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

It’s Spring! Things are Changing

Spring is in the air, new life is awakening all around us as the earth gives way to the birth of its offspring as the dead of a cold, bleak winter melts away. But we can’t bask in the glory of this new birth too long because Summer will soon be here with its luminous rays of sun and sweltering heat that will be chased away by the welcome crisp winds of Fall. Those once freshly bloomed leaves will change into a beautiful array of colors before departing their life support as winter storms arrive. This sequence of seasons stays the same but the seasons themselves constantly change.

Oftentimes in our lives we become rattled by change and get thrown off balance. A shift in our job, finances, health, schedules, and other things can cause us a lot of anxiety and worry. While it is true that change can be uncomfortable, it is also true that change is natural. Change is constant. As the season changes we accept it and many times welcome it. We may not know exactly how a season will turn out but we have an idea of what each season will bring because of past experience. We prepare ourselves the best that we can and in turn we take the anxiety out the change that is associated with the changing seasons.

I invite you to look at your life in the same manner. Although you don’t exactly know what’s coming around the corner, you get signs and tidbits along the way. A shift in a job usually isn’t so abrupt that there were no warning signs or indicators, a health report from a doctor usually don’t come before the slightest symptoms have appeared, and life’s challenges usually don’t happen without some forewarning along the way. Yes. There are always exceptions to the rules and sometimes things just blindside us. However, the key to taking the sting out of change is to prepare, and in order to prepare we must be aware. Being aware is simply taking time, slowing down and paying attention to the small things; life’s indicators tells us that things are starting to shift a little and things aren’t exactly the same. At the appearance of these indicators try to anticipate and prepare for your next move.

Here are 3 tips to assist you in handling change:

  1. Strive to be flexible and open-minded. Don’t be so rigid that you can’t adapt to situations that present themselves to you. By being open-minded you’ll be able to see new ways of doing things and will be able to embrace change quicker.
  1. Access the situation with a positive mindset. When facing a new situation, look for the positive and ignore that voice of discomfort and negativity. Don’t look at why it won’t work, why it happened, or why at all. But look how this fit into the grand scheme of things and how things can be better as result of it.
  1. Find peace in the situation. One of the hardest things about change is the discomfort that comes with the unknown. Being in an unfamiliar space can be unsettling but you must strive to find a place contentment in whatever situation that you may find yourself in. This type of contentment is peace; resolve. Look at the change and ask yourself if you can control it, if you have the power to alter the change that’s being presented to you. If the answer is yes, and you can’t see any benefit in the change, then enact your power and become the change agent. Don’t allow yourself to be forced into a change, but you be the change. However, if the answer is no (you have no control over the change), then find a way to make the change manageable; embrace the change.

When life presents you changes remember to truly access the situation with an open-mind. Strive to embrace the change, one baby step at a time, and you’ll be surprised by how fast you’ll be up and running.

INVIGORATE! (Achieving Health & Wellness Goals)

This month Illumination Counseling and Coaching, LLC has focused on invigorating your health and wellness goals. Health and wellness goals aren’t limited to being physically fit and dietary adjustment, but they transcend into how you live, manage your time, operate professionally, and plan for your future. We understand that if you set goals for yourself that challenges you to get to a ‘better’ place in your life and work hard towards those goals that you will create a full and balanced life for yourself. In a nutshell, being healthy and well is all about being the best ‘YOU’ possible.

I know very well the importance of establishing goals, maintaining goals and even adjusting goals when needed. In December right before the New Year I went to the doctor for a routine physical and found that a lot of my levels were off. My blood pressure was sky high, my thyroid and my sugar was off and I had picked up several unwanted pounds.   Well, you might be thinking this is no big deal because lots of people experience these changes. While that may be true, for me it was crucial for me to develop a healthier plan for living.   Not just to look cute at the beach but also to appreciate and respect the sacrifice God made in creating me.   Also, I had to recognize that it would be difficult to live out his purpose and plan for my life if I do not change some things.   Well, I cannot say I have all the answers and that these changes will be easy but I have created some obtainable goals and I have team of individuals to support me along away.

Here are some tips that can help US on our path to getting healthier and well:

  1. Write your goals down and describe them in detail
  2. Create some goals that are easily attainable and some that truly challenge you beyond where you think you can go (but really want to see yourself going).
  3. Create action steps to reach your goals. Break those big goals down into manageable milestones to reach along the way.
  4. NEVER GIVE UP!!! If it doesn’t seem like you are getting anywhere DON’T CHANGE YOUR GOAL, alter your action steps.
  5. Be persistent! Keep trying. Keep working. Keep striving.

Let’s get to a healthy and well place together!! I look forward to your feedback and success stories throughout the year!