June is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – a designation for most people to, if nothing else, take stock in the good fortune they and their families have enjoyed, and consider contributing something for charitable purposes.
“It’s a news story that never gets old: the little kid suffering from cancer who runs in a touchdown and gets a standing ovation, or is recognized by an entire city as Batman for a day, or the little girls who dress up for prom night because, tragically, they may not make it to high school,’’ says independent retirement advisor Gary Marriage, Jr.
“Retirees, who’ve lived full, mostly blessed lives, often wish they could do something for these children or another cause that touches their heart.”
Marriage, CEO of Nature Coast Financial Advisors (www.naturecoastfinancial.com), which specializes in maximizing retirees’ finances, says charitable efforts can provide a powerful sense of purpose and meaning to life – whether they come in retirement or during the working years. Marriage, for instance, is founder of Operation: Veteran Aid, which helps veterans and their surviving spouses with long-term care expenses by qualifying them with the Department of Veteran Affairs’ Aid and Attendance benefit.
He reviews four reasons why retirees should explore charitable giving.
• Voluntary vs. involuntary philanthropy: At the federal level, you can zero out your estate taxes by diverting what would have gone to the government in favor of your chosen cause. In a real sense, the government is a sort of charity; Through taxes, a citizen’s money goes into the social capital funnel. If you’re worried your tax money isn’t being spent wisely, consider a legitimate charity that you would like to support. There are legal leveraging techniques that can be used to make your taxed income skew more voluntary than involuntary.
• Smart from the heart giving: Each year, Americans give about $300 billion to charity. Like any investment, carefully consider to whom you’re giving; ask plenty of questions. Also, think about giving to underfunded charities. Finally, make your money go further by donating your time and skills to the charity. You’ll likely experience even greater satisfaction when you combine a donation of money and effort.
• The rewarding knowledge of your will: Only about 40 percent of Americans have this important legal document, which covers your estate’s executor, guardians for children and how to distribute your estate. A fourth component is gifts, which enables you to identify people or organizations to whom you wish to give gifts of money or specific possessions, such as jewelry or a car.
• Perspective on your money: Many people say, “…but I’m not Bill Gates or Warren Buffett – let those guys give their money away.” In fact, there are many “middle-class millionaires” – those who live modestly in middle-income neighborhoods, who have a net worth of $1 million or more. “These folks have saved money their entire lives, and they don’t donate money easily,” Marriage says. “However, others in their same situation have donated some of their estate and found it among the most rewarding acts they’ve ever done.”