Archive for May 2013

10 Financial Issues Older Americans Face

I know. The month is nearly over, and I have not posted one thing about one of my favorite groups of people! Please forgive me because I love taking time and learning from my elders. I sponsored “Adopt A Senior Week” at my church one year, and it was a huge success! The seniors were extremely appreciative that we took them to dinner, paid for their medication, ran errands for them, and more. Members of all ages felt privileged to help our seniors who have so much wisdom to offer; yet, they are forgotten sometimes.

seniorcit

To make sure that seniors throughout the country are not completely forgotten, Older Americans Month is celebrated in May of each year. The observation has occurred for 50 years, and this year’s theme encourages seniors to embrace their age and remain active. They are also challenged to continue to do great things. Unfortunately, many seniors encounter numerous financial situations that prevent or limit their ability to make contributions to society. Here is a list of financial issues that many older Americans face:

  1. Debt-from credit cards, etc.
  2. Medical bills-due to falls, illness, or treatment
  3. Scams-Seniors are often at the greatest risk of con artists.
  4. Assisted living-meal preparation, etc.
  5. Wellness programs-therapy
  6. Alternate Transportation-due to loss of license or inability to ride in a car
  7. Planning for long-term care
  8. Legal services-living will, etc.
  9. Housing-mortgages
  10. Insurance-premiums must be paid to continue coverage
  11. What can you do to help an Older American who is facing financial issues? Please comment.

Photo of the Week: Denzel Washington’s Excellent View on Aspire

DenzelAspire

Are you making a difference?

a) Yes
b) No
c) Maybe

Please think about the living you are making, compare it to the difference you are making, and comment.

How to Bridge the Financial Literacy Gender Gap

Image courtesy of [renjith krishnan] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [renjith krishnan] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Women and money are daunting thoughts for some people! Images of closets or trunks filled to capacity with recent shopping items may come to mind. Whatever images appear before you, the reality is worse than the imagery! For various reasons, many women do not have a good grasp on financial literacy. Perhaps, that can explain some of the money issues that women often experience. I am not implying that men do not have issues with money. I am simply stating that there is a gender gap in financial literacy, and my theory is supported by a recent study from Financial Finesse.

I am addressing this problem because I feel that it directly relates to me. I was reminded of the problem when I received a Google Alert with an article that appeared in “The Huffington Post.” The article indicated that financial literacy for women is problematic worldwide! I agree with the article, and one of my goals is to bridge the gap of financial understanding between men and women. With regular posts on this blog and social media, I believe that I can start to make a difference. I am an educator, and I will utilize my training and skills to incorporate changes to my lessons.

As a business computer applications teacher, I teach my students about careers. My students have a good grasp on earning money, but they fail to understand other important skills. We need to change the curriculum; so, more students can gain a better understanding of how money works. Changes which integrate financial literacy into a business curriculum should help females as well as males. The changes must start as early as possible because many elementary to secondary schools do not offer financial literacy classes. Consequently, many children become adults with poor understandings of finance.

Teaching money management to young females is important, but teaching them how to make better decisions is critical. In addition, an environment where females feel comfortable to ask questions about finance must be promoted. A lack of trust in banks and finance professionals must be overcome. Reducing the easy access to credit-regardless of the country, should also help bridge the gap. I am just one person, but I will do everything that I can do to improve females’ financial literacy. I would like to see women and money in a different light!

Do you think that there are enough people interested and/or enough resources to bridge the financial literacy gender gap? Please share your thoughts. Thank you.

10 of My Favorite Destinations

Image courtesy of [ddpavumba] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [ddpavumba] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After writing the post, “Excellent Tips on Planning a Perfect Vacation,” I thought about my plans for the summer. I plan to read more, attend a conference, go to some museums, attend a wedding, and visit relatives. I refuse to do all of that without taking a vacation! Last year, I had a staycation because I could not decide on my destination! Plane tickets were too expensive when I finally decided; however, this year I plan to go to one of my favorite places! Here is a list of my favorite destinations:

  1. New York, NY-I visited many historical sites and saw a show on Broadway!
  2. Steamboat Springs, CO-That was a great skiing trip!
  3. New Orleans, LA-I love the soul of the city (people, food, music)!
  4. Washington, D.C.-I went as a child & for Obama’s Inauguration (history buff).
  5. San Juan, PR-The culture (incl. the ferry ride) was serene.
  6. San Francisco, CA-Beautiful city for walking/riding in a cable car; Alcatraz…
  7. Las Vegas, NV-Gondola, saw Cirque du Soleil, and the Fountains at Bellagio.
  8. Destin, FL-I’m not really a beach person, but Destin’s beaches were beautiful.
  9. Phoenix, AZ-Despite the heat during the day, I enjoyed myself.
  10. Jamaica, WI-I went with family, and we stayed in a villa. We saved money and had a familiar environment.

What are your favorite destinations? Please comment.

Excellent Tips on Planning a Perfect Vacation

Image courtesy of [digitalart] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [digitalart] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“The idea of a perfect vacation is not working or not having to work
and having no appointments.”-Tom Welling

Finally! The school year has ended for many of us, and I am excited about all of the wonderful things that I will enjoy this summer. What are your plans for this summer? Are you staying home to get some rest or going on vacation? If you are going on vacation, do not forget the most important part: Planning! Determine how much money you want to spend and continue to look for bargains or travel packages. Some people pay for vacations by charging them on their credit cards; however, that increases debt.

I recommend saving for the trip in a vacation club or savings account. Decide on your destination and be sure to pack the appropriate items before leaving home. Purchasing toiletries, pajamas, clothes, or shoes can be very expensive in some areas! Don’t forget your charger(s) and/or batteries for all electronic devices. Observe the departure and arrival times of all planes, trains, and automobiles. Actually, arriving early is the key to not getting left behind! Trust me; I know!

Make sure you have the proper ID (including your passport, if necessary) and extra money. Remain flexible and patient because human error is likely to occur when you are traveling. Problems with luggage, hotel rooms, food service, taxi service, etc. are common. Ask for referrals on restaurants, hotels, activities, and more. Everyone does not have the same experiences, but referrals can be helpful. I hope these tips will help you plan a perfect vacation, and I will post a list of my favorite destinations tomorrow.

May WE Rest in Peace?

Image courtesy of [healingdream] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [healingdream] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Reaction: Harlem Undertaker Featured on PBS

One of my favorite news websites and blogs is The Huffington Post. It recently published an article on one of the least discussed topics within our community: Funerals. The post, entitled, “‘Homegoings’ Documentary Explores African-American Funeral Tradition (VIDEO),” introduces an upcoming documentary about the undertaking business. I enjoyed the article, and I look forward to watching the PBS production in June. However, I decided to write a response and elaborate on some funeral issues that many in our community neglect.

African-Americans and Funerals

One of my sorority members recently lost someone very dear to her. Her loved one could not be referred to as a friend because she was more like a family member. My sorority sister handled many of the funeral arrangements, and the service was beautiful! People from all over complimented her on the homegoing celebration. From the singing to the preaching, people are still talking about the amazing service! Of course, the ultimate satisfaction was that the deceased looked like she was merely sleeping. Compliments were not reserved for my sorority sister, but they were extended to the undertaker. This is typical for many African-American funerals.

After the Funeral

What the article does not address is the many issues that surface after the funeral. In our community, much is made of spiritual preparation while financial preparation is lacking. I am sure that you have heard of arguments, fights, and disassociation over money matters when loved ones die. Not too much is made before or during the funeral arrangements, but the emotional blows are usually struck after the service. Perhaps the bickerers want to make sure that they are not asked for one dime. Speaking of asking, I have heard of situations where outrageous requests and claims have been made.

Funeral Planning

How can we stop this madness from wreaking havoc on so many families? It seems that some people would rather not discuss death, or they are not concerned about what happens when they are gone. Consequently, rows are started over who gets what! The deceased may be resting in peace, but sometimes those who are left behind take years to rest again. There are some basic decisions (such as an insurance policy) that you can make to eliminate this problem. Funeral planning is the key! I am impressed by the undertaker who is mentioned in this article; however, many of us need to address the other issues that need undertaking!

If you have experienced outrageous requests or claims during or after funeral arrangements, please comment.

Should You Return the Ring?

Image courtesy of [Sharron Goodyear] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [Sharron Goodyear] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When did this happen? What could I have done differently? I am sure that you have either posed these questions or someone has asked you. Why? Broken engagements, unfulfilled promises, and damaged relationships are common in society. Relationships, personal or professional, can be complicated! Despite your best intentions, you cannot control how the other person will react over time. If money (especially large sums) is involved, things can get out of control! Mario Williams, an NFL player, is learning that the hard way.

Although there are numerous examples of other professional athletes being rejected after splurging on girlfriends, Mario plunged ahead. After a one year relationship, his fiancé chose to end things! Now, the Buffalo Bills defensive end wants to recoup some of the money that he spent. Actually, he wants the 10-carat engagement ring back. At a whopping $785,000, I can imagine that he does want it back! Since his former fiancé did not return the ring, Williams is suing her. While she appears to be a gold digger, there are two sides to this story.

Who told him to spend that amount? Did she insist on that carat size? As Al Green so aptly sang, love can make you do wrong (and right)! Since the love and happiness are gone, he wants the ring back. He claims that she agreed to return it; so, she violated an agreement. Aren’t disagreements common in relationships? Clearly, I have mixed emotions about this whole notion of returning the ring! Are there any specific rules or conditions for this? You might want to check the laws on returning a ring.

This situation has a ring to it, but I didn’t know what I know now! In third grade, a guy gave me a bracelet with my name on it. My parents made me return it immediately! I didn’t know that incident was just preparing me for adulthood. One guy requested the return of his ring, and another guy was reminded that his ring was given as a gift! I don’t know about Mario’s fiancé, but I accepted those rings in good faith. Perhaps some people should not put a ring on it if they expect it to be returned.

What do you think? Have you ever experienced someone requesting a ring after the relationship ended? Let me know in the comments. Thank you.

Mind-Blowing Way I Spent My Off Day

Image courtesy of [renjith krishnan] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [renjith krishnan] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I had to go to work to get a break!”? Throughout my career, I have had numerous colleagues express that they don’t have any time off while they are on vacation. I could never understand that! I wondered what could be so hard about eating, reading, sleeping, and repeating that cycle. I finally realized that some people with small children or large families would have more responsibilities. A day off work is not necessarily an off day from work! For them, work may seem like a vacation.

I like what Leo Kottke said, “We had a day off here yesterday and I just sat in my room and played.” I love my job, and I work diligently while I am there! I have also mastered the art of relaxation: Do as little as possible for as long as possible! Today, however, was different. Our administrators decided to give us a vacation day, and I assumed that I would do my usual activities. After a long and emotional weekend, I needed the rest! Unfortunately, I did not sit down to take a break until nearly 9:00 p.m.

Here are five things that I did on my “off” day:
1. I woke up early and started editing my previous blog posts.
2. I reviewed the instructions again and read the news for blog post ideas.
3. After getting my car washed, I created some new posts for this week.
4. A friend needed some assistance, and I helped her. Then, I went to my class.
5. After eating, I watched an NBA game.

I insisted on ending my day with some type of entertainment! Why? When I was searching for blog post ideas, I read about a local teenage athlete who died. This disturbing news reminded me of the fragility of life. Tomorrow is not promised; so, I plan to enjoy each day to the fullest! I will continue to work to the best of my ability and rest when I have an off day.

If you enjoyed my post, you might want to read this interesting post by Courtney Carver.

Three Money Questions for Mom

Image courtesy of [vorakorn] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [vorakorn] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mother’s Day is a time of reflection for me! I could not spend my day, my weekend with my mother. Sure, I would have loved to do that! Unfortunately, she transitioned when I was 16 years old. Despite losing her during my teen years, I still feel like a winner! Why? My mother left a lifelong legacy! She was a lady in every sense of the word, and she loved being a mother! She was also happy to share her wisdom with my siblings, church members, and me.

As I thought about her today, I remembered all of the wonderful things about my childhood! I was fortunate to have parents that provided all of my needs and many of my wants. My only job was to enjoy being a child. A big part of that included playing games. Although I was a bookworm, I loved playing a few outdoor games! One of my favorite outdoor games was “Mother, May I!” I don’t know which challenge-giving commands or asking questions-was more exciting. I do know that I would love to ask my mother several questions today!

Making financial decisions was a responsibility that my mother shared with my father. However, she was extremely savvy with money! Her legacy includes being an unselfish giver and knowing how to shop for the best bargains. Before the prevalence of the Internet, she ordered numerous magazines and books for our home library. She also planned our family vacations without the assistance of Expedia and other Web sites. I can only imagine how effective she would be with Internet access and so many options.

Today, I read several posts and articles that others shared about their mothers. I thoroughly enjoyed the article, “5 Lessons From Your Mom That Can Teach You About Money,” by Tiffany Aliche! I could truly relate to those lessons. If I had the opportunity, I would like to ask my mother about the following financial decisions: continuing my doctoral pursuit, adopting a child, and retiring early. I trust that I will make the best decisions because of the things that she taught me. I may not have her with me, but I am grateful for my mother and her wisdom.

Next week, I will post about funeral planning and everyone resting in peace.