What the experts say
Your kid’s first debit card
When should your child get a debit card? asked Ann Carrns in The New York Times. “Many children learn to save by stashing cash in a piggy bank or jar,” but by the time they’re teenagers, a debit card might make more sense for things like occasional lunches out or movies with a friend. Many banks and credit unions offer joint accounts for teens that “give children control over their own cash but allow parents to monitor the spending and offer guidance as needed.” Look for features like the ability to set spending limits or restrict ATM access. Many accounts for teens don’t allow them to spend more than their balance. But if overdraft protection is offered, you should pass. “That is the best way to teach children to control spending and avoid costly fees.”
Winter heating bills are coming
You can save a “surprising amount” of money this winter by prepping your home for the cold now, said Trent Hamm in USNews.com. One of the simplest fixes is to replace the weather stripping around your doors. You’ll know it’s time “if you can run your hand around the edges of an outside-facing door on a cold day and feel the flow of cool air.” Cleaning your air vents or baseboard heaters will also make your home more energy efficient. While you’re at it, reverse the direction of your ceiling fans to push hot air downward. Usually, all it takes is flipping a switch. A programmable thermostat can also save money on unnecessary heating. “Ideally, during the winter months, you’ll lower the temperature of your home while no one is there or while you’re sleeping.”
Retirement advice for procrastinators
It’s never too late to start saving for retirement, said Mark Miller in The New York Times. Even if you’ve put off setting money aside, ramped-up savings later in life “can still yield a significant nest egg.” With a little luck from cooperative markets, someone who starts saving 30 percent of a $100,000 salary at age 51 could potentially have over $1 million by age 65. Savers over the age of 50 can also take advantage of higher “catch-up” limits on contributions to 401(k) accounts and IRAs. Waiting to file for Social Security, which means higher monthly benefits later on, combined with working longer to avoid dipping into existing retirement savings, can also make a huge difference. A 65-year-old couple working with a combined income of $150,000, for instance, could bolster their retirement income by 30 percent by working an additional three years.
Charity of the week
Since its inception in 1970, the Native American Rights Fund (narf.org) has worked to defend and advocate for land rights and legal recognition on behalf of more than 250 Native American tribes across the country. The oldest and largest nonprofit law firm of its kind, the fund works to protect tribal natural resources, such as water access, as well as oil, gas, and timber rights, and to hold federal and state governments accountable to the legal status and rights of tribes. The organization also helps develop laws that provide unique protections for Native American traditions, culture, and sacred sites, and educates legislators, judges, attorneys, and public officials about Indian law and tribes’ rights through consultations and training.
Each charity we feature has earned a four-star overall rating from Charity Navigator, which rates not-for-profit organizations on the strength of their finances, their governance practices, and the transparency of their operations. Four stars is the group’s highest rating.