Broker Check
Business Beginnings and Gifts of Good

Business Beginnings and Gifts of Good

November 19, 2019

Just over four years ago my wife, Shannon, and I were about to realize a dream that we had kept quiet for many years—starting our own financial planning practice. We had tried to launch the same business in 2007 but had to close it down after 5 months. With a child to feed, I went to work for a large company instead. We gave up on the dream. Or maybe we just suppressed it for several years.

As I reflect on that, I am especially thankful for those first 25 clients who have been with me (and now, us, as a 3-person team) since the beginning. They trusted me as I embarked on something completely new.

I remember how Shannon and I waited until August of that year to tell my security-minded parents because even we weren’t sure this was going to work. Starting a business carries huge risk even with good planning. At that point, we had been planning for almost a year.

In fact, I have one client who knew about my transition out of VALIC (as an employee advisor) before I told my parents. You know who you are, sir.

Back in September of 2015, I had rented this tiny office behind the Lynwood Shopping Center in Twin Falls. The $300 lease payment was a stretch financially, every single month. Often, it was paid late. That building owner deserves an award for putting up with me.

In mid-2018, I bought 2 retiring advisors’ book of business. I’m grateful to those clients who gave me a chance and stayed with us. All my clients had extreme grace during the year-long transition. I was backlogged and failing at timely return of emails and phone calls. My clients are awesome. And very gracious.

It seems change is constant, in business and life. And come November, I naturally reflect on family. On time together. On those no longer here. I also think about what I can do to help others.

I think about what a struggle our first 2 years in business were and it makes me grateful for that struggle and where we are now. Now, I can provide help to those in need instead of being the one in need.

Last year at this time Shannon wrote about an organization called TisBest. Their mission is "
Fueling a movement to replace gifts of stuff with gifts of good that meaningfully connect individuals to important causes." Shannon really likes that: replace gifts of stuff with gifts of good. She says she is going to start using that to break the news to our children about Christmas gifts this year. I’ll let you know how it goes.

At TisBest, you can buy a gift card for someone and they can give the proceeds to any one of 1.5 million charities throughout the United States. Given that we live in Idaho, there are over 500 charities and ministries that solely focus on helping Idaho residents.

Another cool feature is that the buyer of the gift card gets notified when the recipient
spends the card by choosing which charity to support with the funds. This is a cool way to see each other's values in action. You could even have something new to chat about at family gatherings this year.

Click here to learn more about TisBest and buy gift cards.

For those of you who have reached the RMD (Required Minimum Distribution) phase of life (or more commonly known as the phase where the IRS says all good things like tax deferral must come to an end), there is a great way to support a charity and potentially get a nice tax deduction.

It is called the Qualified Charitable Distribution from an IRA.

If you do not need your annual RMD for living expenses, this might be something to strongly consider.

The IRS gives you the ability to gift money from your Traditional IRA (pre-tax IRA) directly to a charity. The amount you gift to the charity is a potential income tax deduction for you.

Standard tax disclosure: I am not a tax professional and strongly recommend you visit with your tax professional before making the decision to utilize the Qualified Charitable Distribution.

You can read about the Qualified Charitable Distribution in this post from fellow financial advisor Michael Kitces.

If you have not taken your RMD this year, there is still time to discuss whether a Qualified Charitable Distribution might work for you.

If you have taken your RMD, you can still do an additional distribution for this purpose. If not, there is always next year.

I’ll close with a quote by investing guru Warren Buffett, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree long ago.”

Being charitable today is like planting a tree to provide shade for someone in need.

This holiday season, I can’t wait to give gifts of good instead of gifts of stuff. I’m starting with my own children. There is truly so little time to teach them our family values. I look forward to seeing them plant trees for others—for many years to come.

* Cover photo by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash