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.

mindfulness word cloud

Is Your Mind Full or Mindful?

Mindfulness Monday!
 

Is your mind full or mindful?  It sounds really corny but this is a question you need to ponder.  How are you doing?  How are you feeling?  Do you feel that your mind is cluttered?  Are you being pulled in too many directions?

 

Focusing on yourself is not selfish. Building in ways to combat the daily stress that you face is going to make you mentally stronger. There are many ways to calm our minds. Whether it is yoga, sitting quietly in a room and reading or journaling or listening to Tibetan bells while sitting quietly meditating, there are many tools available to help you with this. You need to experiment with finding the method that is most soothing to you.

 

Some of my girlfriends cannot listen to the raindrops because they feel that it makes them want to pee but for others, it’s ok. See what is right for you.

 

Is meditating a foreign concept to you? It certainly wasn’t something I grew up doing but I have found that this is a useful strategy when I just need to go to another room to get away from others or the noise around me.

 

I have listened to all kinds of videos to see what I like. I have determined that I don’t want someone talking to me telling me what to do or how to breathe. What I do love is when I am sitting on my back porch during a rainstorm. This is what led me to explore the raindrop videos and the raindrops with Tibetan bells are now my favorite.

 
I challenge you this week to go out of your comfort zone and to find ONE new method to soothe your mind. You get to chose if  your mind is full or mindful?. It can be walking, meditating, reading a book, listening to music, knitting or taking a nap. There is no wrong way to do this. You just need to look for something that works for you.
 

You choose.

Mental illness awareness text with Lime Green ribbon color on helping hand on old aged wood background

Reducing the Stigma of Mental Illness

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week so how appropriate that we spotlight this topic today. The National Association of Mental Illness, NAMI, is running a series of videos and blogs this week to hear the lived experiences of individuals who face the stigma of mental illness every day.  Reducing the stigma of mental illness is so important in order for us to move forward with everyone getting the care that they deserve.

There are some statistics on the site that cover many aspects of the demographics of who is impacted by this. If you look at them carefully, you will see that you are in contact with someone in all of these groups every day. You never know who is struggling with mental illness so be KIND to everyone who crosses your path.

Some of the statistics show that:

  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
  • 1 in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year

Take the time to educate yourself.  Maybe someone in your household is struggling with this at this time.  If you are the one in need of these services, reach out and schedule an appointment. There is NO shame in admitting this. In this time of COVID you have many options available on how to receive care. In-person or Telehealth visits are now available all across the country. This is one of the great things that has come out of these trying times.

If you have lost your job and no longer have insurance coverage, there are many sources available where you can receive services for free or for reduced costs.  Please know that you are not alone.

Read up. Reach out to your primary care physician. Reach out to someone. Reach out to me if you don’t know where to start.  The hardest step is the first one.  Visit nami.org to see the great resources that are available to you.

REDUCE THE STIGMA…

It Is Time to Move Your Booty!

Move it, move it, move it!

Happy Monday. I hope you all had a great weekend. Were you able to carve out at least 30 minutes each day just to focus on yourself?  If you are a diabetic, a pre-diabetic, or just someone who needs to become healthier,  it is important to move each and every day. Pick an activity that you can build into your schedule.  It is time to move your booty! 

9 Ways to exercise in this time of social distancing :

  • Dancing–the beauty of the internet is that you can use any of the great music videos on YouTube or your favorite streaming apps to find music that makes you move.  My favorite ones are those by Enrique Iglesias or Luis Fonsi.
  • Zumba–a combination of dance, movement and great music.  Find a local class on Zoom or use YouTube videos.
  • Strength Training–You can do strength training by using things in your pantry if you are new to this and just need to get started.  As you build up your strength you can buy light hand weights.  Use your time during commercials or find a 5 minute block of time to do simple, repetitive arm moves.
  • Yoga–there are so many free videos on YouTube.  Pick a beginner’s level if you are new to this but if you already exercise, you may be able to move to more advanced poses or routines.  Scan through the offerings to find someone you like.
  • Bicycling–this one may be trickier if you do not have a bicycle and your local gyms are not as accessible to you.  If you have room for a stationary bike, look on local marketplaces and see what you can find.  This is a great way to exercise while watching streaming apps.
  • Swimming–more options are now available to you so head to your local pool and find a water aerobics class or empty lane to swim in.  Many places have opened with new rules in place so see what is available in your area.
  • Stair climbing–do you have stairs in your home or in your apartment building?  Make a goal of climbing 3 flights to begin with and then add 1 flight a day or week depending on your fitness level.  Local malls may have indoor stairs that you can use.  Hiking in a local park with an incline can be just as good.  Look around and see what you can find.
  • Walking–You do not need anything special to walk.  A good pair of shoes and off you go.  If the weather keeps you from going outdoors on a regular basis, you may find that using a treadmill can help you meet your step goals.  The local mall can provide a safe place to walk and provide a staircase for you to use.
  • Running–once you build up your endurance, you may decide that you want to try and begin a running regimen.  There are apps that will take you from walking to finishing a 5K in 9 weeks or longer.

barriers to finding the time to exercise

Do you have a little one at home or an elderly family member to watch over?  Are you working remotely and trying to juggle being a care provider and work at the same time?  Yes?  Well, you are not alone.  Social distancing and the isolation recommendations have many without the usual circle of support that is needed to help you carve out the time you need for this.  

If you don’t have someone in your home to work with, find someone else in your situation who can swap out with you. Yes, even in this time of social distancing. you can watch over each others loved ones with proper masking, hand washing and social distancing.  If you are not comfortable with bringing someone into your home, then you will have to find an exercise that you can do at home.  Find a time while your dependents are sleeping.  This may mean waking up 45 minutes earlier or staying up later in the evening.  Find a way to make this happen.

Others in your household need to exercise as well.  Make it a ‘family’ event or trade off caretaker duties so that each of you can build this time into your daily routine.  Change it up.  You do not have to do the same thing every day.  Do a group yoga session.  This will help with everyone’s mental health.Remember that taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do. Only after focusing on yourself should you devote time and energy to others.

 

Yours in movement!

                                              

For Optimal Health, Make Yourself Move Every Day

Move it Monday!

 

One of the themes I seemed to notice this weekend as I was browsing articles was the topic of wellness challenges. There is good information that shows that when we join a wellness activity or challenge that we are more inclined to make ourselves move.  

 

I know that this certainly works for me. One of the things I miss from my last job was the wellness activities where we walked to a variety of locations. I have even done a personal virtual walk from Charlotte NC to Corpus Christi, TX over 16 months. That is a total of 1,230 miles.

 

My team and I are doing the Blue Ridge to the Beach virtual walk and have completed 38% of the distance (thanks mostly to Renee!) I slacked off a bit last week so I know that I need to up my game. That is a map of our trek below.

 

What do I mean by movement? It can be a variety of activities. It could be pulling weeds, raking leaves, sweeping, mopping, walking, running, yoga, Zumba, dance, pushing a lawnmower, water aerobics, bicycling, rowing, arm exercises, etc.

 

For optimal health, make yourself move every day.  The type of movement is not important.  You just need to do something other than sit on the couch.  Your goal should be to be active for at least 30 minutes a day.

 

If you are not moving everyday, why not?

 

What is holding you back? (This is not geared to those of you who have a physical disability.) If you are sitting here watching the Steelers play or watching another show, you could be doing arm exercises, walking around the room or in place. You can use a treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical while you are watching TV.

 

You don’t need fancy machines or weights. Cans from your pantry can be your weights and walking in place doesn’t cost you a thing. YouTube has hundreds of FREE workout videos.

 

What wellness challenge are you willing to commit to?

 

What other excuses do you have?  😁

 

Leave me a comment below so I can counter your excuse!

Woman daydreaming as she looks at a beautiful sunset.

Reducing the Stigma of Mental illness

Mournful Monday…

 

I am usually an upbeat type of person but today I sat through several presentations on how COVID-19 has impacted our children and their caregivers. The information was limited to North Carolina but the speakers stated that we are following the trend seen across the country.

 

The number of child abuse cases, suicide cases and how many are reporting signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety is increasing. The number of ‘accidental discharges’ from firearms has increased. Behind this is an increase in the accidental overdoses of medications with opioids being the number one medication that is used.

How fitting that today is International Overdose Awareness Day. I am lifting hugs and prayers to those of you who have lost loved ones to this.

 

This is not a new concern to those of you living with others who have been struggling with these issues or who work in this field. Being isolated in our homes and not being able to interact with others is going to cause these type of issues to worsen. Most of us are social butterflies and even those introverts among us crave more human interactions.

 

Reducing the stigma of mental illness by talking about mental health in an open manner needs to be a family affair. You have to be able to confide in one another without being shamed so that you or your loved ones can engage with care in a timely manner.

 

You need to be able to have open conversations with your children and other family members so if one of their friends ‘cries out for help’, they will know that they can reach out to someone to get them the care that they need. They need to know that they can come to you if they need help.

 

What if it is you who needs the help? Have you hit the end of your rope? Do you have someone to confide in?

 

You may have taken over caring for your elderly parent or other family members. Do you have a support team in place to give you a break?

 

You cannot help others if you are not taking care of your personal needs. For some, daily doses of selfcare may be enough. 30 minutes a day of ‘me time’ may keep you from lashing out at your loved ones.

 

‘Me time’ may not be enough. Then what?

 

The good news is that there is even more money being funneled to community programming and treatment centers to help counteract these issues. You may have lost your insurance and feel like you don’t have any options. Traditional practices have adopted telehealth visits and this makes care available in every state.

 

If you don’t know where to start or who to call, click on the link below. I am sharing the National Hotline Number 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for you to store or use. They can assist you with finding a location near you or can direct you to an agency who can assist regardless of your ability to pay.

 

I have a special request or call to action for you today.

 

Pick up your phone and text/call/FaceTime/Whatspp/Skype someone who lives alone or is an elderly friend or parent. Your voice may be the only one they hear today.

 

Let’s work together to break the cycle.

 

 

Time to Set Your August Health Goals

It is time to set your August health goals.  It is the beginning of a new month and the end of summer is in sight. 😎

It is time to review and focus on your health goals. Think about the preventative care topics that you have been reviewing. What appointments need to be scheduled? Remember that Telehealth is the new norm. What habits did you begin last month that you want to continue to work on?  What do you want to begin focusing on this month?

Setting goals if important but writing them down and posting them where you can see them every day increases the chance that you will make it happen.

Here are some ideas from our members from last month and a few of mine:

  • eat less carbs
  • cut back on sugar
  • walk more
  • add a mile to your walking session
  • stick to your work’s wellness activity
  • schedule your next wellness check appointment
  • schedule your next dental cleaning appointment
  • schedule your mammogram
  • work on increasing your water intake until you are drinking half of your weight each day (in ounces)
  • begin a walking program and work your way up to 30 minutes a day
  • explore meditation
  • start reading nutrition labels
  • eliminate artificial sweeteners
  • eliminate soda or sugar drinks
  • eliminate meat from one meal a day
  • eliminate one ‘bad habit’
  • keep a food diary
  • drink less alcohol

As you can see, there are many ways to become healthier. The list is endless. You get to decide what is most important to you. Pick 5 things to focus on this month. Yes, 5! Whether it is improving on the ones you chose last month, a combo of old and new or 5 new ones, it doesn’t matter.  It is a series of baby steps as this is a lifelong journey.

So take your pen, pencil or computer out and start writing this down.  Research this.  What steps can YOU take to make a difference this month? Make the time to set your August health goals.

Just as the picture shows, your journey doesn’t have to be perfect. You just have to be making daily progress.