Better Have My Money

🌳All my burning questions 🌳

Hi friends,

Welcome to Better Have My Money, my Monday night newsletter, about investing and all things money and feelings.

Last Monday night I was on a plane back to New York from Australia hence no newsletter (huge thank you to Isabelle Chapman for writing an excellent edition about hot tips to paying down your student debt while I was gone).

But being home in Oz during the bushfires was a super surreal experience. Glad to be close to loved ones when horrible news is happening, but just awful to watch so much beautiful Aussie bushland (as well as people’s homes, livelihoods and lives) get destroyed.

Breathing in smokey air and passing people on the street in Melbourne wearing masks while holding my 7-month-old baby nephew who had a cough was terrifying, honestly.

And the whole awful scenario just reminded me again and again about money. Right now I have a lot of questions I’m asking myself — and very few answers — and I wanted to share them with you. Honestly it reminds me of similar issues I encounter when it comes to investing, because ultimately I think money is a force that we can wield and we have to choose how best to use it.

With climate change, is it safer or not safer to own property? Cons: your property could burn down or be destroyed by flash flooding or other disasters and even if you’re in a central area, your property values could collapse due to air quality. Pros: you have a place when other people are fleeing to cities as climate refugees.

If only certain people can afford fancy air filters and only certain jobs have the ability to stay inside all day and breathe that filtered air, how will poor and working class people in developed countries struggle with climate change?

Why are millions of acres of bushland and billions of animals valued at less than the cost of coal and other non-renewables to Australia’s economy?

Millions of dollars were donated from all across the world to help in the recovery, which was amazing, but does that let the government off the hook from failing to take action on climate change mitigation and prepare for this kind of disaster?

When huge sums of money are being donated to unprepared small organizations with few processes in place, it can be its own kind of disaster. I’ve got a million questions when it comes to donating.

Is it better to give to a large and well-established non-profit, or to a local organization already working on the ground that could really do with the funds? Should I trust the management of a GoFundMe page, or a celebrity fundraiser? (On this I’ve decided no, I’m only giving to registered charities).

How much money should I give? Should I give a percentage of income? How much are other people giving and why aren’t people — apart from celebrities — putting a dollar amount to how much they’re giving, unless they’ve organized a fundraiser that everyone else has contributed to?

At first I was going to give $100 or so, the standard amount I’d give in a charity situation I cared deeply about. Then I realized I was spending that much on dinner, meaning that was not an amount that was exactly a burden for me to give. Finally I decided that since I got a bargain $1000 Christmas flight, which meant that I could cuddle my nephews and see all my pals, then I could at least match that with a $1000 donation.

Which organization is the best to donate that money to? Who “needs” my money more? Is it better to give one $1000 donation to one organization or sign up for a monthly donation or split it between a few? Which organizations will be able to best handle the influx of donations? Which organizations should I avoid because of their religious overtones or dodgy practices? Which organizations are the most trustworthy and effective? (I actually found this a decent article about this issue and am awaiting its update).

Should I give to a national or state-based organization? Do I want to focus on helping people or animals or the land? Or an indigenous-focused organization? Or would I want to give it to a first responder organization such as the volunteer fire fighters?

Yes, if this is the inside of my brain, it’s no surprise asking questions is what I do for a living.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t donated yet. A very wise friend of mine noted that organizations would need bushfire recovery money for months to come, so there’s no need to be part of the immediate rush.

I grew up camping and hiking a lot so the loss of nature in particular really gets to me, so I think I’d like to focus on a nature organization, particularly one that focuses on climate change policy and prevention, to aim at stopping this happening again and helping the land recover.

So I’ve been looking at organizations like Seed Mob — which trains indigenous youth climate activists — and Bush Heritage — which buys and protects land in partnership with local Aboriginal leaders — but I haven’t made my mind up yet.

These are all my money questions when it comes facing an overwhelming scenario, I’d love for you to reply and tell me yours (and any of your answers).

And I know this newsletter has been a bummer, but I’ve got an extremely exciting new project dropping Wednesday.

Go, go and listen to the preview, seriously it’s so great,

Amber Jamieson

Better Have My Money is on Twitter @bhavemymoney, so please tweet nice things (aka the link to our sign up page) and tag us. Got a mate feeling bummed about the bushfires? Forward this onto them and tell them to subscribe.

As always, if you've got any questions about stocks, this is a shame free zone. Just reply and ask away.