01 August 2014

Go Fund Yourself

I have seen some ridiculous stuff on the world wide web lately.

Apparently there is a new website that lets financiers with nothing better to do make judgment calls on how successful your career is going to be before you even finish college. Its called Upstart and is being marketed as the "kickstarter" for student loans. It basically allows you to receive a lump sum upon graduation to pay off your student loans in exchange for a certain percent of your future income, for a certain number of years. (Usually every $6000 equates to about 1% of your income for 15 years or something like that.)

I think it's a risky move for investors because the person could change their mind and instead of practicing medicine, they decide to become a teacher 5 years into their career, or something like that. From the grad's point of view, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense because the amount they pay generally is more than they'd pay if they would just pay off their loans over time, they just apparently don't know how to run a time value of money calculation. (I'm guessing there aren't many finance majors signing up for Upstart.)

It's all a part of this new subconscious line of thinking in our culture that says that if you want something bad enough, you deserve it... or maybe even that something can be deserved. What even does it mean to "deserve" something?

If you think about it in the context of the faith, it doesn't make any sense. No matter how bad you want grace and to be in a relationship with the Lord, you can't deserve grace and you can't earn His love. That being said you're still required to live by His commands. On the other hand, people who have no desire to serve God STILL have grace freely available to them with just one turn of the heart toward Truth. 

So what is it with all of these websites? Upstart, kickstarter, gofundme, crowdfunding. They're all the same. I'm a sweet guitarist and everyone should donate money so I can have a record. I'm a poet but no one gets my work so I'll take donations to do what I want. etc. 

I would imagine that irreligious people would call me a hypocrite for writing this after I worked for FOCUS, and don't get me wrong: I'm not saying anything bad about fundraising. I fundraised my salary for 2 years and it was one of the hardest/most rewarding things I've ever done. There is a fundamental difference, in my opinion, in fundraising through face to face meetings rather than making a webpage, hoping it goes viral, and crossing your fingers. There's a difference in relying on others in the name of the Gospel, and asking strangers to pay for you to go do whatever you want. 

As a financial planner, it's also frustrating to see these type of fundraising pages in response to a certain tragedy. Tragedies happen, they are part of life and they are very sad. But when you get married and especially when you have children, you have a responsibility to your family to protect them from anything that might happen to you. I'm not conditioned to approach financial planning from a risk management point of view, but insurance is SUPER important, and when you're young, it's super cheap! 

Maybe I'm jaded because over half of my take home pay goes to paying off my student loans, or because no one ever gave me a bunch of money to go follow my dreams. But I don't deserve any of that; no one does. I will continue to work hard to pay for the best four years of my life. I will save so that I can buy the things I want, to be able to go the places I want to go, and to live and give how I want. 

Anyone feel like a good solid internet debate about any of these things? Iron sharpens iron!

Patron Saint of People Who Put their Foot in their Mouth, pray for us!


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  3. Insurance is necessary now because the social fabric of our society is unraveling and we can no longer expect help from one another. In times past, if something tragic happened, the community gathered to help those affected pick up the ruins and go on with life. If a person became unable to care for himself, the family or the community would be there to take them in and care for them without pay.

    A woman with whom I worked from eastern Europe was astonished at the selfishness and greed, as she perceived it, of Americans. She thought the use of nursing homes was criminal. There is this attitude here that everyone takes care of themselves and has little obligation to anyone else. Kindness and charity are good, but optional. There is no such thing as a sin of omission.

    As far as fundraising for one's education, I have a libertarian point of view: I think people should be free to ask for help, and I think those they ask should be free to say no. I'm not offended if someone asks me for money, as long as I'm free to say no without any hard feelings. I would consider supporting someone who wants to study something that has little practical value or funding, such as early music or classical languages, if they could convince me well enough.

    Maybe I come from a different perspective. My parents bought practically everything I have: my car, my college education, my rent while in college, trips overseas, etc. I left college without any student loans, and was free to get a low-paying job if I wanted, since I had no debts to pay off. Common sense might make one think this treatment turns a person into an entitled human being, but at least in my case, I disagree. Since practically everything I own consists of things I did not earn, I consider everything I own to consist of things that don't really belong to me. I'm free, or even obligated, to be as generous with others as many have been with me.

    The downside to my upbringing is that it left me totally unprepared for the real world, where I've encountered occasional bitterness and hostility toward me for the way I was raised. Some have tried to "teach me a lesson the hard way." It taught me a lesson, but probably not the one they intended.