Money Matters

Last weekend my family and I enjoyed a couple of great things happening in Grant County.  We visited the Open Air Market in downtown Marion, and we attended Mississinewa 1812 on the north end of the county, by the river.  I’ve driven past several community gardens in Marion, and Fairmount and Gas City just celebrated another James Dean Days and Duck Tail Run, respectively.  Frances Slocum Elementary raised their ISTEP scores, and local students are earning higher education degrees and certifications.  In a time when it seems like there is really bad news all around us, there are some really great things happening in our community.  Let’s keep the momentum going, friends!...

2 cups sugar 2 eggs ¾ cup vegetable oil (I use canola) 2 ½ cups flour 1 tsp cinnamon 3 cups peeled, diced tart apples (granny smith) 1 cup chopped walnuts ¾ cups butterscotch chips Combine sugar, eggs, and oil and mix well.  Stir in flour and cinnamon – the batter will be thick.  Stir in apples and nuts.  Spread into a greased 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Sprinkle the butterscotch chips on top and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean....

I know, I know…you’re thinking this chick is crazy because she’s wishing you a happy new year! April begins a new fiscal year at the Community Foundation, including new budgets, new meetings, and new committees. Last year was crazy-busy, but crazy-awesome at the same time! The Community Foundation has happily broken a record – our assets have reached a new high of $19.5 million! This will help as we pay out nearly $500,000 in scholarships this summer, and over $300,000 in grants over the next year. “How are they able to do that?” you ask. Answer: Only from generous donations given by people like you. And even more people like you were generous over the past year. I’ve heard that “a picture speaks a thousand words,” and here are two pictures: If you would like to know more about how to help make awesome things happen in Grant County by starting a fund or donating to your favorite cause, please call us at (765)662-0065. Oh, yes…a very Happy New Year, friends. And we mean it! ...

On Tuesday, October 16th, the Community Foundation and the American Society of Women Accountants – Marion Chapter co-hosted a dinner and speaker for local accountants, CPAs, and non-profits.  Stuart Sobel, former IRS agent and tax and non-profit consultant, engaged – YES, ENGAGED – the group for an hour with his thoughts about “The State of Charity in the World: The Good, Bad, and Ugly.” (www.taxmedianetwork.com) Currently, non-profits in large part are not monitored very well by the IRS.  It’s relatively easy to obtain a 501(c)(3) status, even for a purpose that duplicates other great programs.  Mr. Sobel asked, “Why not partner with a current great purpose rather than go through the paperwork and cost of starting another non-profit for the same great purpose?” Last year 400,000 non-profit orgs failed.  What helps an organization succeed?  Engaged, educated board members; strategic plans; realistic budgets; excellent team/staff; a well-written, complete 990; and a focused purpose- just to name a few things.   If you as a board member or team member don’t believe in and love the organization’s mission and goals, you shouldn't be involved with that organization. Consider George Bernard Shaw’s words… True Joy ~ George Bernard Shaw, 1902 This is the true joy in life, the being used...

Two hundred twenty-five years ago, September 17th, 39 brave men signed the U.S. Constitution, setting the foundation for the greatest country in world history to emerge and become a leader in feeding the hungry, rescuing other countries from tyrannical dictators, and proving that capitalism works.  (http://constitutioncenter.org/constitution-day/)  The Constitution explains the original “separation of duties” or branches of government – Legislative, Executive, and Judicial.  One branch is not to be more powerful than another, keeping a delicate balance to prevent one person or group from gaining ultimate control over the country.  Amendment 12 – Choosing the President, Vice President, which was ratified in 1804, was the original amendment about how this young, new country would elect a president.  (http://www.usconstitution.net/const.pdf) The quickly-approaching November 6, 2012, election day is on most people’s minds lately…unless they don’t have television, radio, or Internet!  Have you thought about how you’ll vote?  If not, do some research and choose the candidate that is most closely aligned with your personal goals and values.  Are you registered to vote?  If not, you have three weeks to register if you want to vote in this fall’s election.  Go to http://www.in.gov/sos/elections/2403.htm and follow the directions. Until next time…...

Someone I know is getting a relatively large check in a damage settlement in the near future.  I wonder if they will invest it…waste it…give it to charity…What would you do if you found out you were going to receive $1,000 next week?  $10,000?  $100,000?  Think about it.  Have a plan – just in case – to avoid wasting your windfall.  Think of a home-improvement project you've been putting off – it may increase your home’s value.  Invest.  You can also give to a charity like the Community Foundation.  What are you passionate about?  Start a fund to benefit that passion!  Have a plan…you never know when there will be a windfall! ...

Customer service. We hear that term bantered about all the time.  Good customer service…bad customer service…no customer service.  What grade would you give Grant County’s customer service?  Don’t get me wrong…not all places have bad customer service, and a handful have excellent customer service or are at least seriously working on it (Janet at Applebee’s, Starbuck’s, K-Bistro, Marion General Hospital).I’m a firm believer that excellent customer service is how a business succeeds in most cases.  What if we turn it around and provide excellent “customer service” to the people who are serving us?  For instance, when you’re in the McDonald’s drive-thru getting that iced mocha, smile at the person taking your money, say “thanks,” and do the same for the person who hands you your drink – regardless of how they treat you.  Make eye contact and smile at other people you come in contact with throughout the day, even if you’re just passing them on the sidewalk.  (I used to tell my teen-aged daughter, “Kill them with kindness.”) Carry this attitude throughout your day and see what happens.  Some people will raise an eyebrow, and others might “harumph” at you.  But overall, I think you will experience a domino effect…showing...

Yes, you can.  You’ve no doubt heard about Facebook and Twitter.  Have you heard of Linked-In or MySpace?  These are just a few of the many “social networking” websites available to connect with new friends, reconnect with old friends, find dates, network with business associates, and electronically “stalk” people, if you like to do that sort of thing.All of these social networking sites ask you for a lot of personal information when you set up your account.  While some of the information is necessary – your email address, for example – a lot of it is up to you about whether or not you share it.  If certain information is required, a good social networking site will let you block that information from public view.  Here’s why you should block your personal information: My uncle received a late-night phone call last month from his “grandson” claiming to need money wired to him immediately.  Thankfully, my uncle had presence of mind enough to ask enough questions to realize that the caller wasn’t anyone he should talk to.  How did the scammer know he had a grandson, and how did the scammer know what his phone number was?  My uncle uses an application...

Social Security numbers are the one thing (besides your fingerprint, of course) that is specific to YOU, and you should guard your number very carefully.  Social Security numbers are actually sold on the black market, sometimes more than once by devious individuals to other devious individuals.  Never carry your, your child’s, or your elderly parent’s Social Security cards or numbers with you.  Keep them locked in a secure location – not your underwear drawer!  If thieves break into your home, one of the first places they’ll look for valuables is your underwear drawer.  Never put your Social Security number on your checks, either printed by the check company or written by you or a check-out person.  No doubt you’ve seen ads or heard commercials for Life Lock or other identity theft protection companies selling their services.  While most of these are good companies, they do come with a monthly or annual charge.  Did you know the State of Indiana offers a free service to Indiana residents called a “Credit Freeze?” (http://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/2411.htm) You can place a freeze on your credit to prevent someone else from getting a loan or credit card in your name.  (Remember to remove the freeze if you...