The Season of Giving

3_kidsI’ve been reviewing next year’s family budget. There are four categories where I have a lot of discretion: donations, date nights, couple retreats and vacations.

Donations/Gifting: Halfway through year, it was looking like I would have to borrow to maintain my preferred gifting rate. I hate borrowing so I cut the budget in half.

Late in the year, we sold our house and I was able to hit our original goal.

It wasn’t until I played The Dollar Game that I started to understand the physiological and psychological benefits of being open to other people.

I like having a formal budget. I never have to consider if I can “afford” to be open to another person. I know that I can always help someone, at least a little bit. As well, when I feel that I’ve been ripped off, I tell myself that the money came out of my gifting allocation and I move on.

Vacations: For a long time, I’ve wanted to ride my bike to the top of Haleakala in Maui. At an elevation of 10,023 feet, the volcano is a biggie.

So I added a Maui vacation to my 2015 budget.

When I ran the numbers for airfare, childcare, condo rental… climbing the volcano was going to cost me close to $1 per vertical foot.

My Colorado price per vertical foot is a penny!

If my goal is satisfaction and a life with meaning… is the Maui trip the best use of the money?

Does short-term luxury lead to satisfaction across a year? Maybe if I take a lot of pictures!

I made a list of alternatives…

  • Get 2,000 $5 notes and play a massive $5 version of The Dollar Game – gets rid of my worry that a dollar isn’t enough to help – that’s a big stack of cash
  • Sponsor 100 people for The Dollar Game – I ruled that one out because the effect doesn’t seem to work with someone else’s money
  • Build 15 homes in the developing world
  • Overtip all year – feel like a big shot – own the fact that my desire to climb the volcano is the ego-picture from the summit
  • Sponsor a teaching assistant for my daughter’s kindergarten class so the little people learn more quickly – guaranteed kudos
  • Buy 30 iPads for the school – additional kudos, perhaps more if done anonymously, to appear humble
  • Increase my giving budget – open my heart more often, to more people

Once you start frequent, small gifts – it turns out that the person that you’re helping the most is yourself.

I don’t regret my inefficiencies. I’m sure that I’d love the trip to Maui.

Luxury spending doesn’t have the staying power of an open heart.


My original article on The Dollar Game and a follow up one year later on giving.

More on Couples Retreats and my marriage – Article 1 and Article 2