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!
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!
Most doctors will tell you that your cholesterol level is a key factor 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, help to raise healthy cholesterol levels. Transfats 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.)
“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 laugh, it forces you to feel better, and that’s good medicine!”
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, cardiologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City
My 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 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!
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!”
I 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 front 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!
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?