How Do You Know If Your Last One-third Has Started?

by | May 14, 2019

What if today is the beginning of the last one-third of your life? How will you define success for that last one-third? Generosity or zeroes in the bank?

I recently read an article about giving in the last one-third of a lifetime.

The writer, Bruce Deboskey, a well-known philanthropy consultant, was talking about donors beyond the age of 65.

Of course, I immediately wondered how many of us know when our last one-third has started. And, of course, the answer will always be, it depends. I love it when I can answer my own questions!

The boom right after the second world war, babies, has been felt across the country. They grew up to have a significant impact on the creation, growth, and sustainability of nonprofits everywhere. U.S. census data tells us there are almost 50 million in this generation, and is expected to nearly double by 2060. The average net worth of those 65-74 is estimated at 1.06 million dollars, with an average net worth of those over 65 $224,000 (U.S. Federal Reserve).

We know this generation’s generosity is greater than any other age group, accounting for almost 70 percent of all giving. Those numbers represent charitable donations and do not include volunteer time, something this generation has more to give since most are already retired.

What Baby-boomers tell us about volunteering and being happy

They feel:

  • A higher sense of well-being
  • Lower stress levels
  • Physically healthier
  • A stronger sense of purpose
  • Happier

Their answer to the definition of success?

85% say generosity

15% say zeroes in the bank

And all those retirees with more time to volunteer? They report they are more likely to feel happier and have a greater sense of purpose than less generous boomers.

The challenge we face as we age is more time and fewer resources. So, that makes taking advantage of the ability to volunteer to do something you feel will make a difference quite important.

Even though donation checks may be smaller, they continue to matter to nonprofit organizations who will always need as many donors as possible to accomplish the work.

Deboskey provides excellent questions to help guide anyone in the last one-third of their life as they determine where to give and where to volunteer.

Questions to guide older Americans

 Seniors who are considering philanthropy should ask themselves a series of important questions, including:

  • How much of my net worth is needed to adequately take care of myself and any dependents for the rest of our lives?
  • How much do I want to leave for my heirs, keeping in mind the apt words of Warren Buffet: “Enough so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing”?
  • How do I wish to be remembered? What is my legacy?
  • What difference do I want to make in my community, nation or world while I am still in a position to do so?
  • What skills do I have that might be useful to others?
  • How do I wish to share and express my values with my children and grandchildren?
  • What am I passionate about?
  • What kind of philanthropic efforts could help me achieve a greater sense of significance in my life?
  • Can an expert in wealth management, tax and estate planning, or philanthropic strategy help me answer any of these questions

Note: excerpted from an online article “Giving in the Last Third of Life” April 17, 2019

Not one of these questions asks how much is left over at the end of the month after all the bills are paid. The question is not whether to give or volunteer but rather what matters when you do give or volunteer. The amount does not matter. The amount of time does not matter.

Your legacy is about so much more than just dollars. It’s about how you model generosity in a way that matters for you, for your family, friends, coworkers, and everyone else watching and listening whom you don’t even know about.

Yes, your giving matters just as much in the last one-third of your life as it ever did. Has your last one-third started? How do you know?  Every day is the beginning of the last one-third of my life. What about you?

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