Financial Management: It’s Never Too Early or Too Late To Learn

This month we are talking about finances and taxes. We know that this can be a stressful time as we are in the midst of tax season and preparing for spring break, but what better time to begin teaching your kids about finances? I work with lots of teens that feel entitled to have the latest and best cellphones, sneakers, and electronic devices. Unfortunately children don’t understand the value of money, so it’s our job as parents and responsible adults to teach them.   Oftentimes parents pose this question to me, “How can I teach my child what I haven’t been taught myself?” That is a great question and my answer always is, ‘you are never too old to learn’.   We all have things that we need to learn, so there is no need in feeling ashamed or embarrassed because you lack knowledge in a particular area.   One of my favorite people that I look to for valuable advice about finances is Dave Ramsey.   Here is what Mr. Ramsey had to say about teaching kids about finances.

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Kindergarten/Elementary

  1. Use a clear jar to save. The piggy bank is a great idea, but it doesn’t give kids any visual. When you use a clear jar, they see the money growing. Yesterday, they had a dollar bill and five dimes. Today, they have a dollar bill, five dimes and a quarter! Talk through this with them and make a big deal about it!
  1. Set an example. Little eyes are watching you. If you’re slapping down plastic every time you go out to dinner or to the grocery store, they will eventually notice. If, at the end of every month, you and your spouse are arguing about money, they’ll notice. Set a healthy example for them, and they’ll be much more likely to follow it when they get older.
  1. Show them that stuff costs money. You’ve got to do more than just say, “That pack of toy cars costs $5, son.” Help them grab a few dollars out of the jar, take it with them to the store, and physically hand the money to the cashier. This simple action will do more than just a five-minute lecture.

Tweens

  1. Show opportunity cost. That’s just another way of saying, “If you buy this video game, then you won’t have the money to buy that pair of shoes.” At this age, your kids should be able to weigh decisions and realize that each decision has a consequence.
  1. Give commissions, not allowances. Don’t just give your kids money for breathing. Pay them commissions based on chores they do around the house like taking out the trash, cleaning their room, or mowing the grass. This will help them understand that money is earned—it’s not just given to them.
  1. Stress the importance of giving. Once they start making a little money, be sure you teach them about giving. They can pick a church, a charity or even someone they know who needs a little help. Eventually, they’ll see how giving doesn’t just affect the people they give to, it affects the giver as well.

Teenagers

  1. Give them the responsibility of a bank account. By the time your kid is a teenager, you should be able to set them up with a simple bank account if you’ve been doing some of the above all along. This takes money management to the next level, and it will prepare them for (hopefully) managing a much heftier account balance when they get older.
  1. “Help” them find a job. Teenagers have plenty of free time—fall break, Summer Break, Winter Break, Spring Break. If your teen needs money (and what teen doesn’t need money?), then help them find a job. Who knew that working was a great way to make money?
  1. Teach them the danger of credit cards. As soon as your kid turns 18 they will get hounded by credit card salesmen—especially once they’re in college. If you haven’t taught them why debt is a bad idea, they’ll become another credit card victim.

Remember, depending on your child’s development, you might start teaching some of these principles earlier or later. It’s going to take an investment of time on your part, and it won’t always be easy, but if you want your children to understand how to successfully manage their money when they get older, following these guidelines will be completely worth it. If you don’t teach your kids how to manage money, somebody else will. And that’s not a risk you want to take.

Dave Ramsey info appears courtesy of: http://www.daveramsey.com/blog/9-ways-to-teach-your-kids-about-money
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LOVE: crisis not exempt

As we continue in the month designated for love, I encourage you to Go Ahead and Love through the crisis.

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We all experience some type of crisis in our lives that seems to overshadow us and blur our focus. These crises can be life-threatening and life-altering, very large or somewhat small, but they exist and usually comes out of nowhere; at a time that’s most inconvenient and least expected. Every week I work with families that are battling infidelity, addictions, divorce, death, illness, and a host of other crises (life transitions) that shakes their family units at their very core. I am not exempt from these types of experiences. I was faced with a very difficult and major crisis in my life (it feels like it was only yesterday) and ultimately I had to make some hard decisions.

Four years ago I received the heartbreaking news that my dad, my soldier, was diagnosed with cancer. In those moments of processing that information I knew undoubtedly that my life would be forever changed. I didn’t know it at the time, but I soon learned that it would take the unrelenting strength of love to get us through that journey.  I’ve learned quite a few things during this journey and I’d like to share three tips, three decisions that I implore you to make during your crisis experience.

1.  CHOOSE LOVE   — It’s so easy to hate the process or the transition but God’s love covers all. Learning to love more, despite the situation, will definitely leave you in a better place.

2. CHOOSE FORGIVENESS  — Forgiveness releases and opens space for you to love more freely.

3. CHOOSE LIFE  — Despite what you are experiencing find ways to enjoy the good things you have in life and make a concentrated effort to enjoy the life that you live.

If you are wondering how my journey with my dad ended…

The traumatic event my family experienced caused us to appreciate each other, communicate in a more loving way, and it truly brought us closer.

LOVE WON OVER CANCER!

 

10 ways to boost your self-image and ultimately, your self-worth

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As we wrap up this month’s discussion on self-worth and self-image, I will leave you with 10 tried and true tips to illuminate your journey and encourage you.

  1. Focus on your strengths. Oftentimes we focus on the mistakes we have made and the things we don’t have in our lives but if we begin to focus on all of the amazing areas that we have achieved great success in, we won’t have time to focus on the negative.

 

  1. Stop over-thinking about what others think. Most of the time, when you think you are being judged, you probably aren’t. If you don’t like a particular quality, work on changing it but don’t judge it or focus on the judgment of others.
  • Learn to catch yourself when you start over-thinking.

Recognize this pattern of abuse and do something to overcome it. For example, every time you over-think, force yourself to compliment an aspect of your personality. This should help to give you a better self-esteem.

  • Put things into perspective.

People who obsess about what others think tend to put ‘issues’ under the microscope and can’t see the forest for the trees. People who don’t obsess about what other people think tend to look at the big picture.  To help you put things into perspective, make a list of all the things that you are grateful for; putting it into a list really helps. It makes things tangible, more real. Once you see everything that has gone right for you — maybe your family, your intelligence, your health — you begin to realize that life is more about what you do have than what you don’t have. Be appreciative of what life gives you, not resentful of what it doesn’t.

 

  1. Take pleasure in the small things in life. Begin to see beauty in everyday things, like a child playing with a dog. Take comfort in everyday things, like a warm cup of tea. Find happiness in everyday things, like a story about overcoming hardship, told by your friend.

 

  1. Be confident in yourself. What if we could eliminate the amount of times we second-guess ourselves? Well, you can. The trick, if you want to call it that, is to simply be more confident in the decisions and actions you are taking. Don’t pre-judge yourself before others do; they’ll be less likely to judge you in the first place!

Here are some small, but powerful, self-confidence boosters that you can try on for size:

  • The act of smiling may boost your self-esteem organically, science suggests.
  • Visualize success. Don’t think the “what if I fail…?” thoughts that are probably wandering around in your head. Instead, think to yourself: “How will I succeed?”

 

  1. Reward yourself. Don’t look to others to validate you and your actions. Break down goals into small pieces. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Set yourself up for success.

Example: If your goal is to be more confident around guys (or girls), break the goal into smaller checkpoints: eye contact, conversation, then flirting, etc.

Reward yourself when you complete a small part of each larger goal.

 

  1. Learn to control your emotions. When you start to push your limits and get more confident, you’ll undoubtedly have mixed emotions. These emotions can range from stress, worry and fear, to relief and happiness; it can be a bit of a rollercoaster of the mind. This is why commanding control of your emotions is vital.

The simple practice taught by Eckhart Tolle goes a bit like this:

  • Be conscious of an emotion inside you — e.g. fear or worry
  • Observe it within your mind
  • Notice that if you are observing it, it can’t be a part of you
  • Watch the emotion disappear

As soon as you observe an emotion, you are separating yourself from it and thus it can no longer exist.

 

  1. Accept yourself for who you are. Understandably, accepting yourself is not the easiest thing to do. Everyone in the world is filled with some kind of doubt; it’s all about how they manage it. Luckily, there are things you can do that will help. One such thing involves evaluating yourself:

First of all, think of all the things that you don’t like about yourself and write them down. Now, look at them more closely and see if there is a possibility to change them. If you aren’t willing to put in the work to change something that is fixable, you don’t have the right to complain about it. Think about how your situation could be worse. As time goes by and you realize how unimportant some of the things you worry about actually are, life gets easier and your constant concern starts to plummet as your confidence rises.

 

  1. Remove the negativity– Surround yourself with positive and uplifting people that have the ability to encourage and uplift you. Also work on being positive yourself, (even in the midst of negative situations). No one wants to be around a person who is all about doom and gloom.   People will avoid you and not want to be around you.

 

  1. Make healthy choices- Eating the right foods and exercising definitely will boost your worth. You’ll feel good and you’ll look good as well.

 

  1. Know your passion– Figure out what makes you happy and get to doing it. This actually does boost your confidence and help your self –image.

 

If you need any help in exploring any of these areas feel free to contact me directly, at 678-585-1966 or at latasha@illuminationcc.com

Are you moving or standing still?

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This month I’m discussing transitions and boy do I have a lot of them. As stated in my newsletter I’m finalizing my book project, The Dumping Ground, and I’m moving to my new office space October 1. Although moving and change can be very exciting it can also be very stressful, costly, and frustrating if you don’t seek the proper guidance, proper preparation and adequate resources to support the transition.

Here are six things to consider during any stage of transition:
1. Pray and ask God to guide you during the transition.
2. Give yourself time to make the necessary adjustments to the change. Allow yourself to make mistakes and know that things will not be perfect.
3. Don’t over commit and make promises during times of transition.
4. Be open to what’s ahead instead of trying to hold on to the past.
5. Treat yourself well and take care of yourself with the proper rest and balance of relaxation.
6. Keep moving despite how things might look.

No matter the transition that you encounter in life remember to keep moving. Standing still, being stagnant, is neither healthy nor productive. It is critical to remember the old adage, “nothing in life is constant except for change”. We should figuratively ‘keep moving’ AND we should literally keep moving.

Exercise is a great anxiety and stress reliever. Cardiovascular workouts stimulate our mind, release helpful chemicals and hormones into our bodies, and helps circulate oxygen. Oxygen is most necessary for relaxation, so it is also key to take deep breaths using our diaphragms in order to relieve anxiety and ‘center’ ourselves. The most important thing that will guide you in the process of ‘keep moving’ is to make room to reflect. This could be done by sitting still in a comfortable, quiet space, and meditating. You could also try writing or talking to a therapist/ confidant. The point here is to assess the situation and your feelings. Identify those things that are causing you anxiety and allow yourself to be guided into making healthy decisions. This part of the process must include another key factor that will allow you to keep moving; accepting the change. While keeping in mind that change is inevitable, we must get to a place where we embrace the change, look for the positive outcomes, and move towards that brighter tomorrow.

If you find yourself looking for a brighter tomorrow and need assistance, or if you find yourself weighed down by life and all that life involves know that I’m here to assist you. I can work with you to conquer transition anxiety, and I can also help you to release baggage by setting healthy boundaries.

Let’s look at our transition with an open heart and mind and grasp it by the horns!

Latasha

Embracing Gratitude

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As May is coming to a close and we’re making headway into June I started to reflect of this past month. So much has happened; we celebrated our mothers for Mother’s Day, honored our deceased veterans for their service, as well as celebrated our graduates on their accomplishments. Now, looking forward we’ll soon be preparing to honor our fathers for Father’s day. In all of these things we have so much to be thankful for, to be grateful for. Whether these special people in our lives are living or dead, the footprints etched in love that they have left on our hearts lingers with us and I can’t help but be grateful for these precious memories. The sentiment of my heart right now is gratitude. I can remember the amazing quality time that I’ve spent with my mother over the years and I felt so blessed to be able to honor her this past Mother’s day. For this memory and all others that are embedded deep inside of me, I am grateful.

Sometimes we may find it hard to be grateful, especially when it seems that life is beating us up. I am here to tell you that in the midst of your darkest moments is when you need to exercise gratitude the most. Exercising gratitude will shed light on any situation by shifting your focus and giving you a better outlook. The rewards of expressing gratitude are immeasurable. Gratitude improves your immune system, lower your blood pressure, and gives you refreshing sleep. It also helps you psychologically by increasing your levels of positive emotions, lightens your mood so that you’ll be happier, and it helps you to be optimistic. Not only does gratitude improve you physically and psychologically, it also improves your social life. You will become more helpful and compassionate, exercise forgiveness more, be more open to socializing, and feel less lonely.

In a simple form, gratitude is just recognizing and acknowledging goodness. If we make a conscience decision to look for and focus on the goodness that is around us and then make the choice to be thankful for that goodness that we see. Wherever we can, and whenever we can, we should be thankful. Every day we are given small gifts, from the simple things (being alive, being able to use our limbs, open our eyes, breathe on our own) to the big things that we have the opportunity to be thankful for.

Here are 5 simple tips to help you on your gratitude journey
1. Start a gratitude journal – Everyday write at least 3 things for which you are grateful.
2. For a brief moment, reflect on the bad in your life – Look at the bad in your past and look at where you are now. You’ll quickly become appreciative of your current state. Also look at those bad situation and look for the things that you’ve learned and gained as a result of them.
3. Watch what you say – Be mindful of what you say and eliminate negativity from your dialogue. Make a conscience choice to be positive in every aspect of your life.
4. Exchange complaints for gratefulness Instead of complaining about situations or people, look for reasons to be grateful. Even if a person is really irritating you, ask yourself how have they aided you in the past. Look for a reason to be grateful for them.
5. Instead of focusing on your lack (what you don’t have), focus on what you do have This act of reassessing your situation and your thought process will definitely help increase your level of gratitude.

As we delve into the summer and head towards Father’s day and sunny days, let us remember to be grateful for all of the things that we have.

Taxed to the Max

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April showers bring May flowers but that’s not all that April brings; it also brings anxiety and stress as tax season comes to head. In our lives there are times when we feel taxed to the max. We feel taxed by life, people, and our jobs among other things. Taxation cause stress and a reduced quality of life.

I know full well about the taxation and stressors that life can bring. I am a business owner, author, educator and a full-time doctoral student.   Sometimes I burn both ends of the candle to get things done. At times I have felt overwhelmed and unsure about the task or projects that I committed to and it took a toll on my body. My body began to hold on to the stress and eventually I was unable to cope with the daily cares of life. The rat race was on and I realized that I was not taking care of myself.

Although we all will experience a form of taxation during our lives, there are ways that we can overcome this heavy burden. Here are five ways to defeat being taxed.

  1. Take a Deep Breath, and then another one. Deep breathing supplies your body with oxygen which naturally relaxes you. This step allows you to center yourself and get your grounding. Here you are also shifting your focus from your situation to your breathing and what’s happening at the moment. Take as many slow, deep breaths as necessary to get yourself relaxed to a place that you are grounded and no longer focusing on what’s causing you anxiety.
  1. Focus on what truly matters. When we are taxed we oftentimes find ourselves focusing on our problems and we forget what’s truly important to us, and why we are in the predicament that we are in. It’s important to take the time to access your situation to remember why you started doing the tasks, associating with the people, or doing the job that is causing you stress. Once you put everything into perspective and really focus on what is important you can start to feel better about your situation and prioritize the tasks at hand. This will also allow you to gain a positive outlook on your situation.
  1. Take an active break. The great attack of taxation is that it overwhelms you and exponentially increases your stress. Take a break, step away from the situation and do something that you enjoy. Yes. Take a moment and walk away to gather and relax yourself. You are not productive in a situation where you are overwhelmed. Walking away and doing an activity that you actually enjoy will relax you and set you up to tackle the situation head on and refreshed.
  1. Say YES to help. Be open to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help. If you find yourself taxed to the max then chances are, you could use some help. Don’t allow ego and pride hold you back from getting to where you need to go; a place of freedom. You will experience a sweet relief once you receive help and see your mountain start to diminish.
  1. Relinquish Control. This step goes hand in hand with saying YES to help. Once you accept the fact that this situation, person, or task list has pushed you to your limit and maybe beyond,  you can free yourself of high expectations. Accepting the fact that you couldn’t handle everything in the manner that you were operating and being ‘okay’ with that is a powerful thing. Releasing the weight, unburdening yourself with of pressure, and giving up the situation’s control over you is cathartic and freeing.

Although we may find ourselves Taxed to the Max, this is no time to give way to anxiety and stress. We have the power to free ourselves. We have the power to say no, to set boundaries, and to relinquish the situation’s control over us. We have the right to not be taxed, yet instead relish in April’s refreshing showers and look ahead towards May’s blooming flowers.