How may I help you?

How may I help You

Welcome to the Second Sunday….sounds ominous doesn’t it?  Really it isn’t.  I have set Sunday’s aside to blog about being helpful in one way or another.  Last weeks blog was about Best Friends and how they can help you and you can help them.  This week I want to touch on ways you can help others in a small way…and make a big difference.  There is a feeling you get when you help someone…it is like a little rush…I have felt that rush plenty of times in my volunteering ‘career’.

First, assess your time or financial commitment.  What do you have to give?  For me the financial commitment needs to be balanced with a time commitment.  I am not made of money or time but I can sure figure out a balance of the two.

Second, what do you love?  Do you like to help seniors? the poor? kids? nature? or pets? Google is a great place to find a local charity.  I donate time to my church, I donate money to church and to West Town Bikes (full disclosure my brother works for this non-profit that provides programs to kids in Humbolt Park in Chicago). I donate time to St. Baldricks, my daughters school, Special Olympics and I am a sucker for a raffle.

Third, keep at it…it’s easier to start than to continue.  As friends have a charitable event I join in when I have time.  Your volunteering could be as simple as picking up an extra bag of dog food (drop it off at a local animal shelter or animal control office) or some extra grocery items and drop them off at a local food pantry.

I commit to a few events each year, your list may be very different…that is what makes the world go around.

  1. Tour de Fat is a fantastically fun event that raises money for specific not-for-profits.  The beneficiary depends on the city.  I dress up and go hang out and volunteer my time…as a bonus there is ‘bemusement’…trust me you need to see that.
  2. Charitable 5Ks…I am not a runner per se, I tried to train up from a 5K to a Half Marathon and that did not go well.  Instead I run short distance, fun runs, especially those that have charity beneficiaries.
  3. St. Baldrick’s is a good time, the funds raised go to support researching a cure for Pediatric Cancer.  Each individual St. Baldrick’s event is held by a core group of people like a school, Police & Fire Departments or family of a Cancer Survivor or Victim.  These events are looking for participants (shave your head!), volunteer to sell raffle tickets or man a booth and attendees to watch and participate in the raffles and activities…these events are scheduled around St. Patrick’s Day each year.

Feel free to find your own joyous way to help others.  Remember how much the small step that you take makes a large difference.

Enjoy…Nancy Ann

Sweet! 16 or 17…now money is real!

moneyEvery kid can get a job when they are 16.  The definition of ‘job’ varies by your child’s responsibilities, abilities and work load.  For some kids, earning might only occur in the off season from their sport or activity.  For my daughter, it meant getting a job at the local ice cream (custard) place.

When your kid starts earning an actual paycheck, it is important to monitor their spending and make sure they are saving.  As a result of school and activity circumstances it was necessary for me to get my daughter her own car.  I made her fill out all of the grade paperwork and driving log that helped with the insurance premium discount and she pays about half of her insurance every month.  It is truly my opinion that kids have to have some financial ‘skin’ in the game so that they understand the value.  If yout circumstances don’t require a car there are plenty of other ways to teach your child to budget their earnings.

It is important that the money is kept separate from yours.  My daughter and I opened an account at the local credit union.  I liked that there were no fees at all and the savings account earned interest.  I was also able to watch her transactions from my account.  We made a deal that she had to text me in order to spend more than $5 so that she had to think before she spent.  Also, some banks and credit unions have a text or email features that will automatically send a message when a transaction is made, some are very customizable.  Spend the time to discuss that spending with your kid and make sure that they don’t overdo it.  I was OK with my daughter having a Visa Debit Card from her account, that is an individual decision and you really need to think about what having that plastic card means in your situation.  If you are not ready for your child to have a credit card that is linked to an actual account you can try a pre-paid card.  I would suggest doing research and comparing benefits and costs to see which would work best for your situation.  I found a great article here.

The main message to get to your teens is save, save, save and to have them think before they swipe.

Enjoy…Nancy Ann

A little help from a friend….

ECC 4 9-10

I am one of the most fortunate people I know.  I have all the ‘needs’ and more of the ‘wants’ than I should have.  I can safely say this is because I have some of the best friends in the world.

What makes a best friend?  Is is someone you met as a child and are still friends with today?  Is it the person that you FB/Tweet/Pin the most?  In my opinion, it is much more than that.  My two best (but I have MANY) friends have been there…just been there, through thick and thin.  Best Friends don’t necessarily tell you things like ‘you are pretty’ or ‘you are so smart’ but what they do is tell you the truth.  My friends almost NEVER tell me I am right, they know what floodgates that could open.  Instead, they argue with me, they cajole, they constantly tell me what to do / not do.  Friends are true…they are your North compass point and best friends sometimes tell you what you don’t want to hear…because you need to hear it.  During difficult times, those same friends will be there to pick you up.  There have been many times I needed to be picked up and many times I needed to pick someone else up…that’s what make a best friend.  This week I just want to say THANK YOU! to all of my best friends…whatever you have done with me or for me when you knew I needed it I appreciate it more than you know.  In the same respect, I am hopeful that my friends see me as their best friend and I strive to be that for as many people as I can.

The verse above has stayed with my since 8th grade Confirmation.  When I am down or feel even the slightest bit alone I think about it.  And I think of the number of times I have picked up one of my friends.  I lost count a long time ago…

Be kind to one another…help each other up…Nancy Ann

PS – If your best friend (DS) falls down over an imaginary or ‘extra’ step in high heels it is perfectly acceptable to help her up while laughing…that’s what friends are for!