Finding purpose is worth far more than money


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A funny thing happened to me last week. Several colleagues and I were invited to lunch to get pitched on donating money to a worthy cause. You know, the free lunch that may end up costing you a month's pay.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/09/2014 (3064 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A funny thing happened to me last week. Several colleagues and I were invited to lunch to get pitched on donating money to a worthy cause. You know, the free lunch that may end up costing you a month’s pay.

Many of us have known each other since we were in our 20s, and had gone through endless business and personal challenges and triumphs together over the last three-plus decades. When you are in your 20s and working too hard, you also tend to play hard. You know, The Wolf of Wall Street sort of shenanigans (ha, I could only dream).

So it was interesting to realize we had grown up. The tone of the conversation, while still laced with in-jokes and references only we would get, quickly turned more serious, focused on social causes and how it’s now time for us to give back to the community in a really meaningful way.

A compelling case was made to support this cause, with articulate presentations made by our colleagues, who were the proponents. In spite of their obvious passion and great reasons for supporting this cause, they were equally adamant it’s our time to give to many causes, not necessarily theirs. Thanks to our community and the opportunities it offered, we had all done well, and it was our time to give back, not just in the regular ways we do each year by making donations to charities, but by getting together, reaching deep and combining resources to really make a difference.

In fairness to this group and to Manitobans, this is already an ingrained feeling that shows itself in so many ways and so many causes. We are almost always the most generous province each year, according to CRA and Stats Canada. So, clearly I’m preaching to the converted. Perhaps I’m late to the party in really internalizing this feeling, but what was really profound to me about this get-together was the group of us would’ve likely kept any such feelings to ourselves 10 or 15 years ago. Suddenly, though, we were openly and enthusiastically on the same page. As a group, we had become the elders, and we all seemed to acknowledge that fact. (Credit to the organizers — you know who you are.)

That was the “one” punch for me in a two-punch combination that day. The next was a profoundly moving email from a reader responding to my piece on happiness, making a convincing point that meaning and purpose in your life are essential ingredients to achieving happiness. He’d cared for his terminally ill wife for 14 years. For him, that single-minded purpose had provided a measure of happiness, even in the midst of such a heartbreaking situation. In seeking a new purpose, he illustrated beautifully the journey we are all on.

The upcoming opening of Canadian Museum for Human Rights is one of the greatest examples ever of the impossible things that can be achieved through the power of people so dedicated to a profound purpose. Finding your purpose and acting on it will help make you a happier person.

And, since my newspaper contract requires it, let me tell you of the great tax benefits available by donating money or appreciated shares. Every $1,000 donated to a registered charity will generally save you $450 of federal and provincial tax. The credit on the first $200 donated each year attracts a smaller credit, so combine all of the family donations onto one tax return.

If you have publicly traded shares you can donate, it’s even better. The capital gain on these shares, which would otherwise be half taxable on a sale, is tax-free if you donate the shares in-kind directly into the investment account of the charity.

So, you can feel good and reduce your taxes. By the way, sincere congratulations to Gail Asper and the whole team at the CMHR. It’s been a long, amazing journey.


Dollars and Sense is meant as an introduction to this topic and should not be construed as a replacement for personalized professional advice.

David Christianson, BA, CFP, R.F.P., TEP, CIM is a financial planner and adviser with Christianson Wealth Advisors, a vice-president with National Bank Financial Wealth Management, and author of the book Managing the Bull, A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance.

David Christianson

David Christianson
Personal finance columnist

David has been a practising financial planner and life advisor since 1982, specializing in helping clients identify and reach their most important goals, and then helping them manage all of their financial affairs, including investments.

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