Season of goodwill

Richard Colburn

The Year end is a time when many people choose to review their financial planning arrangements.

One aspect of financial planning that is often overlooked is charitable giving.

It may come as a surprise to some readers to learn that almost every highly renowned writer on the subject of financial and personal success extols the virtues of giving.

Warren Buffett, the most successful investor of all time and one of the richest men in the world, has donated over 35 Billion US Dollars to charitable causes. Bill Gates has donated billions of US Dollars to causes such as the global fight against AIDS.

Most expats have a rather more modest net worth than those of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, but it is still possible to make a difference with even the most modest financial support.

One good cause in Northern Thailand that provides financial assistance to school children, has launched its ‘dollar a day’ initiative. For less than the price of a cup of coffee, it is possible to contribute to a fund that provides school meals, school uniforms, books and writing materials to needy children in Thailand.

You can learn more about ‘Give and Live’ and their ‘dollar a day’ initiative by visiting their website at:

For those expats who are still liable to taxes in their home countries you may be able to deduct your charitable donations from your taxable income and cut your tax bill. Many charities that operate in Thailand are also registered in other countries and if one of those countries is your home country you can be financially rewarded for giving!

Trusts and foundations, which have been the subject of previous articles, can be very tax efficient forms of financial planning. The reason why they enjoy this special treatment is that they are legally created from an act of giving. In the case of a trust, the Settlor places assets into trust which then cease to be their property. Similarly with a foundation, the Founder makes a gift of assets to the foundation, which then becomes the new legal owner of the assets.

Many expats are discovering that one of the best financial planning decisions that they could ever make is to ‘sell up’ back home and move to a relatively low cost country, like Thailand. With most items of expenditure at least four times higher in their home countries compared to prices in Thailand, expats are able to quadruple the value of their savings and net worth simply by purchasing a one way plane ticket.

As we look forward to a New Year that for expats is often far more financially secure than would be the case in their home country, maybe we could spare a thought (and perhaps some spare change) for the poor and needy of the country in which we are such financially privileged and warmly welcomed guests.

For more information on good causes in Thailand you can visit the website of The Giving Trust at .

The Giving Trust was established as an information portal to good causes with the sole purpose of bringing an awareness of the needy to those with a willingness and the ability to help.

Richard Colburn is Managing Director of Sterling Assets, a specialist wealth management company serving the expatriate community in Thailand and South East Asia.

Questions to the author can be directed to or 053 216 528

Published in: on December 15, 2007 at 2:01 pm  Leave a Comment