Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Editorial: Dividends make thinking ahead a no-brainer

This year’s Alaska Permanent Fund dividend plus energy rebate equals $3,269 good intentions. It’s an exercise in financial willpower.

Do you spend it all, or save part of it for the rainy day that’s sure to come, no matter what the forecast currently calls for? If you do spend it, does it go to provide financial stability by paying bills, or does it create emotional stability by providing a new toy that will brighten up the cold, dark winter?

Planning ahead is a valuable use of the money, whether it’s a college fund, retirement or winter energy bills.

While you’re at it, plan to do some good in the world. It won’t be long before the envelopes start showing up in the mail, asking for donations to whatever charities have interested you in the past. The holiday season is prime time for charitable donation solicitation, mainly because there are so many needs that time of year and the themes of the season get people thinking more about their fellow man.

But by December, September’s windfall may have long since blown away. So do your donations now, or at least create a safe place for that money to remain untouched until you are ready to donate it.

It doesn’t have to be much. If only half the residents of the central Kenai Peninsula donated $20 each, that would be more than $200,000.

It’s a great activity to get kids involved in, too. Have them pick a charity that benefits something they care about — taking care of animals, providing food for a family or helping other kids have a new toy at Christmas.

Need some ideas? There are plenty of options:

The American Red Cross in Alaska is there when disaster strikes, whether it’s a house fire or a natural disaster.

The Salvation Army provides a variety of needed services, especially around the holidays.

The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank’s motto is no one deserves to go hungry; they work to make sure no one does.

Love INC brings together churches to help the poor. And individual churches have special giving opportunities throughout the year.

Several arts organizations could use a boost in enriching the culture of the central Kenai Peninsula, like the Kenai Performing Arts Society, the Peninsula Art Guild, the Kenai Performers or Triumvirate Theatre, just to name a few.

Can’t decide? Then the United Way may be the best choice. The organization is a clearinghouse that splits money among its member agencies. A single donation to the United Way can mean help for all kinds of organizations, including Hospice, the Boys and Girls Club, senior centers, the LeeShore Center and Frontier Community Services.

With $3,000-plus in the bank account, choosing a recipient, not making the decision to do so, should be the hardest part in donating.

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