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Linch comments on Open Thread #36 - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Linch 15 March 2017 04:33:49AM *  4 points [-]

My personal opinion is that individuals should save enough to mitigate emergencies, job transitions, etc. (https://80000hours.org/2015/11/why-everyone-even-our-readers-should-save-enough-to-live-for-6-24-months/), but no more.

It just seems rather implausible, to me, that retirement money is anywhere close to being a cost-effective intervention, relative to other likely EA options.

Comment author: ZachWeems 15 March 2017 02:27:59PM 6 points [-]

| It just seems rather implausible, to me, that retirement money is anywhere close to being a cost-effective intervention, relative to other likely EA options.

I don't think that "Give 70-year-old Zach a passive income stream" is an effective cause area. It is a selfish maneuver. But the majority of EAs seem to form some sort of boundary, where they only feel obligated to donate up to a certain point (whether that is due to partially selfish "utility functions" or a calculated move to prevent burnout). I've considered choosing some arbitrary method of dividing income between short term expenses, retirement and donations, but I am searching for a method that someone considers non-arbitrary, because I might feel better about it.

Comment author: Linch 16 March 2017 05:56:38AM *  5 points [-]

Apologies, rereading it again, I think my first comment was rude. :/

I do a lot of selfish and suboptimal things as well, and it will be inefficient/stressful if each of us have to always defend any deviation from universal impartiality in all conversations.

I think on the strategic level, some "arbitrariness" is fine, and perhaps even better than mostly illusory non-arbitrariness. We're all human, and I'm not certain it's even possible to really cleanly delineate how much you value different satisfying different urges for a meaningful and productive life.

On the tactical level, I think general advice on frugality, increasing your income, and maximizing investment returns is applicable. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any special information specifically to the retirement/EA charity dichotomy. (Maybe the other commentators can think of useful resources?)

(Well, one thing that you might already be aware of is that retirement funds and charity donations on two categories that are often tax-exempt, at least in the US. Also, many companies "match" your investment into retirement accounts up to a certain %, and some match your donations. Optimizing either of those categories can probably save you (tens of) thousands of dollars a year)

Sorry I can't be more helpful!