Money talk: Donating $ while in debt

When Hurricane Harvey ravaged southeastern Texas, one of the first things I thought was, “what about the animals?” Household pets, livestock, and wildlife were lost, abandoned, or even killed by the effects of the storm. As an animal lover, it hurt my heart knowing that innocent animals were suffering. From 2,000 miles away, I was compelled to put my money where my heart was, so I donated to a national nonprofit whose efforts were going to help displaced and homeless pets affected by post-Harvey flooding. My donation was modest; my income and debt levels don’t support the ability to give large amounts (I graduated this year with over $40,000 in student loans). But it still felt wonderful to be able to say I did something, especially when I couldn’t actually “do” anything.

Live generously.jpg

After submitting my donation, casually mentioned it to one of my older family members. His response: “When you squeeze your budget to live within your means and attack your debt, you may discover that donations are a luxury you cannot afford!” Mind you, this family member is from a different generation—one that didn’t use credit, and was raised to believe that if you owed money, you paid it back before “just giving it away.” Like many other millennials, I live in the shadow of student debt. I also spend some money on occasional meals out, a leather handbag, and way too many lipsticks. “Frivolous spending” is something most of us are guilty of, even when we carry debt burdens and earn modest incomes. But when we give our money to a cause or organization we believe in, our mindset shifts: no longer is it a purchase or expenditure we’re apt to later regret (added to our waistline or as clutter in our home), but an unselfish, intentional investment in something that actually matters.

“Tithing” (donating 1/10th of one’s earnings or belongings is a part of the Old Testament, and many religions believe that consistently giving to one’s church or charity should be a priority, even in times of financial hardship. I’m not religious, but I do believe that giving is still important, but should be adjusted to your personal situation. Ten percent is a steep number if you’re only making $35,000 a year—about $290 a month. That amount could be better spent applied towards some of your debt burden. But what about $10, $25, $50? These can be allocated into your actual budget, alongside your groceries and utilities. “Smaller” donation amounts aren’t going to make or break you financially, and that intentional spend goes toward something that’s not only relevant to you, but also benefits the community/country/world as a whole. A $20 donation to the World Wildlife Fund may not “do” much on its own, but it represents your charitable intentions and backs a cause you believe in. It also supports a healthy habit of giving and generosity, which can grow as your income grows and debt burden decreases.

Some personal finance writers are adamantly against giving while carrying any kind of debt burden. As far as I’m concerned, there is a significant difference between donating money when you’re living off of credit cards (bad) and doing so when you are living reasonably within your means and chipping away at debt (good). Not giving any money to charity is a Scrooge mentality, and does not align with the type of person I want to be. Giving to those less fortunate or advocating for causes like the environment and animals is and always will be an important part of who I am.

It is also important to remember there are other ways of giving than donating money. We can donate clothing, shoes, books, and household goods to organizations like Goodwill. We can give old blankets to an animal shelter. And of course, perhaps the most valuable of all donations, is that of time—which for me personally, is more difficult to part with than actual cash. So many organizations are in need of volunteers—if you can’t give financially, then consider giving the gift of your time.

If we postpone giving for when we (or if!) are completely debt-free, we could be spending decades of our lives not giving. And if we choose not to give, we’re ultimately doing ourselves a disservice by not living with intention.

What are your thoughts on charitable giving with debt? Tell me in the comments below!


here I go a tumblin’

Over the years I have adopted pretty much every possible form of social media – instagram, pinterest, weheartit, twitter, facebook – all of which I use somewhat sparingly…so what did I do? I started a tumblr. My main motivation for doing this is to reblog pretty/funny images, short quotes and animated gifs for no real reason. I’m kind of loving it already.

Let’s play tumblr –

a game of tag

I was tagged by my lovely friend Manda – and while I normally don’t post things like this, it’ll be fun to see who actually does it. Pretty much, you say 10 things about yourself that aren’t readily obvious from reading your blog, then tag 10 other bloggers you want to know more about. Ready, and go.

1. I’m not a picky eater in the slightest, but I can’t stand eating things in their “original” form. Birds don’t really bother me (like a whole chicken or turkey – although I’m not a big fan of wings or gnawing meat off bones in general, but I will do it if I have to) but I don’t like lobster, whole fish on plates, and especially not pig roasts. It seems so barbaric to me and I want nothing to do with it.

2. I’m obsessed with Lord of the Rings. I’m pretty sure I’ve never blogged about it, but I love Tolkien and discovered the movies when I was about 18, and fell in love. My male cat is named Frodo. He has a similar temperament to hobbit Frodo – and he loves adventures, and we live in New Hampshire, after all. I’m looking forward to fall/winter and stormy, moody weather for LOTR marathons and (if I’m lucky) lots of cuddling.

3. I can’t throw (or catch) a frisbee. At least not very well. Manda and Kat know about the guy who dumped me for this very reason. I shall never forget it.

4. If you’ve been to my apartment (especially my bathroom) it becomes quickly evident that I’m a makeup and beauty product hoarder. Along that vein, I absolutely love Ingrid’s beauty channel and vlog channel. I know it may be a little juvenile, especially because I’m 27 and I clearly know how to make cute outfits and do my own makeup, but watching Ingrid always makes me happy and I think she’s a wonderful role model for young girls nowadays. Same goes for Kandee Johnson. She’s like a bubbly ray of sunshine in my day and her good vibes always come out on camera. And you know what, I like Zoella a lot too. Maybe it’s her accent. I personally don’t have the time/energy/money to expend on making and editing videos (it’s a LOT of work, I tried once) and I don’t envy the negative comments that get flown their way, but I do really admire what they do. Ingrid is my have though, she’s a little doll!

5. I love Hello Kitty. Not in an obsessive way, but if you pay attention, you’ll see her hiding out in certain places in my apartment.

6. I was a Girl Scout for many years. I don’t remember that much about it, except I sold cookies and the meetings were where I learned that Cheetos and Twinkies existed, because my mom was so strictly against junk food.

7. I’ve hiked 14 of the 4,000 foot peaks in the New Hampshire White Mountains. It’s been awhile but I hiked all the time growing up. (Again, mom influence!)

8. I’ve never been to the West Coast. I want to so badly! It seems so unreasonable that I’m as old as I am and I’ve never been to California. But, the opportunity to travel there (or really anywhere) hasn’t come up yet. I’m starting to think I need to create my own opportunities for such adventures…

9. Of all the old school Hollywood starlets, I think my favorite is Grace Kelly. I love Audrey and Marilyn too, don’t get me wrong – a lot – but Grace was impeccably elegant and impossibly gorgeous.

10. I secretly collect flamingo things – preferably vintage. With my love of pink and girly things that’s existed since forever, it’s no big surprise that they’re my favorite bird.

And I’m tagging some pals: Looking at the Bucket a Quarter Full (Lia), voornamste, Phoebe’s Fab FixCanned Beer Classy, Advanced Apathy and maybe more soon, because it’s harder than you’d think! And if I didn’t tag you, by all means do it up!

Somebody That I Used To Know (cover)

Maybe this is just because I’ve been having an Ingrid and Luke marathon this weekend (normally could care less about “famous” YouTubers but she was the first “beauty guru” I started following) – but they do so well with this song and they’re such an adorable couple. I can’t help but smile watching them. 🙂

Luke –
Ingrid – and

hey, you should grow a beard.

I love a nice beard more than I love most things. Always have, always will. It is probably my most favorite feature on a man. Oh, God. The bigger and bushier the better, a lot of times. Although these days, I’ll settle for what I can get. There’s a beard for almost every style. That beards are in right now works in my favor. I don’t get girls/women who like the clean-shaven military-style look. Beards are hot, historically speaking. Jesus had a beard. Abraham Lincoln. Aragorn. Let it Be-era Paul McCartney. I’m pretty sure Shakespeare had one. Lots of one-name basis dudes rocked major facial hair. Artists. Poets. Leaders. I Googled “beard porn” the other day. I’m disgusting. But I’m okay with it, as long as you are.

There are maybe three to five men in the entire world who look good and maybe even better clean-shaven. Hayden Christensen for example, should probably never grow a beard. He’s too damn pretty. Chace Crawford looks boyishly adorable when he’s only slightly scruffy. The prettier the boy the weirder a beard looks. I’ve examined my beard-lust scientifically and I hypothesize this: I’m super girly, therefore I have high levels of estrogen (oh do I!) – therefore, I seek a male counterpart with equally high levels of testosterone. Beard = manly and manly = testosterone. The juxtaposition of smooth soft girl skin and coarse man hair works out so well. It’s really the most flawless equation ever.

I love the pride that men take in their beards when they grow them “just for themselves.” What do women have that even rivals that? Take bubble baths? (Yes.) Now I’ve convinced a boyfriend or two to ditch the razor for a week, maybe two. The response they get in return makes it well worth their while, believe me. I’m always really perturbed when guys seem to honestly think that women want them to be smooth and hairless head to toe. No, lads, that’s womankind that’s been dealt the miserable hand of full-body hair removal. You go on, be hairy. The hairier the better. I’ll make myself a pillow on your chest hair and stroke your beard until I’m lulled softly to sleep. Thank you.


Stop me falling down
Stop me making movies of myself
Put that old dog down
Stop me making movies of myself

when crazy is beautiful (Sienna Miller in Alfie)

Bring the carriage ’round
Get me to the garden of sleep
Make that high gate speak
Perrier out of a paper bag

Beatles in India, 1967. Pattie Boyd is on the far right.

Looking like a hag and start giving me something
A love that is longer than a day
Start making my heart sing
Something that it doesn’t want to say

Pattie & George.

I’m handing it over
I’m saying that you’re the only one
Don’t run for the border turn that corner
Already you’ve run in movies of myself

McCartney makes a case for smoking…

Darling, don’t you ever let go
Wrap your loving arms around me
While the cold winds blow
Tell me what I really want to know

…as does Rufus Wainwright.

‘Cause I’m looking for a reason, a person, a painting
A Saturday evening post edition by Jesus
An old piece of bacon never eaten by Elvis

John Lennon + Siamese kitten = “limitless undying love”

So I’ll say start giving me something
A love that is longer then a day
Start making my heart say
something it doesn’t want to say

speaking of Wainwright, I adore this concert poster. By Andrio Abero.

I’m handing it over
I’m singing that you’re the only one
Don’t run for the border, turn that corner in movies on myself
Oh I’ve seen it all before in movies of myself

and things I can’t have…beautiful, immeasurably talented gay men like this one. I don’t think I will ever get tired of his voice, or his face.

the world should bring back hair peace/bed peace, John and Yoko style.

speaking of beautiful men in bed…

…and Brandon Boyd’s art is amazing.

green with iPhone envy

I have iPhone envy. My condition has recently been worsened by the upcoming release of the iPhone 4, slated for release June 24 and available for pre-order June 15. I have been fully and completely seduced. The newest model boasts dazzling features including 2 cameras; one with flash and one front-facing to work with their new Face Time video chat feature (currently only available in WiFi networks to other iPhone 4 users); a “retina” display with 300 pixels per inch, sleek angular design and aluminosilicate glass front and back. Of course, I do not own an iPhone, not even an older version. I watch with fervent jealousy as my boyfriend plays Angry Birds and checks his email 5 times an hour and receives texts in glossy iChat bubbles on his 3GS. He can take gorgeous pictures and upload them instantly to Facebook. I am stuck in a contract with T-Mobile with a Samsung Gravity, which by today’s phone standards is nothing to brag about, except it does have a slide-out keyboard which helps with texting. It’s not cool, though. It’s inferior to a myriad of phones these days. I upgraded to it when I was with my boyfriend at the time; and we were too busy singing songs and braiding each other’s hair to covet the latest technology.

But now. Times are different. Not only do I work in a market which pushes emerging technology, but I’ve seen everyone around me (it seems) finger-tapping, sliding and pinching to their heart’s content. Oh, I don’t need an iPhone. That’s the thing. It’s a very clear case of “want vs. need,” which any frugal person would be able to dismiss. Yet I cannot escape the seduction of the iPhone, and all rational financial judgment goes out the window. Surely this is the case for many, much to Apple and AT&T’s delight. And you can forget iPhone’s “rivals:” Blackberry, Droid. iPhone is and always will be king. I’m a Mac devotee; my MacBook is the best purchase I ever made. Apple is legendary at making the most beautiful and high-performance electronics on the market. Steve Jobs, you are a brilliant man. Even Melinda Gates (wife of Bill) has admitted to having iPhone envy in an issue of Vogue last year.

So if I am to invest hundreds into a phone, you can bet it will be for the real deal. The switch won’t come cheap: If I switch before my contract expires (in another year) I’ll get slapped with a $200 early termination fee from T-Mobile, plus the $199 phone, plus activation, plus the $100 or so monthly which I certainly can’t afford. But…it’s an iPhone. And no substitutions will suffice. Among the many things I’m learning from motivational guru Gabrielle Bernstein, it’s not to live life ruled by the “when I haves.” For example, “when I have this job, this client, this apartment, this boyfriend, this iPhone…then I’ll be happy.” Everyone knows that happiness comes from within. It’s a lot of work, though. And while I’m working on my inner self, I would be oh so glad to have an iPhone in my palm. Someday.