Test Your Financial Awareness

When I started this blog, I was going to focus on women and investing. I have worked as a financial advisor and thought that it was important for many women to gain knowledge about how to handle their money. The financial articles didn’t gain the interest that my parenting tips did–and I enjoyed writing about parenting more–so that’s where my blog headed. However, here’s an article for early on about investing terms. The New Year is a good time to make some resolutions about our finances.

 

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I know you’ve heard them talked about and mentioned a million times. But, do you know what they mean? How many of these ten financial terms can you can define:

Equity

Bond

Yield

Risk

Mutual Fund

ETF

Dividend

Asset Allocation

Blue Chip

DOW

imagesIf we women are going to own the world, then we better know what we’re talking about. How many times have you listened to a financial advisor and your eyes glaze over? Is it because financial professionals take for granted that you have knowledge that you don’t have? Is it their jargon? Or, are they are just plain boring!

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Take a moment to quiz yourself. FYI, the answers are right here:

Ten Investment Terms

Equity  — stock, ownership in a company.

Bond — Unlike a stock, where you are an owner in a company, with a bond, you lend money to a corporation, municipality or government agency.  In return, you will be paid back your money plus interest.

Yield — This term is often found to be confusing.  There are several types of yield, but the basic definition is the income return you’ll receive on an investment.

Risk — The more risk you take, the higher your chance of reward and vice versa. There are many different types of risk including company, market, inflationary, reinvestment risk, etc.

Mutual Fund –  A pool of money that is collected from many investors and invested in stocks, bonds, options, commodities or money market securities.

ETF  — Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) is an investment traded much like stock on the exchanges.  An ETF closely mimics an index, such as a stock or bond index.  (SPDR is an example that follows the S&P 500.)

Dividend — Corporate profits paid to shareholders of common and preferred stock.

Asset Allocation — Diversifying your investments across different assets (cash, stocks, and bonds) to protect against volatility.

Blue Chip — Large, well known companies that have performed well over a long period of time.

DOW — The Dow Jones Industrial Average known as the “DOW” is a compilation of 30 blue chip companies, that gives a snapshot of how the overall market is doing at a particular time.

How did you score?

0 to 3  financial flounder

4 to 7 fiscally efficient

8 – 10 financial wizard

imgresHere’s a link to a great article on planning and saving for college education.

 

Top New Year’s Resolutions for Parents

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Quality time with kids.

With the new decade here, it’s a perfect time to think about what we want to change in our lives. As parents, we can reflect on what is working with our families and what we’d like to change. I am one of those people who like New Year’s Resolutions and one of my  tricks in sticking with them is to make doable goals. Like my husband says, “the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.” If I make resolutions that are too huge, I’ll let them go after a few weeks.

I read through several articles about parenting New Year’s Resolutions for 2020 and found some common themes. First, is to spend quality time with your kids. Be there in the moment–and put your phone down.

Here an excerpt of an article on CNN.com by David G. Allan, called, 8 resolutions for better parenting in the New Year. Click here for the entire article.

(CNN) If you’re looking to improve your parenting, you’re not alone. In my opinion, it’s an essential area of course correction, up there with weight loss, better eating and better spending, arguably more essential.

What’s beautiful about parenting resolutions is that your kids benefit too, and likely your spouse and any potential future grandkids. You get a lot of bang for your resolution buck.

As with any resolution, honestly examine areas where you feel you could be doing better or want to improve. Below are eight parenting resolution thought-starters in categories we all probably need to give more attention in the coming year.

Being there

There’s a lot of talk, many articles and a long shelf of books on mindful parenting. But it all boils down to this: When you’re with your kids, give them full, curious and happy attention.

Listen to them, respond, don’t let yourself be distracted by your phone, or future-thinking or your own agenda. Be fully there for them, giving what they need the most: your attention, combined with an openness that encourages them to share whatever is on their mind or what’s happening with them at that moment.

The dividends of this effort are deep and long-long lasting — from fewer tantrums to stronger bonds. If you only pick one resolution, make it this one

Don’t drive under the influence of your phone

Here comes your PSA: More than 40,000 people died on US roads in 2016, according to National Safety Council estimates. Many roadway fatalities involve drunken driving, speeding and not wearing seat belts (so don’t do any of those things, clearly), but increasingly, accidents are being caused by people texting or talking while driving.

Fifty-one percent of teens reported seeing their parents checking and/or using their mobile devices while driving, according to a Common Sense Media poll last year. And when you repeatedly model a behavior in front of your kids, that’s called teaching.

Once they have a license, do you want your kids texting or talking while they drive? Do you want other drivers texting or talking while driving anywhere near your children? Me neither. When you stop doing it yourself, you are immediately modeling the behavior you want from them when it’s their time to be behind the wheel. And help spread this gospel to friends and family. The lives we save may be our own.

Yell less, breathe more

There are many other great and valuable tips discussed including treating yourself, slowing down and limiting screen time. Here’s how to keep track of your progress:

How to track and succeed

One of the major tenets of resolution and habit success is tracking. And while “better parenting” is difficult to measure, more specific action is easy to. Just give yourself a grade on your resolution at the end of every day on a piece of paper. Research suggests that the average time it takes for an action to become automatic and habitualized is just over two months, if you stick with it daily.

Another useful device is accountability. Tell your spouse or your family, and even your kids, what you’re working to improve. They will remind and support you because they want you to succeed and the family to thrive.

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In 6 Parenting Resolutions You Can Keep in 2020 from Positive Parenting Solutions there are more tips to think about trying:

1. Rethink the Way You Spend Time With Your Kids

“Wait, what?” you might be asking. “I spend 10 HOURS with my kids every day! What is there to rethink?!

I hear you, friend, but consider your day-in-day-out time with the kids. How often are you multitasking with dinner or laundry or the bazillion other things on your list?

While we’re physically WITH our kids, we’re not always fully present in mind, body and soul. (Myself included.)  

Because of that, we pay a price. If kids don’t get some “fully present and engaged” time with us during the day, they will have their attention baskets filled one way or another – whining, clinging, interrupting, fighting with siblings. Do any of those sound familiar?

All of these behaviors get your attention – albeit negative attention. I know that may seem silly to think a child would seek out negative attention if they didn’t get positive attention. But the truth is, kids simply want their baskets filled.

However, you can turn those behaviors around by making a small tweak to the time you already spend with your kids. I’m talking kid-centered, intentional, and directly labeled time.

I’m suggesting you spend 10 INTENTIONAL minutes each day one-on-one with each of your kids. Here at Positive Parenting Solutions, we call this Mind, Body and Soul time because it has incredible effects on the health of your child’s mind, body, and soul.

By kid-centered, I mean your child is in control of the 10 minutes—they call the shots. A tea party? Lego building? Dressing up daddy? A tickle fight? Listening to their favorite music with your teen? Whatever the kid chooses, you oblige. (As long as it’s an activity that can reasonably be accomplished in 10-15 minutes.) By giving your child the power during this time, you help fill their power buckets in incredible ways.

By intentional, I mean no distractions—put down your phone, don’t answer that email, turn off the show you’re watching. Your child is the center of your universe for these 10 minutes and it’s critical you are fully-present for your time with her.

Lastly, be sure to label Mind, Body and Soul Time at the outset (you can call it whatever you want) and when it’s finished, say, “I sure enjoyed our special time today! I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow!” Your child will benefit from knowing you’re committed to your time, plus you’ll get credit in his mind for time well spent.

Note: For Positive Parenting Solutions Members, revisit Session 1 to learn more about Mind, Body and Soul Time and check out the advanced module “The Busy Parents Guide to Mind, Body & Soul Time” for extra help.


2. Ensure Your Child Gets Enough Sleep

Sleep matters…a lot. Kids would never admit it, but they need regular bedtimes and plenty of sleep to be at their best. These key components to a healthy, calm lifestyle, however, are sometimes the first things we abandon as we celebrate the holiday season—and they’re the most daunting piece to restore in January.

So how do we back up bedtime from the late hours we’ve grown used to keeping?

The most effective way to get your kids more sleep is to keep bedtimes early and consistent throughout the week, without much more than a 15-minute difference on the weekends. If you give in to a late bedtime once, kids will think the hour on the clock is always up for negotiation.

 

Click on this link: Sleep Advisor.com for guidelines on how much sleep we need from newborn infants to adults and every developmental age in between.

IMG_0283Now that the New Year is here, what are your resolutions? Do you have any tips to help stick with them?

New Year’s Resolution Going on Five Years!

Palm Springs Aquatic Center where my kids spent their youth.

The home town pool.

Five years ago in April, I joined Masters. It was my New Year’s Resolution, but it took me months to get up my nerve and dive in. This year, my number one resolution is to get back to consistency with my swimming. I’m starting with three days a week, rain or shine. I went way backwards thanks to my eye surgeries this fall and my ski accident two years ago. I am sporadic at best.

Yesterday, I celebrated New Year’s Eve with my Piranha Masters in a swim-a-thon for Angel View Crippled Children’s Homes. It’s a nonprofit that doesn’t take tax dollars and provides homes and care for people who are too intellectually disabled to live at home. They have a home for life. I’m so proud that our Masters raised more than $20,000! It was a special way to start the year and be part of something so good. What a way to start a new decade!

Here’s the story I wrote in 2015 about joining Masters:

I tried something new this week. I’ve been thinking about it for months. In fact, it made my New Year’s Resolution list. Yet, it took me until April to get started.

I joined masters! Yes, I got in the water with a group of strangers and a coach. This is the first time I’ve been in a pool with a swim coach since I was 10 years old. It brought back a few scary memories from my childhood. Like, not being able to breathe during a 200 meter freestyle test, where I had to swim four long laps in a row. I think I was around 7 years old and I thought I’d never make it. I was pretty good at the sidestroke though, so I switched to that, and the coach let me get away with it.

oldswimI gasped for air on Tuesday, my first day. I began breath-holding and I thought I’d sink. I also was sure I’d be kicked out of the pool, I was that bad. Or, that I’d drown. The coach assured me he’s never kicked anyone out of masters, nor has he lost a swimmer. It appears my fears were unfounded.

It got better. The coach gave me a drill to work on my breathing and I worked through it. I went back again on Thursday and will try again today. One of the satisfying things about swimming is you can make progress pretty quickly. Hopefully, my strength will come, too. I feel like a weakling—which I am. If I stick with it, I’m bound to get stronger. I’m talking a friend into joining me, too.

My daughter with her first swim instructor.

My daughter with her first swim instructor.

Another benefit of swimming is that it makes you so tired! I’m definitely sleeping through the night, after I swim.

Sometimes it’s fun to try something completely new. Get out of your comfort zone and you’ll find out it’s not that scary out there after all.

Make a list of things you’ve always wanted to do. Take a painting or dance class. Go to a movie alone. Hike. Whatever it is on your list, give some new things a try. It’s not too late and you might have fun.477145_10200347112424226_867714522_o

Jump in with both feet and get wet!

To swim or not to swim.

To swim or not to swim.

 

What new activities are you going to try for 2020? What’s your number one New Year’s Resolution?

How to let go of stress and chill — as a parent

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Life is less stressful at the beach.

We’re only a few days into 2019 and it’s a perfect time to take a look at how our family lives are going. We can decide to make changes if needed, right? Here are a few questions to ask: Is life too hectic? Are you and your kids too exhausted at the end of the week? Do our kids have any downtime? Are we rushing our kids from activity to activity and then facing homework late at night?

I found this helpful article in the HeraldNet (which was one of the two daily papers we subscribed to when I was a kid — back then it was called The Everett Herald). In “Parenting is stressful; here’s how to be a more relaxed parent,” Paul Schoenfeld explains “Two full-time working parents have become the norm in America — mostly out of financial necessity.”

Here’s an excerpt:

No doubt, one of the hardest jobs I ever had was parenting. Of course, once you have kids, you are always a mom or a dad.

But during the first 18 years of life (at a minimum) parents have a huge responsibility — not just to provide for their children, but to help them become independent, decent adults.

When children do become independent, we can sit back and relax a little. But it takes a long time to reach that moment.

As both a grandparent and a child psychologist, I can see how today’s parents feel particularly stressed. Two full-time working parents have become the norm, mostly out of financial necessity.

Upward mobility was always a fact of 20th-century life — children were likely to do better than their parents. But in the 21st century, that is not a given. Indeed, most kids won’t be better off than their parents. There is even the possibility that they will do worse.

This new economic reality pushes parents to enrich their children’s lives with all kinds of extra activities — music lessons, dance, art, sports and tutoring. Parents are spending more time helping their children with their homework, too. This new reality has been called “intensive parenting.”

For many working parents, it’s plain exhausting.

Schoenfeld says there is no evidence that all this extra time we’re spending on activities result in our kids becoming successful adults. In fact, with anxiety rates rising in our youth, it may be one of the underlying causes. We do have more kids with anxiety and depression than ever before. That’s a fact. What can we do as parents to help our kids become independent and happy adults — and alleviate stress in their lives? We can try to be less stressed ourselves.

Here are some tips from Schoenfeld:

Here’s how to be a more relaxed parent in 2019:

At the end of the day, trust yourself. Sure, there is a lot of useful information out there. But you know your kids better than anyone else. Trust your own intuition, knowledge of your child and your own common sense.

Be realistic. Too much is too much. If you see that both you and your kids are exhausted at the end of the week, take a step back. You can’t be everything to everybody.

Take care of yourself, too. Try to get enough sleep. So what if your house and your yard won’t be perfect. If you don’t take care of yourself, you are going to be a grumpy, irritable parent. You won’t like yourself and neither will your kids.

Limit screen time. I know, I sound like a broken record. But too much time on email, computer screens, television, smartphones and video games sucks your time up like a vacuum cleaner. It doesn’t really add quality to children’s lives. I don’t think it makes parents’ lives better either.

Savor your child’s childhood. Turn off your cellphone, step back from your “have to’s” and “shoulds” and simply enjoy your children! These are precious, fleeting moments. Savor them, drink them in. Engrave them in your memory. Be 100 percent present and in the moment. You won’t regret it.

Paul Schoenfeld is director of The Everett Clinic’s Center for Behavioral Health. His Family Talk Blog can be found at www.everettclinic.com/family-talk-blog.

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Angus and the kids during one of our relaxed summers. No wonder we treasured our summers!

Looking back, I sure could have used this advice back in the day. I’ll never forget when my son was in middle school and he was super busy (which means I was tearing my hair out). It was his choice to audition for the school play, try out for basketball, continue with piano lessons, enter a piano competition, have his science fair project make it through the local and county levels and then prepare for state. Plus, continue with the Piranha Swim Team. It was great he wanted to do all these things. But, as a parent, I was the one who should have said, “No. Let’s pick a few things and try the others at another time.”

I let him do it all and tried to support him. It meant I was dropping my son off at his piano teacher’s in Cathedral City, running my daughter to the pool (that was the one activity besides school she was passionate about) in Palm Springs. Then I drove back to piano to take my son to basketball practice at St. Theresa’s in Palm Springs — driving back and forth on the Cross Valley Parkway like a maniac trying to get to the activities on time. One night, I missed a turn, tried to do a U-ey — and smashed into the curb. Flat tire, bent rim. I realized it was time to stop and slow down.

Today, my son says he has recurrent stress nightmares from that time in his life. Mainly that I signed him for a swim meet, and he’d been too busy to go to practice. Talk about a nightmare!

robertkatbangsWhat gives you a clue that you’re trying to do much in your life? What do you do to slow down?

Saying good-bye to 2018 — finally!

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New Year’s Eve swim.

What a year. And I say that not in a good way. One year ago tomorrow to be exact, my 2018 went down hill. After feeling so positive and happy to spend the New Year holiday with my son  and his girlfriend, husband and wonderful friends skiing in Utah, I fell. I tore my ACL and meniscus and I was down in a major way for the first six months of the year.

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The last PAC 12 meet with my kiddos.

I put off surgery to attend my daughter’s final PAC 12 meet, which I wouldn’t have been able to attend if I had surgery in late January or February.  So, with surgery put off until March, I wasn’t back to semi normal until June. Along with losing physical mobility, I fought being depressed by being homebound and lost self confidence. It’s been a slow recovery and I’m fighting through it, but looking back, it was one tough year!

I finished 2018 “Swimming in the New Year,” which is a much more doable option for me. I went to my Piranha Swim Team Master’s swim-a-thon for Angel View Crippled Children’s Homes. The weather was freezing for Palm Springs complete with clouds and rain. But, I did it. I met my measly goal of 2,000 yards (not quite the 100 X 100s my swim mates swam.) Two years ago, I swam 5,000 yards which gives me a reality check of exactly where I am compared to prior to falling. One of my goals this year is to get stronger physically and back on track with everything else. I feel stronger each day and like I’ve come out through the other side. I’m welcoming 2019 with open arms!

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Graduation for my daughter and Waffles.

Some of the good parts of 2018 include visits with family and friends, especially our daughter’s senior meet, college graduation with our Utah friends who’ve supported and been a second family for our daughter. This past Christmas week with our son and his girlfriend’s family was also a highlight. The week at the beach with both kids and good friends was priceless. Yes, there were definitely good moments, too.

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A gorgeous view on my January 1, 2019 morning walk.

What are your thoughts about saying good-bye to 2018?

Patience is a virtue when you’re a patient

 

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The Palm Springs pool.

One of the takeaways I’ve gained from injury, surgery and recovery is patience. I’ve had to learn to be patient with myself. I remember the old saying, “Patience is a virtue.” Well, It’s been more than four months since I fell skiing and my patience is being tested. I’m on week five post-surgery and finally, I’m seeing improvements.

I do feel like I’m at a turning point where things are getting better. My Physical Therapist keeps adding to my list of exercises and she had me strap weights to my ankles yesterday. On the days I don’t go to PT, I make my way to the city pool and walk in the handicapped lane and do my PT exercises in the water. This week, I can walk around the house—without my post-op leg brace on.

With all these rapid improvements in my health, I am impatient for more movement and strength. A few weeks ago I was in my brace 24-7 and I couldn’t put weight on my leg, and had to use a walker. Compared to those bleak weeks, I’m doing great. However, I’m ready to get beyond this and I have to remember to be patient a little longer. I get tired easily. My leg gets stiff when I sit at the computer. I have to be patient with how long it takes me to get ready for my day and how long it takes me to walk from one room in the house to the other. Yes, patience is a virtue and I’m trying hard to be virtuous.

My next big move will be to push off the wall and swim, rather than walk in the handicapped lane. I’m also looking forward to getting out of the post-op brace and being able to return to my morning walks around the park. In the meantime, I’ll try to be more patient with the small improvements I’m experiencing each and every day.

 

 

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Soon, I hope to be back to doing this!

In what areas of your life do you need patience?

 

About Those New Year’s Resolutions…

 

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How can I be a better parent to these two this year?

January is a great time to think about how we can be better—whether it’s nutrition, working out, cleaning closets, quitting bad habits, or getting more work done. It’s also an ideal time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not. I try to set realistic goals for the New Year and not something too huge or unrealistic. It amazes me how the time flies by and stuff I was sure to get done by summer managed to get by me—again!

I ran into a slew of parenting tips to start the New Year. If you browse through daily newspapers and blogs, all sorts of parents will tell you how to be a better parent in 2018. In The Herald-Tribune from Florida, two moms with nine kids between them, Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman, wrote “PARENTING: The goal of the elementary years is independence.” Although their article focuses on the elementary years, it’s something I can still work on with my kids. They are in transition points in their life, becoming adults. Independence is something they crave, yet they still want to be pampered and taken care of by mom and dad. Here’s some of the advice from Jenni and Jody:

 

“Most people embrace the idea of goal setting just before the new year, especially when it comes to personal, professional and financial growth. But how about setting goals for our children’s growth?

If you have an elementary aged child, this is the perfect time to set some goals for your child’s independence.

For starters, the elementary years are the training ground for learning to take care of themselves and their things. It’s the season when they develop habits of brushing their teeth, washing their hands, making their beds and keeping their space clean and organized.

Life is busy and often it’s easier to pick up the toys or do the dishes ourselves. But if we start the new year with the goal of helping our kids become independent, it can prevent us from doing things for our children that they should be learning to do for themselves.

This means taking the time to carefully teach them these skills and then coach them along as they become more and more proficient. In the end, it will save time as we nurture and cultivate independent kids who can take care of themselves and contribute to the household.

The elementary years are also the time to begin teaching our kids to become academically independent, to take responsibility for their education. It starts by giving them systems and tools that will help them become more mature students.

For example, we can create a checklist for our kids and then help them end each day by cleaning out their backpacks, making sure they have everything they need for the next day and writing down questions to ask their teachers about things they didn’t understand in their homework.

We can also set goals during the elementary years to help our kids learn to advocate for themselves. Of course we always want our children to know they are supported and that, in their homes, they are part of a family (a community) that operates as a team, where everyone is loyal to one another and committed to each other’s success. But that doesn’t mean that we fight our kids’ battles for them. No, our job is to help our kids become independent and learn to effectively stand up for themselves.”

I read “8 resolutions for better parenting in the New Year” By David G. Allan on CNN’s website. He had some good practical advice that starts with being in the moment. I get admonished by my daughter for not paying attention. It’s usually because of my iPhone. I confess that I get busy looking at texts or emails. My son will text me while I’m with my daughter, and she’ll say “I’m here with you now!” A good goal for me in 2018 is to put my phone down! It reminds me of a video by “Smog and Fog” called “Put Your Phone Down.” 

Here are the first three tips out of eight from Allan:

“If you’re looking to improve your parenting, you’re not alone. In my opinion, it’s an essential area of course correction, up there with weight loss, better eating and better spending, arguably more essential.

What’s beautiful about parenting resolutions is that your kids benefit too, and likely your spouse and any potential future grandkids. You get a lot of bang for your resolution buck.
As with any resolution, honestly examine areas where you feel you could be doing better or want to improve. Below are eight parenting resolution thought-starters in categories we all probably need to give more attention in the coming year.

Being there
There’s a lot of talk, many articles and a long shelf of books on mindful parenting. But it all boils down to this: When you’re with your kids, give them full, curious and happy attention.

Be more laissez-faire about some things
You may be burdening yourself with milestones and cultural expectations that really don’t matter if you pause to think about them. Here are some developmental achievements you don’t really need to waste time, energy and anxiety pushing. Rest assured these will almost always work themselves out in due time.

Don’t drive under the influence of your phone
Here comes your PSA: More than 40,000 people died on US roads in 2016, according to National Safety Council estimates. Many roadway fatalities involve drunken driving, speeding and not wearing seat belts (so don’t do any of those things, clearly), but increasingly, accidents are being caused by people texting or talking while driving.

DWD: Driving While Distracted
Fifty-one percent of teens reported seeing their parents checking and/or using their mobile devices while driving, according to a Common Sense Media poll last year. And when you repeatedly model a behavior in front of your kids, that’s called teaching.”

 

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Me and my son in San Francisco.

What are your goals for the New Year? Did you make a list of New Year’s Resolutions?