“When I’m rich, I’ll give.”

Do you give to charity? I’m embarrassed to say that I only very recently started giving. And it’s not that much. But I am happy, maybe a tiny bit proud, that I finally started.

When I was a resident, I said “I’ll give when I’m an attending.” That seemed logical – I wasn’t making a lot and had student loans accumulating interest every day. Then I became an attending. Then I said “I’ll give once I don’t have so many loans” or “I’ll give once I get some financial footing.”

Somewhere along the way I discovered Farnoosh Torabi’s So Money podcast. I started with her inaugural podcast with guest Tony Robbins. One part really got to me:

People say, “When I’m rich, I’ll give, they’re lying. If you won’t give a dime out of a dollar, there’s no way you’re gonna give a 100 million out of a billion, you’re lying to yourself. But if you can do it today, the biggest thing that giving does, is it teaches your brain there’s more than enough.

Right after I listened to that podcast, I made my first donation – I pledged to give a small amount quarterly to my alma mater Barnard College and specifically earmarked the funds for financial aid. I received generous financial aid in the form of grants and work-study and hope that my small contribution (which I will definitely increase soon) will help someone else attend.

For 2017 I made a modest goal to start with 1% of my base salary towards charity. Yes, this isn’t a lot, but I am starting somewhere and hope to slowly increase as a % of my base salary. I made a separate category in YNAB as well.

I have also given small amounts to:

  • Camp Discovery – a summer camp for kids with severe skin diseases
  • KACFNY aka Korean American Community Foundation of NY

You’ll notice my medical school is missing from the list. That will have to wait until the loans are paid off. I think that just only makes sense :).

Do you give? Why or why not? Who/what do you give to? 

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  1. Physician on FIRE on March 29, 2017 at 10:47 am

    You shouldn’t feel guilty at all. Giving is a personal thing. I do think Tony is on to something, though. There’s always a reason to wait until “next year.”

    In residency, I was witness to some serious Hurricane activity, and I felt compelled to give just a little to the Red Cross. I also started giving to my alma mater.

    As an attending, I give a lot more because there’s a stronger incentive. A tax deduction actually counts for something at a 45% marginal tax bracket!


    • missbonniemd@gmail.com on April 2, 2017 at 9:20 pm

      It definitely is a personal decision. The mindset that I don’t have enough doesn’t help me or (charities).

  2. Wall Street Physician on March 29, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Nice article. It’s easy to not adjust the amount you give to charity in accordance with your increase in salary. You may not have given much during residency, but then you forget to increase your charitable giving once you become an attending.

  3. notadoc on April 18, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    I think the same thought process quite often applies to people in regards to saving for retirement. There is always something else to spend the money on.

  4. Elizabeth Chan on July 19, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    When I was in college, I met people who had started a human trafficking nonprofit and when I started working I gave them $1,000. It was a small charity so they actually invited me to talk to them about my interest in their work. It really helped me realize that even though I was only making $40k/year, my money could make a difference. I consider giving to charity to be like voting – more of this, less of that. Also it helps me realize I have plenty and others have less. I learn more about my community, meet interesting and inspired people and get inspired myself. I’ve given tens of thousands to charity since then and hundreds of thousands in my life. I will never get a plaque or have something named after me. I’m sure other s are probably wealthier than me because of it but I don’t regret any of it.

    • Miss Bonnie MD on July 20, 2017 at 6:40 am

      That is great! I am hoping to increase my giving steadily.

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