With December being the “Giving” month, I thought folks might be interested in the backstory behind how we started on our “One More Year” giving fund. Earlier this year, we pledged to save all of our paychecks over our final year of work to give away in early retirement to charity.
The story started in March, when our family watched a powerful independent film called Living On One Dollar. It tracked several enterprising college students that went to Guatemala and spent the summer living on the equivalent of $1 US per day, which is what the average person in this rural part of Central America lives on. The movie really put a face to the lives of the world’s almost 1 billion people that live at this socioeconomic level. It was a provocative film that prompted a donation from our family to the livingonone.org and a broader discussion of what else we can do to make a difference in the world financially.
It was at this point in our economic journey, that I was starting my one year early retirement countdown. We had reached financial independence for the retirement lifestyle we wanted, but planned to work one more year while our son finished his senior year of high school. After seeing the movie, I recalled an idea I had a few years ago about how great it would be if a soon to retire professional athlete announced to their fans that they would donate 100% of their mega-earnings from their final season to charity. My son and wife said, “would you do that?” I said I thought we should – and we posted the idea onto this blog and on early-retirement.org.
Quickly this became our most read post and it has continued to be ever since. It’s been great to see others’ positive comments and posting links to it. (Although a few cranks on early-retirement.org complained about their taxes and forced “government charity” precluding their need to work for anyone else’s benefit)
As a matter of course, we’ve continued to give money to the causes we’ve supported in the past: our church, the United Way, and a non-profit organization that I serve on the board for. We’ve also continued to give smaller donations to other charities that ask for money now and then – just as we always would have. But for this challenge, we would save all the money from EVERY PAYCHECK since April in a separate savings account we call our “One More Year Fund”.
In a sense, you could say that I’ve now been working for “free” for the last almost nine full months. I will continue to until my 2015 annual bonus check tops off the charitable fund when bonuses are finally paid off next March. Through November, the “One More Year” fund already has enough of a six-figure balance balance to buy some amazing luxuries. But, we are holding to our commitment to save it all for philanthropic purposes.
I think it will make a terrific early retirement project to start giving away what will be a healthy six-figure savings amount to truly worthwhile causes/people in need. If we can get the taxes figured out, the money will be doubled. (Apparently there is a limit on charitable giving in the USA – search on “Pease Amendment”).
While we’re not finished building the fund yet, a check with our first charitable gift just got sent out two weeks ago. We’ve donated $2,500 to benefit an organization that was important when I was a kid, and is important to my son now. My wife, son and I both felt that this was the first opportunity that we wanted to tap the fund for. Since it is Christmastime, it seemed like an especially good time to christen the fund with a first gift.
We’ll save the bulk of the money for 2016 when we’ll have more time to think about what we can do with it. I’d love to hear your thoughts … what do you think?
Image Credit: LivingOnOne.org