My Selfish Lifestyle

My Selfish Lifestyle

Three years ago I read The Life You Can Save.

It changed me. It changed my priorities.

It confirmed what I had suspected about my way of life: that the best way to spend my money is not on designer jeans and gourmet food. I took the pledge. I started a public blog to help me hold true to my commitment. I gave 1% of my income to The Fistula Foundation that year. Writing the first check was hard. But it got easier. The next year I gave 5%. As my salary increased, I kept my standard of living the same. Last year I gave 10% of my income to charity without any trouble, without feeling like I had to sacrifice.

My boyfriend joined me. He has an automatic monthly contribution set up, which he has been increasing over time. My best friend took the pledge too. Every birthday and holiday is my opportunity to help others. “In lieu of gifts, I would be so honored if you gave to this charity in my name” I tell my friends and family. 

A few months ago, I left my job running a nonprofit arts organization for employment as an accountant. Now I can fundraise for life-saving organizations without conflict (when you run a nonprofit, you really aren't supposed to fundraise for other causes). Now I have a much higher earning potential over the course of my career. 

I gave $5,000 in 2012. By 2022, I hope to able to give $100,000 per year. 

In many ways, my life has not changed. But little by little, bit by bit, I am trying to be less selfish. I am trying to feel love and compassion for people on the other side of the world. And I am giving away money to help someone far away, someone I will never know, someone who matters more than another pair of designer jeans.

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About the author:

Claire Knowlton

Claire Knowlton, President of the Board for The Life You Can Save, is an independent auditor of not-for-profit organizations in the United States. She shares her Los Angeles apartment with a physicist, a fluffy cat, and a window garden.

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The views expressed in blog posts are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Peter Singer or The Life You Can Save.