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The Employer Match: How Charitable Giving is Like Your 401k

The Employer Match: How Charitable Giving is Like Your 401k

Giving
A common piece of personal finance advice is to “take free money. Even if you can’t do anything else, contribute to your 401k enough to get a company match.” Many employers will match up to a certain percentage of your salary (usually 3-5%) as an additional contribution to your 401k. For example, let's say you are earning $50,000/year and the match is 5%. When you contribute (tax-deductible) to your 401k of $2,500, your company will also put in $2,500.   If you don’t contribute, you are missing out on free money. Surprisingly, the same holds true for donations to charity. A less common piece of financial advice, but more important than ever during years like 2020, is this: find out if your employer will match your charitable donations so you can…
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Virtual Volunteering: 13 Ways to Volunteer Online

Virtual Volunteering: 13 Ways to Volunteer Online

Take Action
During Giving November, we’ve been focused on ways to be grateful and give back by giving away your money, your stuff, and even your time.   Organizations need volunteers now more than ever. But, due to COVID-19, many people either aren’t able or willing to volunteer. Furthermore, some organizations can’t accept traditional volunteers.  So how can you make a difference without donating money or volunteering in person? The answer is virtual volunteering. How to Volunteer Online There are many organizations with online volunteer opportunities. But how can you find opportunities? Here are 13 ways you can volunteer online. Call or Email Local Organizations Many nonprofits are still trying to figure out how to move traditional volunteering opportunities to remote volunteer work. Some organizations were able to pivot quickly during COVID-19. Others…
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5 Unexpected Benefits of Giving Away Stuff

5 Unexpected Benefits of Giving Away Stuff

Giving, Take Action
During Giving November, we aren’t just focused on giving away money. The month is also about giving away our time, our skills, and our stuff.  Whether it’s gently used or toys, clothes, books, or even furniture, here are five unexpected benefits of donating things to charity.  1. You Will Feel Lighter Before we were all glued to Marie Kondo’s Netflix Special, “Tidying Up," Gretchen Rubin was writing about the benefits of having an empty shelf.   When you give away your things, you feel lighter and less weighed down.  2. You Gain a Sense of Control Similar to the weight that is metaphorically lifted when you give away your things, decluttering provides a sense of control. Even doing just one small thing on your checklist will empower you to take…
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Set Up Automatic Monthly Donations to Charity

Set Up Automatic Monthly Donations to Charity

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At the end of the year do you pull out your checkbook and start writing checks to numerous charities? That's what I used to do. Every year just before Thanksgiving the appeals start rolling in - to my inbox, mailbox, and even (in non-COVID years) directly by knocks at my door. (Which always makes me feel especially bad because in November in Minnesota it's not exactly warm.) With all of these organizations asking for money my spouse and I sit down with a list of nonprofits we care about and make donations to each one. While this giving certainly gets me in the holiday spirit, and the gratitude makes me feel a lot happier, it's not the best thing to do for the charity or my wallet. This week I…
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More Brilliant Moments

More Brilliant Moments

Miscellaneous
That moment in the morning, when the fog in my brain lifts.  When I have asked my son to put on his shoes for the 7th time, we are late leaving the house, and I have an important meeting. I want to yell, but instead I calmly sit down next to my son and say, "let me help you get your shoes." When my daughter lights up to see me, gives me a big hug, says “I love you mommy.” I fully embrace her and absorb the moment for all the joy it brings. When I’m sitting watching my dogs run back and forth chasing waves on the beach, feeling the warm sunshine on my face while looking out over the water. These are the brilliant moments. The moments when…
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5 Thank You’s and Watch Your Life Improve

5 Thank You’s and Watch Your Life Improve

Miscellaneous
As part of Giving November, I challenge you to write five thank you notes or emails this week. That’s just one a day for five days. To be clear, these thank you notes should not be for a physical gift you’ve received. Instead, they should be for some sort of support, advice, connection, or other intangible thing someone has given you. Maybe it’s a colleague at work or a former boss or mentor. Perhaps it’s a friend who helped you through a tough time in your life. Or maybe it’s someone semi-famous who recently put out a talk, podcast, or article that really moved or impacted you.  Think of those moments when someone supported you or helped you out - and put it in writing to them. Do this, then…
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Gratitude Will Make you Rich, Healthy and Happy

Gratitude Will Make you Rich, Healthy and Happy

Miscellaneous
Want to know one simple, three-minute practice that will change your life? Start a gratitude journal. That’s right. Gratitude. It’s the word of the decade. You are probably sick of hearing it, but do me a favor and read to the end of this post.   I’m here to tell you from personal experience that practicing gratitude actually works. It has changed my life over the past two years. But don’t just take my word for it.  Science backs me up. Study after study reveals that a simple gratitude practice can make us happier, healthier, and even richer. Why Practice Gratitude  Research has documented hundreds of reasons to practice gratitude. Some of my favorite reasons why to practice gratitude (along with the research to back them up) are below. 1. Being…
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Why and How to Set Up a Donor-Advised Fund

Why and How to Set Up a Donor-Advised Fund

Goals / Taking Action, Take Action
One of the most practical tips I learned in law school was from a Wills & Trusts class. No, it wasn’t about how to plan for your death. It was about how to plan for your life, specifically when it comes to donating money. The term I heard in that class, that I had never heard about before, was “donor-advised fund.”   We learned that this was similar to a charitable trust, but with some unique differences.  I don’t know about you, but to me, setting up a charitable trust or anything similar sounded like something only rich people would or should do. However, it turns out you don’t have to be one of the ultra-rich to have a donor advised fund. You can and should set one up. Why Should…
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Giving November: Why You Should Give Money Away Every Day this Month

Giving November: Why You Should Give Money Away Every Day this Month

Non-Profit - null
Every November, with the increase in appeal letters and emails from non-profits we care about, our family steps up our donations and charitable contributions. However, we are doing things a little differently this year. Each day during the month of November this year, we are going to give away $100 to a charity. Most importantly, we are making it a family event. With a six-year-old and a nine-year-old, this is going to be interesting.  The plan is this: we are rotating family members and each day a different family member gets to choose which organization receives our donation. While we have always tried to teach our kids the importance of giving, we hope that this consistency will really cement how important it is to contribute to causes.  For my nine-year-old,…
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How and Why to Check Your Dependent Care FSA Today for COVID-19 Breaks

How and Why to Check Your Dependent Care FSA Today for COVID-19 Breaks

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For most employees, it’s open enrollment season right now. And, for many of us, it’s hard to imagine what we need to sign up for in 2021. If you’re like me, everything we thought we needed for 2020 turned out to be a bit different than we planned. A year ago, I signed up for all of my company’s benefits. These benefits included a health care plan with HSA (we have two young kids and always hit our deductible), a vision plan (because two of us wear glasses), a dental plan (yep, we all have teeth!), and the trusty Dependent Care FSA. What is a Dependent Care FSA? For those who aren’t familiar with it, a Dependent Care FSA allows you to set aside pre-tax dollars (up to $5,000 in…
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