Healthy, Wealthy And Wise! Cholesterol, Credit Cards And Courage!

Healthy, Wealthy And Wise!  Cholesterol, Credit Cards And Courage!

As is always the case, summer is passing by way too quickly, I mean–where has July gone!

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This month’s edition of “Healthy, Wealthy and Wise” has been inspired by the all the summertime camp fire treats, fun excursions and new adventures we love!

Being healthy.  www.mytributejournal.comMost doctors will tell you that your cholesterol level is a key factor thy often determines that often determines your overall health and wellbeing, that is why it’s one of the lab tests done when you go for a physical evaluation!

Here’s a simple way to help you better understand your cholesterol numbers:

HDL: equals healthy cholesterol and levels need to be 50 or better.

LDL: is the unhealthy cholesterol and results should be under 100. 

If your results aren’t within this criteria, it’s important to discuss strategies on how to improve your cholesterol with your doctor.

No way around it, a healthy diet and exercise are the best ways to ensure good HDL cholesterol.  At least two servings a day of soluble fiber found in oatmeal, berries and carrots, just to name a few, helps raise healthy cholesterol levels.  Trans fats found in fried foods and processed snacks are counterproductive to good cholesterol.  Certainly, these are things we know and understand, we just have to be sure and make a conscious, daily effort to incorporate healthy food choices along with an exercise regimen into our busy schedules.  (Read about some of my healthy snack picks here.)

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“Research suggests that laughing decreases stress hormones, so I strongly advise that laughter be prescribed as a way to increase good HDL cholesterol test results and prevent heart disease–besides, once you start laughing, it forces you to feel better…and that’s just good medicine!

 Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, cardiologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City    

Gaining wealth.  www.mytributejournal.comMy parents lived in an era where you saved to buy what you needed, but this philosophy especially held true when you looked to purchase those things that you merely wanted!  Now days it seems that more and more our society tends to live the instant gratification lifestyle of: “Buy now and pay later!”

As fate would have it……I not only had parents who budgeted their finances well, my husband got his college degree in economics and earns a living as a financial planner!  So here are some things I have learned about budgeting and using credit cards–and really, I am grateful to have been taught these things over the years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t hard to resist going out sometimes and buying what I want when I want it!

Good Credit Card Habits:

1. Don’t use your credit card as a substitute for cash.  Using your credit card to purchase groceries or gas can add up fast!  My husband’s rule of thumb when you’re going shopping for food or other household items is to leave your credit card home and use a debit card–or better yet, pay cash!  In her brilliant business article on expanding our comfort zone, Rachel Gillett suggests that we should keep track of how we spend every penny for several months and pay for everything we can with cash!  

“If you have to reach in your wallet and pull out cash, you will often think twice about how much you need something!”

2. Try to pay off your balance within two pay cycles.  In an ideal world, we would pay off our balances each month, that’s why most financial advisors recommend that you don’t charge more than 20-30% of your credit card limit.  It may sound nuts to budget your credit card purchases, but if you do, then you won’t buy more than you can pay off!  A lot of stores often provide 3-6 months “same as cash” on big ticket items, and as long as the total amount billed is paid off within the designated timeframe, no interest is charged!

3. Consider the use of credit a privilege!  After all, purchases we charge will eventually have to be paid off with our hard-earned money!  I didn’t get my first credit card until I started to college.  I know that sounds crazy, but even as little as 20-30 years ago, obtaining credit wasn’t as easy as it is now.  My dad and mom taught me that the use of credit was a privilege and an important factor that helps to cultivate responsible money habits and good credit ratings, which are both key when the time comes to purchase a house and some of the other things that help create the happy lifestyle we each envision for ourselves!

Helathy Credit Card Habits.  www.mytributejournal.com

In his book, “The Happiness Advantage” –Shawn Achor lists debt and money woes as one of major blockades to obtaining true happiness.  He suggest that desired habits be put on the path of least resistance…“if you can’t resist the siren song of a sale, at the very least, having only one credit card, with a limited balance available, will cutail impulsive buying and help you be more thoughtful about your spending!” 

Using wisdom.  www.mytibutejournal.comI know that many of you have heard of the serenity prayer, (also the anthem for Alcoholic Anonymous) scribed by the American theologist, Reinhold Neibuhr.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference!”

I remember I taped a copy of this prayer to the cover of my chemistry binder during a particularly hard semester in nursing school…..that quite honestly, almost drove me to drink–ha!

So often, we tend to think that it’s when we’re young and making all the decisions about the course our life should take that requires us to have the most courage…but the older I get, I have come to realize that every stage of life, whether we are deciding on a career choice, who our partner should be, how to best raise capable children, then make the necessary adjustments when they leave home, or care for aging parents, takes equal parts courage and wisdom!

Walt Disney quote on courage.  www.mytributejournal.com

 I’m also a big proponent of this Chinese proverb:  “You don’t always have to chase after great things–you can be content doing small things in great ways!”

I hope the rest of your summer is spent with some of your favorite people, doing some of the things you love to do the most!

What’s on your “courage” bucket list?  When was the last time you did something for the first time?   

–Mary

Summer Is My New Favorite Verb!

Summer Is My New Favorite Verb!

No doubt about it–we all love summer…but have you ever thought of summer being used as a verb?

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While I was at work recently, I listened as one of my co-workers told those of us within listening distance about some of her fun summer plans, after she finished, she asked us in her best southern drawl, “And how are you ‘daaalings’ going to summer this year?”

I love thinking of the word ‘summer’ as a verb–sort of like visions of sugar-plum fairies, it can’t help but conjure up in your mind all sorts of fun, fanciful things to do, wear and eat during the summer season!

Fun Ways To “Summer” This Year!

  • Summer in some great clothes!

It’s always fun to add a few new, lightweight and colorful items to your wardrobe during the summer months.

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I recently purchased this simple, cotton knit shirt with floral sleeves from a local boutique shop, but it’s also available on Jane.com.  It is my “go to” on those hot days where you need something loose and easy to wear.

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Since my feet don’t have the best arches, I’ll often get leg aches if I wear flip-flops all summer, so these colorful Keds are a nice, casual alternative…besides they’re a fun throw back to my days growing up when I usually wore out at least one navy pair each summer.  (These Keds are available at any number of shoe stores and online, as well.)

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Another fabulous throwback to my youth are these updated gingham pants that I bought on sale at Loft–and look how cute any of the colorful Keds above would go with them!   

  • Summer with good food!

With all the fresh fruits and vegetables available, as well as many mouth-watering grilling creations, it’s hard to have a bad meal during this time of year!

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One of my very favorite summer foods is grilled corn, and it’s really easy to make.  Cook the corn with the husks on in the microwave for a few minutes, (this helps to pre-cook the corn and makes it much easier to husk) then place the cobs on a medium hot grill, slowly turning until the kernels are just slightly golden brown, butter lightly and serve.  So good!

Homemade ice cream sandwiches  www.mytributejournal.com

Ice cream in any form is summering at its best, but you can amp it up a bit by making homemade ice cream sandwiches.  Just make a batch of your favorite chocolate chip cookies, (you can find my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe here) then put a scoop of your favorite ice cream between two cookies!  Yum!!

(Two other favorite summer foods are this Ultimate Food Cart Hot Dog recipe found here, and Red Rock’s Grilled Steak Salad listed here.)

  • Summer by trying something new!

We all have the usual, fun things we love to do each summer, but I also think it’s a good time to try something new to help mix things up a bit!

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I am always trying to perfect my camera skills–because after all, as a grandma there’s nothing quite as rewarding as being able to capture some candid shots of my two sweet granddaughters as they play and explore, so I decided to enroll in the photography e-course taught on the blog, A Beautiful Mess.

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My husband is a seasoned grill master, but I decided to up my game in this area by signing up for a “Grilling Made Easy” class at a local, kitchen specialty store.

However you choose to “summer” this year, my hope is that it includes time to gather in some of your favorite places with people you love the most!

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One way I love to summer is on my patio with family and friends!

I would love to know some of the fun ways you love to “summer”!  Anything new you’re thinking of trying?

–Mary

Healthy, Wealthy And Wise! Energy, Nest Eggs and Ego!

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise!  Energy, Nest Eggs and Ego!

We have officially kicked off summer this month–and it’s no big secret that it’s a busy, active time of year, but we can still do things that will help us be “Healthy, Wealthy and Wise”! 

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There’s nothing quite like the happy exhilaration and the delirious exhaustion of working hard at summer play…I guess that’s what makes it so much fun!

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“Summertime passes by quickly, so you better hurry up and enjoy it!?!”  CagleCartoons   

Being healthy.  www.mytributejournal.comEach summer brings its own unique brand of fun–but I think we can all agree that it takes a certain amount of high-octane energy to really enjoy it!!  As I get a little older, using my energy wisely has become part of my summer game plan, and as a nurse I’m always looking for smart ways to help me keep pace with busy hospital schedules so I can give good patient care, while still maintaining my own health and well-being!!  Recently in a “Simple Living” magazine article, I came across some great ideas on finding ways to get an extra energy boots when needed.

The key to having a good energy level is ramping up your metabolism, and with these few practical reminders, it’s much easier to adjust than I would have ever imagined!

Drink plenty of water.  Water is the purest way of removing toxins from your body to help revitalize it!!  (At the very least, I’ve had to make it a habit to drink a big glass of water before each meal.)

♦ Reduce meal sizes and incorporate a few healthy snacks into your daily diet.  Eating this way can help you maintain energy by eating more frequently and avoiding the sluggish feeling you get from heavy meals; include higher protein snacks with less sugar and carbohydrates.  When I eat a boiled egg or natural peanut butter on some whole grain crackers instead of sugary snacks, I notice a huge difference in my energy level.  It takes some planning when you go to the grocery store, but it is worth it when you feel so much better!  (More healthy snack ideas coming soon.)

♦ Exercise in short bursts throughout the day. There’s no doubt that strenuous exercise burns a lot of calories, but when you break your exercise into smaller, more frequent periods of activity, your metabolism will also increase without causing a spike in your appetite.  Shorter exercise sessions can help build and maintain lean muscle mass easier and save wear and tear on joints!  (I’ve tried doing a couple of 20-30 minute exercise sessions each day and have found I feel more energized afterward–they’re a nice change from my usual routine.)

Get the sleep your body and mind need.  It’s definitely easier said than done, but the average person should aim for 7 hours of sleep at night, and try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on the weekends.

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“It’s a happy talent to know how to play well!”  Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Gaining wealth.  www.mytributejournal.comJune seems to be a popular month for people to retire…after all, why not get your summer underway knowing that it is the beginning of your extended leisure living time!  (My parents used to say, however, that they were never so busy than when my dad retired.) 

A good friend of mine just retired at the age of 70 as the head of the blood bank department at the hospital where I work–he was a hard worker and did his job well; I once teased him that he kept working because he wouldn’t know what to do with himself if he retired, but he told me that it had simply been poor retirement planning on his part that kept him on the job longer than expected.

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband is a financial consultant and he’ll often review a few questions with his clients based on a Kiplinger Personal Finance Quiz when they are considering the best plans for their retirement “nest egg”!

Here’s a few of the questions to consider: 

$$ Considering the many financial variables, what percentage of your gross income, including employer contributions, should you strive to save for a comfortable retirement?

$$ If you postpone claiming your social security benefits beyond the regular retirement age, how much will future benefits be increased for each year you delay until age 70?

$$  Should you wait until your retirement to shift your investments to a more conservative allocation?

$$ Recent cutbacks in employer-provided health care benefits means many who retire will be paying more for their medical care out of their retirement savings.  To cover out-of-pocket medical costs during a 20 year retirement, not including long-term care, how much would a 65-year-old couple need to have?

Get answers to the above questions and take the full “Are You Saving Enough For Retirement” Quiz by clicking here. 

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 “The secret of getting ahead is getting started!”  Mark Twain

Using wisdom.  www.mytibutejournal.comIf you turn your television on to any news station now days, it’s more than likely you’ll find yourself besieged with commentaries on a myriad of political viewpoints as yet another presidential race season gets underway!

Recently, I discussed with my husband that considering the less than amicable environment of the current political arena, it was pretty amazing to me that anyone would want to run for office…he just chuckled and responded in a rather matter-of-fact way, but what he said gives you real food for thought, irregardless of your party affiliation:

Try to consider the person’s true character the best you can, along with their confidence vs. ego quotient as they present a viable plan for following through on what they’ve committed to do.”

That my friends, is sensible politics 101…and seemingly applies to all aspects of life!  I suppose any major accomplishment in life takes a bit of fearless confidence and humble ego.  Dr. Ben Carson, former head of pediatric neurosurgery at John Hopkins Medical Center and author of the book, “Gifted Hands” wisely stated:

“I actually don’t think I’m that much smarter than anybody else, I’m just willing to study hard and do the work required to solve a problem, and therein lies wisdom!”  

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 “Truly knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom!”  Aristotle

I would love to know what advice you’d give to help others have a healthier, wealthier or wiser summer.

–Mary