Financial Independence Early Retirement Life Lessons Personal Finance

Sell blood to expedite FIRE***

I donated blood for the first time in 2001 in a mobile donation clinic. It was my first year of university, living in one of the residences at University of British Columbia. The mobile donation clinic was available because the university residence association had arranged a Save a Live blood donation event.

I have always thought it was a good deed to donate blood. I was also taught by my parents that blood donation is good for your health because it forces your body to generate new blood.

So I signed up without knowing anything about the blood donation process.

My first donation went very smoothly, and I was very happy to be able to help someone in need.

The university residence association arranged another blood donation event in my second year of university, and I donated blood again for the second time.

Then I stopped donating completely. The mobile donation unit never came to the UBC campus and I didn’t try to go to the donation clinic about 50 minutes away by bus.

After university, I moved back home with my parents to save money. When I finally moved out again in 2008, I found out that I was living near the Canadian Blood Services’ donation clinic in Vancouver.

Wanting to help someone in need, one Saturday afternoon in the summer of 2008, I took the bus to the clinic to donate blood as a walk-in donor.

Little did I know, I started a personal tradition…

Whole Blood Donation Facts

  • About 450 ml of blood is collected during a single whole blood donation.
  • The average adult has about 5 litres of blood. So each donation takes about 9% of your blood.
  • You can donate every 56 days for whole blood for males, every 84 days for females.
  • There are different blood types, AB+, AB-, A+, A-, B+, B-, O+, O-.
  • AB- is the rarest blood type in Canada (0.5%).
  • O+ is the most common blood type in Canada (39%).
  • People with O- blood are considered universal donors because anyone can receive O- blood. But people with O- blood can only receive from O- blood.
  • People with type AB+ are considered universal recipients for whole blood as they can receive them from any other blood type donor.
  • Donors are screened every single donation. The screening process is lengthy and may seem intrusive. This is necessary to screen out people who are at greater risk of transmitting infections through their blood.

 

Some Personal Facts

  • Since started donating blood again in 2008, I have visited the clinic regularly, usually whenever I became eligible to donate again.
  • I have donated 57 times and counting. This means it would have taken me 3,192 days or almost 9 years to donate this many times if I were to donate whenever I was eligible.
  • The entire donation process typically takes about an hour (i.e. checking in, screening, donating, resting). The actual blood donating part would usually take me about 7 minutes. This means I have spent about 399 minutes with a needle stuck in my arm, and have donated over 25.65 litres or 6.77 gallons of blood.
  • I donate from both arms.
  • My hemoglobin level is averaging about 150 g/L (you need a minimum of 125 g/L for females and 130g/L for males to donate).
  • When I was younger, I was told by my mom that my blood type is B (doctors’ checked when I was born). When I started donating blood, I was told that my blood type is O positive. Weird!

 

Because I have been going to the same clinic in Vancouver regularly, many of the nurses know me. I have brought Baby T1.0 and Baby T2.0 with me a few times, so some of the nurses would often ask how the kids are doing. Donating blood has become one of these things I do regularly.

A number of years ago, a gentleman in his late 50’s was donating next to me. When he finished, the nurses circled around him and gave him a big celebration. Turned out it was his 100th blood donation!

I was in awe of his accomplishment. 100 donations would require a minimum of 15.5 years to accomplish. Talk about commitment!

And it was then, sitting next to this gentleman with a needle stuck in one of my arms, I decided that I would set having100 blood donations as a personal goal.

Last year I hit my 50th donation milestone and was invited to Canadian Blood Services’ Honouring Our Lifeblood event. In a room full of donors, I learned that some people have donated 100, 150 times, 200 times, and some even over 300 times. I was stunned and amazed by the generosity of these people and their commitments. (Some of these people donated platelet so they can donate every 2 weeks. I just recently became eligible for donating platelets and might give it a try).

 

How the heck does blood donation have anything to do with Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE)?

Absolutely nothing!

Ha! I am kidding.

When I ponder for a bit on our quest for financial independence and my regular blood donation and my goal of hitting the 100th donation milestone, I realized donating blood regularly and FiRE have one single common factor.

Commitment.

It takes commitment to go to the donation clinic and get your fingers and arms poked by needles every 56 days or so. It takes commitment to donate blood regularly. Similarly, it takes commitment to be financially responsible, like spending less than you earn, paying yourself first, saving for retirement, building passive income, etc. It also takes commitment to do exactly the same things for many years and get in line and stay in line with your investment strategies.

It would have been easy to just stop donating blood. Nobody is forcing me to donate blood every 56 days. I am donating regularly to make a small difference and help others in need…. people like Holly who was able to live for one extra year thanks to blood donors. 

Similarly, nobody is forcing you to spend less than you earn. Sure, you might get into a lot of debt if you don’t, but it’s your choice. Nobody is forcing you to save and generate passive income so one day you can become financially independent and possibly retire early. It is simply a personal commitment.

It takes years to reach the 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300+ blood donation milestones. These milestones are not something you can achieve overnight. Similarly, becoming financially independent and retiring early both take time.

Another similarity is that you must take care of the small things. To donate regularly, you must look after your own body, make sure that you are not overweight, maintain a healthy blood pressure, and eat iron-rich food. To become good with your finances and achieve FIRE one day, you must take small actions every day to make sure you are tracking toward your financial goals.

I am still a few years away from reaching my 100th donation milestone (it’ll take a minimum 6.6 more years). As you may know, we have decided to prolong our financial independence journey. Therefore, for 100th donation and FIRE milestones, I know that we will achieve them one day, they simply take time and commitment. My wife and I are not in a rush. We keep reminding ourselves to enjoy the small things in life each day and that today is the greatest day of our lives.

Because it is.

*** Donating blood in Canada is completely voluntary and you don’t get paid. So no, I don’t sell my blood to expedite FIRE. I just thought it is a silly post title. :p

Get update via email:

You Might Also Like

35 Comments

  • Reply
    Dave
    January 31, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Good for you. You truly are helping people in need. I wish that I could do it, but I get ill when they draw blood from me. They have a hard time finding my veins.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 31, 2018 at 11:04 am

      That’s too bad. I’m lucky that my veins are very easy to spot.

  • Reply
    Abigail
    January 31, 2018 at 9:22 am

    I applaud your dedication! I’m hoping to start donating blood this year but was diagnosed with critical anaemia last year; I’m waiting to find out the cause of it and for the all-clear before I’ll be allowed to donate. In the meantime, I’ve been resting lots and saving money! Three things that can’t be rushed: blood donation milestones, getting healthy, and FIRE! They all focus your mind on the long-game.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 31, 2018 at 11:05 am

      Thank you Abigail. I’m sorry to hear about your critical anemia diagnosis. Hopefully you can get this cleared up so you can donate blood soon. 🙂

  • Reply
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life
    January 31, 2018 at 10:31 am

    You’re getting better at clickbait titles 😉

    I’ve never met the minimum requirements to donate blood but I think I do now. Now I have to get over my hate of needles enough to do my first donation, but I’m rather excited to do it.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 31, 2018 at 11:07 am

      Lol I guess so. :p

      You should definitely give blood donation a try and see what you feel about it. Besides, you’ll be able to help someone out.

  • Reply
    Lazy Man and Money
    January 31, 2018 at 11:18 am

    I tried to donate blood a couple of years ago. I ended up passing out and needing to be revived. A few weeks later, I got a letter saying that my blood could not be used as it didn’t pass one of their tests. (That’s kind of a big freak-out, but further research shows that it’s no big deal.)

    I’m type O+, so I really hoped I could do some good and make it a regular thing. Sometimes the best laid plans just don’t work out.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 31, 2018 at 2:32 pm

      That’s too bad you passed out when donating blood. I see some ppl feeling nauseous after donation here and there.

      I would have freaked out too if I found out I didn’t pass one of their tests… but at least it wasn’t a biggie.

      • Reply
        Lazy Man and Money
        January 31, 2018 at 9:05 pm

        Well, it was kind of a spur of the moment decision. By that, I mean, I thought about it and did it a few hours later. I was warned it was a bad idea by the doctor, but I had hit most of the criteria.

        My biggest concern was that I am deathly afraid of needles. Getting the courage to do it felt like jumping out of an airplane.

        If I knew my blood was going to be useful in the future (something that wasn’t assured), I would prep myself better and do it regularly. I can get used to needles.

        The interesting thing is that my wife is type O+ too. So we know we have two type O kids. Maybe it will be years and years down the line, but I think donating will be in the future somehow 😉

        • Reply
          Tawcan
          February 1, 2018 at 11:18 am

          Yea that sucks you are scared of needles. I can definitely see why some ppl are afraid of needles.

  • Reply
    Sarah De Diego
    January 31, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    Dear Tawcan,

    From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for giving.

    My son needed blood transfusions to try and save his life. Unfortunately, he didn’t survive but I can’t imagine the regrets I would have if people hadn’t given selflessly.

    Unfortunately, we regularly spend time in a location (southern Mexico) that restricts me from giving blood. However, they are constantly updating their information and locations so hopefully some day soon.

    Once my kids are old enough, I hope that they choose to donate. Blood, it’s in you to give.

    Besos Sarah.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 31, 2018 at 2:34 pm

      I’m very sorry to hear about your son. I am simply trying to do what I can to help people in need. Whenever I donate I always had to provide a long list of countries I’ve travelled to (due to work and vacation). Luckily all of these countries are on the approved list. Hopefully you’ll be able to donate when they decide travelling to Mexico is OK.

  • Reply
    Mr. Tako
    January 31, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    It’s truly wonderful of you to donate regularly like this Tawcan! I’m truly impressed by your dedication and giving spirit!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 31, 2018 at 2:35 pm

      Thank you, Mr. Tako.

  • Reply
    Mrs. Picky Pincher
    January 31, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Good on you for donating blood regularly!

    I, uh, do not donate blood regularly. Just reading this post made me want to hurl; you’re a great writer, I’m just incredibly afraid of needles and blood. I’m so glad there are people like you who donate and help save lives!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 31, 2018 at 2:40 pm

      Thanks Mrs. Picky Pincher. 🙂

      Donating blood isn’t really that painful. I always tell Mrs. T that the most painful part is when they poke my finger to check my hemoglobin level. Needle in my arm doesn’t actually hurt that much.

  • Reply
    Steveark
    January 31, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    I gave gallons of blood over a twenty year period but always noticed that it just killed my morning endurance run performance for a few days. Later I developed anemia, my hemoglobin dropped to 60 and I could barely jog 50 meters. The doctors never figured it out and I still take large doses of iron daily but at least I’m back up to eight mile runs, although at a slower pace. Needless to say I don’t give blood anymore, I may be FI but I’m not HI (hemoglbin independent). My son just gave his last donation, he is doing a medical rotation in Tanzania and won’t be eligible after living there for some reason.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 31, 2018 at 2:42 pm

      Hmmm any idea what your hemoglobin level was when you were donating? This is something I’ll have to monitor for sure.

  • Reply
    Accidental FIRE
    January 31, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    This is great Bob, kudos to you. When I was in college and pretty poor, I considered selling my plasma at one point. Never went through with it though, but I have given blood numerous times for free.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 31, 2018 at 5:30 pm

      Thanks Accidental FIRE. With blood and plasma, they are both voluntary here in Canada. 🙂

    • Reply
      Steveark
      January 31, 2018 at 7:09 pm

      I guess it was OK, I think they always check it before they take your donation. I’m guessing it was borderline low though. Another thing I just recalled, I worked in a chemical plant and we had a power failure and when that happened the closest worker had to climb a tall ladder to get to a valve that HAD to be closed imediately to prevent damage to a multimillion dollar machine. I was walking right by the ladder and so I started up it. I had given blood that day and about thirty feet off the ground still on the ladder I started to get dizzy and pass out. I managed to have the presence of mind to wrap my arms around the ladder and hold on until I recovered but I nearly fell. Scary.

      • Reply
        Tawcan
        February 1, 2018 at 11:16 am

        Wow that’s scary. Glad you were OK.

  • Reply
    Tom @ Dividends Diversify
    January 31, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Truly appreciate you generosity Tawcan. Thanks, Tom

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      February 1, 2018 at 11:15 am

      Thank you Tom.

  • Reply
    dividendgeek
    February 1, 2018 at 5:46 am

    Well done sir. i am super scared of needles and the process can be quite excruciating for myself and the nurse.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      February 1, 2018 at 11:17 am

      I can see why people are scared of needles. If you do, certainly makes blood donation a scary process.

  • Reply
    Lady Dividend
    February 1, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    The title drew my in! I know you get paid for plasma donations but not blood. I read up a bit and decided to not go ahead with plasma however.

    What a generous thing it is to give blood! I’m sure the feel good hit you get after donating beats anything you can buy!

    Ps I listened to your interview with Jessica Moorhouse today and really enjoyed it!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      February 2, 2018 at 11:11 am

      Hmm don’t think here in Canada you get paid for plasma but I could be wrong. I’m donating blood to help people. I’m not looking for money. 🙂

      Thanks, it was a fun podcast chatting with Jess.

  • Reply
    Dr. Networth
    February 1, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    That is quite the generous commitment that you have been doing and plan to keep doing. Good for you!

    I used to donate blood at a clinic in a shopping mall (Square One in Toronto area), since it was so convenient. I’d bring my kids along, and they would sit and watch while eating the free cookies. Unfortunately, that clinic closed years ago, and I haven’t donated since. Reading your post reminds me to start donating again.

    Another thing to consider are the health benefits to the donor’s body (decreases risk of cancers, stroke, heart attack) and donor’s psychological well being of helping others. It’s a win-win for everyone!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      February 2, 2018 at 11:12 am

      Canadian Blood Services have changed their policies so now if you bring kids along there needs to be another adult to supervise. Apparently, they are worried that the donor may faint and nobody to look after the kids.

      I had no idea that there are other health benefits to the donor’s body… that’s great to know. 🙂

  • Reply
    Joe
    February 2, 2018 at 8:18 am

    Very cool way to give back. I donated blood whenever the van came to my workplace. Now that I don’t go to work, I haven’t donated for a long time.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      February 2, 2018 at 11:30 am

      Thanks Joe. If you can, definitely try to donate to help out others.

  • Reply
    Whymances
    February 4, 2018 at 7:37 am

    Your post drew me in to click. Not with the thought of ‘I can get paid to donate blood?’ but with the thought ‘I live in Canada, they don’t pay for blood donations. What is he talking about?’!

    So agree with the good clickbait title. That aside, I enjoyed the article. It’s something I’ve been thinking of doing for some time. So maybe I’ll go looking for an opportunity…

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      February 4, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      Haha, I’m trying with clickbait titles I guess. :p

      Glad that you enjoyed the article.

  • Reply
    Olivia @ Birds of a FIRE
    February 4, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    This is awesome! Thanks for being so willing to help others :). You can’t sell blood, but you can sell plasma here in the US! I donated every time during college when the blood drive was on campus, but it’s become less convenient when you need to go someplace (and figure out where!) to donate blood. At my old workplace, they had a in-house clinic so they set up shop there but you couldn’t really go during business hours for my job. So… kinda inopportune.

  • Leave a Reply