Tips, advice, and the latest news from the savings world.
December 22, 2011
By Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program President Ben Pierce
When deciding which charities to support at year-end, Vanguard Charitable's Ben Pierce recommends that donors look out for five things: Transparency, access, evidence of impact, a long track record, and a sustainable plan for the future.
"Giving money to charity is not necessarily as easy as it might seem," he said. "Before making a last-minute charitable gift, ask questions, research the charity's website, check who is on their board and their financials, call the organization, or simply try out the charity with an initial gift. Ten minutes of analysis may open a door to a lifetime of rewarding giving."
To assist donors in researching, analyzing, and reviewing the health of the organization, good charities will share information about themselves, such as their IRS Form 990. This document provides key financial information, such as the contributions the charity has received and how they spend their money. "If you cannot find an I-990 form on a charity's website, be skeptical," Mr. Pierce cautions.
December 20, 2011
By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Manager
Buy a Savings Bond – The U.S. Treasury will end over-the-counter sales of paper savings bonds on December 31, 2011. You will still be able to get savings bonds online through TreasuryDirect.gov but that system makes it difficult to buy savings bonds as a gift. Visit your local financial institution to buy a paper bond for someone you care about before December 31st.
Open a Savings Account – Opening a savings account for a child or teen can instill smart financial habits. Establishing a savings account will introduce them to banking concepts, such as interest and how compounding helps money grow.
Open a 529 – Help someone save for college by opening a 529. Student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt. Saving early (or helping someone save) will reduce the amount of debt a child or friend will take later in life for education. Click here for more information on 529 accounts.
Make a Payment on a Loan – Do you have a friend or family member in debt? Instead of buying them a gift they may not need, give them the gift of a debt payment. Giving them an extra payment will go a long way. Making an extra payment on a debt will reduce the amount of interest paid and the term of the loan.