Stir Up Saturday – Miserly M.U.S.C.L.E.

M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors are not charitable.

The $250 that was collected for Toys for Tots is even misleading. I think I gave $100-plus and, maybe, Bill (apologies if my memory has faded) gave $100. I know we collected less than $50.

When I posted this food drive, there were three Instagram likes and zero response. What the hell?

Both this article and this article were interesting but didn’t really help me understand our miserly M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors.

This article had some of the best demographic data I could find, but it left me with two cliche conclusions:

  1. Most M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors live in the Northeast of the US; are unmarried; and make either less than $50k per year or just less than $100k per year.
  2. Most M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors are financially secure and are surrounded by similar people.

Don’t yell at me about the conclusions either. Your complaints can be forwarded, respectively, to the Social Welfare Research Institute and the “How America Gives” survey.

For our tiny, tiny niche of people there probably isn’t any relevant demographic data that could be mined. My gut says the miserly M.U.S.C.L.E. collector exists for some malleable mixture of five reasons:

  • There aren’t that many of us. If six out of ten U.S. households donate to charity, then the Toys for Tots participation of a handful of people makes sense. You can’t have 100 people participate if there are only 10 people active in the community.
  • There isn’t a M.U.S.C.L.E. community. There isn’t any positive peer pressure to help participation. There also isn’t any accolades or recognition. The intrinsic satisfaction isn’t motivating enough.
  • It is too much effort. Based on the emails, DM, tweets, and every other UofM-based communicate I receive M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors are lazy. They do not want to research anything; they want to be told the answer. Navigating the steps for charity must seem insurmountable.
  • There is no disposable income. I have heard many collectors, across hobbies, staunchly defend various forms of scalping. They argue their version of the practice funds their collecting. If that is true, then there is not money for charity.
  • They don’t care. This reason might sound the most harsh, but it might be the most correct. If the charitable Instagram post received three likes, then people didn’t care. It didn’t momentarily entertain them. People seem insatiable for new content, but it is entirely disposable – instantly consumed and forgotten.

Miserly MUSCLE Collectors Charity

Miserly MUSCLE Collectors Charity

  1. #1 by James on October 19, 2019 - 11:44 am

    Another reason is that people already donate to other charities. Every year I give money to a local mission that serves Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless.

  2. #2 by Trashcandream on October 19, 2019 - 10:59 pm

    I’d offer another option. Many of us may give to charity, but in a focused manner. We have our set charities and give set amounts each year. So when other good causes pop up, we wish them well, but continue to donate to the charities we chose. In addition to other charities, I give to Toys for Tots locally every year and have a homeless shelter I give to around the holidays. Also, I’m not on Instagram so others may not be either.

  3. #3 by Walker26 on October 21, 2019 - 8:16 am

    There are a many good charities out there, but we can’t donate to all of them. People have a budget, and they have to stick to it. I’ll also agree with what you said too Chad. There are people out there who are more focused on themselves than the community at large. Helping your community doesn’t take a belief in God. There are complaints in our community when people without kids still have to pay the school tax. Are they really that dumb? Do they want incompetent doctors working on them, dumb mechanics working on their car, or lawyers who don’t know how to look up information? Some people can’t see beyond themselves. Beat it $1 or whatever, every little bit helps. I like Trashcandream’s “focused manner” comment. My wife and I have a focus in our community to try to ensure future doctors, mechanics, and lawyers know what they’re doing. We might not see the difference today, tomorrow, or in our life time, but someone might.

  4. #4 by Walker26 on October 21, 2019 - 8:18 am

    …be it $1…..

    hooked on phonics didn’t work for me

  5. #5 by Jason Pratt on October 21, 2019 - 9:16 am

    I agree with Trashcandream and you – let’s combine them. It is impossible to give to every charity and still have any disposable income remaining. So, your call to donate to a charity of your choice is awesome and good for you for trying – but if we have a finite amount of money (and maybe less for those of us who live in nations with even higher taxes), we can’t donate to everything. It doesn’t mean that you should stop trying. Your passion for that charity is inspiring.

  6. #6 by Chad Perry on October 21, 2019 - 10:26 am

    Excellent points from everyone.

    My initial gut reaction to reading them was, “Fucking excuses.” Sorry. I know that’s not cool, but that was my initial gut reaction.

    But I try my best to minimize acting on my gut reactions. I kept thinking about what people had shared. And it left me with this conclusion: There isn’t a M.U.S.C.L.E. community, because there aren’t that many of us. And in that tiny population there is very limited disposable income.

    I know. It’s basically what I said above, but I think it is specifically these three things.

    Here’s how I came to my conclusion:

    1. “I already donate.” Fair enough. But we’re not talking about asking your wealth management advisor to free up some assets or significantly change your financial plan. One dollar. Five dollars. To Bill’s point, every little bit helps. If M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors aren’t interested/willing in banding together to do something positive, then…
    2. There isn’t a M.U.S.C.L.E. community. The fact that anybody responded to the post shows genuine interest. The website traffic shows genuine interest. But I fear the community is dead or, at least, on life-support. There are still awesome M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors that help each other out, but it is the absolute minority – which is probably because…
    3. There aren’t that many of us. The M.U.S.C.L.E. hobby will always be small (pun intended). The hobby of collecting anything is normally filled with specific achievements or finish-lines. With M.U.S.C.L.E. the “finish-lines” are very limited: (1) Flesh Set; and (2) Combination Color Set. You can make some minor adjustments, but that’s basically it. The Master Set Fools, myself included, can probably be counted on one hand and I don’t expect new collectors to embark on this quixotic task. There isn’t much to keep people around and I think we’ve been significantly shrinking year by year. Never mind the shenanigans that have chased away even more people.

    Pushing the charity issue aside, I have a new concern. I think the M.U.S.C.L.E. doomsday clock is pushing closer to midnight. Is there anything that can push that long-arm backwards?

  7. #7 by Brian on October 21, 2019 - 12:13 pm

    Sure, $1 is only $1, but where does it end? I donate to a few charities yearly, but I’m also inundated with requests to donate at about nine out of every ten cashiers.

  8. #8 by Chad Perry on October 21, 2019 - 3:07 pm

    Again, I think this continues to validate my conclusion above.

  9. #9 by Walker26 on October 21, 2019 - 3:33 pm

    Brian, it ends with what you have budgeted for. Like you, we would like to help more too, but we stick to our budget. One thing we won’t do is simply give someone money because we don’t know what the individual will do with it. We have bought people food when they ask for that and not money. We have to learn to politely say no.

    We took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University a while back, and Dave touches on this subject quite often. One of the many things I like that he says is: “God isn’t going to be mad at you if you only give such a such amount.” The key with Dave is setting a budget for giving like everything else (weekly and monthly bills, retirement funding, etc).

    A good book to read about this subject is Toxic Charity by Robert D. Lupton.

  10. #10 by buntok on October 24, 2019 - 3:01 pm

    I already donate a significant portion of my income to charities that I’ve spent time researching and figuring out how they use the money etc. Can’t give money to everyone asking for it. I must run into a couple a day asking for money either online or in person.

  11. #11 by Chad Perry on October 24, 2019 - 3:59 pm

(will not be published)