I had not been in Alaska long when someone came into my office, at work, wanting some documentation for his PFD. He went on about some discrepency and he needed some information to prove that he qualified for his payment.
"WHAT the heck is a PFD?" I turned and asked an associate as soon as this confusing guy walked out the door with the papers he had requested. "Oh, it's the Permanent Fund Dividend." Yeah, that cleared things up!
I had heard mention before I moved up that you get paid to live in Alaska, but had discarded this as a myth. The truth is, there is a check paid out every year to residents of Alaska as part of the oil profits for the state.
This started in 1976 when the North Slope began to flow oil to market. It's actually an ammendment for the people of the state to receive 25% of the proceeds. There's definitely more to it than all of that, but most don't care about all of the details, just cut the checks!
Don't think that you can just move up and receive a check when October rolls around. It's a little more ivolved than that. You have to have lived in the state for the full calender year, and you have to be able to prove that. Like me, I moved in the month of July, so of course 3 months later there is no check with my name on it. So, you're thinking the next October I will be in the line up, right? It's not that simple. My calendar year started that next January, so I couldn't sign up until I had been a resident for the full year of 2010. That means on January 1st 2011 I went online and registered as a resident and could receive my dividend check in the fall.
Every October in Alaska is like Christmas time! People begin spending money like crazy! The streets are crowded, the stores and their parking lots are jammed and congested. Every other television commercial is about a PFD SALE! The car dealerships will let you use your PFD for a down payment long before you even receive it!
It sounds a little like tax refund time, except this is not YOUR money being returned, this is FREE money that you did not earn. It's like MAD money or something. People all of a sudden are tuling down the road with a couple of snow mobiles in the back of the truck. Or drving that brand new dream car. There are moving vans delivering new livingroom suits and every other person at Costco is walking out with a flat screen tv! It's wonderful, it's exciting, it's a little crazy but it's part of Alaska life.
You are probably wondering just how much money do we get each year? Well, since it is based on the profits from the oil investsments then it varies from year to year. In 2011 residents were paid $1,174.00 each. That means if you are married and have 3 kids, you would receive a check or direct deposit, as long as you have registered by the deadline, totaling $5,870! Now that's something to get excited about!
It's without a doubt a nice little perk, but not a reason to move to Alaska or to have additional children! I have actually heard both of those indications. Some people get themselves into a lot of trouble and spend the rest of the year getting out of it! Like the young guy who told me that he had stayed up until 4:00am on the 6th, the day the dividend hit your bank account, waiting for it to show up. Then, after he was assured it was there, he ran out in the wee hours of the night and spent over half of that money. He went on to tell me that he took a break after a few hours and checked his bank account to see how much he had left, but it was not showing up that any of it was gone. He then admitted that last year he had made the mistake of spending more than he had received and it took him a long time to recover from all of the extra fees. WOW! Some people really should not have that much money in their reach without a plan! He also told me, as if I'm not standing here and just as much Alaskan as he, that everyone who gets a PFD does the all night mad shopping spree. Huh, this is the first I had heard of it.
My shopping had not been quite as eventful, but definitely more organized. I had picked out much needed winter tires for my car and purchased a plane ticket. Click, click and $1,174.00 gone. Oh well, it was money well spent and the tires are wonderful! I haven't ever been very excited over new tires before, but with the upcoming and already forecasted SNOW I am thrilled! As far as the plane ticket, let's just say, it seems that I work to fly, so the Permanent Fund Dividend was more than a bonus for me. I'm already looking forward to next October!