Lucy and Charlie Brown were a recently retired couple excited to start a new stage in their life. They had big plans.
Over the next few years, they checked off most of the items on their bucket list.
As they started to check off the list, they found themselves in their late 60’s with more income than they had expected. After listening to David Kennon’s great advice, they understood that dying with a bunch of money didn’t make any sense. They understood that with the $800,000 inside their IRAs, it was reasonable to spend $3300 a month without dipping into the principal.
“I can’t believe this,” marveled Lucy, “We always worried about running out of money. Now we are running out of things to spend it on.”
The next evening Chuck and Lucy went to dinner at a nice restaurant. Lucy purchased a glass of wine that wasn’t even on the happy hour menu. As they ate dinner, they noticed a group of six teachers sitting at the table next to them. The school year had just begun.
“That’s a hard job,” Lucy commented. “Teachers just don’t get the recognition they deserve. They don’t make much money either. Did you know a new teacher gets paid $38,000 a year?!”
“I’m going to pay for their meal,” Lucy pronounced. “We have the money.” Chuck nearly fell out of the booth.
So they anonymously paid the tab. The teachers were dumbfounded. Their hearts swelled with the idea that the community valued their service. This act of kindness stuck with them throughout the year whenever they faced tough times.
“That felt great!” exclaimed Lucy. The taste of generosity was much better than dinner.
A couple of days later, Chuck and Lucy were having breakfast at a small diner. Their bill totaled $21. “These poor waitresses,” Lucy thought to herself. “They work so hard.”
Lucy left her a $20 tip with a note that said, “You are doing great. We appreciate you!” That waitress felt a warmness in her chest. The rest of her day seemed a whole lot easier.
Now Lucy was hooked. She began to realize that instead of banking the extra $3300 each month, they were going to be outrageously generous.
A couple of months later, Chuck’s niece went through a nasty divorce. With four kids and a deadbeat Dad, she was in dire straights. Lucy started thinking.
“Let’s give her a gift of $10,000. That’s only three months of investment income and it will get her back of her feet,” Lucy said excitedly. Chuck was really getting into this too. “I never thought giving would feel this good,” he commented.
A month later, Chuck and Lucy read in the newspaper that hundreds of children in Sarasota did not even have a bed to sleep in. They had to sleep on the floor of their home. “This is terrible,” Lucy sighed, “can you imagine that this is happening in one of the richest areas in the country?”
So they joined forces with a local church to build inexpensive beds for kids. Chuck got to use his woodworking skills and their money paid for the materials. Not only did the kids get to sleep on their own bed, but their parents were amazed at the gift. They started to realize that people out there cared. They didn’t have to be alone in the struggle.
At this point, Chuck and Lucy were consciously looking for places to help.
“The police have such a hard job. I can’t even imagine. Not only do they risk their lives every day, but it seems like the country is trying its best to make them out to be the criminals,” Chuck said angrily. “Let’s do something nice to appreciate them.” They contacted the police department to get the names of all the veteran officers.
They bought a small trophy, like that of a high school team. On each one was inscribed: “Biggest Hero in Sarasota, 2021.” The officers were deeply touched and many sat the award on their mantle.
Chuck started to get nervous. “This is great and everything, but we are giving away a lot of money. You never know what could happen. Maybe we should keep the extra money in our retirement accounts. Let’s not go too crazy here,” argued Chuck.
“Absolutely not,” Lucy responded, “I refuse to die with over a million dollars. Sure, our family would get the inheritance. But this is our money. I want to enjoy it. I want to determine what it’s for.”
“And what could actually happen? Between our bank account and IRA’s we still have $1,000,000. Not to mention the $300,000 of equity we have in the house.”
“What if we need to go to a nursing home? They are so expensive. I don’t want one of us to be left destitute,” Chuck argued.
“Chuck, the chances of one of us needing years and years of nursing home care are incredibly slim. Dave showed us the statistics. There is only a single-digit chance. Do we really want to stop our generosity? I refuse to live in that kind of fear. And do you really think, at age 85, we will look back on our life and say, ‘I sure wish we helped fewer people’?”
“I guess you’re right,” Chuck relented. “I think we are doing the right thing.”
Chuck and Lucy lived into their eighties. Their kids and grandkids learned the value of giving. Their funerals were celebrations of lives well lived.
And at the end of it all, after investment returns, their IRA’s were still worth $800,000.
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