Empire Editorial: For kids’ sake, save your PFD

  • Sunday, September 20, 2015 1:08am
  • Opinion

What does a two-year-old need with $2,100?

On Monday, Gov. Bill Walker will announce the amount of this year’s Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend. It’s expected to be a big one — likely the biggest ever — and that possibility has Alaskans thinking green.

We hope it isn’t the green of jealousy. Think twice before you spend your annual windfall for the latest flat-panel TV or a down payment on a new boat. That goes double for parents.

As parents, you have an obligation to care for your children, and that includes thinking of their long-term well-being. Your toddler, assuming she has lived in Alaska for at least one calendar year, will receive a dividend just as you will. Please think seriously of her needs.

More than once, we’ve heard of parents taking their child’s PFD to use on things like a new “family” truck, boat or home theater. The thought goes that since it’s a family expense, it makes sense to spend the child’s money on that purchase.

That may be true, but think also about your child’s future. The University of Alaska has an excellent tax-free college savings plan that includes direct deposits from the dividend (it’s right on the PFD application form), and if you don’t have a college fund set up for your children, we encourage you to examine this approach.

If you’re not thinking of college, simply sock money away in a savings or investment account, something low-risk and interest-bearing. When your child turns 18, she’ll thank you for it.

The Alaska Permanent Fund is now worth over $52 billion. It’s reached that financial peak because of smart investing and saving. The dividend we earn each year gives us the opportunity to imitate the fund’s success. We encourage you to invest locally and buy locally.

With the state of Alaska facing extreme financial uncertainty in the coming years, having a solid savings account could be the difference between success and ruin.

We understand the attraction of spending for immediate gain, but we guarantee that if you just decide to save, the payoff will be worth it.

What does a two-year-old need with $2,100? Nothing.

An 18-year-old, on the other hand, needs plenty.

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