• Christine Centeno, CFPⓇ

How much should you give to charity?

At the end of the year, I get a lot of questions about gifting. That’s why his month, my blog and Youtube videos have focused on how to gift company stock, gifting to family members and the benefits of gifting to charity. One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “how much should I gift?” In fact, I was recently asked to comment on the subject by the AP in Millenial Money: Give back without busting your budget.

So how much should you give to charity?

Well, there is no right answer or right percentage of income. The amount is unique to each individual since it’s guided by your personal beliefs and passions. Your decision about how much to gift can and should be guided by your financial plan.

Here are a few key points to consider:

How does gifting fit into your monthly budget?

In other words, can you afford it? When putting together your monthly budget make sure to not only include line items for utilities, food, transportation, housing, savings, but also for charity. Make it a part of your monthly or annual budget. If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it!

How much are you comfortable with gifting?

Maybe you’ve got more than enough room in your budget for gifting. If that’s the case how much of your wealth do you want to share? How important is giving to you? Where does it fit on your list of personal goals or priorities? Give what makes you happy.

How does it fit into the big picture?

Are you making it a priority to save for your own future? Do you have a sufficient cash reserve and are you saving enough towards retirement? You’ll want to make sure you’re saving enough towards the future you before you consider making gifting a line item in the budget.

If gifting money to charity doesn’t fit into your monthly budget, don’t feel guilty. I’d challenge you to give in another way.

Give your time

Give your time by volunteering, joining a board or lending your professional expertise. Make this part of your overall strategy. When you’re younger, you’ve probably got more time and less money to give. As you get older and life happens, this will start to change. The way you give will change over time and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Give in-kind

If you are short on money and on time, consider gifting household items, furniture, and clothes before you throw them out. Many charities like Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity gladly accept items from your home. It’s also tax-deductible if you itemize, so save your donation receipts.

Take advantage of matches

Make your dollars go further by taking advantage of charitable matches. Your employer may offer to match some or all of your gifts to charity. The portion you donate is tax-deductible if you itemize.

Gift at your death

If gifting doesn’t quite fit into your budget now, consider adding your favorite charity as a beneficiary on your account. When you pass away, the charity(ies) you designate will receive the funds. You can decide if you want to tell the charity in advance. Remember you can always make changes/updates your beneficiaries if your charity ceases to exist.

Interested in learning more? Read more about my firm, and check out my service options.

Christine Centeno, CFPⓇ, MS is the founder of Simplicity Wealth Management. She has over 12 years of industry experience as a financial advisor and is a member of several professional organizations including NAPFA, FPA, and the XY Planning Network. She also holds her Masters in Financial Planning. In 2019, after years of working for large firms, she founded her own firm. Simplicity Wealth Management provides clarity to the complicated nature of financial planning and investing by delivering comprehensive advice without hidden fees and unnecessary jargon that leaves you in the dark. The goal is to deliver transparent, easy-to-understand guidance to help clients achieve their financial goals and remain informed every step of the way.


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