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Did your charitable contributions change once you retired?
Old 12-03-2012, 08:14 AM   #1
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Did your charitable contributions change once you retired?

I usually make most of my charitable contributions in one fell swoop in December each year. This is the first year that I have been retired and we are currently living off of income/withdrawals from taxable investments so our income is less than 10% of what it was when I was working.

It was easier (in my mind anyway) to make generous charitable contributions when I had employer cash flow rolling in, so I'm mulling over dialing back the amount we contribute to perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 of what it was when I was working in in absolute terms (but it would be much larger than in the past as a percent of our income).

For those who have retired, what did you do?
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:19 AM   #2
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I never thought of it in terms of income, but rather as a percentage of our budget.
Our charitable contributions didn't change pre/post retirement. Consistently about 3-4% of total spending.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:22 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
It was easier (in my mind anyway) to make generous charitable contributions when I had employer cash flow rolling in, so I'm mulling over dialing back the amount we contribute to perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 of what it was when I was working in in absolute terms (but it would be much larger than in the past as a percent of our income).

For those who have retired, what did you do?
I really hate to say it but I've been struggling with this too, I don't want to dial contributions back, I'd rather increase if anything. When we had plenty of excess income it was easier to contribute to charities. Now that our nest egg has to last about 40 years, and knowing how variable our real returns & expenses could be over that period, it's not as easy (look at any 40 year FIRECALC chart). I don't want to cut back at all, but I don't have a clear answer yet. Fortunately DW just assumes we'll always have plenty of $ so she's just as charitable as ever...
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:23 AM   #4
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I reduced mine dramatically to a small fraction of pre-retirement giving.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:36 AM   #5
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We have kept ours at a steady rate, and even increased it a bit (regardless of not being able to deduct any of it).

During our retirement planning, we kept our budgeted expenses the same as when we were both still w*rking. Charity is just an expense to us, regardless if we were w*rking or not.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:52 AM   #6
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I really hate to say it but I've been struggling with this too, I don't want to dial contributions back, I'd rather increase if anything. When we had plenty of excess income it was easier to contribute to charities. Now that our nest egg has to last about 40 years, and knowing how variable our real returns & expenses could be over that period, it's not as easy (look at any 40 year FIRECALC chart). I don't want to cut back at all, but I don't have a clear answer yet. Fortunately DW just assumes we'll always have plenty of $ so she's just as charitable as ever...
I feel the same but there is always that lingering doubt of whether there will be enough. But I figure if there is plenty then I can always give more later so it's just a matter of timing.

Ditto on the last sentence - DW sometimes asks "Where is the money coming from?" and my stock answer is "Savings" - that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:58 AM   #7
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I believe your contributions go farther if you make them all at once to only one charity (one time cost to process, for the most part, is I think where the savings come in). I think we are moving toward that except for memorial donations to a specified charity.

Our total amount has pretty much stayed the same in retirement but have lost the corporate match unfortunately.
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:01 AM   #8
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I feel the same but there is always that lingering doubt of whether there will be enough. But I figure if there is plenty then I can always give more later so it's just a matter of timing.
That thought has crossed my mind too...but I hate the idea of dialing back in the meantime.
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:12 AM   #9
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I funded a charitable gift fund while I was working. Now I can continue to give without worrying about the impact on my nest egg.
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:13 AM   #10
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Mine is way lower. If my portfolio grows over the next 10 years or so I hope to ramp it back up.
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:13 AM   #11
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Somewhat less $$, but lots more time volunteered.
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:56 AM   #12
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Since my gifts have always been "modest", I have continued to give at the same rate for the five years I have been retired.
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:56 AM   #13
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My donations are part of the budget, so everything has stayed the same. It'll COLA along with the budget, so hopefully they will increase in the future. I'll cut back if things go bad with the portfolio.
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:02 AM   #14
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Somewhat less $$, but lots more time volunteered.
Me two.
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:03 AM   #15
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I'm actually thinking of doing some volunteering, particularly during the winter, so that may well become part of the solution.
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:25 AM   #16
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Our retirement budget allows for a comparable level of charitable giving. However, just in case, we have been front loading our charitable giving fund to allow for adjustment in 'lean' years if necessary. This strategy also makes sense for us tax-wise as we fund it with appreciated stock.
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:34 AM   #17
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For us it is a lot less in $ terms once ER'ed. We used to be high earners and gave a % every month from our paychecks.

In retirement we still pay monthly but it is a lower $ amount even though it is about the same % of income.
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Old 12-03-2012, 01:46 PM   #18
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When working was always a UW fair share giver. Now retired and have cut back big time although I do about 500 hours of volunteer work (tax prep for low income and seniors). Had a windfall this year and will probably do a $10K gift to DW's church sometime after April 15th next year. Although I would rather donate the same amount to a local food bank in order to keep it in the community.
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Old 12-03-2012, 01:46 PM   #19
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When I was working, our contributions were more a percent of spending than a percent of income. So, now that we're living off savings and spending about the same, contributions have stayed level.

If I were really concerned about running out of money, I'd stop the contributions. My first responsibility is to avoid being a burden on someone else. If it made me feel better, I would modify my will so the charities get there money if I have some left.
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Old 12-03-2012, 03:17 PM   #20
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About the same total level of giving, but it's with a bit more trepidation as I now see the "pot" is finite and has to last us a long time. When I worked our donations were through the Combined Federal Campaign (like United Way), so I only looked at the booklet, made my choices, filled out the form and forgot about it. I'm more deliberate now: More time to research for deserving causes, and more time to investigate and use approaches like donating appreciated mutual fund shares (see separate recent thread) to get the best deal tax-wise (better for the charity, better for me). As a by-product, our giving has been more "lumpy" as I have only been itemizing infrequently. One good thing about the community foundation idea (thread cited above) is that we can get the optimum tax break but the checks will go to the charities at our convenience, probably on a more recurrent basis.

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If I were really concerned about running out of money, I'd stop the contributions. My first responsibility is to avoid being a burden on someone else. If it made me feel better, I would modify my will so the charities get there money if I have some left.
+1. Unfortunately, the poor will always be with us, and the bucks left over when we're gone will help them.
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