To live a fulfilled life is to live in alignment with your values. The choices you make every day reflect what you value and are demonstrated in your daily behaviors and actions – such as are you living below your means, and do you have a financial plan? Your thinking drives your choices. So, the question each of us should be asking ourselves, in order to live a more fulfilled life, “Is my thinking and are my choices in alignment with my values?”
If you haven’t considered your personal values for a while, here are a few value questions to consider:
What matters to you in your life?
What values are you living in your life, right now?
Some of my core values are:
Family, community, health, empowerment, trust, respect, adventure, kindness, compassion, giving, and wisdom.
I learned the value of “giving” from my parents, as Dad always used to say, “’Tis better to give, than to receive.”
Often, “making a difference in other people’s lives” is at the heart of living a fulfilled life, and a core personal value. Making a difference in other people’s lives can take many forms, such as volunteering your time, your knowledge, or your skills. It can take the form of starting a business to benefit others, such as what MAD Success does collectively with mental, physical and financial well-being. Making a difference can also take the form of giving to a charity or through philanthropy.
If part of living a more fulfilled life involves making a difference in people’s lives, giving to a charity or through philanthropy is one of the easiest ways to get started.
Giving to charity is what most people think of when they want to donate their time, talent or money in order to make a difference in people’s lives. Charities are established to make your giving easy to do, especially your gift of money. A charity is a not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to give money, food, or help to those who need it (right away), or to carry out longer-term activities such as medical research, such as for cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, heart-disease, or other such research.
Philanthropy, on the other hand, is the generous donation of money to “big-picture” societal issues and causes to help solve them, such as with “medical research”, noted in the charity definition above. Philanthropy is often associated with the wealthy, but that is not always the case. If you donate money to a charity, for instance, your money could be directed towards the “medical research” or another larger societal cause being studied by the charity, not just applied for immediate care.
Philanthropic and charitable giving is done in alignment with one’s values. The choice to give is empowering, generous, inspiring, courageous, respectful, helpful and kind – all import values – but your values for giving may differ, and that’s great! Bottom-line, it’s better to give than to receive (thanks, Dad).
Building charitable or philanthropic giving (“Giving”) into your personal financial plan is possible with the right values-based plan. Here are some Top Giving Tips for your financial plan:
1. It’s never too late to start.
Your financial plan can include Giving starting in your lean early years, through your prime earning years, and in retirement, as aligned with your values and as part of living a more fulfilled life.
2. Fix a percentage, and stick with it.
The easiest way to build Giving into your life and financial plan is to decide upon a percentage and stick with it, such as 3, 5 or 10% of your net income (after taxes). By fixing a percentage that you maintain throughout your earning years, you no longer have to think about dollar amounts, just the percentage, and as your wages grow so too does your absolute contribution to Giving. Though you may be struggling to make ends meet during these challenging pandemic times, there are people much worse off than you, every little bit counts, so bake it into your life and financial plan, and stick with it.
3. Regulate & Automate.
Make Giving a regular, automatic part of your monthly “Pay First” plan. “Pay First” means paying yourself and Giving before anything else. Pay yourself in the form of savings / debt reduction and contribute to Giving automatically. Arrange for monthly auto-pay deductions on pay day from your bank account to pay yourself and your gift of Giving to your favorite charities first.
4. Reduce Your Taxes.
Charitable donations are tax deductible in Hong Kong, the US, Canada, and many other countries. Your Giving lowers your taxes – that’s a meaningful wealth transfer from paying the government to providing a gift to your favorite charities. In Hong Kong, “approved charitable donations” of up to 35% can be deducted from income under salaries tax, assessable profits under profits tax, and total income under personal assessment. That’s a massive potential tax savings used for the benefit of those in need through your gift of Giving! How’s that for living a more values-based fulfilled life?
5. Align your values with your Giving.
Ask yourself, “Which organization or cause aligns with my values?” In consideration of your values, it’s also important to choose charities with strong fiscal health, where your gift will do the greatest good (and not be used just for Administrative purposes), and who are transparent about their costs and how your Giving will be used. There are a number of organizations that can help you with this: GuideStar, Charity Navigator and GiveWell, to name a few. By doing some research into your values-based Giving, you will sleep well knowing your gift is doing the greatest good.
6. Be creative.
If debt payments and financial stress weigh heavily on you today, but you want to make Giving a part of your financial plan, start by helping others through a donation of your time and talent. A regular commitment to donating your time and talent are equally as valuable as donating money, especially when value aligned.
Living in alignment with your values quite empowering and will ultimately help you live a more fulfilled life and make better choices. Giving in alignment with your values is a powerful choice. Too often we make choices without reflecting on our values, and that can lead to stress and anxiety because we know deep inside that we are somehow misaligned. Getting your financial house in order will also help you to significantly reduce financial stress and will help you align with your values, Giving, and living a more fulfilled life.
If you are struggling with identifying your values, with financial stress, or stuck with no financial plan, our professional coaches and financial experts can help you to get unstuck. Email us at GetUnstuck@MADSuccess.com.
About the author: Lachlan Campbell’s purpose, his “Why”, is to help people live the life they want, their way. He founded MAD Success Limited, because he believes everyone should live a happy, healthy, wealthy, more fulfilled life. As experts and thought leaders in Wellness, MAD Success offers workshops, seminars, courses and coaching for individuals and corporates. Lachlan is available for local and international professional coaching, consulting, and speaking engagements on such life fulfilling topics as Creating a Life or Financial Plan, Career, Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Wellness (holistically combining Mental, Physical & Financial Well-Being). Email: GetUnstuck@MADSuccess.com
Ready to start GIVING BACK today? Check out our GIVE portal to learn about some of the causes we’re passionate about supporting, and help us reach our goal of educating 100 Girls together with Room to Read and their Girls’ Education Program.
Interested in more financial tips from Lachlan? Check out Top 5 Financial Empowerment and Stress Reduction Strategies for Women.