As many of you have probably seen, the Philippines has been hit by Typhoon Haiyan and it has left a trail of destruction and calamity as the country is scrambling to get aid to its citizens.
My husband and I have been discussing it, simply astounded by the numbers given in the news, especially with the amount of people estimated to have died.
I know we’re not the only ones who are eager to help.
Avoiding Charity Scams
What really boils my blood is how many scam artists come out to take advantage of the outpouring of generosity.
However there are things you and I can do to make sure that the money given gets to the intended destination.
Do not donate online unless it is the organization’s official site. Social media has made it easier to spread information, but it has also helped spread misinformation and bad links. Go ahead and go to the official sites (I’ve listed a few below) and donate directly from there.
Ask how much of your donation goes directly to the cause. This is not a rude question – many charities are happy to share information on their organizations. You can also use Charity Navigator to find out how the organization handles their finances.
Get a receipt with the name of the charity on it. Please don’t give cash to a charity, if you’ve been scammed, it’ll be almost impossible to track. Have a receipt to help you during tax time as well.
If you do fall victim to a scam artist, contact the Federal Trade Commission. Call the agency toll-free at (877) FTC-HELP to report it. It could help protect others from getting scammed as well.
If you have any other tips, please leave them in the comment box below.
Where You Can Donate to Help During Disasters
This is not an exhaustive list, but the organizations below have a long history of helping those who have been hit by a natural disasters.
Please check with their site to get updates on what they are doing with each disaster, as some organizations have a criteria to assess the situation before intervening.
OxFam – The organization’s main goals include fighting injustice and poverty around the world. They also respond to disasters as they happen globally.
Doctors Without Borders – Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists.
Red Cross – This is probably the most familiar to Couple Money readers. Red Cross is an international organization tries to tackle several goals, including disaster relief.
When you are a young couple, you have a lot of things going for you financially.
Although you may not be making as much money as you will later in your career, you also will not have as many expenses as older couples do.
You also have your whole lives ahead of you to save for the important things you will need like a home and retirement savings.
To make handling your finances easier, here is a guide to budgeting and saving for a young couple.
Saving Something Is Better Than Nothing
The key to becoming financially responsible is to start saving something. Even if you are absolutely strapped for cash, you should be able to save at least a little something.
A good rule of thumb is to save at least ten percent of the money you make every month.
You can even set up a pre-authorized contribution to a savings account which automatically deducts a set percentage of the value of each transaction you make into a separate account.
If you don’t feel like you can save this much, then look for things you can cut out of your budget.
Things like eating out, entertainment and alcohol often take a large chunk of a young couple’s budget.
You should go over your budget with a fine-toothed comb until you are able to start consistently putting away at least ten percent of your earnings into savings.
Ways to Save More
When you are able to start saving money, you need to decide how to save it.
The first thing you need to do is to put aside your savings until you have saved enough to cover at least three months’ worth of living expenses.
When you have accomplished this feat, you will have a solid financial ground to buffer any unexpected expenses such as car repairs and unemployment.
Once you have this rainy-day fund put aside, you can start investing in other things. If you have any outstanding credit card debt, you should first pay that off. After you have all of your credit cards paid off, you should start saving for a home.
You should also be putting aside the maximum amount of money into your retirement plan.
This is especially important if you have a company 401k plan that provides you with matching funds for investing.
Failing to take advantage of these matching funds is like setting money on fire.
When you have reached a financial position where you have started to max out your retirement savings amounts, it is time to look into alternative investments to make your retirement even more comfortable.
You should look at stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate and any other investment opportunities that appeal to you. Diversifying your investments is the best way to make sure that you burden the least amount of financial risk.
Saving money may not seem like a lot of fun, but it is very important. The rewards are well worth the discipline required.
When you have the money set aside for your own home and a retirement, you will be really glad that you became financially savvy.