Ask and You Shall Receive

covenant-house-fundraisingI have officially surpassed the  50% mark towards my $5,000 goal for Covenant House!  I sent out a couple of emails and followed up with a few folks and here I am jamming along – I am so excited!

On Wednesday I went for a tour of their facility to learn more about Covenant House.  I had a good understanding of the basics of the program thanks to Life According to Steph’s post about her Sleep Out last year.  There were a couple of things I learned while on the tour and because I love lists, here goes:

  1. CHOP  Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has a staff that is dedicated to Covenant House including a Doctor, a Nurse Practitioner and a Health Educator.  In addition Covenant House has a Behavioral Health Department with a Psychiatrist, a Clinical Coordinator and a Substance Abuse Counselor.
  2. The kitchen is full staffed and they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.  If a resident has a job the kitchen packs them a lunch to take to work with them.
  3. Outreach – They have a dedicated team that drives around the streets of Philadelphia searching  for anyone that could use their services.  AMAZING. They drive around in a van fully stocked with food, drinks, hygiene products, blankets or sleeping bags, clothing and underwear, and hats and gloves in order to meet any immediate needs. In addition to being First Aid and CPR certified, the outreach team is very knowledgeable about other service providers throughout the region that can assist.
  4. Once residents find a job 75% of earned income must be deposited into a savings account and once a resident reaches $500 they are transitioned into Covenant House Rights of Passage, more of an apartment set up where the residents have to pay “rent” and cook and clean for themselves.  Once they are ready to move out the “rent”  is returned to be used as security deposit and rent to establish themselves.
  5. The City of Philadelphia appropriated $700,000 for youth homelessness and Covenant House Pennsylvania received $325,000 in 2017 which was allocated to opening 25 additional beds.  This money allocated was a result of  John A. Ducoff, Executive Director efforts of continually meeting with City Council to emphasize the need in the City and a one day art installation that took place last fall. On October 20th, in front of City Hall in Center City Philadelphia 250 life size cutouts were installed representing just a portion of the 546 young people who were turned away. I am sad I missed it but it looks haunting just from the pictures.

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Overall I was impressed by the level of thought that went into the programs to direct the kids towards independence.  The ultimate goal is to end the cycle of homelessness.  Please consider donating.

Happy Friday!

 

I would like to retire, would you?

RetirementSo when I embarked on this blog, I was hoping to write about everything I am passionate about and finance is included in that list.  Recently a friend texted me asking “You said you maxed out your 401K, what does that mean?”

If you work for a traditional employer like I do, more than likely you have an employer sponsored 401K plan and hopefully your employer is matching a certain percentage of your income.  I am a huge proponent of 401K plans.   I don’t really understand when people make excuses about not being able to participate especially when there is an employer match, that’s like someone throwing money at you and you saying “No, I’m good.”  If you have a 401K plan and are not at least participating enough to receive the full match, you may need to reevaluate your budget.   I know every situation is different but I participated when I was living with the tightest budget I have ever had to live with.  I went a full year without buying myself anything other than the necessities. I lived on a TIGHT budget and still managed to save $10,000 in my 401K that year.  So in my mind where there is a will there is a way.

Back to my friend’s question, maxing out your 401K means contributing $18,000 a year or $1,500 a month.  It’s a substantial amount of money and that’s why I wrote about it.  I am damn proud of that number.  The maximum number changes regularly and it is set by the IRS (www.irs.gov).  The added benefit to saving for your own retirement through a 401K plan is that the dollars are coming out before taxes.  So when you are taxed the government is actually taxing a lower amount than you truly made and you are lowering your adjusted gross income (AGI) for tax time.

If you are fortunate enough to have excess income after maxing out your 401K, I would recommend an IRA which you can read more about here: https://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Individual-Retirement-Arrangements-(IRAs)-1.  Which is also a great way to reduce your AGI and tax liability.

The main reason I am continuing to work while my babies are small is retirement.  I have a goal to retire at 55 and am doing everything in my power to make that happen only 20 more years of work left!