Our $35,000 Christmas gift to ourselves – the Donor Advised Fund

My wife and I were born into middle classes families that valued education, religion, saving money and trying to be good human beings.  We were born in one of the best societies humans have created, possibly at its peak.  We live in unprecedented luxury compared with our peers from even 1 century ago much less 3 or more.  We have 2 healthy kids and our parents are still alive.  We just cannot go on with all that good fortune without feeling like we won the human birth lottery.  We  as have more than our share of luck, so we decided to give some away.If I did win the money lottery, like DDD speculates, I would certainly give, so why not start now?

So I finally did what I’ve been thinking about for about a year since reading Physician on Fire’s post about Donor Advised Funds.  (If you haven’t read this series, take a few minutes).  It’s not monumental, but 35K in appreciated shares ain’t bad.  It is the most expensive Christmas gift we have ever bought for ourselves.

This isnt a post on how to open a DAF, the tax benefits, etc.  PoF does a fine job as that is concerned.  It’s  a post about how saving money and being financially responsible has allowed my family to start on one of our goals in leading a GoodLife, which is to give back.  This blog is to keep me honest on that whole GoodLife thing.

I have been giving small amounts for years and with the mortgage we had and accidental rental property, I usually got to itemized deductions.  Well, we’ve sold the rental and have no mortgage, I am an employee and therefore will likely be taking the standard deduction going forward.

Now that the tax law has such a large standard deduction of 24K married jointly, I may not get the tax break on the charitable giving depending on how generous we were that year.  But that wouldn’t stop us from giving, it just makes it easier to give this year.   With the DAF we can take the deduction this year and give them money whenever we want.

We had a remarkable year at my little Midwest cancer center, and with Christmas here, I have so much to be grateful for.   My center is not for profit and also has a foundation, both of which are available for giving via VG DAF, so I’ve got my first Grantee picked out!

In a few years, we will show our kids the fund and let them help choose the charities.  We will also take some of the kids allowance earnings and mandate placement into the fund which we will match.  I’m pretty excited to see how I can use this money.  I hope it becomes addicting and I give more to let it sustain and pass to our children.

To summarize how my wife and I feel about our decision to open a DAF I quote one of my favorite Christmas movies, Trading Places:

Lookin’ good Billy Ray!

Feelin’ good Lewis!

Merry Christmas!

7 Replies to “Our $35,000 Christmas gift to ourselves – the Donor Advised Fund”

  1. I’m both humbled and pleased to hear I may have played some small role in your decision to open a Donor Advised Fund.

    It’s great you can give back to your cancer center. I’ve got a portion of my DAF on autopilot, giving back to the hospital that employs me every December.

    Cheers & Merry Christmas!

  2. Congrats on your good fortune, and kudos for sharing it! We have been donating our appreciated securities each year to a Fidelity DAF; it’s a win-win situation. I’ve had a lot of fun searching for deserving charities and sending cash their way with the click of the mouse.

    Fröhliche Weihnachten!

    1. Yeah I spent some time browsing charities last night, it was exciting. I also like Kickstarter for the same reason. Feels good to impact others.

      I wonder if there is a charity to support early retired doctors who want to travel and do medical mission work : )

  3. This is the way to go. I begged my grandparents to do this before they passed away but my pleas went on deaf ears. They trusted their children would follow their wishes. Instead each child proceeded to fight, cheat and steal the estate until there was nothing left except a broken family. They had enough money to start a legacy instead they will be forgotten and the money squandered. This will not happen in my estate and my kids will have a DAF and prevent history from repeating. Great Post!

    1. That is a sad story. A legacy gone…..
      My dad is a financial planner who specializes in Estate Planning so I’ve heard that type of thing before. Before my grandparents passed he channeled much of the estate to the 6 kids in a tax friendly way. They didnt do a DAF because that would mean the money wasn’t available to spend, but like you I will make sure it gets spent on charity if were lucky enough to die with a nice chunk.

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