You at Christmas

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portrait of girl wearing christmas hat

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There’s a lot of talk about the value and need to be giving at this time of year. We have slogans like “It’s better (or ‘more blessed’ some say) to give than receive” that in our materialistic society seems a challenge. One charity boasts they are “Doing the most good.” Or we worry about the price of gifts that are out of our range.

Is giving supposed to be a competition? If so, what’s the prize? Or the measure?

  1. The Calculated Giver.

My sisters and I were always amused that our mother kept a Christmas Card list from Continue reading

I’m Inconvenient. Are You?

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Al Gore’s film about climate change, “An Inconvenient Truth”, made a big splash and was aptly name. But increasingly human beings are considered inconvenient because of two bullies: greed and speed. Watkins Glen State Park NY

There are days when I feel like a character in The Matrix. Others would be pleased if they could just strap me to a table and hook my bank account up to their tubes.

More businesses want me to just set up online accounts which siphon money directly from me to their account. They never have to see me, talk to me, or deal with me at all, unless it’s the nanosecond requirement for me to click “I agree.” Nor is it possible to explain a situation that does not fit their parameters over the phone.

Phone trees and websites are designed to Continue reading

When to Go, Where to Go- Part Two: Research Saves Money, Time, Effort and Anguish

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Attending college is an expensive and circuitous way to learn a field. The first two years are spent on general studies, although more schools are trying to track freshmen more quickly into their interests.  Changing majors is expensive. Changing schools is even more so. Many financial aid burdens could have been cut in half by some research before selecting a college or a field.

Some complain that they cannot find work in their degree field but that is not as big a pexels-photo-356830.jpeg

Continue reading

When to Go, Where to Go: Education after High School- Part One

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Would you walk into Old Navy and ask how little you can buy with $100?  

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That’s what many students do when they think about going to college. Mental energy and time are not considered as much as money.  They adopt a “hoop-jumping” approach. “Show me how little time and effort I can spend to get this degree” results in not getting their money’s worth. Education is sold as a product but is more about a process of investment.

The commercialization of college has stolen this reality. Getting a degree quickly with little effort is marketed. Fear that students will believe glib statements that college is not worth the time and money have led at times to minimizing demands. The world though emphasizes college study now more than ever.

The rampant sale of  fake diplomas and term paper mills reveals how far this delusion has grown. Some students actually think the paper document is all they really need. Or they focus on walking the stage even though they haven’t really graduated. Even worse, some employers don’t even check for false claims. For these students, it is baffling that Dave Thomas, Wendy’s founder with a net worth of $99 million,  would go back to school at 61.

(Hint: Read on to find out how adults and their children can get free college, and it’s not the Pell Grant or a sports scholarship.)

Continue reading

For Success, Begin at the End

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A larger Midwestern city is about to make a very costly mistake. What does this mean for you? Three applications of their expensive lesson for your life are in this post. Read on.

Kansas City has decided to privatize its award-winning international airport, launching a massive redesign. Most are not happy and it’s not the normal resistance to change.  airplane

That’s because the city wants to adopt the model of other airports that already create nightmares for passengers. The long distances between arrivals and departures, moving walkways, increasing handicapped shuttles, and other expensive accommodations are not necessary Continue reading

Eat or Spend? The High Cost of Insecurity

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Almost anyone who struggles with an eating disorder or really any addiction is familiar with how we can switch obsessions. If we are not drinking, we are eating. If we are not eating, we are smoking. If we are not working, we are drinking. On and on.money-fly

Spending is one of the favorite “go to” switches for those with eating disorders. In fact, some studies show that many seeking recovery from eating disorders have either alcoholism or sexual abuse in their childhood experiences. Because of this, poverty can be a stressor from growing up in an alcoholic family or, on the flip side, a family member may use gifts to secure illicit favors from their child victim. Compulsive spenders report feeling in power, getting a “high” as a stress relief, or needing to “escape” – all of which can be effects from feeling powerless as children. One woman said that, unlike gambling, at least she knew what she had spent the money on and had something to show for it.

Even when these are not factors, in our consumer based materialistic culture, money is probably one of the most misunderstood and emotionally charged experiences Continue reading

Discover Your Expression

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rockIn the previous post, we explored the foundational practice of honoring yourself.
Without this in place, our efforts often become disappointing because we are acting from a place of not knowing ourselves or looking on the outside for what can only be found within.

Honoring self allows us to be equals, not subservient to others nor creating resentments through “self will run riot”, as the 12 Step program says.

Discovering Your Expression, then, grows out of paying attention to our intuition, nudges, dreams and life experiences. This attention comes from honoring ourselves.2015-03-06-16-13-26

Our dreams or deep desires are there, I believe, from our beginning. They are linked to what is ours to do in the world, what will provide us with maximum satisfaction.

Discounting our dreams is a way of dishonoring ourselves. Often as children our dreams are in our play patterns. As we mature, we recognize that this was a type of dream language. What we enjoyed was a symbol containing the seed of what would fulfill us. It is not uncommon to forget what gave us satisfaction as children. So we have to rediscover it.

It doesn’t take much looking to see the correlation between children’s toytrucks in the sand and construction heavy equipment activities. The root satisfaction of being able to move objects or land is innate. In fact, many discoveries have come while the mind was relaxed at play, or in dreams.

Discovering our expression usually involves an integration of ideas. All life emerges from an integration of elements, so it is not surprising that our expression will involve putting elements together that we may not have in the past. For example, music and therapy, or technology and healing.

Our expression will create a “click” feeling when we discover it. We will sense that something has “come together” and is right for us. Often all that is necessary to discover it is to observe, journal, talk, or study an interest or group of interests that will not leave us alone.willow-tree-woman

Emerging careers now involve combining fields: biotechnology, educational management, scientific illustration, genetic engineering, and so on. But your field may not exist yet. It may be up to you to invent it by discovering your expression.

Your expression might not be something as large as a career, however. Part of not honoring ourselves is comparing our gifts to those of others and feeling like they are not as important. Your expression may appear small or similiar to others, but that doesn’t matter. It is yours to express and you will feel happy doing it no matter how small it seems. Your painted rock is unique among all other painted rocks, and it is important that you paint it, because it expresses your soul’s work. Monetary value is not a factor in measuring the worth of your expression, but many have discovered abundance pursuing theirs. As the saying goes, love what you do and you will never work a day in your life.

You may not create the next “pet rock” fad, but that does not mean your expression is insignificant. You must express it because it is yours. It is a reciprocal act: expressing it enriches the world and you are enriched by doing it.

Anywhere there is a gap or an unmet need is a clue to something needing to emerge or be expressed.

When we identify it, we can be sure to pursue it because it is our unique gift, both to ourselves and others.

 

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Money Monster Pt. 2

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Instead of…. Say…
We can’t afford that. We decided to….instead
I need that.(need gives the idea that we will hurt or lose out if we don’t have something) It might be nice to have sometime but it wouldn’t add anything we value right now.
We don’t  have the money. That’s not a good value for the price.
I can’t pay my bills now so I sure don’t need to buy that. This is not important enough to me to be in debt for.

Answers to common concerns or requests of children:

Child says… Response
Everyone at school has one. That’s interesting.
I won’t ask you for anything ever again if you get this. I would miss talking to you.
I will pay you back. I would not be comfortable having you feel you owe me.
I will save up my allowance. Good. (the child usually goes on to something else before enough is saved)
I have $___ saved. Will you (give)(loan) me the rest. This can be viable unless you see it becoming a habit. That is the desires are outstripping or coming faster than they can save up.*
Don’t you love me?(not worthy of a direct response) (money does not equal love) What is it you hope this item will give you?
You don’t care. Can you think of a time when you felt I cared?
Daddy (or Mommy) said I could have one. Perhaps he (she) did but that is something we both need to agree on first.
  • Generally loans are a bad idea. If you cannot afford the amount as a gift, I recommend not giving it. Debts between parents and children do not make emotionally satisfying relationships.

Also, limit the exposure your children have to commercials and promotions aimed at children. With children’s movies and television programs being used to promote an endless stream of merchandise, the glut is growing.  Children as young as 2 are being targeted, years before they have an ability to understand and evaluate such pressures.

Children shopping may also become overstimulated or tired. Rather than go through the trauma of going to mega stores where the aisles intrude upon children and adults as well, limit their exposure to smaller venues. Agree ahead of time what the goal of shopping is to counter the shopping for shopping sake. If needed, agree on what they will spend, and let them spend it. Do not supplement their spending if they do not have the price of the item.

Examine your own practices. Are you shopping unnecessarily and wondering why your children are focused on getting things? Are you routinely or frequently discussing the next purchase you want to make? Is shopping the biggest entertainment you do with your family? Is spending money the only way your family interacts?   IMG_1865

Analyze what is being pressured the most. In an article by Janet Fowler November 2011 in Investopedia.com, there are five categories that seem to generate the most pressure: cigarettes, smartphones, alcohol, Apple products, and cars.

The American Association of CPAs surveyed couples and found money the top topic of conflict, according to an article May 4 2012 in The Huffington Post, specifically around unexpected expenses which may translate to impulse buying. This can become a double whammy issue if the impulse spending was a reaction to trying to satisfy children’s demands or if the couple plays “good parent/bad parent” where one parent spends unnecessarily on the child and the other one does not. Over half those surveyed do not set aside any time to discuss finances. Insufficient savings, deceitful financial behavior, aging, or when finances change were the other types of money conflicts.

Your child’s attitude and feelings about money and things are important for the impact it has on their behavior. Children who feel that money is more important than relationships or other people may decide to steal or otherwise gain those things they do not have a way to buy but think they should. Children are aware of the financial status of those around them, certainly, but the way they feel this impacts their self worth is in a large part about the messages their parents convey about the role of money and things in their worth. Before children are old enough to discuss the family finances with them, parents can bolster their children’ sense of security and worth with the simple words they use when discussing routine money transactions. Words of confidence and worth, not money, set a positive emotional foundation  for your child in our consumer culture.

Focusing on creating memories, experiences, and activities are cost effective and can help your child tame the money monster. The best things in life really are free. My mother used to say your health is your wealth. We hear time is money. A friend with a chronic illness says if you have a problem than money can solve, you don’t really have a problem. All of these statements agree on one reality. Help your child identify the satisfying elements of life that have  nothing to do with money and they will inherit self worth free of the money monster.

 

 

Taming the Money Monster: Talking to Your Kids About Money

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kid money

This is not your normal article about money and your children. We won’t be talking about allowances, budgeting, piggy banks, or tuition. Instead we’ll be talking about, well, words.

The words we use around our children have a lasting impact on their attitudes or emotional “load” around money. In our consumer culture, things can easily become more important than people. The value or worth of people can become measured by their wealth or appearance of wealth. Keeping up with the Jones’ can hold kids and their parents hostage on a never ending treadmill. Parents in frustration may give up trying to withstand the pressures to buy more and more so their children will not feel left out or less than their friends. Parents may feel like hostages to the billion dollar industry that creates pressures to buy from all sides. Two income families may try to make up for the lack of time they can spend by buying children things.

A Poverty Consciousness

While it is true that money struggles occur and affect children, that is not the same as a poverty consciousness. Children can be raised in households with average incomes or even less without feeling poor. Likewise children raised in upper income homes can develop a feeling of entitlement in which nothing is ever enough and likewise feel like they are losing out and mistakenly think more and more money would fix it.

Moreover, many couples Continue reading

Schools Support Small Businesses

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Note: I published this article previously  in Small Business Monthly. 

SMALL BUSINESSES CAN ORDER SUCCESS WITH SCHOOL TO CAREER PROGRAMS

Facts about these programs open your access to improving current employee morale and securing qualified new talent.

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School to Career programs structure links between companies and students that result in improved performance for business owners and schools while increasing levels of employability for students. Connecting activities such as mentoring, internships, job shadowing, and teacher externships are reshaping the relationships between employees, employers, students and educators. These programs extend beyond the ususal “manual” skills that some businesses have historically used and beyond the usual “co-op” arrangements between schools and a few select businesses. STC is the potent, state-of-the-art way to tap into the people small business needs to maintain competitive profitability.

Return on Investment                                                                       $$$$$$$$$$$

The Learning Exchange reveals that three of four companies studied experienced cost benefit ratios of .40 to 3.21 with their School to Career (STC) programs (dollar value of benefits divided by dollar value of program costs). A National Employer Leadership Council report considers these partnershps “intelligent investment of resources” rather than “risky business.” Programs are flourishing nationally, from Miami to New York. Philadelphia programs, for example, have resulted in a 10% increase in grade point averages (GPA) of students, over 8% decrease in dropout rates, over 8% increase in attendance and a higher percentage of students employed and continuing education. Similiar results have been achieved locally. The Grain Valley, KS district believes the STC programs have contributed to an 8% reduction in dropout rate. Their persistence to graduation rates have increased as well. Employers cite reduced training, recruitment and supervision costs, increased retention, productivity and morale, favorable publicity, and increased workplace diversity.

Traditional hiring computes the cost of benefits, wage, and training. STC programs change that equation by reducing training, recruitment, supervision, turnover rates and increasing productivity through investing in students while in school programs.   Business owners have known that academic achievement translates to better employees, but a direct vehicle for making that translation has not been structured until the STC movement. Youth apprenticeship, for example, can reduce costs by 50% through tax credits and set asides. Additional savings have been measured in lower absenteeism and increased loyalty. The employer has a chance to “prove” the candidate for a longer period prior to hiring than the normal 60 days. In addition, the employer gains an advocate not on his or her payroll: STC liaisons.

Harmon Industries in Independence, MO is excited about the benefits. Harmon has been able to recruit exceptional talent, improve their own in-house engineering training, provide low-cost professional development, improve worker image and obtain state reimbursement for training costs. Their many programs include internships in shipping, machine tool, computer programming, drafting and other skills. One student actually designed the floor plan of the new corporate headquarters off I-70; another helped ease a drafting vacancy. Harmon has used job shadowing, mentoring, teacher externships, and internships along with a Career Institute. The company collaborates with Grain Valley, Independence, Raytown and other districts. Students who formerly may have shown a lack of engagement or a sense of belonging now report as seniors that the business principles and team training they received in the STC programs invaluable. Harmon hires directly from these proven participants.

Other smaller companies report similar results. Pat Meyer of Meyer Music has participated in shadowing. Small businesses have been able to interview better workers who know about business manners, customer service, communication and calculation skills. Claridge Court, General Reinsurance, Interim Technologies, Goldblatt Architecture, Timberlake Care Center, and Platte Woods Animal Hospital are just some of the companies who have participated in teacher externships and other connecting activities. Technical assistance is available for business owners.

Customized Training

The win-win STC partnership between schools and companies provide low or no cost training for employers. The Business and Technology College (BTC-part of the Metropolitan Community College system), Johnson County Community College, Kansas City Kansas Community College as well as professional associations such as the National Tool and Machining Association have developed articulation agreements with schools. These agreements provide for credit for coursework and experience while in high school. The BTC cooperates with small businesses to assist in recruitment and customize training of these prospective employees. Every articulated credit means training that the business owner does not pay for. These students are often hired in full time jobs before they complete the courses because of demand. They then finish their coursework on a part-time basis. Because there is a clear path between high school coursework and employment, between student and employer, these students are motivated to perform and will continue to improve through advanced coursework and training.

The Business & Technology College (BTC) is a local leader in STC initiatives and a variety of career development professionals. Martha Boyd, Director of Training for the BTC, can introduce employers to job and task analysis, organizational needs assessments, hiring, promotional and gap analysis or one-person, as-needed training. Blue Bunny routinely sends one support person every year or year-and-a-half for software training. The Center offers one day seminars with an open entry and exit lab for certain skill needs. A big advantage to small business owners is an applicant screening service which complies with ADA, EEOC, and other legal requirements. The BTC also offers ISO training.

Plugging In

A sampling of high school coursework in area school districts and area vocational technical schools (AVTS) shows the broad range of skills being provided with tax dollars. This exclusive survey attempts as accurately as possible to cue employers into specific skill programs and students. Small businesses can begin to develop mentoring, job shadowing, internships and other programs in the skills they need by working with the STC Coordinator or designated liaison in the district. For a list of contact persons at area districts, contact the district or the author. The Institute for Workforce Education in Columbia and the American Federation of Teachers also provide informational materials. Employers who want more business than usual take initiatives that are more than usual. Order your success soon by plugging into STC programs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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