I want to start these conversations with the topic of giving. It's the whole concept of Invested Alternative to be able to give and help people.
So, starting with a story: at my wedding reception one of my uncles came up to me and with a pat on my shoulder he said, "Congratulations. Enjoy your Honeymoon," and then he offered his hand like a handshake, but when I reached out I instead received a wad of cash he slipped into my hand and went on his way. Later that evening I pulled it out of my pocket and was blown away to find that he gave us $500! I still can't believe he gave us that much! He was a pretty wealthy guy being a dentist, but I still never expected such a large gift from one person. His gift had a huge impact on us because we were shocked at such generosity and because we really needed it at that time in our lives. As much as we would've loved to splurge that money on honeymoon luxuries, there were more important things we needed to use that money for. We received many other wedding gifts of items and gift cards, but we were completely out of cash. We just finished a year of college and already spent most of what little we had just surviving at school and then paying for the ring, dress and suit, our honeymoon vacation, and a basic wedding reception. We did have jobs to come back to after the trip, but no money for a deposit or first month's rent for a place of our own to get settled. This cash gift was incredibly helpful to us and inspired me to want to be a more giving person throughout my life. I love giving meaningful, generous gifts to people that need it.
Life is very unfair. We all know it. Many people struggle to make ends meet even when they're doing everything right to try getting that next promotion, a raise, or a better job. The dream of someday owning a home, being able to retire, and maybe enjoying some vacations is just a fantasy for many people even though they are working hard and maybe even working multiple jobs while trying to put away some savings. It is difficult for many to move beyond the grind of dead-end jobs that pay less than - let's say - fifty grand a year and move on to enjoy at least a basic middle-class lifestyle. I'm just guessing that fifty thousand amount because that's when I think you can barely start getting out of poverty and into the lower middle-class - where someone can start to afford to live on their own without roommates and assistance. It's just my number guess, but I'm curious to what any of you might think is a breaking point income amount. Please share your thoughts and experiences.
Additionally, to what extent do you wish people would give? There's always a push to get rich people to pay more and more in taxes to support more social services or redistribute wealth. Yeah I too wish people that have more would be more giving by choice, but to what extent would be considered fair? What's the breaking point for when it's ok to have that much wealth or that amount of income versus no, they should be giving more away or paying more in taxes? Also, where's the line between helping and being generous versus being an enabler to receivers becoming or remaining dependent and never becoming self-sufficient? It's helpful to occasionally help someone pay a bill or gift something they will put to continual use like tools and appliances and the sort; but always simply giving away money is unsustainable and draining on the giver. Why should they just give away what they earned? How much do you currently give to helping others less fortunate than yourself? If you were to start making triple your income, how much of it would you be willing to give away?
Most people would love to live the luxurious and seemingly care-free life of the "one percent," but what we all really want is just to get by with basic necessities like food, housing, and healthcare and not have to worry about breaking your budget, being enslaved by debt, or suffer through going without things simply because you don’t have enough to afford it. Food would be a big deal for me. If I was that rich I would be eating a lot more and probably healthier too. Healthier food is expensive! I would love to always be able to buy good food in stores and restaurants and not worry about having enough to pay bills later. So how about practicing what we preach? How would you help people if you had the money?
I currently dedicate about 4% of my income towards giving gifts and helping others. I've been happy with that system for the last 3 years. If I started making triple my income, I would probably increase it to 6% or more. If life is good and I find myself with more excess, then I would increase that amount more. How 'bout you? When would you start giving more, or would you maintain the same percentage?
Now diving into the goal of Invested Alternative, I want introduce the idea with some examples:
The first example is a reddit post from around August 2019 which had a two-panel image. The top part was an image with text about the pact among nations to spend $70 million to help save the amazon rain forest from burning and the panel below showed the production budget for the 2011 movie, Jack and Jill, starring Adam Sandler. It was $79 million. The person that posted this picture was pointing out the irony that humanity can easily invest large sums of money to produce mediocre entertainment but struggles to cooperate and provide funding to protect or improve the earth and humanity. Causes like those for saving the Amazon are celebrated because of the cooperation for a common good and I'm glad these events are celebrated, but they should not be so rare.
The difference between the two scenarios is, of course, the money - the return for profit. One is an investment in hopes of making more money, the other is an investment in hopes of making a healthier planet, but once all the money is used it's gone. There's no more funding to help future preservation efforts in the future unless this deal is made again and efforts reorganized. The problem is that no matter how great a cause or how good for humanity a certain endeavor may be, somebody still has to provide all the work and supplies. For large charitable undertakings, it is very difficult to round up that many volunteers willing to provide their time and resources completely free or at their own expense. Individuals and companies aren't going to want to give up so much of their own money financing these projects, which is why charitable organizations exist - but resources are limited and people can only give so much.
Example 2 is in every election season - especially in years with presidential elections, hundreds of millions of dollars are donated to various campaigns in hopes that each donor’s candidate of choice will win and somehow make their lives better through enacting their policies. For those that lose, it’s just lost money on failed hopes. You’re not getting your money back. It sucks even more for people whose preferred candidates they donated to don’t even make it through primaries. While certain politicians and legislative policies can make a big impact, a lot of problems can be solved directly by just using those hundreds of millions in campaign funds to fix problems.
The third and last example is college endowment funds. The college donations into their investment pool provides an ongoing source of income for scholarships and operations without having to require more donations. However, additional donations and investment growth make it possible to provide funding for even more scholarships and things.
My idea for creating Invested Alternative is to grow an endowment fund for charity that helps people and only needs to borrow donations. What if the charity borrows donations and invests it into income-producing assets, then returns the principle money to donors? These income-producing assets can now serve as the source for funding all future charitable donations without the need for more donations. There still isn’t a return for profit for people and businesses that donate, but there isn’t a loss either since donors get all their money back! This makes it possible to pool millions of dollars together for a great cause and, ultimately, no one loses. Everyone's free to donate to other causes or spend it on themselves after participating in a good effort.
What if instead of giving $10 million dollars to a political campaign that $10 million was donated to growing this fund for helping people first, and then returned to donors a few months later to fund campaigns. Everyone wins!
What if a church invested all of the collections they received throughout the year and then returned all the collections to their patrons at the end of the year and those investment earnings were able to fund church programs and charity giving?
What if a charity owned rental properties that provide affordable housing and donates its rent revenue profits to helping people in need.
Invested Alternative is that program. It is a program designed to borrow charitable donations and use the invested income as a source for funding to give to people in need. You can donate over and over again towards growing an endowment fund that helps people and always get your money back in the end.
I know this is possible. I have experience managing investments to do this, but unless you're really good or really lucky, it takes a lot of money to make a lot of money. Instead of making risky moves, there are several investment tools that can be safely and consistently utilized to provide dividend and earned interest income to make some money and be sold off later to return the principle amount without long-term commitments. The problem with only borrowing donations for this type of charity endowment fund is that it will take a long time and a lot of donations to build up a sustainable amount of funds that can make an impact, but it can be done and it would provide an endless well of giving.
I created Invested Alternative with this mission to raise money to help under-privileged people pay off student loans, medical debts, or other needs to give a break to those that need a win in life with a little extra help. It's also a place of conversation for fun to talk about interesting experiences and perspectives.
I am inspired by stories of churches, charities, and other organizations that actually use their funds raised to help people instead of line the pockets of their preachers or administrators. I would love to grow an organization and community of people that can help pay off each other's debts and pay for gifts that improve lives with and endless source of investment income through borrowed donations.
Please leave your thoughts and comments so we can continue this conversation and share our mutual understandings and experiences. Too many of us are just one or two missed paychecks away from financial ruin and the destruction of our standard of life that would quickly follow. For many people, it takes years to rebuild after setbacks such as job loss, family breakup, or an expensive surgery or other healthcare need. Join us at InvestedAlternative.com to donate or lend money to help.
The main focus of our discussion is about what struggles people face trying to get into or maintain a middle-class life and prepare for a better future. What would help? We discuss jobs, economy, politics, inequality, other life observations, and most importantly, helping people. Get to know us better and join the conversation.