Do you witness the same phenomenon I do every summer? It will be a hot 95 – 100 degrees outside, but inside offices everywhere you see the symptoms of winter. You see people wearing long sleeved sweaters, drinking hot chocolate, and they have a blanket on their lap at their desks. Is it winter? No, it’s the effect of having too much air-conditioning. I never realized the effect of air-conditioning and how it relates to United Way of Salt Lake’s work. I was at a recent ongoing volunteer opportunity that I participate in regularly and through the course of talking with the clients, I met a gentleman who is from South America who is married and has two children. We were talking about the weather and I complained how high my air-conditioning bill was because it’s been hotter than normal. Well after listening to his story, I realized how lucky I am.
He explained to me that he and his family live in an apartment and they don’t have air-conditioning. He told me that they can’t live somewhere nicer because he doesn’t have his GED yet and his wife only has her high school diploma. He explained the difficulties of finding a job without a high school education and his wife’s struggle to find a good paying job without a college degree. Since working in the Collective Impact Department and watching our directors work with partners in the areas of education, income, and health–this situation only reminded me of the great work United Way of Salt Lake is doing to help people succeed. By furthering income and education outcomes with programs like EITC, VITA, and Believe, we are helping people to improve their financial situation, which will better their lives in many different ways.
If you want to be involved in United Way of Salt Lake’s volunteer opportunities, you should call 2-1-1. Everyone can make a small difference. So now when I feel the effects of “winter in July” I will remind myself that I am lucky to be in an air conditioned environment both at work and at home!
It’s gift-giving season! Holiday expenses can be a real burden on your wallet. It’s always a good idea to plan in advance for large expenses like gift giving, but with Christmas just around the corner, it’s time to take immediate action!
Enjoy the holiday season more this year by planning your gift giving. Here are some helpful tips:
Does your employer offer retirement savings through a 401(k) or 403(b)? If so, there’s a good chance that your employer offers a match on your contributions. That’s free money! And, it’s silly not to take advantage of it. To find out more about retirement accounts at your work, talk to your supervisor, manager, or someone in human resources.
Participate in the Utah Individual Development Account program. You attend financial education classes and set a savings goal (home, education, business). The Utah IDA Network program matches $3 for every $1 you save! You can save up to $1,500 in your IDA account and receive up to $4,500 in math money, giving you a total of $6,000 to invest in your goal!
For more information about the IDA program, click here.
Low and moderate-income taxpayers qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. This refundable credit often pays more than $1,000 (sometimes more than $2,000) to those who claim it. This free money can be a huge help to tight finances or low savings accounts. Be sure to save at least half of the money!