Personal Crowd Funding?

We’ve all heard about the many different crowdfunding organizations out there.  Probably the most famous of them is Kickstarter.  Or maybe Indiegogo.  Adam from Man vs. Debt recently crowdfunded his documentary “I’m Fine, Thanks” through Kickstarter.  Using crowdfunding sites has become pretty popular.  It’s a great way for artists and creators to fund the products that they are creating through the fans while still giving something back to the fans.

Recently, I found a site called GoFundMe.  It’s another crowdfunding site.  Except, in this case, it’s more of a crowd fundraising site.  Personal crowd funding if you will. Individuals and organizations can post a need, and then share it with friends, family, and the public through social sites and links that they can share.  Their friends, family, and anyone else interested can then go and fund the need.  Best I can tell, there aren’t many restrictions at all as to what it is that you can post as a need.  Want to use it to fund the down payment on a house?  It’s been done.   Want to use it to pay for a wedding?  Been done.

go fund me logo

Anytime I see something like this, my mind starts to wander about and find stuff that’s a bit “funny.”  I can see the good of a site like this.  It only takes a few seconds on their homepage to see that there are lots of people using the site to help people in need.  People who have medical issues.  People who have had house fires.  People who want to set up memorial funds.  I can even see how it would be kind of cool to create one to have people contribute to a wedding fund or honeymoon fund instead of buying wedding presents.  But, with every one of those that I see that seem to be legitimate things that people might want to create a fund, I see ones where you really have to wonder what some people are thinking.

For instance.  I ran across one that was a fund to help with the down payment on a new car.  Another asking for help with a down payment on a house.  It’s ones like that where my cynical side really comes out.  I’d like to think that the people really have just had a bit of down luck and just need that little bit to dig themselves out of a hole.  Or that little push to keep going to work.  Or whatever.  But, there’s that personal finance blogger side of me that wants to know why, if you knew you were going to need a car, or wanted to buy a house, weren’t you saving in the first place?

I guess there’s a small chance that the fund wasn’t intended to be seen by anyone more than the persons friends and family.  But, it is public.  And then there’s the question of taxes.  If I go create a fund, call it my retirement fund, and then raise a million dollars, what does Uncle Sam think of that.  I did a little digging, and, according to the sites FAQ section, they state that “most donations on GoFundMe are simply considered to be ‘personal gifts’ which are not taxed as income in the US.”

Which makes me wonder.  Maybe I should create a “don’t want to work anymore” fund. Set a goal of about $45,000 and see if I can’t take a year off work…

What do you think? Am I being too hard on this?  Are you going to go out and give it a try?  Would you give/donate to someone you knew who used it?

World Diets: A Week’s Worth of Groceries

Ok, so I saw this post over at FStoppers about What a Week of Groceries Looks Like Around the World, and I couldn’t help but mark it for a second look, and eventually an article here.  Click on that link and go take a look.  Look at what each picture contains and then come back and see if you come to the same conclusion that I do.  I’ll wait.

Done?  Ok, first, let’s talk about some “givens” that I found to be somewhat ironic, simply because they also could be considered stereotypes.  I’ll start at the top.

  • Mexico: OMG, you guys like Coke!  
  • Germany: First thing I noticed was all the beer and wine right up front.
  • Italy: Lots of the expected breads and pastas
  • Japan: Fish, noodles, and rice.
  • Mali and Chad: That’s it?

Obviously, there are some things that we expect.  Countries like Mali and Chad that we’re hearing about starvation or near starvation like conditions in sometimes have an obviously lesser pile of food.  Japan is notorious for it’s high-fish diet.  And Germany.  Germany!  I suppose I can’t expect much else from the country of Octoberfest.

A couple of surprises.  I’m a little bit surprised by the lack of sausages in the Poland picture.  For the number of Polish sausages we eat here in the states that is.  (Ok, that’s kind of tongue in cheek.)

Now, let’s see if you noticed the same thing I noticed.  Every single country on that list eats way more fresh food than the American family.  Seriously. Look at that picture.  There’s a little section of it that’s got some produce (a couple of tomatoes, some onions, and some grapes), and another small section of fresh meat.  That’s it.  The rest looks to be processed and packaged foods.  The only other countries that appear to even be close are Canada, Great Britain, and Australia.  Which is funny.  In an ironic sad way.

All four of those countries are usually lumped together as “first-world” countries.  We’re rich!  We have everything we could ever want!  And somehow, every other country on that list eats better than we do…  Heck, let’s look at Mexico.  Most Americans tend to think of Mexico as a drug addled, gang run, hovel.  But, look at that food!  Fresh herbs right off the plant!  A whole table of fresh fruits and vegetables!  Same story for India, Bhutan, Guatemala, and Equador!

Why is it that we all think that produce is so expensive, but we’ll gladly pay $10 for a large pizza?  Or $10 for a burger and fries?  It also makes me wonder just how much of that food those people grow themselves.  It’s not that expensive to start a garden.  Heck, even a container garden will do.  We’re just getting ready to plant out our second season (see season one’s results) of container gardening.  So far, I’ve spent about $2 on seeds.  Buy a few pots, get some soil, and plant some plants.  Fresh produce!

I’ve gotten a bit ranty, but it amazes me how poorly we eat in our “rich” country.  You’d think we’d be smarter than that…

 

The New Retirement

I recently had the chance to chat with Todd Tresidder.  If you don’t know the name, don’t worry.  Up until about a year ago, I didn’t either.  But, the short of it is that the guy is retired.  In fact, he retired much earlier than most will.  At the ripe “old” age of 35, he retired.  Which must mean he’s off golfing around in the Arizona heat, right?  Or down, sipping OJ at some southern Florida retirement village?  Not likely.

Todd is retired in the sense that he doesn’t report to a boss.  He does what he wants, when he wants to.  One of the things that he wants to do is write books that help people like you and I become better financially.  He’s got several that he’s written so far, and I’m sure he’s working on more.  During that first meeting, Todd and I spoke for a while on retirement.  Speaking with another financially minded person, I usually expect to hear people talk about 401(k)s, IRAs, and stock purchasing.  I don’t discount those tools, but I just don’t feel that, like Social Security, you should be depending on them for your whole retirement.  Surprisingly, Todd agrees.  The longer we spoke, the more we found that we agreed on.  At the end of our conversations, Todd offered me a copy of his book on retirement. I accepted.

How Much Money do I need to retireLong story short, I finally read it.  It took me a while, but I’m glad I got around to it.

If there’s anything that stands out about the book, is that Todd knows what he’s talking about.  He’s got the experience behind him to talk about the subject in an informed and educational manner, and technically, probably knows more about some of his subject matter than I ever will.  He spends the first several chapters of the book dispelling a few myths about retirement, and about the way in which most people tend to think about it.  He then takes off on a few chapters of some of the math and logic behind the different ways of calculating your retirement needs, and calculating that mythical “number” that everyone seems to be seeking out that will indicate that they’ve saved all that they need to save for retirement.  Not only does that one perfect number not exist, he argues, but the calculations that we make to arrive at it are completely flawed.

The rest of the book is focused on what I like to call the New Retirement.  He goes into detail on the ways to properly estimate your income needs for the future, and then into ways that he believes (and I agree) that a properly diversified retirement “portfolio” should be structured.  I don’t want to spoil too much of the book so I won’t say much more.  What I will say is that the book isn’t terribly long.  It’s not a deeply structured manual on all the different retirement accounts.  And it’s not terribly expensive.  It’s $4.99 on the Kindle (free for Prime members), and about $10 in paperback.

Pick up a copy of How Much Money do I need to Retire at Amazon.  You can check out Todd’s site as well as the other books he’s written at FinancialMentor.com.