account.

        • Freedom35 October 27, 2016, 10:23 am

          Another very good point. A local school for example is probably not setup to receive donations of mutual funds, but if you channel appreciated shares through a donor advised fund, the DAF liquidates your funds and mails the school a check. The school is happy with the check, and you still get the tax benefit of donating appreciated shares.

          Someone elsewhere in the comments also mentioned avoiding junk mail. A donor advised fund is one of the few (maybe only) legal ways you can make a large donation anonymously to a charity, while still getting the tax donation. Apparently people in the charitable world don’t like this aspect of DAF’s since it interferes with “building relationships”. I say fuck the people that mail you crap.

          • Debbie M October 27, 2016, 11:14 pm

            FYI, JustGive.org also lets you donate anonymously. (So did the charitable giving part of my previous employer.) They do, however, charge you a percentage to cover their costs (and ask you to donate more). To me it’s worth it, but I will have to look into DAFs now.

  • Sunny October 26, 2016, 12:13 pm

    Mr. MM, first of all, you’re awesome!! I’ve been following and enjoying your posts since I saw you mentioned over on Budgets Are Sexy.

    I’m a treasurer for our local Bikers Against Child Abuse chapter in Michigan. We’re a worldwide organization of bikers who help empower abused children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live. When we bring these children into our family, we do what we need to do to protect them and help them deal with what will probably be the single worst violation of their innocence that will ever happen to them in their young lives. If they’re afraid, we’ll guard their house 24/7 if need be. If they need to testify in court against their abuser, we’re there for them, generally taking up most of the courtroom. We have seen firsthand the difference we make in these children’s lives; when we initially meet most of these kids, they are sullen, withdrawn and scared, for good reason. However, as we continue to visit and show up, we start to see smiles and excitement as many of them go for their first ever motorcycle ride. You can get more information at bacaworld.org or our Michigan state site, michigan.bacaworld.org

    • Victoria October 27, 2016, 12:57 pm

      I’ve heard about his but wasn’t sure it was real. I think it’s wonderful that you can use your strength and your reputation to help children in this way. Don’t mean to be rude about the reputation thing, couldn’t think of a better way to put it. Well done.

      • Denise October 29, 2016, 10:05 pm

        They’re real! I’m a psychiatric nurse and have met some of these lovely people when they came to support patients who were preparing to testify against their abusers while dealing with suicidal thoughts at the same time. Thanks for helping out, Sunny!

  • AJ October 26, 2016, 12:15 pm

    For any with an interest in Fly Fishing and rescuing kids from human trafficking, the Fly Fishing Collaborative is an organization worth checking out.


  • Katy October 26, 2016, 12:16 pm

  • Marcia October 26, 2016, 12:16 pm

    This gave me the warm fuzzies. Giving away money feels good.

    Our charities vary year to year, but we pretty regularly donate $1000 to our elementary school. That’s about 6% of the donations they get and 2% of the PTA budget for the year. Our school has >60% poor children, some who are homeless. The money goes to good programs for all of the kids at the school.

    I sometimes get strange comments from friends who find our are donation amounts (people on the board). I dunno man, it goes to a good cause. You know I’m cheap right? All that money that I’m not spending on vacations, SUVs, entertainment, and eating out has to go somewhere!

  • EL October 26, 2016, 12:17 pm

    Hey MMM congrats on giving a big amount like that. Many bloggers post all their income, and expenses and rarely give back. I like giving back as well with time and money every year. IT just feels right to do it consistently. I am looking to volunteer in November planting trees at a local park. Good luck.

  • LennStar October 26, 2016, 12:20 pm

    400K from the blog in one year? Holy sh**!
    Perhaps MMM should just buy Twitter and kick out all those non-badass… no, forget it, thats the wrong way.

    Anyway: If you do not feel like donating a lot of money, but want to help cure diseases (like Schistosomiasis or Malaria that he mentioned), you can do it by simply donating your unused CPU (and GPU) cycles for dozens of BOINC projects, from math over the structure of the universe to cures for AIDS.
    With current technologies you can even do it on your smartphone! (for some projects)


  • Brian October 26, 2016, 12:21 pm

    Great stuff MMM! Amazing to be at this point. I love the Elementary School donation. It would be interesting to hear what they plan to use the money for.

    • CoFrog October 26, 2016, 3:22 pm

      Donorschoose.org is a great site to give to schools. You can easily sort by area and highest poverty schools. Our local elementary school has an amazing PTA who raises a lot, almost too much if you ask me. So instead of giving our money to them, I’ve been donating to donorschoose to schools across the country that are in greater need.

      • Chrissy October 28, 2016, 7:35 am

        “Almost too much”..Lol! We are in this same situation and we donate elsewhere. Our PTA is a money-making machine.

  • Steve Divicent October 26, 2016, 12:21 pm

    I love reading about people who get blessed with money, giving it back to people who need it!

    Only if people at the very top would do this instead of trying to get ever richer, are world would be a much better place.

    In my goals, I plan to give it all away when I retire as the wife and I live a great life on very little.

  • Joe October 26, 2016, 12:24 pm

    I believe your advice on how to live a low impact life is great and I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now…in fact, I’ve implemented some of your ideas…I was impressed until I wasted my time and read this particular blog…it’s sad that you donate money to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood…being as smart as you seem to be…you have no idea what you’re donating to because you haven’t done the research on them…and I’m not a right-wing nut either…simply put, I realize either you’re a fucking idiot or maybe a just an asshole trying to real people in to your communistic views by brainwashing people into believing your BS on stoicism and the like…also, I urge your loyal readers to do their own research. In addition, you should explain to them how their 401(k)’s will be sucked dry by the government to pay for all of their Bull Shit programs like the ones you support…your formula will be invalid…I thank God I’m well educated and make a rather healthy living….In the end, I urge you to stop fucking with people’s heads…take care!

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 26, 2016, 4:36 pm

      (note to readers – I normally don’t publish comments like this one but just wanted to let you know they are always trickling in. This post has brought in more than ususal due to the apparently controversial nature of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. We have some unique media/political influences in our culture!)

      • Laura October 26, 2016, 8:11 pm

        LOL, I was wondering. Comments without any source behind their claims are always my favorite!

      • Andres October 26, 2016, 9:35 pm

        “I thank God I’m well educated”


      • Kathy Abell October 26, 2016, 9:43 pm

        MMM –

        You have the patience of Job.

        Responses such as “get a life” or “go start your own blog” come to mind. But I suppose the best response is no response, or a simple polite “thank you for sharing”.

        Keep up the good work. It’s your blog, it’s your money earned from the blog, you can spend it however you like. Although I do really like the idea of donating money for the purchase of mosquito nets. That appears to have the most bang for the buck, and would likely bring much more lasting pleasure than buying a $5k 4D big screen TV.

      • Steven October 27, 2016, 3:41 am

        Interesting he says he is not a right wing nut! It’s pretty unusual for left wing nuts to go on rants against the ACLU and Planned Parenthood:)

        I like your choice of charities, a good balance between domestic and international!

      • Foolish Peasant November 1, 2016, 10:36 pm

        Hello Mr. Money Mustache:

        Over the past six months, I have religiously read my way through your blog. You have many wonderful things to say, and the citizens of the United States ought to take much of your advice into account. I particularly enjoy your “No B.S.” attitude, your comments on preserving nature, your support of localism, and your willingness to write honestly.

        With that said, I think it would be worthwhile to look into this particular matter more closely. I find the above comment to be mildly degrading: “We have some unique media/political influences in our culture!” I am probably wrong to take this comment as such, but it seems rather dismissive of religion and other institutions in our culture. I am quite curious about the justification for dismissing religion (particularly Christianity) so flippantly.

        If I may be so bold to ask, may someone please take the time to enlighten me as to how these institutions can be cast aside as such?

        P.S. This comment is not necessarily directed towards you alone, but rather the community here as a whole.

        P.P.S. I am not trying to incite a horrendous political debate (we have enough of those), but rather a thoughtful philosophical discussion.

        • SLay November 17, 2016, 8:48 am

          FP, author and speaker Christopher Hitchens has written and spoken thoughtfully and widely on religion and associated institutions. He left behind a considerable body of work that is insightful and intellectual and reason/rational/evidence based. I recommend checking it out.

      • grisly_atoms December 31, 2016, 4:51 am

        I think Joe should switch to decaf.

    • Jess D October 27, 2016, 8:53 am

      Thank you for this glimpse into the abyss. :)

    • Julia Gulia October 27, 2016, 1:59 pm

      Colorful use of language for someone who is so well educated, Joe. I’m glad that you mentioned the fact that you are not a “right-wing nut” since that phrase does seem to be reflected in your arguments. I can honestly say that MMM is one of the happiest people I have ever met, as well as someone whose altruism is very genuine. After reading your angry and spiteful comments regarding his personal choices, it is obvious that you aren’t too happy with your own life and don’t know the meaning of the word altruism. Luckily enough, your fine education and rather healthy living should protect you from any threat of being brain-washed by the likes of this blog.

    • TimmyB October 28, 2016, 8:53 am

      The thing is, if MMM wanted to give all of his money to a potted plant it’s nobody’s business–it is his money. The fact that he has a carefully considered and broad list of worthy causes should surprise no one. The fact that he is so transparent in his finances is commendable. The real surprising thing to me is that the “crazy factor” on this blog is really quite low! I kind of expected more political bs. Though open to new ideas, I’m quite sure MMM is not asking for permission or consensus on where to give his money. It’s his. MMM earns every bit of the $400k a year running one of the best blogs on the internet!

      As someone who reads every post, I feel strangely more proud than I should. I always suspeceted MMM was going to reach this point and here he has delivered a post detailing that he gives as carefully, and as thoughtfully as he saves and earns. He’s sharing the possibilities of what you can do if you adhere to this kind of lifestyle. Bravo sir!

    • phred October 28, 2016, 11:56 am

      you spelled “reel” wrong!

  • Steven October 26, 2016, 12:28 pm

    I was always a little dissapointed in reading about MMM and what was given to charity whether it was monetarily or with your time. That sounds very judgmental, it was not meant to be though, I have looked in the mirror on this topic as well and need to do a better job. Obviously I only get to see what is behind the curtain when it is unveiled, but I think helping others is a great part of life and certainly should be shared. As our household gets in a better financial position over time, I look forward to making “giving” more of a priority.

    As we plan to focus more on “giving” moving forward, we hesitate in the direction. While we are doing well financially, I wonder if it’s better to look more into our close family to give more of our money and time to help those that are closest to us. I’m not thinking big screen tv’s and new phones, but rather a gift card to a grocery store or paying for books at university. I’m not sure of your close family, but did this cross your mind in giving monetarily? Curious to hear your thoughts on this.

  • Jason Kelly October 26, 2016, 12:29 pm

    We have solar on our house, and I think it is great. I think I would invest a good chunk on a community solar project. What do you think?

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 26, 2016, 4:32 pm

      I would be interested in this myself – especially since my own property (about 7000 SF, minus non-suitable buildings, patios, and trees) has limited options for putting a big solar panel array.

      Meanwhile, right next door is a dormant city water facility with enormous metal buildings in full sun. If I could put $100,000 of solar panels on THAT thing which would feed into our local grid, and get a portion of the resulting electricity profits as a dividend, it would be quite a win/win.

      • Ellen October 27, 2016, 8:04 am

        I think there is an investing niche that is ripe for a smallish ETF. Think of the ETF as a bucket to collect funds to invest in solar and other sustainable energy producing projects (probably in the form of bonds). The net effect should be greater amounts of funds to invest in clean energy that has proven economics (wind and solar). The energy produced by the projects is converted to cash via bond interest payments with amounts apportioned to reinvestment and dividends to flow to investors.

        I am aware that there are ETFs that focus on different sectors of sustainable energy production (e.g. FAN and TAN), which have an entirely different risk profile since they are largely based on equity investment into a pretty turbulent set of companies.

      • Guri October 27, 2016, 2:06 pm

        Maybe you could look into Engineers without borders? At first glance it looks like the US organization focuses on water, my local one focuses on teaching how to build solid houses in natural disaster prone areas, while the UK one has had several projects to train people in building renewable energy. http://www.ewb-usa.org/ http://www.ewb-uk.org/ http://www.iug.no/

        There are several organizations that are working to provide solar energy to different regions. The good thing about the different EWB organizations is that they are run by people who know technical stuff, and are donating their time. I would therefore feel relatively safe donating to their RES projects.

        One of the cool project EWB are working on, where donated time is maybe more valuble than money, is the Missing Maps: http://www.missingmaps.org/

    • Kirsten October 30, 2016, 8:43 pm

      I don’t know whether there is anything like this in the US, but in Canada we have an organization called Bullfrog Power. Canadian law states that if an energy distributor can obtain energy from two producers at the same price, it must purchase it from the renewable source. Bullfrog Power uses the funds donated, to ‘top up’ the difference in costs between them to increase the overall percentage of power in the grid provided by renewable sources. “We inject green electricity or green natural gas onto the system to match the amount of power or gas your home or business uses. You help green our grid and pipeline.”
      We did this for several years, but we had solar panels installed on our roof last year (MicroFIT program) and had to stop this while we pay back the loan. On the one hand I can’t believe we voluntarily went back into debt, but on the other hand, it is an extremely important cause for us as a family.

  • CincyCat October 26, 2016, 12:30 pm

    THANK YOU for bringing up the flaw with the administrative overhead ratio! I have worked up close & personal (and sometimes, even worked for) a few local nonprofit public charities, and it is impossible for anyone to claim that “100%” of any donation goes towards “the cause”. Even if you have 100% volunteer staff, there are still bills and other financial obligations to pay that have nothing to do whatsoever with sheltering unwanted pets or building affordable housing for low- to moderate-income families. I totally agree with advising people to look instead at how effective the charity actually is in achieving its mission. Who cares if there are paid staff, if it means more people (or animals!) can be helped in the long run. Sometimes the “all volunteer” charities really struggle with operating as efficiently as they could. (Ex. People eager to adopt a pet can only come to see the dogs two days a week between 4-6pm because that’s when the only two adoption volunteers are available.)

    • Catherine November 2, 2016, 4:28 am

      You make such a good point.
      The only charity I know of where the claim of 100% donor funds being used is the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town – however, the original donors who established the charity invested the initial funds, and staff are paid off those dividends.
      PS. As the largest pediatric hospital in Africa, it also does amazing work for people from all over the continent. As someone who personally benefited, they are definitely worth donating to.

  • Trip October 26, 2016, 12:30 pm

    Congratulations on your philanthropy! I really like seeing that you put planned parenthood in your list (quality over quantity). I like how analytical your post is. Are there other options beyond a) and b) that you considered?

  • Michael James October 26, 2016, 12:36 pm

    That Global Rich List is hopelessly broken. It says that only 18M people worldwide earn more than $50k/year, but Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_income_in_the_United_States) says more than 20M people in the U.S. alone earn more than $100k/year.

    • Christof October 26, 2016, 1:54 pm

      Yes, the Global Rich List is not a precise tool. It can’t be without a definition of what is considered to be income, nor does it realistically reflect the reality in countries like Ghana which has been brought up as the example for my hourly rate. Nonetheless, I would attribute some of the difference to the fact that GRL is using net income, but wikipedia is talking about pre-tax income.

      • Michael James October 26, 2016, 2:29 pm

        GRL’s results are so far off that your explanation is not enough. Surely, the 20M Americans who make $100k gross end up with a net of at least $50k. Then there are the people in all of the rest of the world who net more than $50k. How could the world-wide figure be only 18M? There is something terribly wrong with their calculations.

        • Mr. Money Mustache October 26, 2016, 5:25 pm

          Oops, I just tested it out with $50k and you are right Michael!

          There are obviously many more than 18M people making $50k or more. Aside from the US, Europe has 750 million people with some of them pretty well off, Canada, Oz, New Zealand, the richest of China and India’s combined 2 billion population..

          Does anyone know how we can contact the Global Rich List site and look into the possible error?

          • Benjamin J October 28, 2016, 8:16 am

            *Hat tip to MMM for diplomatic response*

          • Mark November 1, 2016, 11:10 pm

            It looks like the GRL is a product of Poke. They can be contacted here: hello at pokelondon.com

  • Siegfried October 26, 2016, 12:40 pm

    “Meanwhile, since the bottom 90% is sharing the remaining quarter of the earnings, I’d expect a lower rate of philanthropy.”

    In an ideal world, yes, this is what we’d expect. However, this world is not ideal. In absolute terms, the rich give more, of course. As a percentage, though, the opposite it true! (at least in the US)


    • Laura October 26, 2016, 8:13 pm

      This is true!! And a very interesting (and humbling) cultural phenomenon.

  • Bart from Holland October 26, 2016, 12:42 pm

    Personally, I put 50 euros every month into my account at Kiva.org. This money gets borrowed out as microcredits to third world countries. The default rate is extremely low, less than one percent in my experience. You don’t get interest, thus you basically lose the yearly inflation. For me personally, this is the best way.

    • Jenn November 1, 2016, 2:42 pm

      Another vote for Kiva.org! Since I’m still in the accumulation phase, my charitable contributions are relatively small, but this organization makes a big impact with small contributions. I focus my contributions on women in countries that don’t value female lives.

  • Michel Cevzar October 26, 2016, 12:44 pm

    Great post!

    I just started to spread the message of Effective Altruism in Slovenia, where I live. Most people and students which are my peers are struggling with money but I am trying to convince them to donate at around 5% of their income.
    If that is impossible here are some ways that cost nothing.

    FREE and easy ways to become a more effective altruist:
    – become an organ donor
    – donate your body to science when you die (you advance science plus no funeral money is required)
    – take (buy) only what you need
    – use car sharing to make some money and save atmosphere some carbon :)
    – spread the word about effective altruism by organising groups with minimal time investment and meeting some cool new people that might become your business partners, friends…
    – if you do sports try organising a group for those who can’t afford payed lessons or to simply motivate yourself and others to live a healthier life
    – eat less meat
    – volunteer

    NOT SO FREE and easy ways to become a more effective altruist:
    – when you shop for a luxury item online (aka the one you don’t really need), give 5% worth of the purchase to a charity of your choosing; even better yet, sleep on it and realise that you don’t need that item and rather give a small amount to charity; I BET it will make you feel better for longer and you will know you did something GOOD and MEANINGFUL with your money. Probably you just changed the course of a life for a whole family and all there descendants in a small and important way.

    I myself for for a long while stuck in analysis paralysis as I also “only” donate about 10% of my income as I was thinking will people even listen to me as I am no “extreme” role model in the sense that I give great amounts or percentages of money away.

    The biggest point of analysis paralysis for me was the statement “All lives have equal value”.

    Do you believe that or is it just a mindset that helps out of analysis paralysis?

    The people that we save by buying mosquito nets… Are they really going to contribute back to the human race? Or will they feel encouraged to have even more children they cannot support and continue living in ignorance?

    I am being a devils advocate here, but isn’t it better to save lives or improve standards in more developed countries where we know there is a more realistic chance of a better education?

    Education is important I believe as ignorant people are already in the majority and we have enough of those. I invest more in NGO’s in countries located in Asia and India as they have better access to education and the culture focuses more on work ethic. In Africa there isn’t even basic infrastructure and an insane amount of corruption.

    I would love to hear your thoughts!

    Best, Michel

    • Michel Cevzar October 26, 2016, 12:50 pm

      Ohh and I forgot, every time I buy a plane ticket I realise how fortunate I am to have the ability to do those and I donate 10% of my ticket to a charity that works in the field of environment safety.

      I wish more websites would enable this possibility, EXAMPLE: if your are 10$ short of free shipping and are willing to donate to charity 7$ we will include free shipping or something of the sort ;)

      • Denise October 27, 2016, 3:38 am


        Might I suggest that you do reconsider donations to Africa at some point? There is corruption in many Indian sub-continental countries too. The best way for any recipient country which is less developed may well be to invest your money in providing educational opportunities, especially (await the storm with this comment) education for girls. They will be more empowered to enter the workforce, to have fewer children whom they are able to keep healthier and to get education for. Just a thought, and one which guides my giving to some extent.

    • Debbie M October 27, 2016, 11:24 pm

      Interesting questions about which lives to focus on. One might argue that it’s better to save lives in less developed countries where the people use much fewer resources.

    • becca October 28, 2016, 10:39 am

      One of the things I like about Kiva/microfinance is you can choose specific aims- like the education of girls- that have phenomenal ripple effects and thus high ROI in terms of reducing the number of children people have in ways that are effectively win-win.

      On the malaria thing, I’d like to note that malaria is endemic to many regions, and *drives* poverty that makes it difficult to “contribute to the human race”. Jeffery Sachs at Columbia has done some fantastic economic analysis of the impact of malaria if you want to understand why bednets are an investment and not simply a bandaid.

      One of the things I personally dislike about the way we discuss international regions (aside from not being able to *commit* to the real idea that “All Human Lives have Equal Value”), is the way people group “Africa” as “corrupt”. There is a huge difference between the malaria in Northern Nigeria (where Boko Haram foils many basic public health efforts, and they periodically have resultant polio outbreaks, which is my rough back-of-the-envelope metric for “public health so bad it indicates a failed state”, given the vaccine), and the seasonal malaria seen in the mountains of Kenya (where the difference in human wellbeing and resultant economic productivity when malaria comes and when malaria goes is quite direct). The payoff for eliminating malaria might well be higher in Nigeria, but the logistics are trickier.

      As an aside, from following the work of Malaria No More, I do get the impression that some of the low hanging fruit regions where “we just need to distribute bednets and it’s CHEAP” may already be taken care of. Eventually, we will have to address geopolitical factors if we want to eradicate malaria.

    • Steve Kauffman November 23, 2016, 7:54 am

      Thank you to the reader community of this blog. When I read Michelle comment, I braced myself for a firestorm of “you’re a racist!” comments. Instead, I got to read several civil,well-reasoned arguments for why Michel might want to reconsider his position.

      Just to be clear, I’m not endorsing Michel’s position; I _am_ giving a ringing endorsement of civil discourse.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 24, 2016, 1:53 pm

      Michel – yours is a common assumption, but the actual science goes more like this:

      In the poorest countries, people choose to have the most babies, because they face a much larger chance of dying, plus your kids are effectively your retirement plan: they work for you on the farm and take care of you when you are old.

      As countries become wealthier and education improves, this trend reverses: children become a cost rather than a profit, and we parents realize there is more to life than just survival and reproduction. So the birth rate drops WAY down.

      Summary: the solution to overpopulation is to help all of humanity wealthy enough to realize they have a choice in the matter. Great video on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwII-dwh-bk

  • ChrisHa October 26, 2016, 12:49 pm

    It’s about time!! I’ve wondered what you thought about charitable giving from the first time I started reading your blog. I bet there are lots of your readers who have made it a practice since they first started earning any money to give at least 10% to charity. From the first fruits, one might say.

  • Vivek October 26, 2016, 12:50 pm

    Dear MMM,

    Please consider donating to this cause that is very dear to me:

    Veterans suffering from PTSD are finding relief through Project Welcome Home Troops http://www.pwht.org/

    Grateful for the impact you are making :)


  • Kevin October 26, 2016, 12:51 pm

    I do plenty of things MMM would crucify me for, (buy too much fancy beer, commute 140 miles a day, too many little expenses) but it has allowed me to strike a balance where I am on target for FI at least a good deal earlier than the average Joe because my salary is decent while home is in a much more affordable area. I don’t donate large sums of money to charity yet, however in a way I do, as my wife started and runs a charity in our county that assists individuals and families dealing with major or chronic illness. She works 40+ hours a week and takes no salary. Sure we could fix up the house quicker, buy fancier things, or move up my retirement date if she was working a paid gig somewhere, but what we have chosen to do feels pretty darn good and is making a huge impact in an poorer area of PA where so many people need the help. Cheers on the donations Pete…..been a follower for years, first time I’ve commented though as the charitable cause topic strikes a personal chord. Keep up the great work!

  • Mike Reiche October 26, 2016, 12:55 pm

    A drug dealer friend of mine (many moons ago) once told me to always look out for #1. Although that could be taken to an extreme, in giving I always say that I should take care of me (and my family) first, then give when I am comfortable and do not have to worry. It drives me bonkers when friends who are barely scraping by give expensive gifts or donate their kids food money to some charity. Take care of yourself first, then donate when and what you can. In just a few years I will feel much more confident about donating, for now, looking out for numero uno.

    • Random Doctor October 26, 2016, 6:58 pm

      You take your lifestyle and financial advice from a drug dealer? Seems legit.

      Everyone familiar with this site knows the value of insulting early so the benefits compound over time. I see charitable giving the same way, which is why I have always given a percentage of my income, no matter how big or small. If I fine myself with extra money beyond that, then I like having the option of giving it where I will feel good about the outcome.

      I have given money to patients who needed it (they all chose to pay it back when they were able), to the person in front of me in a grocery store who was caught short, etc. None of that changes the base level of giving.

      • Denise October 27, 2016, 3:52 am


        Presume that was autocorrect inserting “insulting early” ?? Did you mean “investing early”??

        I didn’t quite read Mike’s post as being advocacy for “zen from drug dealers”, though: more of an extreme example for what he went on to say about donating what and when you can afford to. It’s a spectrum of choice, isn’t it? Even low income individuals may have a little money spare which they wish to donate, which seems to have been your chosen path even in earlier, leaner times. I salute that level of generosity of spirit.

        Mike wasn’t advocating NOT giving, but (as I read it), saying that his ethos is to give when he has taken care of his other priorities. I too have experienced friends giving money to their church because they feel obliged to, while compromising very basic needs for their children and themselves as a result. I’d still say they got that the wrong way round: if you’re choosing between heating your house in January or being able to eat three meals a day, because of charitable donations, I believe that I fall in Mike’s camp at that extreme.

        • Mike Reiche October 27, 2016, 4:49 pm

          LOL, The message came to a drug dealer, who happened to be a friend. His example was different then how I take it. I meant it like how Denise read it, that you take care of yourself and priorities first, then donate when you feel you can. You should not feel pressured to give, and I am in the camp that you should build your own net worth to a level that you can give without sacrificing your own well being. If I am unable to build my own monetary worth because I am busy donating everything I could be investing then that is a no go. Instead I agree with others that you can invest your time or other skills to help a cause, it does not have to be financial.

          • Random Doctor October 27, 2016, 8:56 pm

            *sigh* autocorrect, you are a fickle bi@#!

            Thanks for the correction, Device. :)

            The comment about the drug dealer was meant to be lighthearted, and the rest of my post to address the points Mike raised.

            Mike, you are absolutely right about non-monetary giving which can take all sorts of forms. From a doctor giving services for free, to an educator working flat out for low pay to change the world, or a kid who helps the kids next to him in class, we almost always have something that we can give. The mindset I am advocating is to give it now rather than late because the need is there now.

            I agree that there must be a threshold where you can’t afford to give. MMM points out that people tend to be blindfold to the wasteful expenditure they can easily forego in the pursuit of financial independence. Similarly, I think it is easy for people to put off giving to others from a misplaced sense that they can’t afford to give.

            I am far from rich – we focus more on family life and changing the world though my wife’s work in education rather than on earning a lot – but am much more comfortable than when we lived on lentil curry for 50c per meal. We give the same base percentage then as we do now. That way, giving is just another line in our budget. We know we have to pay for food, accomodation, giving, and the other expenses of living.

            Obviously, it’s a person choice how much of your time, money, knowledge and other resources you give away (and to who you give). As I think this blog, and this post in particular, demonstrate it is very rewarding to feel that you are able to give in some way to make the world suck less than it currently does!

            Hopefully the autocorrect goods have been kinder this time. Purple monkey dishwasher.

          • lurker November 5, 2016, 6:19 pm

            put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then help those sitting around you


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