This is a response to a post I read here the other day where someone said they had became so obsessed with their finances, and working overtime, that they no longer found joy in any of their hobbies.
While it is obviously important to be fiscal, have an emergency fund, and save for your retirement, don’t let that be the only thing you focus on in your life. Often entertainment budgets are discussed here in the context of entertainment being healthy, or inevitable, and I myself will often avoid going out of spending my entertainment budget to save more, or save up for something.
One thing I started doing about four years ago that I never avoid is my “H-Fund.”
My H-Fund is a transaction that happens once a month where approximately (2) hours of my hourly worth is sent to an “adopted” brother of mine who lives in a third world country where the average annual lower middle class income is about $1,500.
When we were kids he came to stay with our family for a period of several years, and then came back to stay with again for a few more years. He is now an adult and living in his home country, and doing very well for himself. He works, has a degree, a girlfriend that he wants to marry, and a life he is starting even though he is older than me by several years.
And, I am single-handedly giving him ($300 less than) an average salary on the side.
Using rough math this breaks down to about 6 minutes of my day, per 5 day work week. Every single day I block off a 6 minute span on my calendar in Outlook, and during that time I do whatever I want. I listen to music, I dance, I play a game on my phone. I don’t work. For 6 minutes every day (probably more) I don’t do any work, and I just make money, and I then send that money to my brother.
This gives me a great deal of satisfaction.
I never miss a payment into my H-Fund, and I’ll avoid going out in order to save for it. It makes it real easy for me to skip a night at the bar, or skip a dinner with friends if I’ve been over spending because I know I have another ding.
In my head each month I start off $100 in the negative. I don’t have an official line item in my budget for my H-Fund, it just has to get paid every month. Either food, entertainment, or something else has to give, or I have to make a little extra money and hustle… which I do too much of.
Anyway, do good works with your money within reason. You don’t need to be Bill Gates to have a huge impact in this world. This isn’t hard for me to do, so I’m not saying you should do something similar. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Just do something to use your time/money to help others. It feels good, and makes it easier to keep yourself on budget.
Just pick a number and start off in the red.
re-edit: To head the witch hunt off at the pass, I am a salaried employee that is often expected to work long hours without overtime. Some weeks I work 100 hours, some weeks I work 80, and some weeks I work 20. My average is probably around 45 to 55 per week, and my position is entirely performance based. My boss is not only aware of this bloc on my calendar (because he can see it,) but could not care less about how I choose to spend my time as long as the job gets done. I could come back from lunch drunk off my ass and the only thing I expect him to ask me is if I need a ride home (probably, never tried it.) Replacing me would require him to hire a minimum of (2) others to meet the responsibilities. The idea that I’m stealing anything is laughable, but I do personally think of it as theft and that’s what makes it so much fun.
What I’m trying to say is… I have fun doing it, and what I get out of it exceeds the $100/month that I spend. I want my brother to know that in his heart, because I’ll not let him feel any shame for accepting money that he doesn’t actually need. Except he does need it, because I know where he lives, and I know what goes on there, and I know what a massive huge opportunity I am providing for him in terms of the ability to purchase land, start a business, put himself through school, and to raise / educate children. All of that for six minutes. If you feel guilty about “stealing” six minutes from your boss having a dance party in your office then work during that time and work harder than you normally work the rest of your day.
Oh, and when someone requests a meeting during that time, I reschedule the 6 minutes to another time during the day, I don’t ask them to reschedule their meeting. I would have thought most of this was implied in the original post given the salary range, but apparently not. This is all a very highly calculated and conscious decision because I am aware of the immeasurable difference in his quality of life, which is not a trivial thing… however to normalize and make it easier to ignore (for him) I’ve turned it into a game. Thank you for any criticism you have about these “mental gymnastics,” but really that was not the point I was trying to make here.
Sometimes I send send him videos that are 6 minutes long of me headbanging at the office, or practicing my putting. Yes, we have a putting green at work.