The best use of your money, and a conundrum

by It will fluctuate

If you haven’t watched this TED talk by Peter Singer, please do so:

In summary, your money is better employed saving lives than buying stuff you don’t need. And if you want to give money away, you should find the most effective charity.

There is another reason, not mentioned in the talk, to give your money away: Doing so makes you happy.

But for people who, like me, are in the profession of making money grow, a conundrum arises: Should we give a little now, or a lot in the future?

Take the extreme example – Buffett. If he had lived every year on $30k and given away everything else each year, he would have ended up giving away a lot less.

On the other hand, there are good reasons for giving now: If people were dying in my garage instead of miles away, I wouldn’t postpone helping them. And as Singer notes, a few miles don’t alter the ethical case.

Also, if a good friend or a family member, even if geographically far away, needed a bit of money today to stay alive, you and I would give it to them. Why should it be different when talking about people we’re not related to?

Indeed, some value investors have decided to start giving early, like Jae Jun, who writes Old School Value.

So, what’s the right thing to do? I’m baffled.