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How to find the right balance between giving and saving

Do you remember that old adage, ‘It’s better to give than to receive’? It certainly holds a kernel of truth, since most of us have experienced the joy and satisfaction of philanthropy, knowing we are truly helping others in need.

But it is equally important to maintain financial security for yourself and your family. You should be able to face whatever financial hurdles come your way over the years without undue stress caused by being overly generous along the way. Here’s how to find the right balance between giving and saving.


The first step in finding the right balance between giving and living well is to make a budget. For those of us enjoying a comfortable retirement, the desire to donate to a worthy charity is heart-felt. By taking a realistic look at your income and expenses you can establish just how much disposable income you have to give away.

Some of us have the skills to sit at the kitchen table and take a realistic stock of our finances. But there is plenty of help available too if you need it. Websites such as and Services Australia offer general financial advice and referral information for people in retirement. There are many financial planners too, but make sure you do your research to find a reputable one you can trust.


With your budget in order, let’s address the question of how much to donate to charity and whether you prefer to spread money across several worthy causes or stick to your personal favourite. Perhaps you feel inspired to donate to a charity that does not have a high media profile? Or you may feel passionate about particular charities that have had a positive impact on your life or the lives of those you love. The sheer number of organisations relying on our support can actually be a disincentive to donate at all, so it’s wise to think carefully about each and every contribution.

Weighing up what to do with your charity dollar? If you want to give over years or decades rather than weeks or months, you should think about the sustainability of your generous plan. You don't want to give so much up front that you end up feeling forced to wind back when your circumstances change. 


Don’t despair if you’re not quite in a financial position to help others. There are many ways to make valuable contributions to society that don’t involve dipping into your all-important savings. For example, why not donate used items to a charity shop, volunteer at your local sporting or community organisation, or join a group focusing on animal welfare or your local environment?

Giving to others can be incredibly empowering for both the giver and the receiver. So always keep a close eye on your finances, but at the same time don’t be afraid to donate generously where possible.