The one incredible universal truth that has stood the test of time is that the more you give the more you receive.
This notion—that the more we give back to others, the more comes back to us—is not simply a religious doctrine; it is virtually a law of nature. If you are looking to attract more wealth and happiness into your life, the fastest way I know how is to give more.
HAVING IT ALL…THROUGH TITHING
What exactly is tithing? Tithing is the proactive practice of giving back. It is a spiritual principle common to many traditions that says you should give back a portion of what you receive, that those blessed with abundance have a duty to help others through gifts of kindness, time, ideas, and money. What is amazing about tithing is that when you tithe you get a feeling we often associate with acquiring material things. You simply feel great.
HOW TO TITHE
Should you tithe? Ultimately, it’s a personal decision. Still, I’d like to suggest that if you are not doing it now, you give it a try. Take a percentage of your income and start donating it to some worthy cause. You could donate the 10% traditionally associated with tithing, you could donate more, or you could donate less. As I said, tithing is personal; it’s not about percentages but about the love of giving. What’s important is simply that you get started.
YOUR 5 STEP PLAN FOR TITHING:
STEP #1: COMMIT TO TITHING. For tithing to work, it needs to be a consistent commitment. It’s just the same as Pay Yourself First. If you donate a set percentage of your income every time you get paid, you will compile an impressive record of contributions. If you wait until the end of the year to see what is “left over,” then you will wind up donating less—maybe even nothing. Select a percentage that feels right to you and that you know you can manage. Once you’ve done that, make a commitment in writing to donating this amount on an ongoing basis.
GIVING BACK A PERCENTAGE OF YOUR TIME
People ask me, “What about giving my time to charities? Does donating my time count?” Of course it does. In fact, donating your time can often be more useful than donating your money. There are tons of charities that need helping hands far more desperately than they need additional dollars. And from your point of view, donating your time can be incredibly meaningful.
STEP #2: AUTOMATE IT. Whatever amount you decide to tithe, arrange to have it automatically transferred out of your checking account on a regular basis. Doing this is easier than ever. Most organized charities will be happy to help you arrange an automatic transfer schedule (where they automatically debit your checking account on a regular basis), and many are set up to do it online in just a few minutes. If you are not comfortable having your bank account debited by a charity, you can probably set up an automatic transfer through your bank’s online bill payment system.
STEP #3: RESEARCH THE CHARITY BEFORE YOU GIVE. Where you donate your money is entirely up to you. The most important advice I can offer is to make sure that the charity to which you are giving your hard-earned dollars really uses the funds it collects to help the people or causes it is supposed to be helping. Here is a list of organizations that can help you learn more about potential recipients.
STEP #4: KEEP TRACK OF YOUR DEDUCTIBLE CONTRIBUTIONS. The U.S. government has long allowed taxpayers to deduct contributions to qualified charities. Depending on how much you give, you can offset as much as 50% of your income in this way. In order for a donation to be deductible, the organization must formally apply for and be granted tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the tax code. You can verify this for any particular organization by visiting the IRS website. For contributions of less than $250, the IRS requires you to keep some sort of written record, such as a cancelled check, a letter or receipt from the recipient, or a bank or credit card statement that verifies the where and when of the donation. If you give more than $250, the IRS wants your proof of donation filed with your tax returns.
STEP #5: FIND OUT ABOUT DONOR ADVISED MUTUAL FUNDS. Donor Advised or Charity Funds allow people to invest their money for a charity’s benefit later but get a tax deduction now. Benefits of these funds …
- Instant Tax Deduction.
- More Money for Charities.
- Less Pressure. These funds are great for people who know they want to give (and would like the resulting tax deduction now) but don’t yet know who they want to give to. You simply put whatever amount you want in the fund, take the deduction, and then make up your mind at your leisure about what the right charity is for you.
- Create a Legacy. As your wealth you will increasingly be in a position to make a lasting difference in the world. Donor funds allow you to build a real charitable base for your family, since more than one person can contribute to the fund.
Here are some established donor funds worth considering – the minimum initial investment in each is $5,000 (except Vanguard, with a minimum $25,000 contribution).
- Fidelity The Giving Account
- Schwab Charitable Fund
- The T. Rowe Price Program For Charitable Giving
- Vanguard Charitable’s donor-advised fund
WHY THE ‘HAVE MORES’ HAVE MORE
Over the years, I’ve seen firsthand that the “Have Mores” give more. I’ve also seen that the fastest way to feel rich is to give more—and that those who give more become rich faster. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Research shows definitively that people who give of their time and money to help others live longer, happier, and wealthier lives. What more could you ask for?