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Dollars & Sense: Charitably eating elephants

I write this with the inspiration of my wife, mother-in-law and sister-in-law, as they performed a selfless act of serving people dinner at the Extended Table the other night.

For those of you who don’t know, the Extended Table is an extension of LIFT-UP, where local people make meals and then serve and eat with those in need on Tuesday and Thursday nights at the United Methodist–Presbyterian Church on Fourth Street in Rifle.

Many people I meet with are interested in giving to others. Some call this charity and others just view it as being a normal person who would like to help out. There are many programs in the community and churches that provide these services in which you can always participate. But not everyone is able to physically serve and others would like to help out monetarily. So here are a few ways to help, from an investment standpoint, and some additional reasons, if you need them.



When you give to any charity, ask them for a receipt. (You only need a receipt if your donation is over $250.) I always ask, since I can give more that way and then the government takes less in income taxes. I have yet to come across a single individual that would like to give the government more in income taxes. For example, if you are in a 25 percent federal marginal tax bracket and a 4.6 percent Colorado tax bracket, your donation of $100 could result in a reduction of $29.60 in taxes if you itemize your deductions.

Contributing to a charity or providing service is usually not intended to be a benefit to yourself, yet it always is, in many more ways than just monetarily. There is something about helping others out that really puts you into the right perspective in your own life. This teaches those around you to pass it on and really helps us look out for one another. Serving others and contributing to charity is much like investing; sometimes you mean to do it and other things get in the way. My thought would be to just do it!



Start doing something small on a consistent basis. Some organizations even take a monthly amount. Then at the end of the year, like investing, you’re not going to have to decide to give up a whole week of income or your refund from the IRS and give it to others.

It is similar to a question I was asked while in Africa: “How do you eat an elephant?” Just one bite at a time.

My last thoughts are to get others involved. If you can get a whole tribe together, the elephant is eaten the same way, one bite at a time, but the synergy of the tribe will make quick work of it. So let’s go out and eat elephants, one bite at a time!

Mike Davis is a Rifle-based financial representative with Northwestern Mutual, the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, Wis. (NM) (life and disability insurance, annuities) and its subsidiaries. Securities offered through Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC, (NMIS), subsidiary of NM, broker-dealer, member FINRA and SIPC.


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