Friday, April 12, 2013

Lesson 39: Fiscal Responsibility

The economic climate is cautiously optimistic as the stock market starts to climb again, but what does this change for us?  Frankly, not much.  The work paycheck stays the same. Prices for food and gas continue to climb. Luxuries are a want and not a need. Optimally, you should be saving 10% of your paycheck for the future - in a retirement plan, interest-bearing account, or if nothing else, your piggybank.  It's not just for a rainy day anymore.  The time has passed where you can count on anyone, but yourself to support your future.

Make a budget for yourself using a spreadsheet (see below for samples of what you bring in financially and what you spent it on).  Compare what you bring in to what you spend.  See where you can cut back so that you have a little more financial input than output.  Take that extra money and put it in your company's 401K/403B, an IRA, bonds, etc. based on what is conservatively paying the most for your money.  This is a not a time to be risky. If you have the opportunity to make 10% on your money and the bank is only paying 1%, be very wary.  Get rich quick schemes rarely work and may actually be illegal. Buyer beware is very important! 

Include all financial input (samples provided below):
  • Gross Salary
  • Stocks/Bonds distribution
  • Tips/Bonuses
  • Gifts
  • Sale of goods
  • Refunds
Include all financial output (samples provided below):
  • Federal Tax
  • State Tax
  • City/County Tax
  • Income Tax
  • Social Security
  • Healthcare Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Home/Apt Insurance
  • Car Insurance
  • Car Payment
  • Gas
  • Food (groceries)
  • Clothes
  • Sundries (medications/hair care, etc.)
  • Entertainment (shows, restaurants, bars)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lesson 38: Let's Get Back to Basics

Last week, a heinous crime occured when a 20 year old mentally-ill man murdered 27 innocent women and children, because he was angry his Mom was going to send him away to live due to his increasing dangerous behavior.  Not only is it sad that innocent children were killed, but sad that as advanced as our nation is, we have not learned how to adequately help our mentally ill and their families. The answer is not a gun issue.

We must first recognize that those who are mentally ill often do not recognize nor acknowledge they elicit behaviors out of the norm.  You cannot simply tell them to shape up and behave. You cannot make mentally ill adults live somewhere without their permission or without legal action.

Some would argue that we have created the problems through our chemically-laden way of life. Others would say we do not provide adequate services for preventing, as well as treating the problems. Let's get back to basics.

What can we do as a culture to "deal" with the problem?  What can we do to help these families cope?  With healthy children, we struggle when they do not behave for an afternoon. Imagine a lifetime.  We tend to look through windows at those who are struggling, not quite reaching out, but watching as their lives disintegrate.  We must deal with "what is."  Then we can deal with "how do we prevent." 

Let's put our resources and efforts into the here and now, so senseless murders do not continue.  Help families crying out for help.  Give them the support to make the best decisions for themselves and their communities. Parenthood is difficult enough without others looking down on you, because your children are different.  Let these parents, family members, and professionals know it is okay to make those tough decisions for the safety and welfare of our society. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lesson 37: Learn to Take Care of Yourself

My whole life I have taken care of a daughter to my chronically sick mother, as a nurse to my patients, as a mother to my children, as a wife to my husband, and now as a daughter to my elderly sick father. The role of caregiver can be a blessing and a burden.

It was a blessing to take care of my children and watch them physically grow and mentally mature into the lovely successful young adults they are today.  It will be a blessing once again when they have their own families, and I can participate in the care and nurturing of their offspring.

It has also been a blessing to lovingly "care" for my husband, who has been an equal partner for 35 years. We "care" for each other - nurturing, supporting, and growing older together.

The burden of taking care of others comes in doing those tasks that we do not particularly like to do, and often for a longer period than we would like. When we are born, we do not know what awaits us. We are innocent and pure. We yearn to learn about everything around us. We yearn to feel happy and fulfilled. Sometimes, life events get in the way of our goals. Sometimes, we're just born into a not-so-great situation, and we are forced to deal the hand we are dealt with.  Some parents are particularly good at teaching children to cope; others are not. The problem becomes when the child hurts himself/herself over time taking on the burdens, but not knowing how to "let go" and take care of himself/herself.

As human beings, we are mere machines of muscles, nerves, blood flow, hormones, enzymes, body organs and connective tissue. If we are lucky, each body part works harmoniously with each other, and we function optimally in a state of dynamic equilibirum. Over time, like any machine, the parts get worn down. Those that are "stressed" more than others, lose their function. Like a table which suddenly misses a leg, the body has to readjust to be functional. Sometimes it can with a little intervention (physical, occupational, psychotherapies, medications), and sometimes that is just not enough.

Stress can be physically or mentally-induced.  It is easier to replace a hip, than a troubled mind. You only get one chance at life. Consider what long-term unwanted stress may be doing to do.  Learn to take care of yourself. Let go of the things you can, so that you may enjoy your life. Be good to yourself!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lesson 36: What Does Too Much Really Mean?

Can you ever really have too much?  Isn't it okay to have an overabundance of love, affection, and attention? If so, why isn't it okay to have an overabundance of material possessions?  If you have the money, and aren't imposing on others, what harm is there in enjoying the most life has to offer? So why is everyone so willing to pass judgement on possessions?  Just something to think about.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lesson 35: Learn to Forgive

This is a hard one for me, but one which will reduce the stress in your life.  Holding grudges seems to be a lot easier to do.  It gets us attention and helps us to cope with the anger associated with the actions of others that are painful and cruel.

Throughout my life, I have found it difficult to just let go of that anger. I have spent many hours ruminating on the bad stuff, and have lost those hours where I could have been doing something good for myself.  I have also let other's actions affect the feelings and worth I have for myself.

No one has the right to take the happiness you deserve away from you.  No one has the right to make you feel that you are not valued.  But...only YOU hold the key to prevent that.  Use your key...learn to forgive and move on and feel good about yourself and your life. You only get one turn...make it the best it can be.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lesson 34: Respect the Beliefs of Others

This weekend marks Good Friday, Passover, and Easter.  It is the first time in 40 years that Good Friday and Passover occur on the same date.  As cultures and religious beliefs become integrated and evolve, it is especially important that all of us reach out, learn about, and respect the beliefs of others. We may not always agree on the fundamentals and core beliefs of each religion, but we can and should respect that these comprise the value systems of our friends and neighbors. The differences among us is what makes us interesting to each other. Embrace it!

The lesson today is respect the beliefs of others.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lesson 33: Age is Just a Number

As I grow older, I look at my peers and realize how very different we look and feel.  When we were young, we all "looked the same".  With stress and genetics, we have changed over the years, and as we are reaching our 6th decade of life, the differences become more apparent.

Some of my peers have not been fortunate enough to celebrate another birthday. Others are hampered with health issues that impair their daily activities. Some have embraced their gray, including me, and some are lucky enough not to have any gray yet, and don't need the help of Clairol.  Some have lots of wrinkles and some only have a few wrinkles, without the help of Botox. Some are bald, and some are sporting a full head of hair.

But even though many of us have changed on the "outside," we are still young at heart.  We enjoy doing fun things and appreciate the art of "play."  So the lesson today is to see beyond the physical shell of another's body, and look within. After all, age is just a number.