I Won Ramit’s $1,001!!!

Remember that social experiment Ramit was doing with giving away $1,001? I won it!! And can’t freakin’ believe it – I rarely win anything. None the less a check for a thousand bones! Haha… So thanks, Ramit – I owe you a case or two of beer at FINCON 2012 ;)

And I gotta admit – there’s a part of me that REALLY wants to change my mind too with what I said I would do with this money… It’s funny cuz it’s totally 100% FREE all the way, but as soon as you KNOW it’s yours, all of a sudden your conservative side kicks in and makes you double think everything.  Even though I swore up and down (on this blog, even!) that I wouldn’t!  Which I’m pretty sure was the point of giving away this money to begin w/ at Ramit’s site – he wants to know if people say one thing but do another when the dream becomes a reality ;)

So I’m torn!  Especially now that we just plopped down over $1,000 on our new water heater AND we’re about to tear down part of our bathroom now (more on that in a few days, what a mess…). But then the other side of me says, “Hey $hitbrain – you said you were gonna *enjoy* this money and treat it differently if you won, so stick with the plan!  How often does someone just hand you a check for $1,000??”  And that side of me has a point too.

In case you missed it, here’s what I said would do if I won (NEVER thinking I ever would!):

  1. Put $500 into our future baby’s 529 college fund. Because I have to start it *sometime*, and $500 would be a killer way to get me motivated! Esp when it’s free :)
  2. Use $300 for a anniversary weekend at a bed and breakfast in wine country.  I figured we’re gonna be spending money anyways for our and up and coming 4 year celebration, so this would be an even sweeter deal not using our OWN money for it all.
  3. Then another $200 towards a charity of my friends’ choice (since I don’t really connect with any myself).  This part being the hardest, of course, cuz it’s $200 we’re talking about!  But then again, I have even MORE responsibility to give back now that I’ve been so blessed, right?
  4. And lastly, throw the remaining $1.00 towards a fresh lottery ticket :)  Since I’m now on a roll w/ luck, haha… this won’t be hard for me to do now that my lottery ticket moratorium is now over ;)
  5. UPDATE: I forgot about taxes!  Ugh… I shall re-adjust accordingly then…

So what to do?  Stick with my guns and what I truly wanted to do in the beginning? Or be boring and just use it towards repayment of our damn water heater and/or future bathroom work I’ll be blogging about soon?  Tough one for sure, but at least it’s a GOOD problem to have for once this month :) And the more I think about it, the more I’m leaning towards my initial list there. If I can’t have fun with someone else’s money, how the heck can I have fun w/ my own?

What would you do in my shoes?  Has any of YOUR goals changed in the past 3-4 weeks for those who played along w/ this game back then?  And more importantly, does it really MATTER?  At the end of the day it’s all extra, so as long as you use it towards *something* important to you, I feel like it’s all a big freakin’ WIN, right?  Last week I had $1,001 less! :)

PS:  Since I’m now sticking to my original goals here, tell me your all-time favorite charity! I have $200 to spend one one (or a few?) now, so convince me to contribute to YOURS :)


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  1. Laura P May 7, 2012 at 6:33 AM

    I am a provider of ABA services for children with Autism and other developmental disabilities. Every year we fundraise for the local Autism Speak Walk event; this year our company held a bingo bash as well to raise more funds. If you need a charity, Autism Speaks is a great charity which promotes awareness, access to resources for families, and research. Here is the link to our walk site: http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/austin/firstleap

  2. TheFrugallery May 7, 2012 at 6:58 AM

    Congratulations! It’s great to see how well you are planning out what to do with the money. Without careful planning it’s easy to let $1,000 slip through your hands.

  3. Alex May 7, 2012 at 7:17 AM


  4. Michelle May 7, 2012 at 8:19 AM

    Wow that’s great! Congrats!

  5. Matt May 7, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    Awesome and Congrats!

    As far as charities are concerned I support the Gift of Life House in Rochester, MN. They provide affordable short term housing exlusively for those who are donating organs or receiving an organ donation. I used them when I donated a kidney in 2010 and it was a wonderful place to recover and heal.

    The costs of donating can be quite a burden considering you may need to stay 4-6 weeks and longer if you are receiving an organ. With these extended stays a hotel is often out of the question and the people at the Gift of Life House provide a sanitary/sterilized place to heal and a community of people that are going through the same thing all for pennies on the dollar or free if you cannot afford $5-$10 a day. It is a special place staffed by volunteers who truly care, I hope you will consider them now and in the future. :)

  6. John @ Married (with Debt) May 7, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    Hey – I smell a fix! J/K. Seriously, though, congratulations.

    My favorite charity is Ronald McDonald Children’s House. They helped us a lot when our first child was born early.

  7. David Hunter May 7, 2012 at 9:40 AM

    That’s awesome!!!

    Think about donating to your local animal shelter! :-)

  8. HighOrderGuiltComplex May 7, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    They Carolina Poodle Rescue is my favorite animal rescue organization. Don’t let the name fool you, they will also rescue other pets in need of a good home. They even have a blog! Below is a little bit about them from their website:

    Carolina Poodle Rescue is a no-kill/limited entry private rescue group; we believe and support the No More Homeless Pets and spay/neuter initiatives.

    All animals adopted from Carolina Poodle are spayed or neutered before being placed. We provide sanctuary and rehabilitation and, when the right home comes along, rehome poodles and other needy small dogs. We maintain a waiting list of homes and most of our animals are placed from this list.

    Our efforts are funded solely through adoption fees and donations.

    Our Mission

    To rescue, rehabilitate, offer permanent sanctuary and, when appropriate, rehome needy poodles and small dogs.

    To encourage the human-animal bond by promoting activities that serve to bring animals and their people closer together

    To support the efforts of those in the animal rescue community seeking to end euthanasia as a means of population control.

    Carolina Poodle Rescue is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

  9. Call Me What You Want Even Cheap May 7, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Congratulations! I would save $900 and give $100 away if I won.

  10. Honey May 7, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    My husband and I only donate to animal welfare organizations. Best Friends Animal Society in Utah (they had a documentary TV series called Dogtown, and are super well known for their work in large-scale disasters like Katrina and the Michael Vick dogs) took in a rescue of ours when no other shelter would (though I had to drive 6 hours each way to take the cat there)! They are absolutely incredible, and $200 would be a great step toward their goal of No More Homeless Pets!

  11. G.B. May 7, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    Congratulations! I support Mosaic Peace (www.mosaicpeace.org). One if my friend’s started this charity, and 100% of the donations go to the war torn parts of Sudan with no”overhead costs” for running the charity. They send bikes to ministers so they can travel from town to town more easily, and they also send mosquito nets and vitamins to the people living there. My friend travels there at lest once every other year on his own dime to interact with the villages and see how else he can help.

  12. DebtsnTaxes May 7, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    Congrats on the $1001, I would stick to the original plan you had. You get to have a little fun yourself, your future child gets the college fund started, and you donate to a good cause. Win-Win for everybody. As for a place to donate the $200 to, one of my personal favorites is the Wounded Warrior Project. They really do a great service helping wounded soldiers.

  13. MainlineMom aka Sarah May 7, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    That’s awesome! I didn’t even enter Ramit’s giveaway but I thought about it, and I’m glad YOU won. You better stick to the plan now.

    My favorite charity at the moment is our adoption fund which is 100% tax deductible. :) Just sayin.

    Other than that, there are a ton of charities I work with and give to. Clean water and sanitation is a big deal to me so I support those organizations a ton. Did you know that 2.5 BILLION people lack basic sanitation? I mean we’re talking even a latrine, even a designated hole in the ground. So water sources get polluted and they people die of diseases that are easily preventable. More kids in the world die of diarrhea from bad water than anything else anywhere. So check out http://waterforpeople.org or http://water.cc if you want to help.

  14. LB May 7, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    No my mind hasn’t changed… I would still move and will once I figure out how to sell my house and take a huge leap of faith. I think moving would not only help me financially, but also mentally and emotionally. I can’t fucking wait!

    Congratulations on winning and go have fun!

  15. Jessica, The Debt Princess May 7, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    WOW! Congrats that’s great for you.

    Sadly, I couldn’t do anything fun with the money, I have far too many bills and suck. I think I’d have to put it away in my new-to-me car fund as I know it’s only a short time before Marquis Mark kicks the bucket.

    My kids donate a small portion of their money to The Ronald McDonald House so that would be my favorite charity at the moment.

  16. This Aggie Saves May 7, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    Congrats! I’d donate to a local Hospice care center.

  17. Devan May 7, 2012 at 11:06 AM


    I’ll be looking forward to your bathroom renovation blogging. As I have mentioned previously we are also expecting a little one and also renovating our bathroom. It’s costing us $6K totally gut out old bathroom and redo into a new bathroom along with retiling a bedroom floor leading to the bathroom. We feel like we got a good price on labor cost of $3300 and bathroom materials – $2700.

  18. Walnut May 7, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    My favorite charity, The BackPack Program, is a sub-project by my area foodbank. This program assembles backpacks of shelf stable, easy to eat foods for students in our community who likely do not have much, if any, food to eat on weekends. Teachers recommend students for the program and on Friday afternoons the food is quietly slipped into the students bags for the weekend.

    I love the simplicity and effectiveness of this programs. This gets food directly to the students and helps them get through the weekend with fuller stomachs. It is very hard for students to learn effectively and break the cycle when all they can think about on Monday mornings is eating their first meal since Friday at lunch.

  19. Stacey May 7, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    I would contact my pastor and find a family in my church who could use a $200 miracle right now.

  20. Jessi Kamleiter May 7, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    I work for a literacy organization, so it’s obviously my favorite to give to and I do so every paycheck. Check us out at http://www.leapofnoblecounty.org!! :-) You can’t go wrong when you support literacy for children and adults!

  21. amberpdidit May 7, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    Congrats on the win.
    I don’t know if it is your style but one of my favorite ways to give money is through Kiva.org

    It is sort of in your wheelhouse too since the money goes to micro loans to give people the funds they need to change their lives (either through a business venture or direct impact). It can be time consuming to choose your loanee but it is fun and it’s also exciting when the loan is repaid.

  22. Cesar May 7, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    What is at 2269 Chestnut Street, San Francisco CA (address on check)? Street view shows some residences and local businesses.

  23. Mrs. Money Mustache May 7, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Cool! Congrats! I’ll have to check out Ramit’s post to see what you had to do to win.

    I recently learned about http://www.donorschoose.org/ and thought it was a great way to donate to a project, since you can learn everything about it and choose something that you feel is valuable to you and possibly your own community. Plus, you help out teachers, kids, and education, which I’m all about.

    I’d skip the lottery ticket and donate $201 though. ;)

  24. Kacie May 7, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    Yay! I’m glad you’re sticking to your original plan. It’s a total windfall, so you might as well!

    As far as charities, I say go with one that will have a corporate match on your money so your $200 can go even further.

    One of my charities is World Vision, and they often have a campaign where they’ll match your contribution several-fold.

  25. m1nts May 7, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    Ohh I propose you donate the 200 to Responsible Charity

    Responsible Charity – A Better Way to Help

    They do an amazing job and what I love about them is that they upload all the receipts they get so you always know how much they spent on what. It’s the most crystal clear charity that I’ve found so far.

  26. retirebyforty May 7, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    What? Is this game rigged? Congratulation anyway. ;)
    I would put more into the 529. Baby is going to need a lot of money in 20 years.

  27. Lance@MoneyLife&More May 7, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    Congrats on winning! Don’t forget technically you owe taxes on that $1,001 if you decide to report it as income or Ramit decides to 1099 you. I would stick with the original plan with a little set aside for the tax liability.

  28. Alison Wood May 7, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Hey, congrats, I saw you had won on Ramit’s blog. I think you should definitely stick with your original plans, you want to start the college fund, you have an anniversary to celebrate before the birth of your little one and you can pay it forward with the charity. All excellent reasons to spend money and a mix of wise, fun and good. What could be better :-)

  29. teresa j. etzler May 7, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    I have Multiple Sclerosis and will be doing the annual MS walk on May 19th. You could donate your extra $200 towards my fund!

  30. Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life May 7, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    This isn’t exactly a charity, but you could always use the money to make micro-loans on kiva.org to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Then when it’s paid back, you can lend it out again and again. It’s like giving to charity, but better! :)

  31. Brian May 7, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    I’ll echo what John @ Married with Debt said… I love the Ronald McDonald House. My grandmother volunteered there alot (and I did too, but to a much smaller extent). It is a great organization and does great things for these families. Its where I donate my loose change every year.

  32. matt May 7, 2012 at 4:05 PM


    I’d stick with your original plan.

    As far as the donation part goes, you should check out donating to the Humanitarian Services arm of LDS Philanthopies. They offer a ton of support for all sorts of people in need plus 100% of your donation goes to help those in need instead of paying for administrative costs and various other expenses like many other charities.

    Check it out at: http://www.ldsphilanthropies.org/humanitarian-services/

  33. Kevin @ Thousandaire.com May 7, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    I wouldn’t stick to your original plan, mainly because I don’t like 529 plans. College isn’t a one-sized-fits-all solution, and I think the world is coming around to that realization more and more every day. Why tie up your money in a 529 only to find your kid wants to be an entrepreneur right when he or she graduates high school? Knowing you, your kid will probably have a 10k/month lawn mowing business before he graduates High School.

    The National MS society is a good charity. Their research has helped keep my mom’s MS from getting worse for over 20 years now.

  34. Barb May 7, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    There is a GREAT website called donorschoose.org. Teachers from across the country request funds for special projects they want to accomplish for their class/school. It is a wonderful site and you can narrow it down by subject, state, etc. I think you could find something there that interests you and that you want to help fund.

  35. Barb May 7, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    Oops! I didn’t see that someone else had already mentioned donorschoose.org.

  36. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager May 7, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    Bridgetown Inc! It’s based here in PDX. They serve the homeless population. $25 can feed a lot of people :)

  37. From Shopping to Saving May 7, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    Congrats J$! That’s awesome news!!! I’m so jellies, it’s not even funny. Ramit is awesome.

    I’m glad to know that you are sticking with your OG plan. I like it a lot better than being practical because really..who has time to be practical when it comes to prize money?! If it were more than $1,001, I’d feel obligated to tell you to save it or put it towards something practical. Since you already planned out what you’d do with the money, it’s even sweeter that you are using it for the same reasons. When you finally have enough money in that 529 fund, imagine telling your child one day that it all started because you won a contest! It will hopefully inspire :)

  38. Jesort415 May 7, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    I have a 5 year old with Autism so I vote Autism speaks.

  39. Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey May 7, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    Congratulations! You are indeed lucky! Whether you use it for your water heater, or save it your baby, use it on your anniversary, and give it to charity, it does not matter to me because both plans show that the money will be put to good use anyway.

  40. Brent Pittman May 7, 2012 at 8:12 PM

    That is too funny that you won. Dang how many RT did you get? No matter what you do the eyes of Ramit are on you.

    I vote for Charity Water 100% goes towards the cause, so you’re $200 will go further.

  41. Sharon May 7, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    Good for you for sticking with the original plan. Wikipedia is a non-profit if you still need someplace to donate the $200. Most of us use wikipedia quite often.

  42. Deacon May 7, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    I would definitely stick to what I said I was gonna do, so way to go for making that decision too. Charity Water is good, but they get a lot of support. Consider Barrio Bikes in Phoenix, AZ. They take at-risk youth and have them work in the bike shop to earn credits toward a bike. I am a big fan of what they do!

  43. HP May 8, 2012 at 12:28 AM

    Donate it to your own social experiment and give away $101.00

  44. Squeezer May 8, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    I’ve only ever won one contest, and it was for a Tux the Linux Penguin mascot.

  45. Sonja J May 8, 2012 at 8:17 AM

    Congrats on the win!

    I support the Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. (http://www.childrensinn.org/site/c.kkI1KiMXIvF/b.2001915/k.9D50/Home_Page_Content.htm) They provide housing for sick kids and their families while the kids get treatment at NIH. Plus they have a stocked pantry for families who are struggling to make ends meet and can’t afford groceries while staying there.

    Plus NIH doesn’t charge these families for treatment. At all. When you have a kid with cancer, that makes a huge difference, no matter what your income level. (My husband was treated for a synovial sarcoma by the pediatric oncologists at NIH. Another hospital charged $60,000 every 3 months for the drugs he needed. Yeah. Nuff said.)

  46. J. Money May 8, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    THANKS EVERYONE!!! These charities and organizations are great! I will most def. be contributing to a couple of them – you rock :) Now just gotta wait for that check to reach my account! Haha…

    Oh, and GREAT point by Lance @ MoneyLife&More giving me the heads up about taxes – I totally forgot :( I will, indeed, owe taxes on this at the end of the year, oops. I’m still gonna go ahead and move forward with this plan of what I said I’d do with it, BUT, that means I’ll have to make up for the tax $ somewhere else… perhaps by donating more stuff to Salvation Army! :)

    @Alex – Haha, it was a pretty jerk move on my behalf, wasn’t it? ;)
    @Matt – Oh wow – good for you in donating a kidney! I can’t even imagine what all that entails, you’re strong! And yes, I will for sure consider this one – thanks for sharing it with us today :)
    @John @ Married (with Debt) – It’s true, I snuck Ramit hugs on the side ;)
    @MainlineMom aka Sarah – I almost didn’t enter it either! But then I thought it would make for a great blog post, so then I just did to learn more. Glad it paid off! (Literally!)
    @LB – Haha… I’m so fucking happy for you! :)
    @Jessica, The Debt Princess – Hahhahahhaha omg that’s such a great car name!!! I love it!
    @Nate St. Pierre – Yes!! I already put them on the list actually :) So far the only charity that I would be comfortable backing up for sure – thx for telling me about it the other month!
    @Devan – Oh wow, we ARE similar aren’t we? Yes – I’ll def. be blogging about it soon, and then probably a follow up with a before & after :) You do the same okay? Take pictures so I can see the difference? Love this stuff! Just never want to pay for it ;)
    @Stacey – You know, that’s not a bad idea at all actually. I kinda like that! Consider it being considered :) Strongly.
    @amberpdidit – YES! I already give to Kiva! “Invested” $500 there 3 years ago and to this day I’ve re-lent it out over and over at least 3 times now. Love them!
    @Cesar – Haha… I don’t know – his business address maybe? You’re funny :)
    @Mrs. Money Mustache – I didn’t have to do anything except plug in my name and email I think! Pretty cool, huh? And yup – def. heard of Donors Choose, all great things too :)
    @Kacie – That’s a good idea!
    @Lance@MoneyLife&More – YES!!! Good catch I *totally* forgot, wow. I’m gonna stick with the original plan, but I’ll be donating more stuff this year to make up for it ;) Great reminder!
    @teresa j. etzler – Awww that’s a wonderful walk! I will for sure keep it in mind, thank you :) And have fun out there on it!
    @Kevin @ Thousandaire.com – Haha, I was JUST thinking of a lawn mowing hustle the other day. I literally did the math and hours it would take in my head to see if it was worth me pitching it around my neighborhood (the answer was no, btw). I hope my kid loves that stuff too! But I’ll still probably force him to go to college – I think it’s important outside of the education itself, even for the social experiences and “learning about yourself.”
    @From Shopping to Saving – “jellies” – HAH! Haven’t heard that one in a while, nice use ;)
    @Brent Pittman – Haha, maybe the post I did on it helped? :)
    @HP – You know exactly what I love :) And if I weren’t so busy w/ baby stuff these days and fixing our broken house, I’d def. go that route!
    @Squeezer – HAH! Equally as exciting ;)
    @Sonja J – Oh cool, I didn’t know NIH had that. I drive by there all the time :)

  47. Jeff @My Multiple Streams May 8, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    TweeTed it yesterday but have to add the Wounded Warrior Project to your list. Helping out those that have given so much in service to this country and are often forgotten afterwards.

  48. Ash (in US) May 8, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Whoo hoo! Congrats!

    My favorite “charity” is NPR… it’s the way I stay informed about most things. They have a lot of in-depth reporting on a myriad of things. I heard one about prison camps in North Korea the other day.

  49. Sonja J May 8, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    @J$: yeah, even most of us DC-ites (I’m on the VA side :-) ) don’t know the Children’s Inn is there at NIH, and it totally rocks! I’m hustling my company to do a food drive for their pantry.

  50. Lance@MoneyLife&More May 8, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    I have a CPA license in a state I used to live in so I try to warn people about possible tax consequences when I can :)

  51. J. Money May 9, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    Thanks guys! Here’s to YOU coming across some extra money pretty soon :)

  52. Miriam May 13, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Nfb.org (National Federation of the Blind) the Blind leading the Blind… and getting where they are going
    And Mesila International – helping Orthodox Jews learn to live a financially responsible life in spite of the expenses of kosher food, private school and other expenses associated with a religious lifestyle.

  53. J. Money May 14, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Thanks guys! Will check out :) Haven’t received the money yet, so I still have time to decide…

  54. Basil Siddiqui May 16, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Congrats J$!

    My favorite charity is Pencils of Promise. Just $25 is enough to pay for one kid’s education for a year! Also, 100% of your donation goes directly to educating underprivildged youth. My buddy Blau is running a campaign to raise $25,000 to sponsor an entire school http://3lau.com/. He’s well over half way to that goal and I think you should strongly consider donating through his site or directly at http://www.pencilsofpromise.org/

  55. J. Money May 16, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    it’s now on the list! thanks bro, hope things are well over there :)


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