by Mitch Anthony

“It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.”
—Sarah Bernhardt

There are only four things you can do with your money:

  1. Owe it (taxes and debt)
  2. Grow it (investing and saving)
  3. Live on it (lifestyle spending)
  4. Give it away (philanthropy)

The choices you make around Owe-Grow-Live-Give (OGLG) have a direct impact on the quality of your own life, as well as those around you.

While all four options are critical to living a successful Return on Life (ROL), giving can provide the most meaning to your clients.

In the United States, we are a nation of givers. The 2017 CAF World Giving Index reported that almost three-quarters of us helped a stranger in need, almost half of us volunteered, and more than half of us donated money to a cause or charity we believed in.

Every year, we set aside the fourth Thursday of November to give thanks for what we have. Most of us will probably spend the day with our families, eating more than we should, and watching a lot of football. However, being thankful is more than food, football, or even family—it’s sharing your blessings with others.

As an advisor, there is no better way to help your clients bring meaning to their money than by helping them integrate giving into their plans. Giving is something you can discuss with clients who are doing well financially, as well as those who have limited means (acts of giving can be as impactful as writing out a check).

In the ROL Advisor program that Steve Sanduski and I are launching this month, giving is an essential component of determining one’s financial philosophy (what I define as “fiscalosophy”). You can’t design a plan that works for clients without knowing what money means to them. As part of the program, we have developed tools to help you and your clients determine where and how giving fits into their financial planning. A financial plan should not be considered complete without integrating your client’s giving goals into that plan.

Part of the conversation needs to focus on what is in your client’s heart—driven by purpose, rather than purse. Understanding the “why” is as critical as the “how much,” and can help you and your clients make decisions that will fulfill them from both mind and money perspectives.

The means and methods by which people give are incredibly diverse. Some do so by giving money to causes they believe in, which lends an extra layer of meaning to what they do each day to earn that money. Still others give back by lending their expertise and skill to causes and organizations that are making a difference in people’s lives. You will find that clients are committed to different levels of giving. Some give a day or two a month, and others give a part or all of every day. Some simply help by shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk or walking a friend’s dog. It really doesn’t matter what the act is—what matters is that you act.

The important thing is for people to feel they’ve translated their abilities and assets from self-serving to the realm of benevolence. Whether people are in a position of means that enables them to devote themselves full-time to philanthropy, or they wish to simply do something after retiring, the result is the same: Giving feels good because you get much more in return.

I don’t know about you, but I’m working on the assumption that I don’t get a second shot at this earthly existence. I certainly don’t want to give away my life to frustrating work and empty pursuits—I want to make a difference. My hope is that each of you will encourage your clients (and lead by example) to give back and do something that will not only help those around you, but you as well. Have a conversation with your clients, and show them how they can improve their own ROL through giving. Start with two simple questions:

  1. What is your level of charitable contributions?
  2. Are you comfortable with your level of charitable contributions?

Your clients will give thanks for your advice when you show them that, while freedom is the goal with financial life planning, freedom to give is the ultimate goal.

From everyone at Advisor Insights Inc. and, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

© 2017 Mitch Anthony

Mitch Anthony advises financial services organizations throughout the world. An industry pioneer, he is a popular speaker and consultant, and the developer of MyFLPTools, a subscription-based service that provides a suite of discovery tools for financial services professionals. He and Steve Sanduski have developed the Retirement Coaching Program and ROL Advisor to help advisors build a Life-Centered Planning™ practice. A regular contributor to Financial Advisor magazine, Mitch is the author of more than a dozen books including the industry bestseller, StorySelling for Financial Advisors and The New Retirementality, now in its fourth edition. Contact Mitch at [email protected] or visit