Core to the mission of TicTocLife is to be an avenue for us to give back to the community that helped build our financial independence mindset and meet our early retirement goals.
Part of the way we want to do this is to help spread ideas throughout the personal finance community regarding charitable giving. The principles we’ve learned to build wealth within our personal finances can be applied in similarly novel ways to charitable giving.
Monthly Reader Poll
One of the ways we intend to forward our charitable mission is to encourage readers to participate in guiding our own giving. We’re doing this by providing a monthly poll of charitable organizations around a certain theme.
Your vote in the poll leads us to give to the most needy organization in our monthly roundups.
Our current non-profit reader-directed giving poll is below.
If you’d like to help us decide where our next monthly donation should go, read and review our quick outline of the choices and submit your vote in the poll below.
The above poll will close at the start (midnight, EDT) of August 1, 2021. As always, we will monitor for vote-rigging or mistakes and reserve the right to override the poll results where necessary.
Reader’s Choice FIRE Fund
How did this giving poll come about?
In August of 2020, we created our first public charitable fund tied to FIRE principles and TicTocLife’s community.
The goals of the Reader’s Choice FIRE Fund are multifold:
- Apply FIRE principles to building a charitable fund
- Encourage our community to direct the donations
- Spread these ideas to multiply giving
How is this charitable fund designed to achieve those goals?
FIRE principles & charitable giving
We will leverage a key principle of FIRE, the 4% rule, in building this charitable fund.
What if, instead of a lump sum donation, we invested the sum in low-cost index funds and donated 4% of the fund’s value annually? Couldn’t we do this, potentially, into perpetuity?
Similarly, we wanted this charitable giving fund’s balance to represent our personal FIRE experience.
In 2019, we spent $40,885 on our living expenses—that’s our FIRE budget. We planned our FIRE number partially based on this figure. We decided that $40,885 would be an appropriate, FIRE-representative balance to aim for in our Reader’s Choice FIRE Fund.
The fund’s founding date, August 8, 2020, is also the three month anniversary of TicTocLife’s launch. We felt it would be appropriate to set a goal to fully fund our first public charitable fund by TicTocLife’s one-year anniversary date: May 8, 2021.
In order to put us on the right track to reach this goal, we deposited the first quarter of that goal, $10,222, into the fund on the founding date.
Community directed giving
We will incorporate our readers within our charitable mission where possible. Our intention is to hand-select approximately 3-5 charities per month and donate to one of them. Working from the 4% rule, we’ll aim to donate 1/12th of 4% (or 1/3%) of the fund’s value every month to our selected charity.
We will select the charity by narrowing our 3-5 candidates in a community vote. Monthly, we release a Budget Update on or around the first of the month. All future updates, beginning September 2020 will contain our charity candidates for the month and a polling system to vote on them for you, the readers.
We’ll also update this page over time, tracking our historical contributions from the Reader’s Choice FIRE Fund and the charities they went to.
Spreading can multiply giving
It is our hope that by engaging with you, dear reader, the seed for this type of giving strategy could be planted in your mind, too. If we were able to reach a single additional FIRE proponent and nudge them towards giving in a similar way, we would effectively double our own giving.
If it doesn’t make sense for you to give at this stage in your financial independence journey, you might know someone who can. This is the only time we’re asking you to consider sharing our ideas directly. Help us fulfill this mission and purpose behind the TicTocLife project.
Sharing can help grow this idea to other people who have reached FI and can afford to do this. It also promotes FIRE principals outside the existing FIRE community, expanding the movement and showing what good can come from FIRE.
How is this charitable fund constructed?
In August of 2020, we opened a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF) to house our Reader’s Choice FIRE Fund. DAFs help mitigate taxes in a way that can let us contribute more to our chosen charities. They also streamline the process of donating to the recipient charities.
We’ve written more on giving, including ways to incorporate a DAF as part of your strategic giving plan.
Keep an eye out for more articles in the near future that goes into the weeds on DAFs, their benefits, pros, and cons. We’ll update this space.
The Reader’s Choice FIRE Fund from TicTocLife is an account with Schwab Charitable. We fund this DAF from our own personal DAF that houses most of our charitable giving.
We created a “child” DAF with Schwab for this specific purpose in order to be able to have more flexibility with the account’s initial balance, as to avoid minimum balance fees and to be able to make smaller contributions to charities.
Schwab Charitable’s minimum balance is $5,000 and charitable donations can be made as small as $50. There’s a minimum annual administrative fee of $100 (or 0.6%, whichever is greater). Given the related tax benefits and smooth donation process, we feel it’s worth the fee.
DAF Asset Allocation
The DAF’s balance is invested and will grow (hopefully) with the stock market, enabling us to keep giving from this fund into the future. The balance is distributed among low-cost index funds as:
- 80% stocks
- 20% bonds
Both asset classes are split 50/50 US domestic and international.
This asset allocation generally matches our personal investing principles and the suggestion of the Trinity Study.
We will maintain the ledger below for our Reader’s Choice FIRE Fund, our DAF with Schwab Charitable.
|Activity Date||Description||Transaction Amount ($, US)|
|2020-09-08||MCV Grant for August||(50)|
|2020-10-07||AdoptAClassrom.org Grant for September||(50)|
|2020-11-03||Richmond Animal League Grant for October||(54)|
|2020-12-01||Heifer International Grant for November||(68)|
|2021-01-06||Direct Relief Grant for December||(79)|
|2021-02-06||New Beginnings Incorporation Grant for January||(93)|
|2021-03-04||National Black Farmers Association Grant for February||(104)|
|2021-04-02||St. Mary’s Health Wagon Grant for March||(118)|
|2021-05-02||Girls Who Code Grant for April||(144)|
|2021-06-03||Conservation International Foundation Grant for May||(156)|
|2021-07-07||NAMI of Central Virginia Grant for June||(157)|
This Is Your Charity Fund
If you like this charitable giving idea, please don’t hesitate to steal it. If you’re a FIRE proponent, we hope you like the idea of combining FIRE and giving:
- Build a charity nest egg and invest it in low-cost index funds
- Leverage the 4% rule and build a system of perpetual giving
- Maximize the value of a dollar, especially in giving, with a DAF
The best possible outcome that could come of us publishing this is for someone else to latch onto the idea and use it for themselves. We’re not terribly comfortable publicizing our giving, and so the purpose of making this public is to get you to consider following our footsteps.
Our previous charitable fund polls are below for posterity’s sake.