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How are you going to ensure a fulfilling life with the money you have once you retire? Study after study has shown that retirees who spend their time and money on experiences are much happier than those who just buy stuff.

Charitable giving can be a particularly meaningful way to keep yourself active and put your assets to good use. Just as long as you don’t overdo it. If you’re feeling an increased desire to give back now that you’ve retired, here are some tips on balancing your good intentions with what’s best for you and your family. 

Do Your Homework 

Recently, there have been high-profile cases of fraud and misappropriated funds at some very famous charitable organizations. But even if you’re giving to a charity that is run well, you should understand where your money is really going. If you’re happy with your dollars helping a larger organization to pay its bills and employees, great.

If you want your money to have a more immediate impact on those in need, consider giving to smaller organizations in your community.  Do some googling and check online watchdog databases like Charity NavigatorCharity Watch, or Give to make sure your favored charity is on the up-and-up.

And unless you know the organizers personally, avoid online crowd-funding campaigns that aren’t legally accountable for how they use donations. 

Consider a Volunteer Position 

Your favorite non-profit or charitable organizations need money. But they also need manpower. 

If you’re thinking about working part-time in retirement, and a paycheck isn’t really important to you, schedule regular volunteer hours instead. You’ll get all the same benefits of having a job: structure, responsibility, camaraderie.

Plus, seniors who volunteer report lower levels of stress, an increased sense of purpose, and better physical and emotional health. 

Teach, Tutor, or Consult 

When looking for a charitable outlet, don’t overlook the professional skills that you honed over your career. 

You might not have the qualifications to teach at a school or university, but you could talk to your local community center about holding a seminar that benefits your neighborhood.

You might be done balancing your company’s books, but there are high school kids who could benefit from your mastery of math. Or you might open your door to local small business owners or recent college graduates who need an entrepreneurial mentor.  

Make a Plan

It’s a scientific fact that giving makes us feel good. But some seniors may get too caught up in their generosity.

They forget that gifts and donations are coming from that same pool of assets that are supposed to be there for them for the rest of their lives. They may have trouble setting limits and saying no. There is indeed such a thing as too much giving.

You might not think much about writing an extra check or two early in retirement. But seniors have to maintain a long-term perspective on their nest eggs. Your generation of retirees is going to live longer, more active lives than any in history. You need to make sure that helping someone today isn’t going to make it harder to cover your healthcare and cost of living needs tomorrow. 

So, if you and your spouse want to make regular charitable donations, it’s important that you make certain it is factored into your plan. We help our clients incorporate giving into their monthly budget and retirement income plan. If you want to make your generosity more permanent, we can also help you establish a charitable trust and add sustained giving to your estate plan. 

We’re always happy when our clients want to help others. But it’s our responsibility to make sure your financial plan covers your best interests first. Click here to learn more about how we can help ensure your retirement is taken care of and the world around you a little brighter.

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