Mar 30

A message from my friend, Stephanie –

Hello JoeTaxpayer readers! I’m Stephanie, and I blog over at Graduated Learning.  For the past few years, Joe has been incredibly generous by donating to the Walk for Hunger, providing challenge funds toward my fundraising efforts.  It’s been great having that extra push to get family and friends to donate to this very worthy cause.  I’m excited that he’s offered up a challenge for my 4th year doing the Walk!

So, here’s some quick information about the Walk for Hunger:
The Walk for Hunger is an annual fundraising event run by Project Bread.  It’s a 20-mile walk starting and ending in Boston where thousands of people come together to raise money to help feed our hungry neighbors with nutritious food!
And here’s the scoop on Joe’s challenge for this year:
When my fundraising efforts reach $1000, Joe will contribute $500.  And when we’ve raised $2000, Joe will add in another $500!  So grateful for his generosity!
You can check out my progress and donate at my fundraising page!
Any amount you contribute helps support this great cause.  Thanks so much for your help!
Note from Joe – as I wrote last year “Joe and Stephanie each have nearly 3000 twitter followers, and hundreds of Facebook and LinkedIn friends. Only one in 10 needs to donate $10 to help raise over $5000 this year. What’s great is that you don’t need to sit and write a check, you can go to the site and make a donation with a credit card. Every bit counts and will help to Feed the People!” Steph raised over $3300 last year, a great number for a single walker. This year I hope we can help her to hit $5000. Did I mention? Every bit counts!

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,

Mar 01

I’m back today, but with a guest post from my favorite puppy, Scooter –

It’s been a year since I guest posted Feed the People, and I’m sorry that I’m back this year. Sorry that there are still people in this country and within our state who still see this more often than they’d like:


When I see my empty bowl, my family taught me not to bark, because bark is for emergencies. I only need to sit by my bowl and they bring me my dinner, and even seconds if I am still hungry. It’s sad to me that 1 in 10 people struggle to put food on the table. Last year, our online friend, (they say that on the internet no one know if you are really a dog? Well, this friend is just the opposite, a 20-something MIT graduate with a heart of gold) Stephanie the Blogger, raised $2000 in a big event, Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger. My family was between jobs, but still helped out by matching $250 in donations, and helped to promote the event. You know what? A year later, the stock market is up 33%, but the hunger issue is still with us.

This year, I’m asking you to join in, and donate at the Project Bread site. This is what my family will do this year – When Stephanie hits $1000, Joe will donate $500, then at $2000, another $500. Here’s the plan – Joe and Stephanie each have nearly 3000 twitter followers, and hundreds of Facebook and LinkedIn friends. Only one in 10 needs to donate $10 to help raise over $5000 this year. What’s great is that you don’t need to sit and write a check, you can go to the site and make a donation with a credit card. Every bit counts and will help to Feed the People!

Love, Scooter

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Apr 01

Today, I have a special guest post from my dog, Scooter –

When my family feeds me, I know I’m special. I don’t kid myself though, I know that there are people who go to bed hungry each night in this country. I know that if I were hungry and saw this, I’d be very sad.


I wanted to make sure that my friends all tell their families about a special group of people that are raising money to help feed those who don’t have enough to eat. It’s called Walk For Hunger and if you click on the link it will take you to a family friend’s page where Stephanie is helping to fight hunger. Her team’s name is Tired Dogs which is what made me think that even though I am just a puppy, I can help too. I asked my family to set aside a few dollars each week when they buy me food. Now, they have money they’d like to donate to this cause, and to help make this money go even further, they’re going to offer a matching challenge –

Before going to bed last night, they saw how much the Tired Dogs have raised so far and it was $545. Next Sunday night, they will check the total again and match up to $250 of the money you donated this week. So, when you read this, just be as generous as you can, and your donation will be matched this week. After all, I hope that we treat other people at least as well as we treat me, and I know I’m never hungry!

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Apr 08

This week, let’s start the roundup with S*** is F***ed up and Bulls***. This not safe for work article (actually, just the full title is NSFW, the content is great) is by Sam at Financial Samurai. It’s taken from the signs many of those Occupying Wall Street are holding. Unfortunately the occupiers aren’t really good at elaborating on the problems, nor suggesting the possible solutions. Sam, on the other hand will tell you, point by point what’s f’ed up, sorting the particulars by topic: government power abuse, taxation discrimination, human rights violations, integrity compromised, corporate abuse, and work & career injustices. A list worth reading, and you are a Wall Street Occupier, you might want to adopt it, and focus your message a bit more precisely.

Canadian Personal Finance Blog says Bye Bye Penny and Random Thoughts. Canada has lead the way, they have officially canceled the penny. Later this year they will stop minting new pennies. Will the US be far behind? Will the mint make them just for collectors as part of the annual coin sets? Will we miss them?

This week Miranda Marquit discussed How Much House Can You Afford? which is a great question. She offers some great guidelines to avoid going overboard, buying a house that’s a bit over the line.

At the Mighty Bargain Hunter, Talking about money? Please do! Somehow money has become a bit taboo, along with sex, religion and politics. There are things friends and family might choose not to share, but MBH feels it’s good to talk about money and I agree. There’s always something to learn, something to share when it comes to this topic.

And to wrap it up, at Money Help for Christians, When Helping Goes Terribly Wrong: The Risk of Giving.  A personal story from Craig, with examples about how it’s not always easy to help others and get a good outcome. Helping doesn’t always turn out the way one would hope.

written by Joe \\ tags: , , , ,

Oct 03

A guest post by Michael –

Since my forum/blog is about credit card offers, that’s normally what you will see me writing about; superficial topics related to cash back, balance transfers, and the like. So when I have the opportunity to blog about something other than credit cards – and instead – a topic that actually matters, I jump for it. Charity is one of those topics that matter, but according to the richest man alive it does not.

If you’re not familiar with Carlos Slim, he’s a Mexican business tycoon who happens to be the world’s richest man for two years and counting. Over the decades he has acquired stakes in a broad array of companies and industries, but is most famous for being “Mr. Monopoly” thanks to Telmex – a company which has a 90% marketshare of Mexican landline phones.
So much are we talking here? His wealth is equal to 7 or 8% of Mexico’s GDP! $74 billion for 2011. That’s almost 40% higher than the $53.5 billion he had last year. Despite the fact he’s making money hand over fist, most of this worldly wealth of his stays put in his piggybank. In his own words, here’s why:

“Trillions of dollars have been given to charity in the last 50 years, and they don’t solve anything”
“To give 50%, 40%, that does nothing” (in reference to the Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge)
Before we get to his next quote, I just wanted to say… how the heck can he even make such broad statements like that? Giving hasn’t solved anything?!
“What we need to do as businessmen, is to help to solve the problems, the social problems,” he explains. “To fight poverty, but not by charity”

That last quote may sound less brash – maybe even sensible – upon your first glance of it. He says that “being a Santa Clause” is not the solution to poverty and building businesses is. “The only way to fight poverty is with employment.”
With all due respect Mr. Slim, I completely disagree with you and here’s why:

Reason #1: You first have to be able to work
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. I’m all for that mindset. But what if the man physically can’t work yet, due to malnutrition and disease? Or maybe the man isn’t starving, completely. But he has to spend several hours every single day fetching water and – if he’s lucky – gathering firewood to boil it. You spend seconds flicking a faucet, he has to spend hours.

In Western societies, the vast majority of us are able-bodied and are ready to work at the drop of a hat, if need be. If we’re unemployed, there’s a good chance we still have a roof over head, food on the table (even if it’s not our own). I lived below the poverty threshold for years, but my dumpy shared apartment and broken-down car was still living in the lap of luxury, compared to what even the well-to-do have in say, the horn of Africa.

So yes, in places like the US, employment is the solution for many [but not all] living in poverty. But that’s because many [but not all] in this country have their basic necessities already; food, water, emergency healthcare, etc. We have a leg up. You won’t find that everywhere… there are basic needs that need to be met first and without charity, that’s unlikely to happen.

Reason #2: Some won’t ever be able to work
Okay Mr. Slim, let’s say we follow your advice and erect a sweatshop as an act of charity (ha). Chances are there indeed will be many able-bodied individuals who can slave away on those sewing machines, widget makers, or whatever product is being concocted.
Alright so we have some folks working and it’s all gravy, but what about everyone who physically can’t work? Tell me Mr. Slim, do we throw the quadriplegic to the wolves since he can’t participate in this “solution” of employment?
For those who are truly unable to work due to physical or mental disabilities, then charitable acts of some form or fashion are ultimately the only thing that can be done. They can’t be taught to fish, so the fish will have to keep coming from elsewhere; either from the public or private sector (charity).

In the U.S. there are some forms of public assistance, but whether they operate sufficiently is another can of worms. Saving that argument for another time, let’s just talk about the other 95.2% of the world’s population for a moment. Nearly 50% of them live on less than $2 a day. What help do you think the disabled are given in those places? Do you think the governments in those countries are sending them Social Security checks and food stamps? Not a chance. In many of those places, there is zero – ABSOLUTELY ZERO – help from the government for the sick, blind, and lame. That leaves charity or nothing at all.

Reason #3: How much is enough, Mr. Slim?
Based on what he has said in various interviews, he won’t be bequeathing his estate to charity when he dies. So where will it go?
Even if his six children were left with “only” $1 billion each, it would be enough to support literally the most extravagant lifestyle imaginable. Each could buy their own Gulfstream 500 at $60M, throw down $100M on real estate, and they would still have $840M left over – each of them – to spend on sustaining that lifestyle. So that’s $6 billion accounted for. Is it really that repulsive to you, Mr. Slim, to divvy up some of that other $70 billion or so “being a Santa Claus” and helping some folks in need? Even if it’s only the sick, blind, and lame whose poverty cannot be cured with a job?

Michael runs CreditCardForum, a site for discussing credit card offers and benefits which admittedly, aren’t important at all in the grand scheme of things.

(Note from Joe – I met Michael this past weekend at the first annual Financial Blogger’s Conference. A warm, genuine person, it was an honor to spend some time and get to know him.)

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,