Daniel_Dewey comments on How I missed my pledge and how I'm fixing it - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Milan_Griffes 18 October 2016 08:12:23PM 0 points [-]

I enjoyed reading this, though sorry to hear about pledge-related stress!

I'm curious about your reasoning behind donating a big portion while simultaneously paying down debt. My intuition is to focus first on paying off the debt, then ramp up giving once you're debt-free.

Comment author: Daniel_Dewey 24 October 2016 06:01:47PM *  0 points [-]

Thanks Milan!

I haven't thought a lot about that, and might be making the wrong call. Off the top of my head:

  • There's a community norm toward donating 10%, and I'm following that without thinking too hard.
  • I expect donation effectiveness on the scale of my donations to get worse over time, so giving earlier at the cost of giving a little (?) less over my career seems like it might be better.
  • Giving feels good in a way that paying debt doesn't. This isn't an EA reason :)

I guess I could put my 10% toward debt reduction instead -- if you or anyone else has pointers to info that might cause me to decide to do that, I'd be interested in seeing it, and in promoting it so that other debt-saddled EAs can make better decisions!

Comment author: Jmd 24 October 2016 09:19:51PM 2 points [-]

I disagree that 'giving cause it feels good' isn't an EA reason to give. It's about the head and the heart right? I give because it feels good, and it feels even better knowing that where you give is high impact and if giving makes you feel good then that's encouraging to others as well :) And I also started giving when I had my student loan to pay off - maybe if my loan was bigger I would have thought about starting with smaller donations like with The Life You Can Save, but my main motivation was that if the debt is an excuse now, then buying a house will be an excuse later, and then all the other life excuses and I will never do it. So I leapt. People live really well on less than I did even with the donations and the loan repayments, it does mean thinking more about 'fun' activities' though I found that I could still do all those things and where I spent less was on 'stuff' - things you buy but don't really need anyways.

Comment author: Daniel_Dewey 25 October 2016 12:07:48AM 0 points [-]

Thanks for mentioning this -- I totally see what you're pointing at here, and I think you make valid points re: there always being more excuses later.

I just meant to emphasize that "giving now feels good" wasn't something I was prepared to justify in terms of its actual impact on the world; if I found out that this good feeling was justified in terms of impact, that'd be great, but if it turned out that I could give up that good feeling in order to have a better impact, I'd try my best to do so.

Comment author: Milan_Griffes 25 October 2016 11:08:21PM 1 point [-]

I don't have pointers to good info, other than Mr. Money Mustache's blog, which I think was already mentioned.

I'm following in intuition along the lines of "put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you with theirs."

My bet is that my personal impact will be much larger once I'm financially independent. Giving a significant portion of my income now is a drag on reaching financial independence. I'd prefer to accelerate my progress towards financial independence at the expense of doing good today.

We're touching on the "give now vs. give later" debate here; intuitions may diverge.