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Charitable Giving & Your Retirement Plan

Posted by Shanna Tingom, AAMS® on Dec 7, 2021 9:10:00 AM

The average individual spends less during their retirement due to a budget. The exception is giving to charitable causes. A study by the WPI (Women's Philanthropy Institute) looked at how households in America spent money as they retired. The results revealed that both single women and married couples spent the same amount of donations on charities before and after they retired. The charitable giving of single men decreased once they retired. 

The report from the WPI also showed both married and single women have less confidence regarding their financial health upon retirement than men. Their focus is not on outliving their savings. This fear is justified as women live considerably longer than men. There are numerous ways for both women and men, married and single, to donate to charitable causes without being concerned about running out of money. Using savings meant for retirement to make donations is most likely to cause the individual to outlive their savings unless they use proper care. 

A much better way to use retirement savings is as a portfolio. This will generate a retirement income to last the life of the individual. One of the most important aspects of the retirement portfolio is the monthly retirement paychecks. These are guaranteed and will last for a lifetime. If the stock market crashes, this income will not decrease. These paychecks can then be supplemented with either yearly or monthly retirement bonuses. These may have fluctuations depending on the investment performance, but they will last for life. 

When the portfolio is properly in place, charitable giving can be funded with these bonuses and paychecks. It is important to allow for charitable giving as part of the budget in addition to the other living expenses. This will enable the individual to give to charities while ensuring the person will not outlive their savings. There is another excellent method for planning to increase the effectiveness of charitable giving. Many individuals have concerns that the recent changes made to the tax laws may decrease their income and impact their charitable giving. Also, there will be a significant decrease in the taxpayers itemizing their deductions. This makes it harder to use the taxable income to make donations. Any individual age 70 ½ or above has another option. A traditional IRA can be used for a qualified charitable distribution, which will not be included in the taxable income. The distribution will also apply towards the minimum required distribution. 

There is an annual limit of $100,000 for qualified charitable distributions. This cannot be funded from both 410 (k) plans and IRAs. If the 401 (k) plan contains substantial savings, these funds can be used for charitable giving by rolling over the savings into an IRA. The IRA platform must enable the individual to be able to write checks. 

The report from the WPI also revealed that married couples and single women have a higher likelihood of volunteering once they retire than single men. There is a lot of research showing volunteers enjoy financial security and health benefits while providing their communities with substantial contributions. The documentation for this research is located in the Hidden in Plain Sight report prepared by the Center on Longevity located at Stanford. Anyone not currently volunteering may want to give some thought to pursuing this activity once they have retired.

Planning for both volunteering and charitable giving may be important when determining retirement planning. This will not only enable the individual to give something back to their community, it often increases the enjoyment of life.