Pay your friends, if you can

You cannot scroll through Facebook these days without seeing at least one Gofundme call to action or a link to someone’s Venmo or Cash App. Left and right, students are fundraising for their study abroad or other special projects and opportunities. Still, others are using them toward more dire causes like medical expenses or meeting their rent. One can be forgiven for scrolling quickly and wanting to avoid the emotional weight of such causes — worry for those they care about, as well as concern about the nation’s healthcare system, for instance. Still, as often as one can, I believe they should get involved in fundraising in their community.

I think there is plenty of healthy and interesting discussion of privilege among people my age, and investing in your friends and your communities is one great way to use it. Though my spending money is all my own, my family has helped to pay for my tuition, and thus my loan payments are not as great as they could be. I do not make a ton working at my school newspaper, but my expenses at the moment are few. I feel very lucky and, again, privileged. Thus, it is important to me to use my privilege to lift up those around me, invest in the world I want to see and support my friends and community. 

One way I do this is I try to keep a little buffer of extra money in my Venmo account — that is, I do not transfer all funds from my Venmo back to my bank account. I instead try to keep it there and send it to a friend or a friend of a friend if I see that they are in need. Though some months are better than others, and there are times I am able to give more and there are times I need to give less, reserving that money, in my mind, helps make me feel like I am giving away bonus money, not diving into my savings.

Investing in your community is not limited to donating and fundraising. Paying for art and other endeavors is significant as well. I went to a show where admittance was on a sliding scale, seven to ten dollars. It was important to me to pay the full $10. This is, again, a way I acknowledge and use my privilege and vote with my dollars for the world that I want to see. Furthermore, my $10 could make a difference by ensuring the touring band gets home safely or decides to go on tour again or is able to record an album. It literally becomes an investment because I am helping to bring about the art I want to engage in.

Another opportunity is to fold it into purchases you may already make. For instance, I was planning on buying a present for my girlfriend for Valentine’s Day. I was not sure what to get her, but I guessed I would probably spend $10-15 on something nice. I asked around, and one of my friends said she was opening commissions to draw portraits for Valentine’s Day gifts. Not only did I get a very cute gift for my partner — and, yes, I realize this article will be published before Valentine’s Day; please help me keep it quiet — I also got to support an artist I really admire and feel lucky to call my friend. I was planning on spending money anyway, and to be able to support my community was an added bonus.

If, when and where you have money, try to use it to bring about the world you want to see, even on a micro and local scale. And if, when and where you do not, give your time and attention. It can make all the difference.