The Double Tax Advantage of Donating Appreciated Stocks Directly

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If you own stocks in a taxable brokerage account and make charitable donations, consider donating your stocks this year instead of just writing a check. Why? Given the all-time market highs, your stocks, mutual funds, and/or ETFs probably have unrealized capital gains. When you donate an appreciated security that you’ve held for at least a year, you’ll both avoid paying long-term capital gains tax AND get a tax deduction for the full current market value.

This HCR Wealth Advisors graphic shows the benefit using the example of donating $50,000 of stock to charity with an original cost basis of $30,000. It assumes the highest long-term capital gains tax rate of 23.8% (20% plus the 3.8% Medicare surtax for high-income earners).

Here is a similar graphic from Harvard using the example of donating $10,000 of stock to charity with an original cost basis of $2,000.

The size of your benefit is your unrealized gain times your tax rate. This basic idea still applies if you’re only donating a smaller amount of stock at the lower long-term capital gains rate of 15%. If you bought a stock for $1,000 and it’s now worth $2,000, donating it directly will save you $150 to $238 in taxes ($1,000 x 15% or 20% or 23.8%). If someone didn’t know and simply changed the order (sell stock, then immediately donate the cash proceeds), that tax savings would disappear.

The problem is that not all individual charities are equipped to accept such stock donations. That’s where donor-advised funds (DAFs) come in handy. Fidelity, Vanguard, and Schwab all have donor-advised funds that can accept such donations, get you that tax deduction upfront, and allow you to make a cash grant to your individual charities. DAFs do charge for their services – an administration fee of about 0.60% of assets annually on top of investment expense ratios. There is also a minimum initial donation of between $5,000 and $25,000. You can then weigh the options of investing your donations for growth, or distributing it immediately to charities for immediate impact.

I am fortunate to have some appreciated stocks, so this year I plan to open an account with Fidelity Charitable. I chose them because they seem to have been in the game the longest and are also the most flexible with a $5,000 minimum initial donation, no minimum requirement for future donations, and a low $50 minimum grant size. Their administrative fees are also comparable with Schwab and Vanguard. I hope that I can finish the process by year-end.

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Giving Tuesday 2019: Double Your Impact With Matching Donations

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givingtuesdayTuesday, December 3rd is Giving Tuesday 2019, an international day all about giving support through charities and nonprofits by donating money and goods or volunteering your time. In case you aren’t inundated with mailings already, this time of year is a big deal for charities, with 40% of donations occurring in the last six weeks of the year. Here are some ways you can “double your impact” with a matching donation.

Facebook Match (good toward any charity that accepts donations via Facebook). Starting at 8am Eastern on 12/3, Facebook and PayPal will match $7 million in donations to U.S. nonprofits – up to $100,000 per nonprofit and $20,000 per donor. Donations will be matched dollar for dollar on a first-come, first-served basis. All processing fees will be paid so 100% of your donation goes to charity.

For example, give directly with the donate button on the The Humane Society Facebook Page. You can also start your own fundraiser here or simply post up a donate button to support your favorite charity.

Check for an employer match. Try this lookup tool from DoubleTheDonation. Most of these programs don’t require you to actually give on a specific day, but you may want to start the process today so you don’t forget in the holiday rush.

Individual charities. Many charities are organizing their own matching program for #GivingTuesday. Here are some large charities have organized their own matches in the past, but I would check to make sure.

Also check with your favorite local community nonprofit. GivingTuesday.org has a local database.

Having trouble deciding where to give? Here are some charity comparison sites that will help you pick where to send your help.

  • CharityNavigator – Largest and well-publicized charity rating site, provides a 4-star rating based primarily on financial criteria.
  • GiveWell – Tries to identify the best charities, not rate them all. Focused primarily on charities working internationally
  • GreatNonProfits – Allows clients, volunteers, and funders to post personal reviews based on their experiences.
  • GuideStar – Tries to be a one-stop shop for both financial data and personal reviews of charities. Must register to see a lot of things, and pay a subscription fee for premium in-depth data.
  • Philanthropedia – Ranks non-profits based on opinions of experts, and groups them to mutual fund-like portfolios.

Looking to volunteer your time? Check out FeedingAmerica.org and find a volunteer opportunity at a food bank near you.

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Giving Flowchart: How To Donate Wisely

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If you are looking for some direction about donating your time and/or money, here is a nice infographic from the Bloomberg article These 27 Strategies Will Make Philanthropy an Effective Pursuit (click to enlarge):

givechart_full

It’s from last year, but everything still looks applicable. Also available as PDF.

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Giving Tuesday 2018: Double Your Impact

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givingtuesdayTuesday, November 27th is Giving Tuesday 2018. This time of year is huge for charities, with 40% of donations occurring in the last six weeks of the year. Here are some ways you can “double your impact” with a matching donation.

Facebook Match(good toward any charity that accepts donations via Facebook). Starting at 8am Eastern on 11/27, Facebook and PayPal will match $7 million in donations to U.S. nonprofits – up to $250,000 per nonprofit and $20,000 per donor. Donations will be matched dollar for dollar on a first-come, first-served basis.

For example, give directly with the donate button on the The Humane Society Facebook Page. You can also start your own fundraiser here or simply post up a donate button to support your favorite charity.

Check for an employer match. Try this lookup tool from DoubleTheDonation. Most of these programs don’t require you to actually give on a specific day, but you may want to start the process today so you don’t forget in the holiday rush.

PayPal (good toward any charity participates in the PayPal Giving Fund). “Make a donation using PayPal on Tuesday, November 27, 2018 (Giving Tuesday) and we’ll match every donation that you make to PayPal Giving Fund (“Offer”), for the benefit of your recommended nonprofit dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 in total matching funds.” You must use your PayPal account. As far as I can tell, you can link up any rewards credit card of your choice and use that as the funding source. Your donation will technically be given to the PayPal Giving Fund, an IRS-registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and then disbursed to your selected nonprofit. It will still be tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Individual charities. The following large charities have organized their own matches in the past, but check to make sure.

Check with your favorite community nonprofit. Many local charities may also have matching grants today.

Having trouble deciding where to give? Here are some charity comparison sites that will help you pick where to send your help.

  • CharityNavigator – Largest and well-publicized charity rating site, provides a 4-star rating based primarily on financial criteria.
  • GiveWell – Tries to identify the best charities, not rate them all. Focused primarily on charities working internationally
  • GreatNonProfits – Allows clients, volunteers, and funders to post personal reviews based on their experiences.
  • GuideStar – Tries to be a one-stop shop for both financial data and personal reviews of charities. Must register to see a lot of things, and pay a subscription fee for premium in-depth data.
  • Philanthropedia – Ranks non-profits based on opinions of experts, and groups them to mutual fund-like portfolios.
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AirBnB Free Temporary Housing for California Wildfire Evacuees

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airbnbThis is a reminder that AirBnB has a special disaster relief program that helps connect those in need of temporary housing with generous hosts that are willing to open their homes free of charge to evacuees or relief workers. You can open your current Airbnb listing or sign up as a new host with a spare bedroom. I believe Airbnb is waiving all fees through at least November 29th for those affected by both the Northern and Southern California wildfires.

All new Airbnb users can get $40 off their first stay of $75+ via referral link.

Buzzfeed News has some other ways that you can help.

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How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free (Book Notes)

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retirehappy

After finishing the book How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free by Ernie Zelinski, I am surprised at how unique it is. After all these years, this may be the first book I’ve read that directly explores the non-financial aspects of retirement. There are no historical rates of return, compound interest charts, or income strategies. Consider:

  • How will you create meaning in your life?
  • What activities will you keep your mind and body in top shape?
  • Who will you spend your time with?
  • What kind of environment do you want to surround yourself?

I’ve already written about two interesting points inside: Listing 10 activities you’d like to do in retirement, and the differences between a retirement activity and a job. Here are the rest of my book notes.

On going back to some form of paid work after official retirement:

A research study released in 2001 by Cornell University psychologists found that, particularly for men, employment after official retirement is beneficial for their psychological wellbeing. Those who retire from their primary career, but then find some sort of other work, are the happiest and suffer the least depression. Surprisingly, the researchers didn’t find much difference for women who go back to work after retiring versus those who don’t. No reasons were given for this important difference between the sexes.

On separating yourself from your job:

Many professionals miss their personal career space and some have been known to rent office space after they have retired to maintain their routine and sense of importance. They’ll tell their friends “Call me at the office,” just so they have a place to go.

For most of us, who we are, is based on what we do. If we become too dependent on this mind-set and our job ends, we lose our sense of identity. So before, or soon after retirement, we need to redefine who we are in a positive and meaningful way. Recycle yourself.

To help with this separation, try listing your five best traits that have nothing to do with work. Here are some possible examples:

ambitious
well-organized
hard-working
creative
kind
passionate
generous
joyful
loving
spontaneous
connected to others
good sense of humor
peaceful
inner happiness
spiritual

On figuring out how to spend your time instead of work. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What gift do I give naturally to others?
  • What gift do I most enjoy giving to others?
  • What gift have I most often given to others?

Some people don’t need any help in this area. They are ready to sail around the world, then bike around the world in reverse, and so on.

However, many others do need some help creating a fulfilling retirement. This book can help. Perhaps you keep on working because you can’t imagine retirement, or you have already retired but find yourself in a funk. The initial “I’m finally freeeeeeeee!!” has worn off. You might even be a little depressed from the social isolation or lack of structure in your life. This book can help.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Good News: Here’s How the World Has Improved Over the Past 25 and 50 Years

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Bad news seems to come at us from all angles, but sometimes we need to step back and point out the good news. Here is a chart of how the the worldwide level of hunger, poverty, illiteracy, child poverty, and pollution has fallen over the last 25 years. Via @dinapomeranz and @johanknorberg.

progress

Here are some specific stats comparing changes in the last 50 years (1966 to 2016). Via HumanProgress.org. These are worldwide numbers. See specific numbers for your own country and age at Your Life in Numbers.

  • In 1966, average life expectancy was only 56 years. Today it’s 72. That’s an increase of 29 percent.
  • Out of every 1,000 infants born, 113 died before their first birthday. Today, only 32 die. That’s a reduction of 72 percent.
  • Median income per person rose from around $6,000 to around $16,000, or by 167 percent – and that’s adjusted for inflation and purchasing power.
  • The food supply rose from about 2,300 calories per person per day to over 2,800 calories, an increase of 22 percent, thus reducing hunger.
  • The length of schooling that a person could typically expect to receive was 3.9 years. Today, it’s 8.4 years – a 115 percent increase.
  • The world has become less authoritarian, with the level of democracy rising from -0.97 to 4.23 on a scale from -10 to 10. That’s an improvement of 5.2 points.

There are many forces behind these trends, but perhaps it will inspire people to keep trying to improve their world or to support others financially who are dedicating their lives to improve the world.

progressbookJohan Norberg wrote Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future, which was a 2017 Book of the Year for The Economist and the Observer. I haven’t read it, but it seems like a well-researched book with hard evidence on why we should be more optimistic.

Our world seems to be collapsing. The daily news cycle reports the deterioration: divisive politics across the Western world, racism, poverty, war, inequality, hunger. While politicians, journalists and activists from all sides talk about the damage done, Johan Norberg offers an illuminating and heartening analysis of just how far we have come in tackling the greatest problems facing humanity. In the face of fear-mongering, darkness and division, the facts are unequivocal: the golden age is now.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Giving Tuesday 2017: Matching Donations

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givingtuesdayTuesday, November 28th is Giving Tuesday 2017. Black Friday, Cyber Monday… don’t forget that this time of the year is also huge for charities. I’ve saw a stat that 40% of donations occur in the last six weeks of the year. Here are some ways you can make your donation go farther with a match.

Facebook/Gates Foundation match (good toward any charity that accepts donations via Facebook). Starting at 8am Eastern on 11/28, Facebook and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match $2 million in donations to U.S. nonprofits – up to $50,000 per nonprofit and $1,000 per fundraiser or donate button on Facebook. In addition, all transaction and processing fees with be waived for this day – usually Facebook charges a 5% fee. The donation must be made through a fundraiser for a nonprofit, a donate button on a post, a donate button on a Page or a donate button on a live video.

For example, give directly with the donate button on the The Humane Society Facebook Page. You can also start your own fundraiser here or simply post up a donate button to support your favorite charity.

Check for an employer match. Try this lookup tool from DoubleTheDonation. Most of these programs don’t require you to actually give on a specific day, but you may want to start the process today so you don’t forget in the holiday rush.

Individual charities. The following large charities have organized their own matches.

  • American Red Cross – “Match up to $100,000”
  • Heifer International – “Every gift is matched on Giving Tuesday”
  • Best Friends Animal Society – “All donations matched until midnight”
  • UNICEF USA – Triple your donation. “All gifts up to a maximum of $5,000 made before midnight, November 28th, 2017, will be matched $3 for $1, up to a maximum of $250,000.”
  • Feeding America – “Double your impact”
  • Michael J Fox Foundation – “All donations will be matched on Giving Tuesday, between 12:00 AM EST on November 28 and 3:00 AM EST on November 29, as we raise $1 million in one day for Parkinson’s research.”

Many local charities may also have matching grants today.

PayPal +1%. A dollar-for-dollar match is +100%. From 11/28 through 12/31/17, PayPal will add 1% to donations that you make through the PayPal Giving Fund. In addition, PayPal will not charge any transaction fees to the charity. That makes this offer not so good on Giving Tuesday perhaps, but afterward it is still something.

You must use your PayPal account. The minimum donation is $10. As far as I can tell, you can link up any rewards credit card of your choice and use that as the funding source. Your donation will technically be given to the PayPal Giving Fund, an IRS-registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and then disbursed to your selected nonprofit. It will still be tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. One catch is that the charity has to participate in their PayPal Giving Fund in order to get the money.

Having trouble deciding where to give? Here are some charity comparison sites that will help you pick where to send your help.

  • CharityNavigator – Largest and well-publicized charity rating site, provides a 4-star rating based primarily on financial criteria.
  • GiveWell – Tries to identify the best charities, not rate them all. Focused primarily on charities working internationally
  • GreatNonProfits – Allows clients, volunteers, and funders to post personal reviews based on their experiences.
  • GuideStar – Tries to be a one-stop shop for both financial data and personal reviews of charities. Must register to see a lot of things, and pay a subscription fee for premium in-depth data.
  • Philanthropedia – Ranks non-profits based on opinions of experts, and groups them to mutual fund-like portfolios.
My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Giving Tuesday Matching Donations 2016

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givingtue

Our next re-branded day is Giving Tuesday, which this year falls on November 29th, 2016. After you’ve celebrated Thanksgiving and then survived Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, the focus is back on helping others less fortunate than you. You optimize your earning and your spending, now here’s some final tips to optimize the positive impact of your charitable giving.

Check if your employer will match the charitable donations of employees. If you’re not sure, try this lookup tool from DoubleTheDonation. Most of these programs don’t require you to actually give on a specific day, but you may want to start the process today so you don’t forget in the holiday rush.

PayPal 1% Donation Match + Waived Transaction Fees. From 11/29 through 12/31/16, PayPal will add 1% to donations that you make through the PayPal Giving Fund. In addition, PayPal will not charge any transaction fees to you or the charity itself (which is not true of most other charity payment networks). The minimum donation is $10.

You must use your PayPal account. As far as I can tell, you can link up any rewards credit card of your choice and use that as the funding source. Your donation will technically be given to the PayPal Giving Fund, an IRS-registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and then disbursed to your selected nonprofit. It will still be tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Other donation portals do this re-routing as well.

The only catch is that the charity has to participate in their PayPal Giving Fund, so it may not include your charity of choice.

Having trouble deciding where to give? Here are some charity comparison sites that will help you pick where to send your help.

  • CharityNavigator – Largest and well-publicized charity rating site, provides a 4-star rating based primarily on financial criteria.
  • GiveWell – Tries to identify the best charities, not rate them all. Focused primarily on charities working internationally
  • GreatNonProfits – Allows clients, volunteers, and funders to post personal reviews based on their experiences.
  • GuideStar – Tries to be a one-stop shop for both financial data and personal reviews of charities. Must register to see a lot of things, and pay a subscription fee for premium in-depth data.
  • Philanthropedia – Ranks non-profits based on opinions of experts, and groups them to mutual fund-like portfolios.
My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Benjamin Franklin and Compound Interest: “Money makes money. And the money that money makes, makes money”

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bencompWe’ve all heard of the power of compound interest. We’ve all heard of Benjamin Franklin. But have you heard of the story where Ben Franklin let his money compound quietly for 200 years? Here’s an excerpt from the book The Elements of Investing:

Benjamin Franklin provides us with an actual rather than a hypothetical case. When Franklin died in 1790, he left a gift of $5,000 to each of his two favorite cities, Boston and Philadelphia. He stipulated that the money was to be invested and could be paid out at two specific dates, the first 100 years and the second 200 years after the date of the gift. After 100 years, each city was allowed to withdraw $500,000 for public works projects. After 200 years, in 1991, they received the balance—which had compounded to approximately $20 million for each city. Franklin’s example teaches all of us, in a dramatic way, the power of compounding. As Franklin himself liked to describe the benefits of compounding, “Money makes money. And the money that money makes, makes money”

Very neat. A bit of digging suggests it all started out as basically a dare. From a Philadelphia Inquirer article:

Benjamin Franklin, God love him, may have been the first Philadelphian with an addytood. How’s this for an in-your-face response?

In 1785 a French mathematician named Charles-Joseph Mathon de la Cour wrote a parody of Franklin’s Poor Richard called Fortunate Richard in which he mocked the unbearable spirit of American optimism represented by Franklin. The Frenchman wrote a piece about Fortunate Richard leaving a small sum of money in his will to be used only after it had collected interest for 500 years.

Fat chance someone would be dumb enough to try that. Ha. Ha.

Franklin, who was 79 years old at the time, wrote back to the Frenchman, thanking him for a great idea and telling him that he had decided to leave a bequest to his native Boston and his adopted Philadelphia of 1,000 pounds to each on the condition that it be placed in a fund that would gather interest over a period of 200 years.

The trusts for Philadelphia ended up a lot smaller than the trust for Boston, which many people assume is a result of poor management, but perhaps the lower returns were an acceptable result of Philadelphia following Franklin’s original instructions for the money:

“Boston has always prided itself that it compounded the money wisely. Philadelphia has always had an inferiority complex because it didn’t,” said Bruce Yenawine, a Syracuse University Ph.D. candidate in history who has spent years researching the Franklin funds in both cities. “But Boston decided to minimize risks and maximize proceeds. Philadelphia, on the other hand, focused on the other side of Franklin’s instructions by loaning the money to individuals. I think that’s more in keeping with what Franklin wanted.”

Franklin stipulated that the 1,000 pounds (the equivalent of $4,444) be invested and used to provide low-interest loans to “married tradesmen under the age of 26” to get them started in business. Over the 200-year life of the trust, money from the Philadelphia fund was loaned to hundreds of individuals, mostly for home mortgages during the last 50 years. Boston, meanwhile, invested the bulk of the money in a trust fund that Yenawine describes as “a savings company for the rich.”

This NY Times article suggests that the initial funds came from Franklin donating his own government salary:

The 2,000 [pounds sterling] Franklin set aside came from the salary he earned as Governor of Pennsylvania from 1785 to 1788. ”It was one of Franklin’s favorite notions, one he tried to get written into the Constitution, that public servants in a democracy should not be paid,” Mr. Bell said.

Relating this back to personal finance, here is another Elements of Investing excerpt relating a Ben Franklin quote and compound interest:

Think in terms of opportunity cost. Think of every dollar you spend as the amount it could grow into by the time you retire. Ben Franklin famously advised, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” He was right but not entirely right. The Rule of 72 shows why. If you save money and invest it at, say, a 7 percent average annual return, $1 saved today becomes $2 in about 10 years, $4 in 20 years, and $8 in 30 years, and so on and on, inevitably growing. So the dollar a young person spends on some nonessential today would mean that $10 or more will be given up in retirement.

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True Meaning of Christmas: Making a Charitable Giving Plan

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giftbox2If you celebrate Christmas, you may have seen this quote about keeping with true values behind the holiday:

Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you. – Steve Maraboli

Along those lines, now is the time that many people donate to the charities of their choice (plus it’s the end of the tax year). Carl Richards of the NY Times makes a good point it that you should create a charitable giving plan and then stop feeling guilty all those other times you get asked for money.

Whether you donate time, money, or whatever, make a conscious choice as to where to give. Use the best charity comparison websites to find those that are financially healthy, committed to accountability and transparency, and creating measurable results. I wish there was an option for charities that promise not to bombard you with future letters asking for more money. Arrgh.

We created our first charitable giving plan in 2010 and have been doing it every year since. It definitely helps to sit down with each other and discuss our priorities. Some of the charities have changed, but I’m happy to say the total amount donated has grown.

I won’t lie, it also makes me feel better about the huge pile of presents our two little girls have from our generous friends and family!

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Live Below The Line Challenge: $1.50/Day Lessons

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Last week I successfully completed the Live Below the Line challenge along with thousands of other people around the country, eating for 5 days on just $1.50 a day. Here are my takeaways from the week:

My challenge experience. In terms of doing the challenge itself, it wasn’t all that difficult. I planned my menu carefully to make sure I got at least 2,000 calories so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by hunger. My food was bland, but relatively nutritious. I usually drink mostly tap water anyway. To satisfy the somewhat arbitrary rule of only buying entire containers, I bought most of my ingredients from bulk bins and markets by the pound. If I was allowed to buy in bulk, I would have been able to eat even better.

I did feel a low-level hunger, which grew gradually as the week went on. I think this meant I was running a small caloric deficit as I kept up my usual light exercise routine. I lost roughly a pound. By the 5th day, the repetition of eating the same thing over and over was starting to grind on me. In other words: 5 days was fine, but 50 days would have been incredibly difficult.

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