Money Matters

Have you read “Toxic Charity” by Robert Lupton? I did. It changed how I look at giving to charity. Is your donation helping or actually hurting the people you want to help? My family used to provide groceries and toys to a local family in need. We noticed that the father was never around when we stopped by for our scheduled visit. As I read this book, I realized that we were humiliating the father by bringing items he couldn’t afford to provide for his family. Now we only give to the Community Foundation, and mostly to the Community Impact Fund, which has a 1:1 match right now. You give $100, and the match will add $100 to the fund, thanks to Lilly Endowment Inc. Call the office for more details! Oh, and I encourage you to read “Toxic Charity.”   Here is a great Huffington Post article about "Toxic Charity"  Order your very own copy from Amazon by clicking here.  ...

“Would you like to donate a dollar to keep kids in school?” “Dollar to feed the hungry?” “Donation to cure xyz disease?” “Fill the boot!” “Put your old clothes and shoes and books in this dumpster-looking thing at Walmart (or any other number of places around town)!”   When they ask, I say “No, thanks. I give locally.” That usually quiets the asker. Sometimes they’re quiet from confusion, and sometimes they’re quiet because they know what I mean.   When you “fill the boot,” where does that money go? When you give a dollar to get your name on a piece of heavy paper that is taped to the wall, where does that dollar go? When you put your old clothes or books in that dumpster-looking thing, where do they go?   Rarely does that money stay in Grant County. It is sent far off to pay salaries and benefits and some research expenses to someone none of us know.   What would happen if that money did stay in Grant County? It would help further the mission of a local charity, like Cancer Services (which is not associated with the American Cancer Society, by the way) or Family Service Society. And chances are someone you know is or has been directly...

I recently told you about endowments and how they are intended to provide income to other organizations for perpetuity. The Community Foundation is one of those organizations. The Foundation’s operating budget is provided in part by the Administrative Endowment, which is a fund set up a long time ago by the Foundation’s board of directors. Over time, people have donated to this endowment to provide operating money. The Community Foundation doesn’t ask the public to make donations to support operating any more, since we are 100% sustained, meaning, we have 100% of our current budget covered by money that comes from the endowment and other sources. That’s what we hope to help other organizations in Grant County achieve by building their endowments. Do you have a favorite local charity that could concentrate on their charitable purpose better if their operating budget was covered? We might have a fund set up for them already!...

“Endowment.” What does that even mean? We at the Community Foundation use that word a lot. I mean A LOT. We love the word. If you ask Merriam-Webster, he has a ton of definitions, but none of them quite match what the Community Foundation does. So, here is my definition… Endowment means to build a fund with donations that will help an organization or community forever. FOREVER. That means, if an endowment balance is $50,000, it will provide $2,250 every single year forever to the organization (or scholarship) it was built to support. Likewise, if an organization needs $250,000 to operate for a year, their donors could build a designated fund up to about $5.5 million to make that happen. Then any other donations that come to the organization could go toward programs, since their operations are already covered by the endowment…every single year forever. The endowment you and I build at the Community Foundation is for Grant County. The Community Foundation doesn’t pay dues to some giant organization in another state to be called a Community Foundation. Right now you can donate to the Community Foundation’s Community Impact Fund and we can match your donation dollar for dollar. If you donate...

Organizing my personal paperwork used to be a dreaded task, and I have an organizy-type personality! Thankfully, we have scanners and easily-accessible cameras on our smart phones to help us. And now you have this handy-dandy personal “Records Retention Schedule” as a reference. I scan everything I need to keep to an electronic file, and save each according to its purpose. For example, when I’m donating clothing or household items to the thrift store, I take pictures of the items, and scan a copy of the list of items to my current year tax file. I’ll scan receipts for home improvements and receipts for charitable donations, too. It’s really convenient to have all of that information and proof when it’s time to do my taxes the following winter. (The IRS now accepts e-files as proof during an audit – no need to keep all that paper!) Similarly, I keep electronic pay stubs, medical records, bank statements, etc. in my special e-file. This method has certainly freed up lots of space in our home office. Just remember to burn or shred any important documents that have been scanned before throwing them away. Ideally, you should destroy anything that has your name on...

April is Financial Literacy Month. Raise your hand if you feel like you were raised in a home that taught you financial literacy. Good for you! But many young people are sent out into the world, be it college or the working world, with little to no financial training. My folks were really great parents, but they didn’t teach me much more than “don’t get credit cards” and “give 10% to church.” My hubby’s folks taught him even less! (I think it was a generational thing – keep secret things secret.) Needless to say, the young adult/young married years were rough at our house. We learned some tough lessons, but were able to teach our kids the dos and don’ts, so they will hopefully avoid the same pitfalls we encountered. Some things we did with our kiddos that seemed to work: • We paid “commission” for jobs rather than allowance for regular things they should do anyway, like making their beds and helping with dishes. We paid for lawn mowing, garage cleaning, spring cleaning, etc. Of course, this was based on age-appropriate tasks. They are hard-working, dedicated team members at their respective businesses now. • We encouraged them to give to charity/church...

Jenga! Have you ever played it? The idea is to stack wood blocks carefully without knocking over the stack. If the stack does get knocked over, it makes a huge racket, and the kid inside you squeals in fear! Admit it…you’ve squealed at least once while playing! Saving money can be a little like Jenga. You take money from your regular budget to save, or “stack” on top for the future. I saw a cool idea last fall about saving in 2015. Start with the first Friday in January and put $1 in a savings account, add $2 the following Friday and so on. Of course, I’m writing this before the eighth Friday of the year, so if you start with $8 this Friday and add a dollar to each deposit through the end of the year, you’ll have $1,350 plus $0.27 interest by December 31st! (I’m calculating interest at the ridiculously low rate of 0.1% compounded quarterly.) Let’s change it up and bit, and instead of putting $8 in a savings account on Friday, you donate it to the Community Impact Fund at the Community Foundation. Right now we are offering a 1:1 match on donations to this fund! That means...

Christmas is sneaking up on us…it’s only nine days away! If you’re blessed enough to have family somewhat close, you’ll probably be getting together in the next couple weeks like we are with our families. Sometimes these get-togethers are dreaded, and sometimes they’re anxiously anticipated. Regardless of which side your family lands, be all there. If I’ve learned nothing else over the past year, I’ve learned that life can change in the blink of an eye. That grandparent that you take for granted may not be with you next Christmas, or that in-law who drives you crazy may get a scary diagnosis next year. Put your phone away, look your family members in the eyes, and listen to them. Share. Visit. Laugh. Be all there. This cute video (click here) drives the point home; please put the phone (and the typewriter) away. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, fabulous Foundation friends. We look forward to the next time we can visit with you....

 Prepared adjective : made at an earlier time for later use : made ready in advance : ready for something : in a suitable condition for some purpose or activity Prepared.  Tim and I prepared.  We prepared for death with life insurance and a will.  We prepared for old age when we bought our current house a few years ago – the master bedroom and bath are on the first floor.  We prepared for retirement.  We prepared for the future by earning higher degrees and taking better care of ourselves.  We prepared for potential disaster with homeowners and health insurance.  Then disaster struck on January 4, the night before the Blizzard of 2014.  My loving husband of 27.5 years, doctoral student, teacher, community leader, and father suffered a massive, ischemic stroke.  World. crashed. down. Can you really prepare for something like that?  After going through it, I honestly don’t think anyone can. Piles of paperwork. So many questions. So many unknowns. So many miles driven. So very sleep deprived. But what have we learned? We’ve learned that we can make it through months of hospital and nursing home stays, numerous doctor visits, and countless therapy sessions. We learned all about disability, and the difference between...

Tradition. Tradition!  What are your Christmas traditions?  Our family enjoys driving through the Christmas City Walkway of Lights singing the Twelve Days of Christmas as we pass each display leading up to the Toll Booth.  We always make monkey bread before we open presents on Christmas Day.  Everyone gets a new toothbrush in their stocking…every year!  This year we had a little get-together with friends, and our theme was “ugly sweaters.”  Our friends are very creative.  We hope to make this an annual tradition as well! Grant County has some great ways to make family traditions.  I’ve already mentioned the very affordable Christmas City Walkway of Lights (www.walkwayoflights.org).  In addition to the fun (cold this year!) parade and the Gingerbread House Decorating Contest for kids, this year the Walkway of Lights added hay rides (by reservation), and visits with Santa and the Grinch at the Gift Shoppe.  Family Night this past Friday was a huge success with more than 50 kids along with their parents coming together to make Christmas ornaments, decorate cookies, hear librarians read books, sit on Santa’s lap and get a picture taken, roast marshmallows, and take a hay ride through the Walkway of Lights in the snow!...