Are Your Personal Affairs in Order?

Are your personal affairs in order?  January is a great time to review your ‘official paperwork’ to see if anything needs to be updated. If you find that you do have some time on your hands this weekend, let’s revisit our discussion on how important it is to have a Last Will and Testament in place alongside other important documents. Part of taking care of yourself is making sure you ease the mental burden that comes from losing a loved one.

The Caring Hub website is a great source of information and by signing up for their newsletter, you get a daily assignment that will assist you in getting things in order. There is even a chapter dealing with pets. At the end of 30 days, you and your family will have everything in place.

If you have already done this, use this time to update any information that is outdated. If you are newly married or divorced, make sure to see what changes need to be made.

By visiting the website, you will get a step-by-step plan to do this. Keep this information in a binder, folder or on an excel spreadsheet and make sure that someone else in your family knows where this information is.

Start with collecting this information for anyone that you are caring for. Make this a family event so that you all can share stories as you review birth certificates, marriage licenses, armed forces documents and any other historical document that you need to have on file.

If you are not ready to do this for yourself, do this for your kids.

For the record, there is a excel file on my laptop labelled ‘Look Here If I Die.’  This is a computer file that houses all of the digital links to all of my personal accounts for my husband and me. My kids know to look here and they know where to find the password to my computer and this spreadsheet if something happens to me.

Points to consider:

  • What does your file, binder, or folder look like?
  • Do your loved ones know where it is?
  • Do you need a key to get to it?
  • Does someone know where the key is?
  • Do they know where to find the password to access your computer if it is password protected?
  • Do they know where to find the password to access your file?
  • Do you have a copy of this information outside of your home? What if your only copy is in your home and you have a house fire that destroys it?

January is a great time to get your personal affairs in order.  Go ahead, take a deep breathe and get started. It may take a few weeks or months to get it all in order but get started.  

 

Being Self Reliant Will Improve Your Overall Health

‘Me’ time, self care and self reliance…

These are the three core topics that we focus on in this group. We covered the overview of ‘me’ time and self-care the last two Mondays so be sure to go back and read them again.

You may question why self reliance is in this group but did you know that financial stress is one of the top conditions that can impact your physical and mental health?  Financial stress is one of the conditions that can impact your health and can cause relationship issues.  Being self reliant will improve your overall health.  A few examples of how it impacts your health are listed below.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Guilt
  • Weight loss
  • Weight gain
  • Diabetes
  • Denial
  • Insomnia
  • Blood pressure problems

Over the last 30 years, I have spoken to so many women who are at a loss when it comes to their own finances. Not because they are being lazy but because they either rely or relied on their partner to ‘take care of all of that’ or they feel overwhelmed about how to get the financial information that they need.

One of the many things that 2020 showed us was that we cannot rely on one stream of income. Things beyond our control can impact that one paycheck. We have also seen how relying on the government to bail us out is NOT an option.

I am going to ask that you take a hard look at where you are financially. Do you have a consistent stream of income? Do you have multiple streams of income? Do you know how much debt you are in? Do you have a plan for how you are going to reduce and eliminate your debt? Do you know how to access all of your accounts? The list of questions is a long one but we will cover them in January.

I feel that it is crucial for all of you to become financially literate and financially independent so that you can be in a position to walk away from a toxic work environment or a toxic relationship. You should NEVER stay in either situation because you cannot afford to leave.

Let’s flip the situation. Are you the person in your family who is in charge of the finances? Are you responsible for overseeing your parent’s finances? If so, do others know where you keep all of your information so that if something happens to you, they will know where to look?

So I have a homework assignment for you for this next month. Gather all of your banking account information, pay stubs, and all of your bills. Yes, the holiday damage will take a month to sort through if you put your purchases on a credit card.

Put it all in one stack and we will begin working our way through a simple process so that you can organize the information and make a plan for how to ensure that you fully understand what is in front of you.

If your partner usually does this in your family, explain what you are doing and why. Ask them to teach you what they know. This may a tough conversation to have so prepare for some pushback.

My goal? Develop one more stream of income that brings in $1000/month.

What does one financial goal for 2021 look like for you? 

Don’t Let the Holidays Derail Your Work on Your Health Goals

Here we are on the first day of December. As we close out the year, you have one month left to focus on your health goals for this year. Letting your guard down just because it’s the holidays does not give you a pass.  Don’t let the holidays derail your work on your health goals.

Who is taking care of you?  You and only you are responsible for your health.  There are many things that impact your health status so I chose to focus on these three topics; ‘me time’, self care and self-reliance. Each of you are in a different personal situation and you need to develop the skills that are most pertinent to you.

I use the word ‘self’ in many ways. This does not imply that you need to be living alone or supporting only yourself. I am asking you to develop the skills you need so that if you find yourself alone, you can continue to support yourself. I also ask that you make your own health a priority. You cannot take care of others if you are not in the best health possible. I include ‘me time’ as a separate focus so that you can learn to carve out key times during the day to do something for yourself.

If you have already identified ways to improve your health and you are working on some goals, you need to make an extra commitment to them as you may be facing daily events or foods that will test you over the next four weeks.  Colder weather may also impact your exercise  goals.

What can you do this month?    December is a tough time to begin but this doesn’t mean you can’t start analyzing your current habits.  What will you do today?  Are you struggling to find 30 minutes each day to focus on yourself? If you are new to this site there is an Activity Journal under the Resources tab to help you work through this process if you need help finding the time to do this. The Resource page also has different activity lists in case you need other ideas. 

Don’t let the holidays derail your work on your health goals but be intentional on the items you will splurge on.  Plan ahead and work in movement every day.  Sample food and drink in moderation.  You can enjoy the season while maintaining your health goals.

Cheers!

 

 

Who Is Taking Care of You? Celebrates A Milestone

Happy anniversary to us!!!

I started this blog in a private Facebook group one year ago today in anticipation that I was moving to a new city and wanted to maintain the friendships and support group that I was leaving behind. I love the fact that we have social media to help us keep and renew friendships.

The Who Is Taking Care of You? FB group celebrates a milestone today in that we hit our one year mark and it has grown to over 400 members from the US and 14 different countries. I have shared 277 blog posts focusing on the intersection of women’s and public health and created a website for housing our Resource information.  I love the unique perspectives we all bring to this group and I hope to see you engage even more. 

For those new to this blog, WELCOME! I am an ob/gyn that has advocated for women for the last thirty years. I have worked in public health for the last 16 years and am passionate about the intersection of women’s and public health. I can speak and write on this topic for hours.

As I work with women, the common theme I see is that you all do a great job taking care of others but you are not as good when it comes to caring for yourself. I am a firm believer that you need to be knowledgable about these three core factors; mental, physical and financial health. In order to focus on these items, I try to limit our posts to the following topics:

  • ‘Me Time’
  • Self Care
  • Self Reliancy

‘Me time’ is important for your mental health. I want for you to find at least 30 minutes a day to focus internally so that you can quiet your mind. This will enable you to develop tools so that you can handle your daily mini-crisis without increasing your anxiety levels.

Self Care is necessary to ensure that you are in charge of your physical health. You, and only you, are responsible for your health. We use the Well Woman Chart as a foundation so that you are armed with the tools and knowledge that you need to take charge of your health journey.

Self Reliancy is the topic that most of you are surprised by. Why do I think this is important? I believe that all of you need to acquire a skill to support yourselves and then you need to educate yourselves about your personal finances. I do not want you to work or live in a hostile environment because you cannot afford to leave. I do not want you to be lost if you lose your loved one because they always took care of your family’s finances.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you. I am grateful for each and every one of you!

Velma Taormina, MD profile picture

Simplify Your Holiday Gift Giving and Gain Financial Health

It is Money Monday!

We will continue to destress by having you work on decreasing your financial stressors. Worrying about how to pay for all of your bills can make you physically sick so we want to work on decreasing the amount of money that you owe. You can simplify your holiday gift giving and gain financial health.  

For those of you that are new to this group, I believe that each one of you needs to be financially literate. I don’t want you to stay in a toxic home or relationship because you cannot afford to leave. I do not have any special certifications in this field. I am just sharing my thoughts with you like I share with my kids.

We began our conversation about how to pay for Christmas on September 25th. Three months before Christmas.   I asked if you preplan, budget and prepay for your holiday gifts and expenses or do you spend what you want and worry about it the following year? If you are in the latter group, I want for you to take the next 18 months to convert to a plan where you prepay for all of your holiday gifts and expenses. Yes, a good old fashion Christmas Savings account!

Although the MarketPlace article is from 2018, the average Christmas debt was $1054 and half paid it off within 3 months. Another 29% paid it off in 5 months. Some were still paying on the debt when the next holiday season rolled around.

Let’s walk through an example using my immediate family to see what kind of money we are talking about.

I have 2 parents, 1 mother-in-law, 1 spouse, 3 children and 2 boy/girl friends, 5 brothers + spouses, 4 in-laws + spouses, and 20 nieces and nephews. That is 47 individuals. If I gave each of them a gift and limited my costs to the following this is how much it would cost me.

$10 apiece = $470

$20 apiece = $940

$25 apiece = $1175

$50 apiece = $2350

I will have to decide if I am going to give everyone a gift or do we draw names to limit how many gifts we will exchange. You know that I am going to give my spouse and kids more than one gift. What kind of limits will I place on myself? Maybe I can gift them my time or talents instead.

What about the other special people in your life? Do you factor in your co-workers, employees, friends, church family members, angel trees, mailman, newspaper carrier, sports team coaches, teachers, housekeeper, lawn service, Christmas family donations, etc. When we add them in, it gets scary really quickly. Where does it end? Which of these things can you remove from your list? Again, maybe your time or talents would be a better way to show them you care. Maybe you spread your gifts out over the year instead of all in one month?

What about decorations, holiday outfits, pjs, holiday cards, special meals and drinks? What else can you add to this list?

If it is too stressful to think about prepaying (saving) for this in 2020, then use this year to keep strict records so that you can use 6-9 months of 2021 to save up for the 2021 holidays.

This year is so different for all of us. You have 5 weeks before Thanksgiving week. Your financial situation may or may not be different this year but I am going to challenge you to use this time to make a promise to yourself that you will limit holiday spending in some way this year. Sit down for dinner with your family and talk about it openly. Talk about it at work. I guarantee you that someone will be grateful to hear that you will not have a gift exchange this year.

You can make this decision for yourself and can just announce that you are taking a break this year. You are allowed to do this!

Is this too much for you? Start small. Make a promise to yourself that you will not buy any new holiday decorations this year. What can you reuse or repurpose? How can you simplify your decor? Do you really need a Christmas tree in each room? If you do, do not buy anything new for any of them this year.

For today, without thinking hard, write down ONE thing you will not buy this holiday season.

Me? Christmas Santas.

What about you? Leave a comment below and share your first thought.

multicolored wrap bracelets on a women's wrist

Using Hobbies to Soothe Your Soul During COVID

Self-Isolation

COVID has changed our lives in so many ways.  My parents still live in their own home and have approached this time in a very different manner.  Initially, both of my parents heeded the recommendations from health officials to stay in their homes.  They had the support of several family members who lived nearby who could assist in running errands for them. Since March, she celebrated her 60th wedding anniversary, her 80th birthday and missed the graduation events of two of their grandchildren.

My dad, a very active healthy 85 year old slowly began resuming running some basic errands while being cautious.  For my mom, things were a bit different.  She had a heart attack last fall so she was still being mindful about her activities.  Due to her health issues, she decided to stay indoors without fail.  She did well at the beginning but as the confinement began to drag on, it was apparent that we had to find activities to keep her occupied.  My mom taught school for over 40 years and has always been a crafter.  She incorporated arts and crafts into her school work and then used this skill during her retirement phase to keep her entertained.  She is the type of person that can replicate anything after just studying it.  Being isolated was challenging but she turned to her love of crafts to help pass the time.  

Using hobbies to Soothe Your Soul During COVID

My dad resumed his outdoor activities but took precautions.  He was certified as a master gardener and used his love of all things green to while away his time in the great outdoors.  Piddling in his garden or work shed, cutting the grass at his lake lot or helping his sons on their projects, he took the stance that he wanted to find a healthy, cautious balance to life.  He just entered his 51st year of selling life and health insurance and has modified his work practice to meet clients in a safe manner.  

My mom decided to turn to her love of crafts.  She had been selling custom made rosary wrap bracelets to her friends and at local craft shows.  This fun pasttime came to a halt with the isolation orders.  We had a long talk about what she wanted to do.  I had time on my hands and had watched too many YouTube videos so we decided to open an Etsy store.

Bevasbracelets was born

She surveyed her craft room and realized that she had over 200 bracelets.  She loves to make rosary wrap bracelets so off we went.  We made some listings and learned all about SEO.  We made an IG account.  She has a strong following which delights her.  She now has something to look forward to.
She is now making all types of styles based on what her customers request. She has autism awareness bracelets, prayer bracelets, some NFL team bracelets and her breast cancer awareness bracelets.  She sells them through many venues including direct sales to friends, on Facebook and through Etsy.  This has been so exciting to watch as her bracelets are now all over the country.   She just made her 100th sale since going live mid-April.

 

If you get a chance, visit her Etsy store and see what she has. You can sort by category. Here is a picture of all of the breast cancer survivor awareness bracelets. There are 16 different styles and they are all on Etsy under Bevasbracelets if you want to look at the close up pictures.

 

Feel free to share this post with your friends. I would appreciate you helping to spread the word.

Compound Interest Is Your Friend

It’s Money Monday!

So I had someone ask why their daughter should start contributing to her retirement plan at age 21.

The answer? Compound interest!

There are all kinds of charts that will show you how investing small amounts consistently over time will give you the returns you need to retire comfortably.   Compound interest is your friend.

I wasn’t able to begin investing for my retirement until 15 years after I graduated from high school in 1980.  I didn’t pass the poverty threshold of $12,490 until I was 10 years beyond my high school graduation. It was another 5 years before I was employed in a group practice and actually began contributing to something other than social security.  A 401K?  What is that?

When we first sat down to begin educating ourselves, it was pretty daunting. They gave us the advise of projecting how much we would need if we wanted to live off 80% of our salary. The advice has drastically changed over the last 20 years but most of the financial gurus that I follow now say you are financially independent if you have 20-25X of your projected annual expenses in your savings/retirement accounts.

So I started late, but now, at age 58, I can quit working if I choose to. We choose to live way below our means so we could pay off over $150K in student loans, save for our three kids college expenses and save money for ourselves. We invested in stocks. We used a budget until we didn’t need to.

So my point? It is never too late to begin this process. By starting in your early 20s, you will have time on your side and you can rely on compound interest to help you reach your goals. Compound interest is your friend. 

Celebrating a New Start After Graduating From College

Congratulations to all of our new college grads on beginning their new jobs. I feel like a proud mama watching my daughter and her friends achieve this milestone. They are moving to new cities and establishing new homes. What advice can we share with them? What advice can we share with any of our friends who are returning to the workforce?  Let us share their excitement as we begin celebrating a new start after graduating from college.

Here are 12 things that I would tell you if you were my child. Following some or all of these recommendations will ensure that you become financially independent. The goal at the beginning is to keep as much money in your pocket as you can.

• Continue to live like a poor college student for as long as you can.

• Learn how to cook.

• Do not buy a new car or lease a car. If your car needs to be replaced, buy a used car.

• Continue to rent.

• Become financially literate.

• Plan a budget and live below your means.

• Sign up for any employer match retirement programs.

• If allowed, stay on your parent’s health and dental insurance (until you are 26 years old.) Sit down and review what your parent’s premium cost is with and without you. Most plans have a flat ‘family rate’. Figure out what your portion of this is and pay this premium to your parents instead of your company’s plan.

• If your employer’s health insurance cost is zero to you, you may want to take the benefit and use your parent’s plan as your secondary insurance.

• If this is not an option, sign up for an employer HSA if it is offered especially if the employer makes a contribution to help fund it.

• Do not sign up for the ‘extra’ employer benefits during your first year. You do not need long-term care, cancer insurance, whole life insurance, or whatever other ‘benefit’ they are offering. Contain your costs and hoard your money. As you educate yourself, you can decide what other benefits you truly need. Remember that the company representatives are there to sell you something.

• Pick up a side hustle and pay down your college debt as fast as you can.

What advice would you give your 22 year old self? Share your advice in the comments below.

Financial Literacy Is Important For Your Health

Money Monday!!!

I hope that you all had a great weekend celebrating yourself, your family and your country. I was going to share another great Meatless Monday recipe but a blog about financial literacy came in my email today and I just had to share this instead.

The White Coat Investor was started by a physician for other physicians but it is open to everyone now. Physicians do not learn about the business side of medicine or personal finance in medical school, so just because they have a high income does not mean they are wealthy. Many live paycheck to paycheck. Dr. Dahle started this forum to educate them about how to save their money and his advice is great.  If you need a place to begin learning, read this article and click on the links for more information, especially if you are still paying off student loans.

 

You may ask what financial literacy has to do with your health?  Did you know that financial stress is one of the top reasons that relationships have issues? Financial stress also impacts your personal well being. A few conditions are listed below.

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Guilt
  • Weight loss
  • Weight gain
  • Disruptive sleeping patterns
  • High blood pressure

Over the last 30 years, I have spoken to so many women who are at a loss when it comes to their own finances. Not because they are being lazy but because they either relied on their partner to ‘take care of all of that’ or they feel overwhelmed about where to begin finding good information.

Either way, I feel that it is crucial for all of you to become financially literate so that you can take control of your personal finances and have a say in how your money is spent. You need to be in a solid financial position so that you can walk away from a toxic work environment or a toxic relationship.

Explore this blog today and you will find a nugget to help you on your journey.  https://www.whitecoatinvestor.com/how-to-fix-your-financial-problems/

2020 is the Year of the Staycation

It is Funday Monday! The week of July 4th is usually a relaxing time for most families as it is usually a short work week with fireworks, cookouts and maybe a long weekend.

COVID is disrupting normal summer travel plans with many vacation trips being cancelled.  We need look at alternative ways to enjoy the great outdoors this year. Better yet, with some preplanning, you may be able to do it in an inexpensive manner as well.

As with everything that has hit us these last 3-4 months, this week may be a bit subdued. Just because you cannot take your normal vacation does not mean you cannot dream about what you would like to do. Better yet, with some preplanning, you may be able to do it in an inexpensive manner as well.

Do we all agree?  2020 is the Year of the Staycation!

Begin researching what there is to do in your hometown, county, state and region. Even better, look for no-cost or low-cost forms of entertainment.

Since we need to factor in social distancing, I recommend looking at outdoor activities. Alltrails is a great website or app that lets you search by zip code, town, state, etc. I entered my zip code and it gave me a list of 68 places to go take a hike! 68!!!

Not every location will have that many options but it is a start. You can also search for your state or national parks in your areas.

Let’s start brainstorming how you can fit one into your plans. This is a great way to practice some self-care. Focusing on your mental health is so important right now and engaging with nature will help counteract depression and anxiety.

After you pencil in your destination, let’s plan your budget. Food? Housing? Transportation costs? Entry fees? If you can keep it to day trips or one night stays, even better!

Remember that you are not going to go into debt for these mini-trips. Plan your budget and when you have the money in hand to take your trip and can cover all costs, then away you go!

Visit our Resources page https://whoistakingcareofyou.com/resources/ for the Plan Your Trip Activity worksheet to help you begin the planning process.  

Happy Trails!

Woman daydreaming as she looks at a beautiful sunset.