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Friday, January 13, 2012

NY Grandparents

Guest post written by my buddy Aldo Mays

My grandparents are originally from New York, New York. About seven years ago, they bought a condo in a retirement home in – you guessed it—Southern Florida. Like many of their friends, they move to the condo in November. My grandfather always jokes and says that it is to save money on natural gas prices new york. It’s true, in Southern Florida in the winter, you do not have to run the heat or an air conditioner. The weather is about seventy five degrees all years. My grandparents absolutely love being Floridians during the winter. It’s funny though, everyone in their condo association is of the same demographic. They are Jewish New Yorkers—imagine that! I tease them all they time and say they got their idea from the Seinfeld episode. Spending winter break in Florida was an adjustment, but I love it. I look forward to hearing seagulls, seeing the ocean, and playing shuffleboardwith my grandparents and their friends. Shuffleboard is definitely more fun than it looks!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When You Have No Choice But To Claim Bankruptcy

When my children were younger, I sometimes worked three jobs while I attended school full time, but the money I made from my jobs came nowhere close to matching my expenses. If my income and my debt had been running a race, debt would have won by a hundred laps. At one point I had to speak with a financial counselor because the hole I was digging for myself by running in place for so long was so deep I couldn't find a way out. I was using my Discover card to make payments on my Sears card, my other credit cards, food, and other household expenses. 

I was not one to purchase clothing, shoes, and jewelry for myself (I hate shopping) – I spent money on clothing and shoes for the kids only at the beginning of each school year. But the challenge of trying to pay the mortgage, heat, electricity, water, sewer, insurance, food, gas for the car, and clothing for the kids – month by month – caused the mountain of debt before me to loom so large, it practically devoured me.

After looking at my income to debt ratio, a financial counselor told me that I had two choices – I could either find three full-time jobs or I could claim bankruptcy. The thought of having to claim bankruptcy depressed me. I felt that I had incurred the debt; therefore, I should be responsible for the debt.

I went home and called all of my creditors to see if they would work with me to lower my payments. Discover and Sears both refused, but I was able to lower the interest rate on one other credit card. My debt still exceeded my income by so much that I couldn't afford to pay my electric and gas bills. The bank that held my school loans offered to consolidate my loans into one bill, but overall, I was still so deeply in debt, the realization that if I kept paying the bills only when I could afford to pay them would result in me eventually losing my car and my home. It was only a matter of time before the stress of knowing I could never catch up would bury me.

Having lunch with a friend one afternoon, I related to my friend the stress I was feeling about my financial woes and I explained the horror of not being able to pay my creditors. She pointed to my refrigerator. "How much money do you think you've paid for that refrigerator so far?" 

She had made her point. Over the years, all of the interest alone had pushed the cost of the refrigerator to more than quadruple its original price. "Believe me," she went on, "you've paid for that refrigerator and the kids' clothes many times over." 

I explained to her that I was embarrassed to claim bankruptcy, but I could see no other way out of my dilemma. She related to me that she had claimed bankruptcy a couple of years before. I didn't want to admit that I was running out of options, but I knew that I was. She reminded me that I still had two choices, and that if I wanted to find three jobs and leave three teenagers home alone 24 hours each day, I'd have to learn how stay awake without ever sleeping. The decision not to claim bankruptcy had become impossible.

Working 24 hours a day just to pay the bills would mean that I would spend no time at all with my children. Working 24 hours a day also meant that I could never sleep; nobody can stay awake 24 hours a day 5 days a week. So I did what I had to do – I used my Discover card to pay a bankruptcy attorney the fees to file my bankruptcy claim. 

Claiming bankruptcy didn't wipe out all of my debt though. In fact, I still retained the mortgage payment and both school loans. Yes, I felt the repercussions for claiming bankruptcy – an immediate sense of failure and a crazy fear that I would never be in a position to save money. But I also felt relieved because I would receive no more credit card bills. 

The hardest part about claiming bankruptcy was the guilt I felt over not paying my bills, and I honestly believe that if credit card companies didn't charge so much interest, a lot of hardworking people wouldn't have to claim bankruptcy so often. 

If you are one of those people who find yourself in the same position, if you're not abusing your credit cards by purchasing frivolous items, and if you live in Nebraska, click Nebraska Bankruptcy Lawyer to talk to a lawyer about claiming bankruptcy. 

Don't be embarrassed about contacting a bankruptcy attorney, but don't allow yourself to get into the same situation once your bankruptcy is over. Several months after my bankruptcy hearing, I started receiving offers to open more credit cards. Though I waited several years to accept one of those offers, I never again used a credit card if I couldn't pay it off the following day (I used it just to help my credit rating). 

One bankruptcy per life is enough!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Jobs, Careers, Law, and the Single Parent

While finding a job is a problem for many people, the single parent, responsible for him- or herself and at least one other human being, is hit particularly hard. 

My first job as a single parent was working for an insurance firm. It didn't take long for me to determine that after the federal and state took out their hefty taxes, I couldn't survive. I quickly learned how to budget. 

When we are young, as I was then, we sometimes forget to include ALL expenses in a budget – mortgage, rent, heat, electricity, water, sewer, garbage, car payments, auto insurance, gas for our cars, parking fees, health insurance, home owners or rental insurance, taxes, and credit card fees. AND savings, gifts, and extras. What if you are invited to three weddings in one year?  

Knowing your budgets allows you to find your "perfect" job. That's what I thought I had until I realized I was working for a pervert. Fortunately employers today are more careful about sexual harassment – they can be sued. Still, some employers cross the line from light teasing to sexual harassment. You can – and should – report those crimes.

Eventually I searched for Pervert. He had moved. I would have needed a California criminal lawyer if I had wanted to prosecute him. And he would have needed a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. It wouldn't have been difficult for him – he was a lawyer too. Unfortunately I found him through his obituary.

My best advice? Speak to a financial counselor at your local college about grants, loans, scholarships, a CAREER, and your future. Year after year, scholarships go unused either because students don't ask about them or take the time to write the essays required of them. Scholarships are FREE MONEY! Use them and change your life! 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Where People Go When They Die

As we sat outside the grammar school where my grandson, Kaden, attends school, I talked to his younger brother, Zac (4) about some very important (and some not so important) issues.

I love conversing with kids and hearing their responses. So yesterday, when Zac and I were in the car, I asked him where he thought people went when they died.

His immediate response was, "A garden."

I thought about Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden and about what a beautiful place that would be. As I was imagining that perfect garden, Zac added, "A zombie garden."

Hmm. Not the kind of garden I imagined and, as I usually do when kids come up with funny responses, I laughed. "A zombie garden? What's a zombie garden?"

"You know, where they grow dirt and they don't do ANYTHING?"

"Well, it sounds kind of boring to me, Zac."

And Zac responded, "Yeah, it sucks when you die."

(Everybody thinks I'm crazy for watching my grandchildren as often as I do, but I would miss out on these conversations if I didn't spend so much time with them, and they give me such great blog material ;)

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sometimes the Choice is Divorce

After the credits start rolling in Finding Nemo, a scene shows a group of bagged fish jumping into the ocean after escaping the aquarium in a dentist's office. After making it safely across an expressway, they look at each other and one says to the rest of them, "Now what?"

Now What?

Now what? is precisely the question we are supposed to answer. Because for every action we take, we can expect a reaction. But how are we supposed to know every possible consequence for every possible action?

When my children were young, my finances were so far below the poverty level, I relied on credit cards to provide us with food, shelter, and clothing. Many people offered no sympathy. "You chose to have children. Deal with it."

They were right. I CHOSE to have children, but I didn't have the foresight to consider all possible consequences for making that choice. I didn't consider the What ifs. What if, for instance, my husband decided to vacate the marriage? What if my husband decided he would rather be married to Bud(weiser) than to me?

What if one of us lost our jobs, our home, or our sanity? No, I did NOT consider all possible consequences for my choices. And for that I am guilty.

But sometimes we can't anticipate consequences for every action we take. Take, for instance, a person who chooses to marry. Can anyone see all possible consequences for making that decision?

Who can predict a spouse that suddenly becomes an alcoholic? So many possibilities exist – infidelity, pedophilia, and a host of other problems. On the other hand, what if your spouse suddenly decides he wants to change religions?  What if he becomes involved in a cult?

Making Plans

Mapping out a plan prepares us for what we EXPECT. It does not prepare us for  every possible outcome. We marry for better or worse, but often we can not fathom "worse."

When we decide to get married, we don't usually foresee a divorce, but divorce is sometimes the consequence of our actions. In those cases understanding divorce law helps us decide the course we should take. By educating ourselves we can learn as much as possible about any consequences that may result from our actions. 

Before my divorce, I read as much as I could about divorce and the effect it would have on my children. I had to feel comfortable and knowledgeable about my decision.

Become comfortable with the decision you plan to make, and take that first step. You can always backtrack if you discover you are on the wrong track.

Dealing With Consequences

Like the Nemo fish, we often take leaps of faith. The best we can do is to research our problems, consider our options, choose the best possible action, and hope for the best possible outcome. The Nemo fish could have prayed for help to come along or they could have forged their own paths. Praying helps, but we also have to forge our own paths.

And reaching out to others is the first step toward treading whatever path we choose to follow. If you have tried to repair your marriage and divorce is the only viable option, you may need to ask friends and relatives for referrals to a divorce attorney. Getting divorced isn't dishonorable; it's sometimes necessary.

"Honor isn't about making the right choices. It's about dealing with the consequences." – Midori Koto

If you live in Ontario, Canada, please click divorce law barrie for an attorney in your area. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Prevent Colds by Teaching Children How to Prevent Their Own Colds

Ask any nurse, doctor, or anyone in the healthcare profession what you can do to prevent a cold, and all of them will say, "Keep your hands clean."

Children are as uncomfortable as are adults when they get colds. They're tired and crabby and just plain miserable. Colds wear everybody down. It tires us just to grab a box of tissues and walk those used tissues to the trash. Nobody likes feeling chronically tired.

But teaching children that they can be the bosses of their own bodies empowers them to take control over their own health. 

Teach children that hands, mouths, and noses harbor germs. The moment a hand wipes a nose without the use of a tissue, that hand carries germs to whatever it touches. Kids playing with other kids multiplies the possibility of transferring germs.

So teaching children to cough into their elbows prevents the germs from transferring to their hands. Teaching them to wash their hands after they blow their noses further prevents colds from transferring to playmates and siblings.

Though doctors recommend NOT using hand sanitizers ALL the time, using them during a cold or flu outbreak helps to prevent colds from spreading. Day care providers and parents should teach kids how important it is to keep their hands clean. 

A child with a cold who doesn't wash his or her hands can transfer those germs to all of the toys in the daycare or home and cause every child in that home or daycare to get a cold. At the first sign of a sniffle, teach the child how to properly use a tissue, how to keep hands clean, and how to cough or sneeze into the elbow. 

Instilling an element of compassion helps too. When kids realize that their behavior affects those around them, they'll want to contribute to everyone's good health.

Tell children that by coughing into their elbow, others won't get their germs. By keeping their hands clean, they are helping themselves and others to become healthier. 

Kids want to be responsible and teaching them how to keep their hands clean and to be aware of germs (without programming them for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is one of the most important steps in helping them to help themselves. 

So to break it down into easily digested kid form, teach these three things to your children:

• Wipe your nose without getting mucous on your hands.

• Cough or sneeze into your elbow (good rule for adults too).

• Wash your hands frequently during a cold or flu outbreak, especially after wiping your nose (another good one for adults).

Adults might also want to sanitize toys during cold and flu outbreaks too, to prevent the spread of colds and flu.

Wishing you a HEALTHY and happy New Year!

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