The Christian faith community has practiced charitable giving for thousands of years. Christians are taught to live generously and they often give to their church or other charitable organizations they care about. Generosity is of course a heart response to God’s generosity in all He’s given to us. It just makes sense that grateful people should be generous people.
But what about when our financial priorities shift in retirement? That’s a unique stage in life, and it’s easy for generosity to take a backseat. It may feel like you have a choice to make: do I achieve my financial goals first, or do I give generously first and live on the rest?
The good news is that your financial goals and your desire for charitable giving in retirement can go hand-in-hand. In this blog, we will cover six tips for charitable giving in retirement in a way that honors God and fulfills your financial goals. That way, you can continue to care and provide for your family and live a meaningful life in retirement.
1. Set Your Financial Goals
According to 1 Timothy 5, our first act of generosity should always be to our family. We are called to manage our households well and demonstrate faithfulness in providing for our families first. This is why it’s important as people of faith to set financial goals—to ensure our spouse is cared for in the event of our death, to provide a legacy for our children and grandchildren, and to continue to grow our impact even when we’re gone.
Financial goals in retirement come in many shapes and sizes. When you meet with a financial advisor for the first time, they will usually ask you what some of those goals are. Typical goals include:
- Budget. How much money will you need each month? Determining how much you will need for necessities and cost of living will help you determine your margin for generosity.
- Milestones. What milestones would you like to reach? Financial milestones can include becoming debt-free at a certain age or saving a specific figure in a legacy trust.
- Long-term considerations. How can you best prepare for your future? Your financial advisor may ask you about your goals for long-term care, health insurance, and other considerations as you get older.
There is no goal you can set that will make giving impossible—giving is always possible as long as you have a clear direction forward. In fact, giving in retirement is sometimes advantageous to your goals! We will explore that idea later in this blog.
2. Prioritize Charitable Giving in Retirement
When you think of prioritizing giving, you may think of it as an extra burden on your monthly spending. Let’s shift that mindset. Prioritizing charitable giving in retirement is never a net loss for two reasons:
- You are glorifying God through your generosity. However you give, your gift is a reflection of God’s love to the world around you.
- Your giving can help you save on taxes. Depending on how you give, you can give untaxed funds to charitable organizations or receive a tax deduction for some gifts!
Your financial advisor can help you prioritize giving in a strategic way. Here are a few common avenues for giving tax-free or tax-optimized gifts:
- Appreciated stocks. When you receive a return on investment for a stock you’ve purchased, you have the option to withdraw that money. However, you will be subject to capital gains tax. If you donate this sum to a charitable organization, the money won’t be taxed.
- Donor-advised funds. A donor-advised fund is your personal account for giving charitably—wherever you want to give. When you deposit money into this account, you are immediately eligible for a tax deduction that year.
- Qualified charitable donation: After the age of 72 or 73 (depending on your birth date) you are required to withdraw money from your 401(k) or IRA (this is called required minimum distribution.) Since this money was not taxed when it was deposited in these accounts, it will be taxed when it’s withdrawn. However, qualified charitable donations can minimize the amount of money that is taxed.
3. Automate Your Giving
While random acts of kindness are incredibly generous, finding ways to automate your giving is also beneficial. That way, you’re giving a consistent amount every month, quarter, or year that you can be sure to budget for.
Set up recurring gifts for your church or an organization you care about and include the amount in your budget. Recurring gifts can be automated on an organization’s website or even on a mobile app on your phone.
You might also consider automating deposits into a donor-advised fund. Then you’ll have a specialized giving account that always has the resources to serve an organization.
4. Choose the Right Organization
Before they start tithing in retirement, many retirees often have charitable organizations in mind that they’d like to give to. Their church is often a priority, or even the schools their children attended throughout the years.
You have an overwhelming amount of charitable organizations to be generous toward. And when you hear about a local or international tragedy, you may feel prompted to give one-time gifts to aid those in need. However, it’s important to do your research before you give to ensure that the organization aligns with your values and will use your money in an appropriate way. Guidestar and Great Non-Profits are both large databases with financial and historical data for a wealth of charitable organizations. This will help you research how these nonprofit organizations have used their funds in the past.
However, the sheer amount of nonprofits out there is truly overwhelming. You may want to set your own criteria for choosing where to be generous. Ask yourself questions like:
- Does this organization support anything that goes against my values?
- Does this organization treat its employees and stakeholders fairly?
- How much money did this nonprofit receive in the last year, and how large of an impact do they make?
- Does this organization support something I actively care about, such as international missions, fine arts, or education?
These questions can help you guide your giving and where you feel prompted to give. When generous people see a need, they often want to meet it right away. But we encourage you to listen to the Holy Spirit as He prompts you—and remember that your first financial priority is the flourishing of your family.
5. Give More Than Money
At Clear Money Path, we often talk about generosity in financial terms. However, in retirement, you’ll have opportunities to give more than money. Now that you are no longer working, you can find opportunities to get involved in your community. Communities thrive when people of all ages are involved, and you may find that your presence has a greater impact than your dollars! Here are some ways our clients have gotten involved in their communities:
- cooked and delivered meals to new parents, shut-ins, or those recovering from surgery
- mentored a child, teen, or young couple
- led a Bible study or adult Sunday school class
- organized food drives around the holidays
- sang in a community choir
- looked after their grandchildren after school a few times per week
- helped with administrative work at a local non-profit
- groomed, played with, and fed animals at the shelter
The list could go on and on—your community has so many needs, seen and unseen. We recommend you start with your church first—is there a need you could meet there that aligns with your talents and gifts? If not, your church may have a network of local nonprofits they support that are looking for volunteers like you.
6. Practice Gratitude
Generosity and gratitude go hand-in-hand. We are taught this in our Christian faith, but there is also scientific research to back up this claim! Researchers have found a powerful neural pathway between being grateful and being generous. It’s beautiful how God wired our brains to be this way!
Gratitude creates blessings in your life. Even the simple practice of journaling a few things you are thankful for every morning can adjust your mindset as you start your day. The things you’re thankful for don’t have to be out of the ordinary. You can journal about the hot cup of coffee you enjoyed, or the phone call from your granddaughter the night before, or a beautiful park you found while on a walk. God desires our gratitude, and that gratitude can buoy us in difficult times.
Use These Tips for Charitable Giving to Bless Others!
In this blog, we explored 6 tips for charitable giving in retirement—including through your investment portfolios and even your everyday actions. We hope these tips helped you realize that it is possible to give generously and achieve your retirement goals. At Clear Money Path, we believe that generosity should be part of every retirement plan, whether that’s setting up a donor-advised fund or a legacy for your family. Are you curious to discover what charitable giving in retirement might look like for you and your family? Schedule a free consultation with our team anytime—discussing generosity with clients is our greatest joy!
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Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date and was obtained from sources known to be reliable. It should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed.
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