Wednesday, July 15, 2009

36¢ at a time

It started out as a joke on Twitter. I mentioned that my 36th birthday is a week from today -- July 21 -- so if people wanted to give me a gift, they could send me a check with a "36" in the amount.

Snarkmaster General that I am, I have snarky friends who thought it would be hilarious to send me $0.36. To which, I said: "Bring it on," because $0.36 is better than $0.00.


Then I started thinking. What's the tipping point for what someone is willing to be a part of? That is, how much could I ask someone to give me and have them do it without even thinking about it? Thirty-six cents sounded like a pretty reasonable amount. I mean, you've got a quarter, a dime, and a penny laying around that you don't have plans to use, right? (Pictured, right: a quarter, a dime, and a penny. Not to scale.) But could I get one million people to send me $0.36?


Want to be part of the Great 36-Cent Birthday Experiment? Then send a quarter, a dime, and a penny -- or any denomination of coins adding up to 36¢ -- to me at:

Scott S. Semester
5346 Bay Harbor Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46254 USA

Be advised that I will be taking money to the bank every day -- there will be no cash on hand, and I literally will crap my pants if this is even remotely successful, so, like, coinjackers, keep your distance.

Anyway, I'll keep a running post here of how many people are part of the extravaganza.

Also, if you're wondering what I'll do with 1,000,000 x $0.36 = $360,000, which, as far as I can tell, will be tax-free, since it's coming as gifts in amounts far less than the taxable gift amount (whatever that is, but I'm pretty sure you can give me $0.36 and I don't owe the government income tax, so, you know, we should probably keep it at $0.36 at a time, or $3.60, or $36.00 or -- max -- $360.00, please), well, here's my answer:

Split between the charities of my choice - Freewheelin' Community Bikes, an inner-city community bike shop in Indianapolis that teaches kids how to repair and maintain the bikes that they earn by putting in shop time; and Motus Dance Theatre, Indy's coolest modern dance company. Even if I don't make it to $360,000, I will split 10% of the proceeds of this experiment between these two fine organizations.

I'll contribute $20,000 each to the educational funds of my niece, Madelynn, and my nephew, Owen.

Paying back all my loans and credit cards and car loan and friends who bought many, many dinners and lunches and whatnot (the whatnot has meant the most) while I've been unemployed and/or underemployed for the last nine months and putting a good chunk of money (many thousands of dollars) into an Emergency Fund.

I will produce and distribute RidicuList, the outrageous listing game of lists and outrage, which I invented when I was in Ghana in 2003 (back then, it was called "Key Number"). This board game combines the trivia and knowledge requirements of Outburst and Trivial Pursuit with the strategy and bidding skill of Name That Tune. Twenty grand will produce a lot of games and get us started, marketing-wise.

World cruise, January 2010 to April 2010 -- 108 days on Cunard's Queen Mary 2, where I will blog about the cruise experience and share all the adventure of the local ports of call. This has been a lifelong dream, and I would do almost anything to make it happen.

I'll keep this much in the bank, just in case I *do* somehow owe taxes on this. If it is discovered that I do NOT owe taxes on this, another 10% of this specific money -- or $10,800 -- will go to charities in Indianapolis that serve the homeless. Half of the remaining $97,200 will go to support me as I continue to write and travel and travel and write for a year or so. The other half will go to supplement the Niece and Nephew College Fund as described above.

OK, here's where you come in. When you submit your quarter, dime, and penny to the above address, I want to know how YOU think I should spend the last $50K. Send a note along with your coins! What should I do with $50,000? I'll take suggestions, create a website to showcase your suggestions, and literally crowdsource the spending of the last $50K.

So, what do you say? Do you have $0.36 to send to me? Do it now! The address is above, and who knows? We could discover all kinds of things about each other along the way!

The clock is ticking -- I turn 36 in seven days!

After you mail me a quarter, a dime, and a penny AND what you think I should do with $50,000, maybe you could retweet, reblog, or Facebook the shortened link to this post? That'd be awesome. THANKS!

Here's a PayPal button you can use to transfer money directly over the InterWeboTron. Only thing to keep in mind is the PayPal fees, which equal 1.9% to 2.9% plus 30¢ per transaction. Therefore, if you want to make sure at least $0.36 gets to me, you'd want, by my math, to donate at least $0.68, right? Anyway, you can click the button if you'd rather do it the Jetsons way. Just make sure you e-mail me (SSSemester[at]yahoo[dot]com) to tell me what to do with the extra $50K.

UPDATE UPDATE: If you want to use PayPal, and you want to make record-keeping and promotions easier for me, why not use ChipIn. It works through PayPal and creates a handy little thermometer thing to keep track of all your gifts! Marvel at its awesomeness:


Esmerelda said...

I'm considering this--only because I want a postcard from some remote port while on your cruise.


Scott S. Semester said...

Thanks! And you got it! :)

Sarah said...

Yea... you had better ask for a little more. You know, to cover postage on all those postcards you'll have to send.

Scott S. Semester said...

If I'm on the QM2, I will take responsibility for postage on postcards to the first 1,000 people who tell me they want a postcard. :)

Brooke Nelson said...

I will not mail you your money; I will bring it to you in person, at church.

That being said, I think you should use the remaining $50,000 to underwrite 50 choral and symphonic anthems for the St. Luke's Chancel and Children's Choirs. Perhaps this could be used to pay for that weekend Music Ministries kick-off you and I discussed at Chipotle that one day. Anyway, that's my idea.

Another idea (which is probably much MORE than $50,000) is to tear out the ridiculously-built steps/risers in the choir room and make it functional so we can hear and see one another. Maybe that's what *I* will do when I turn 36. Eek.

Amy said...

LOVE this idea...even if the postage to send my coins to you will cost me more than the 36 cents in the envelope.

jss said...

You should set up some way of donating online for those who are able. Maybe paypal? I know I have $.36 in my paypal account. But it'll cost me $.44 more to mail you the change - total is now up to $.80!!!!. It would be easier than walking to the mailbox! Just an idea. I want a postcard too.

Bob Blass said...

You are a genius. I have always wondered some of the same: what is the threshold that someone would see as so insignificant, yet the power of aggregating it through effort of many.

Good luck!
Bob Blass

shouldhavezagged said...

If you use RevolutionMoney Exchange then there will be no fees. When I get home from vacation I will use it to send you $0.36 or some multiple thereof...maybe.

Meana said...

Add me to the postcard list, but let's just say for the sake of argument that you only get 250 requests for postcards.
International postcard rates at .98 each would leave you with $735.00 that you could put toward subsidizing the passage for a travel companion...while I'm at it, let me just put myself on the list for that too! :)

Anonymous said...

What a cool idea! So you have my donation- but I missed the chipin button- sorry! I would like to know how far this goes. :)

Scott S. Semester said...

Awesome, Kellee -- Thanks! I'm interested in seeing how far this can go, too! :) I'm sending you an e-mail right now...

shouldhavezagged said...

I'm in for $2.88 via RME. Sorry to make your record-keeping harder but why pay the PayPal fee if you don't have to? Also, please put my name and address in the spreadsheet for postcard recipients. Thanks!