One of the best parts of Early Retirement is that…

We are finally in a position to really give back! And it’s exciting. One of the great things about being in charge of our finances and finally having some free cash is that we get to use it to donate to our favorite charities. This has been one of the things I’ve been most excited about with planning our early retirement. The money we’ve been managing shouldn’t benefit only us. We should use our extra funds to help others. That’s the great thing about paying off debt. It leaves spare money to donate to causes we find worthy.


How we Choose Our Charities

Simply put, we choose to donate to causes that we find important to us. And of course, we perform due diligence on these charities. Many of these charities we’ve actually visited first-hand, which I find the best way to figure out what a charity actually does with money. I certainly don’t want to spend our hard-earned money on a charity that doesn’t do crap.

Charity #1: Best Friends Animal Society

No one should be surprised to learn I love animals. My family always had dogs when I was growing up. I’m an only child so dogs were my brothers and sisters. I even learned to walk on my dog’s back. Imagining my life without a dog in it just isn’t possible for me. In fact if my husband hadn’t wanted dogs, that would have been a deal breaker. (Fortunately, he loves dogs as much as I do!) So it shouldn’t be a shock that an animal charity was the first choice for us to give back.

Blondie and Kiwi are my two dog babies and I love them more than just about anything else. My love for animals isn’t just limited to my puppies though. Snuggly, adorable animals are one of my favorite things about this planet. I think it’s our job to help take care of our planet’s animals, whether it be a dog, cat, pig, or horse. Best Friends Animal Society helps do just that. In the 60s a group of hippies bought a piece of land and adopted pets who were due to be euthanized. Many years later, the society continues to adopt animals on death row and helps rehabilitate injured or abused animals. Fun fact: The Vick dogs lived here during their rehab.

My husband and I personally visited and volunteered here for my 27th birthday. We fed animals, played with puppies, and learned about the work done at the society. We fell in love with their work. Our goal is to return and volunteer again, but in the meantime, we’ll help them financially as much as we can! We gave over $3,000 to the charity last year and hope to up this amount in the coming years.


Hi Puppy!


Charity #2: Children’s Hospital Colorado

This charity also shouldn’t come as a shock. I graduated from nursing school and worked as a pediatric nurse for several years. Kids should not have to endure cancer, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, or any of the other crap that they get stuck with at such a young age.

Children’s Hospital Colorado conducts a yearly raffle that benefits pediatric medical research. Tickets are $100 each or 8 for $500, so we always donate $500 to this cause. The prizes for the raffle are insane, including a trip to Marlon Brando’s private island, season tickets to the Broncos, and a large house in Denver. We’ve never run anything in the past years when we’ve entered but it makes it all worth it going to a great cause. I’d rather have my money cure cancer than win a house anyway!


Hard at work as a nurse!

Charity #3: Bridge of Life

This is actually a charity funded through my current company so this makes it easy to give back. I have this deducted straight from my payroll. Bridge of Life provides preventative medical screenings and dialysis services to people living in third world countries.

For example, the last group of volunteers went to Guatemala and conducted health screenings of avocado workers and their families. Employees of my company even have the option to apply for a spot on one of these missions. I applied for the last two years but wasn’t accepted. My goal is to apply again next year. In the meantime, I will allow them to collect my $520 per year without issue.

Charity #4: Washed Ashore

This is a new charity we only recently discovered at the end of 2016 when they had a display at the Denver Zoo. Washed Ashore is an Oregon based charity. Volunteer workers collect trash from the ocean and turn the trash into giant sea sculptures. The sculptures are incredibly beautiful! The volunteers create large-scale marlins, seals, sharks, and other beautiful sea life. Their goal is to educate people about the amount of trash going into the ocean. I would love to adopt a program like this for the mountains where we would make mountain animals from trash.It’s not just the sea that needs saving. Lord knows people here need to learn not to litter as well.


Marline fish and me!

Charity #5: Omaze

Omaze is a unique website that offers some really cool potential prizes for donating to different charities. Celebrities partner with Omaze to offer fans an opportunity to interact with them for the day. Examples include walking the red carpet and seeing a movie premiere with George Clooney or creating an Aston Martin to keep with Daniel Craig (aka James Bond!). Fans buy 100 entries for $10 and at the end of the the set entry period, Omaze draws a winner.

So how does this benefit charity? The celebrities who are offering an experience select a charity and proceeds from the entries go towards that charity. For example, the entries for Daniel Craig benefit the removal of land mines. I agree we should not have land mines anywhere in the world and am fine donating to a charity that helps remove them. Getting to build an Aston Martin with Daniel Craig is just an added bonus!


So you want to have extra money to donate to charities you love? Control your money and retire early with me. The next article will lay out Step 1 on your journey!

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The author Jodine

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