If Money is not an Issue

Many years ago, while searching for jobs not too long after finishing university, I stumbled upon a few articles online that encouraged the reader to ask this question:

“If money is not an issue, what job would you like to have?”

At that time, I answered “volunteer”. And it seems like that indeed had led me to a role that suited my skills and interests, and is quite rewarding. As a Volunteer Coordinator of a nonprofit, I have learned to appreciate the value of having the structure that enables the volunteers to focus on what they do best at their designated role, and not to worry about small details that can delay or distract them.

Lately, I have been thinking of what the future holds given that I am still considered a young professional. After all, I’m a few years away before turning 30. Retirement feels like a long time away, despite the fact that my husband diligently prepares for it through our regular savings and keeping our accounts organized.

We have a lottery pool at work, where each staff member who wants to participate can pitch in $2, a staff person goes to buy a ticket, and hope that we are the next group of employees who win a few million dollars, like the ones we hear about in the news.

I remember a comment from a former colleague Sofia about lottery winnings that stuck with me. She said “imagine how much affordable housing you can build out of all that money.” I appreciate her viewpoint since it was the first time I hear from anybody about a way to spread the winnings to those in need. Another colleague had said, with a hint of worry “I wouldn’t know what to do with all the much money.” This is also a fair point, as I heard numerous stories of people’s lives turning for the worst after winning the lottery. The troubles that the winners have come in two ways, from being reckless about spending, and from being bombarded with inappropriate request for money from distant relatives to random strangers. I guess, with great wealth comes a great burden.

Right now, if money is not an issue because somehow I have large sums of it or an unlimited supply, I imagine that I will split the money into a few different categories:

  • Personal financial stability
  • Assisting relatives in need, both in this country and overseas
  • Local charitable donations
  • Large-scale impact on certain social causes

For example, I’ll pay off our home’s mortgage and set aside enough money for an investment fund where the interest is enough to cover current expenses and occasional luxuries. And then, I’d like to find a way to provide financial assistance to my relatives in need in a way that is sustainable and has a long-term benefit: whether it is funds to start a business, house and lot, or covering tuition payment for younger kids.

Outside of the family unit, here’s how I envision huge sums of money can make an impact. There are many charitable organizations that struggle to stay afloat, and as a result, searching for funding eats up precious time that could have been spent making a difference through their programs and services. Providing stability such as through an endowment fund or a financial boost for a few years would be a good thing, I think. And then, similar to those lottery winners who would donate millions of dollars towards a cause, I’d like to do the same thing as well. Instead of just dropping a cheque though, I’d like to help build something from the ground up. Maybe a new building to expand an organization’s service and operations, or even a brand new facility to fill an unmet need.

One can dream, right? But, since the chances of winning the lottery or having a massive multi-million dollar business empire is pretty small, the realistic, real-time version of myself had scaled back these lofty dreams into manageable, small things that can be done in present time. With the income from my paycheque, helping charities and relatives and building a sense of personal financial stability is achievable in small chunks. As far as making a large-scale impact, I’m hoping that running for public office one day can fulfill that.

Either on my own, or through in-person and online workshops, I have participated in exercises to help envision the future. It’s a good opportunity to evaluate one’s preferences and aspirations, and indulge in thinking about how outlandish scenarios might just come true. The plan is to ask again this question when I officially turn 30 and periodically in the future.

There was a catchy Filipino pop song that I remember in my teens, titled “Ambisyoso” which is the translation for ‘ambitious’. Some of the writer’s outlandish dreams are pretty funny, like a kissing scene with his favourite actress, but I really like the line that talked about “a wallet that never runs out of money”. That’s what prompted this thought exercise, and I’ll likely revisit it again.

Can’t Pour From an Empty Cup – My Challenge with Giving Donations

By: Giselle General

Whether it is from being more connected through social media, or with just being more connected in the community where I live now, I feel that I have been receiving so many more requests for help, specifically financial help. And all of these calls for financial help are for a good cause, from shelters for refugees in a land with no infrastructure, to programming to help with Indigenous awareness and culture preservation, to keeping abused animals safe, to keeping abuse children safe. Some programs are meant to help in an immediate, tangible matter such as meals or clothing, some are for advocacy work to help change policy which impacts people on a massive scale. There’s just so much.

With all of these requests, I frequently feel compelled to give and help. Unfortunately, I have the very human condition of having limitations and uncertainties. Here are some of the challenges I face and my ongoing attempts to deal with them.

For social enterprises or fundraisers, it can conflict with my minimalist/ anticonsumerist perspective I am trying to adapt. I am not a big spender to begin with when it comes to the day-to-day items I need. So I struggle when there is a social enterprise with a sales model where you buy one item, you give the same item to someone in need. This can be shoes, bags, dolls, socks, etc. Same thing with food fundraisers. My grocery habits are quite fixed, so buying extra meat, veggies, cookies, soaps for fundraisers will cause waste in my home. At this rate, I generally avoid participating for this very reason. I try to find other means to help.

Setting a limit – as in financially – is so essential and so hard. Thanks to my significant other, I have found a system where I budget for every type of expense I incur, and track them in a convenient and systematic way. So yes, I am aware of how much I have been spending towards charitable donations. Not all of them even qualify for a tax receipt, particularly if it is directly assisting a person through the MyYEGStrong Twitter Account or initiatives through GoFundMe. I’m not simply after tax benefits, not at all, but I need to be mindful of the total monthly and annual costs

Unfortunately, I have the very human condition of having limitations and uncertainties.

I’m trying to master the delicate art of gracefully saying no, without shame. For people who feel compelled to give, there is a heavy feeling of guilt that can arise from being unable to give what is being asked. When I have to say no, I try to provide an explanation, saying that perhaps I can help in the future, and wishing them well in their fundraising endeavours. One thing that I avoid doing is “ghosting”, or essentially ignoring the message completely. I’m not perfect at it, but I know that having an answer is better than none at all.

A few sayings are starting to become more popular these days, such as “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and “you need to put your own oxygen mask first before assisting others“. Another idea that I’m starting to internalize is “everyone is trying to do the best they can with what they have“. This is what has helped me with both being kind with my limitations, and being proud of what I am able to do.

Giving in non-material or non-financial ways are plentiful, and I’m realizing that they are very much appreciated as well. There are other ways to help out such as time, organizational skills, knowledge and feedback, and spreading awareness. I had a friend tell me that she ended up volunteering for a youth-related initiative because of a social media post that I shared. I wasn’t able to donate or attend that event, but it looks like it inspired someone else to do so. I have started volunteering for casinos for charitable organizations, which is a huge thing around these parts. Filling out government surveys or sending a thoughtful response to a government official about a certain topic can help cause a positive change in the law. There are a lot of options, great ones, that will always be available when one is ready and able to give again.