Monday, February 18, 2019

Information for Financial Literacy

Picture of growing money

There are an enormous number of websites offering financial information to help us pay less and spend our money wisely.  Unfortunately that information is hard to find without reading through website after website after website.  Enter Twitter.  One of the great things about it is you can find entries that people have added using hashtags.  Searching for a hashtag (such as #VirtualAbility) finds all comments that have that hashtag.  Also, each account is its own subsite where an organization can post information in its own space.

To use Twitter, go to https://www.twitter.com and sign up for a free account.  You will need to verify the account using a link sent to the email address you used to create the account.  Below are several Twitter hashtags and subsites that will show useful financial tips and tricks, along with associated websites that contain more information.
  • #SavingsTipTuesday
  • #SavingsFactFriday
  • @Career1Stop (https://www.careeronestop.org/):  A great employment starting point for people with disabilities.
  • @RealEconImpact (https://www.nationaldisabilityinstitute.org/):  has free classes on strategies to build financial wellness of people with disabilities.
  • @AmericaSaves (https://www.americasaves.org/):  America Saves is a campaign coordinated by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America (CFA - https://consumerfed.org/) and is dedicated to helping individuals save money, reduce debt, and build wealth.
  • @IRS (https://www.irs.gov/):  the one and only USA Internal Revenue Service.  While many people denigrate the IRS and try to avoid all dealings with it, there is no question that their website contains the original source material for all Federal tax information.  There are useful pages on how to get free tax preparation help, how to file, etc.
  • @FDICgov (https://www.fdic.gov/):  the official Twitter channel for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.  The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is an independent agency created by the Congress to maintain stability and public confidence in the nation's financial system... (https://www.fdic.gov/about/strategic/strategic/mission.html).
Other sources of information:

If you have other good sources of information, comment below!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day




We can be kind to strangers, to those we know, and to ourselves. Kind actions are often low-key and may be fleeting. When we are the recipients of an act of kindness, we are pleased, possibly surprised or inspired, and at the same time reassured about the basic goodness of humanity. What does research tell us about the effects of acting with kindness?

A Croatian researcher states, “Research has indicated that practicing love, kindness, and compassion for ourselves and others builds our confidence and sense of coherence, helps us create meaningful, caring relationships, increases individual and community resilience and well-being, promotes human rights, physical and mental health.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30439796 Also, acting with kindness was found to be a protective factor against suicidality in women: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30170585

The etymological root of the term “kindness” is shared with words like “kin” and “kinship,” indicating a basic type of positive activity among those related to us. However, kindness can be a social activity that extends to strangers when we believe that a kind action on our part will relieve a difficulty or improve a situation.

Random acts of kindness are usually undertaken with no expectation of recognition or reward. There are benefits both for the giver and the receiver of these random acts of kindness ( https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17439760.2014.965269?src=recsys ). Students who “paid it forward” with kindness showed positive mental health benefits, while the recipients of these kind actions smiled more and indicated they would be more likely to “pay it forward” in turn.

How is random kindness perceived? One research study ( https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17439760.2011.626790 ) found that when people recalled an act of kindness that followed social norms, they felt more positive about it than about a random act. But those who recalled a random act of kindness tended to show more generosity toward strangers and even enemies.

Intentional kindness produces “subtle increases in day-to-day experiences of positive emotions.” US researchers found that evidence-based practices such as loving-kindness meditation can improve emotional wellbeing: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29201247
For an audio and text guided loving-kindness meditation, with associated research: https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/loving_kindness_meditation

Let’s be kind to each other and to ourselves today, and every day. That will make our world a better place.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Consideration of Pain in the Disability Determination Process


Your Feedback Is Needed!

The US Social Security Administration (SSA) is asking for input on how they determine pain in adult and child disability claims. Input is due by February 15th. It's a great opportunity as these guidelines have not been updated since the 1950's.

You can provide input and read more at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/12/17/2018-27169/consideration-of-pain-in-the-disability-determination-process.

Shyla the Supergecko

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Soup Tips for January Soup Month

Potato Soup

Here’s three quick ways to improve your soups during cold winter weather.
  1. Use the slow cooker.
    The word “slow” may seem like the antithesis of “quick” but it’s not, not really. You can prep ingredients ahead of time, store them in the refrigerator or freezer in zip top bags, and dump them into your slow cooker as you dash out the door on a busy morning. The ingredients are up to you. Include one part liquid (broth, juice, water), one part protein (meat or meatless), one part starch (rice or potatoes or beans), and as many veggies as you can fit in the cooker. Don’t forget to switch it on as you leave for the day and your supper will await you that evening. Imagine coming home to the smell of a delicious hot stew!
  2. Include leftovers.
    When planning meals, make them larger than necessary so you are sure to have leftovers. Leftover meats of all kinds go great in soups. So do grains (rice, couscous, barley) and pasta. Many grains and pastas will cook quickly in soups if you don’t have leftovers.
    And what about sad-looking leftover veggies? Puree them, and use the puree to thicken the soup broth base.
  3. Doctor canned soups.
    Canned soups are notorious for adding to your sodium intake. Fight that by introducing additional low-sodium ingredients such as healthy cooked meats and fresh veggies until you have two servings. Not only will this bulk up the can of soup, but it will make it a lot healthier.