Not Dead Yet

David Gartland  |  May 9, 2024

FOR MY BIRTHDAY this year, my wife gave me a card that declares, “Not Dead Yet.” That might sound morbid, but I laughed. The reason: My wife had misinterpreted something I used to say to colleagues at my final job.
When they saw me at the coffee machine, they’d often ask, “How are you doing, Dave?”
Instead of saying “fine,” I used to say, “I’m still breathing. Count your blessings. Blessing No. 1: I’m still breathing.”
In many cases,

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Give While You Live

Dan Haylett  |  Mar 19, 2024

MANY FOLKS DELAY financial gifts to family and charity until their death. But I advocate a different approach: giving generously during our lifetime, or what I like to call “giving with a warm heart, not a cold hand.”
This not only transforms the lives of the recipients, but also enriches those who give, making their lives more meaningful and fulfilling.
One of the most compelling reasons to give during your lifetime: You get to see the impact of your generosity.

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Donating Time

Douglas W. Texter  |  Mar 8, 2024

AS ALWAYS, DR. SEUSS said it best: “Oh, the places you’ll go and the people you’ll meet.”
In making this statement, the good doctor could have been talking about the benefits of volunteering. Since inheriting some money in 2011, I haven’t had to work multiple jobs, as I did in graduate school and during the three years that followed. From 2012 on, I’ve had mostly full-time work, leaving me with time to volunteer for causes I care about.

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QCDs and Me

Chris Cagle  |  Mar 5, 2024

SOME 90% OF TAXPAYERS claim the standard deduction on their tax return. Thanks to 2017’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, today’s standard deduction is larger than the itemized deductions of most taxpayers, including those who previously itemized.
But my wife and I are among the 10% of taxpayers who have continued to itemize, including each of the five years since I retired in 2018. Despite the much higher standard deduction for married couples over age 65,

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Sharing the Excess

David Gartland  |  Dec 26, 2023

ANDREW CARNEGIE emigrated from Scotland as a boy, began working at a young age in a telegraph office, and eventually started Carnegie Steel. When J.P. Morgan bought the company, Carnegie found himself with a lot of time on his hands—and a lot of money.
Obviously, he was wealthy, with homes in both the U.S. and Scotland. But it’s what he did with his money that always intrigued me: He gave it away. Instead of building monuments to himself,

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Giving Sensibly

Adam M. Grossman  |  Nov 12, 2023

WITH DECEMBER FAST approaching, it’s a good time to think about end-of-the-year financial planning. What steps might you take?
A popular strategy is to make charitable gifts, both to support good causes and reap a tax benefit. But before you start writing checks, take a moment to better understand your tax picture. Because of the complexity of tax forms, that’s often easier said than done. Still, you don’t need to decipher every number. Instead,

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Random Acts

Austin Dorenkamp  |  Oct 14, 2023

BUDGETS CAN BE a contentious topic. Some people swear by them. Others argue they’re unnecessary if you easily spend less than you make. No matter which side you take in this debate, I’d advocate budgeting for one item: kindness.
I’ve always enjoyed reading news stories about strangers who left unusually large tips for their waiter. After reading such stories, I’d daydream about where I’d leave large tips if I was that rich. One day,

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All My Children

Ken Cutler  |  Sep 15, 2023

ONE OF THE CLEARER mandates for a Christian such as myself is to help the poor. Jesus said the poor “will always be with you.” It doesn’t take amazing powers of observation to see that he was correct. There are lots of ways to help the poor, with churches and thousands of worthy charitable institutions working to address the causes and effects of poverty.
Many years ago, I became acquainted with a large Christian organization called Compassion International.

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From Mali With Love

Larry Sayler  |  Sep 4, 2023

FELLOW HUMBLEDOLLAR contributor Marjorie Kondrack concluded a recent article by saying she’d “never been to Paris or Prague, Timbuktu or Tokyo.” I had always thought of Timbuktu as an imaginary, faraway place. Only recently did I discover that it actually exists.
Timbuktu is a town in Mali with a population just north of 50,000 people. But according to Wikipedia, thanks to gold and salt that could be found in the area, it was once a “world-renowned trading powerhouse” with a population of 250,000.

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Easy to Miss

Chuck Staley  |  Aug 17, 2023

“WHERE’S THE QUALIFIED charitable distribution on Mom’s tax return?” Mom had never before executed a qualified charitable distribution, or QCD. Her tax return was 41 pages, and we weren’t sure where to find it.
There was a long pause. “I forgot your mom had made QCDs as I prepared her return,” allowed her tax preparer. “I’ll need to recalculate her taxes.”
A QCD can be a tax-efficient way to donate money for those who are charitably inclined—but only if it’s correctly documented on your tax return.

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More Than Enough

Jonathan Clements  |  Mar 30, 2023

IF YOU’RE LIKE MANY readers of this site, you’ll reach your 60s and discover one of those nice problems to have—that you’ve over-saved for retirement.
What now? For answers, check out a new book, More Than Enough: A Brief Guide to the Questions That Arise After Realizing You Have More than You Need. Author Mike Piper is the driving force behind both the Oblivious Investor website and the free Open Social Security calculator.

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Better Than Cake

Kathleen M. Rehl  |  Feb 22, 2023

ON DEC. 23, 2022, while Santa and his elves were busy loading his red sleigh with gifts, the 117th Congress was putting together some goodies of its own, formally known as the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023. Before we rang in the new year, President Biden signed the bill into law.
Included in that 1,600-page, $1.7 trillion appropriations measure was a special present for folks like me—the so-called Legacy IRA. This allows me to increase the sum I give to charity and the money I earn on my fixed-income investments,

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Giving Made Easy

Richard Quinn  |  Jan 25, 2023

I’M NOT ONE TO DIVE into the mysteries of the tax code in an effort to avoid paying Uncle Sam. But I’ve lately stumbled onto something that many others are already well-versed in and which has been around since 2006: qualified charitable distributions.

If I make a contribution from my traditional IRA directly to a charity, the withdrawal is excluded from the taxable income reported by my wife and me and, indeed, it counts toward my required minimum distribution.

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Give Yourself a Gift

Erik Daniels  |  Jan 13, 2023

SEVERAL YEARS AGO, I had lunch with a longtime friend, Jim. Over the course of 30 years, he’s had a tremendous impact on my life through his wise counsel and fine example. That day, Jim wanted to treat me to lunch, but I stepped in front of him in line and paid for us. After I’d paid, I could see the disappointment in Jim’s face. He turned to the woman behind him and proceeded to pay for her lunch.

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Santa Claus Rally

Don Southworth  |  Dec 25, 2021

THERE ARE FEW certainties in life, but December always brings a few. Our neighbors will decorate their houses with bright lights, our mailbox will be stuffed with letters asking for charitable donations and the financial pundits will speculate whether there’ll be a Santa Claus rally this year.

If you’re a regular reader of HumbleDollar, you know that a Santa Claus rally has the potential to fill our portfolios with extra dollars via higher stock and mutual fund prices.

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