Monday, May 03, 2021

What Every High School Graduate Should Know (Or Learn)

 


Needless to say, graduating from high school looks a lot different in 2021 than it did when I graduated in 1975.  First of all, we weren't dealing with a pandemic.  I had only read about it in a history class.  Second, there were no computers so there was no such thing as virtual learning.  There are some things, however, that never change when moving on to the next stage of your life.  

For those leaving home and going to college, there will be some adjustments to be made.  No longer will mom and dad or the grandparents be at arm's length to pick up after your "mess" or do things you didn't even know they did because, after all, that's just what we do.  You will literally be on your own for the first time.  You will be totally responsible for your success or failure.

As a mother and a grandmother, let me offer some How to life skills to help guide you along the next phase of your journey:

HOME CARE:

Do Laundry:  You must know that you have to separate colors from whites so the colors don't "bleed" all over your nice white fabrics.  Now you might say, "I can just take my dirty clothes back home on the weekend to let mom wash them."  Yes, you could do that and mom would probably be happy to do it but at what point do you stop leaning on mom for things you should be old enough to take care of.   Mom (dad and grandparents) is there to help guide you into adulthood. 

Clean carpets, windows and toilets: (if you have to)  If you live in a dorm, the showers/bathrooms will become someone else's responsibility but it's always a good idea to get in the habit of cleaning for yourself.  If you decide to move out of the dorm and into your own apartment it is imperative that you know what it means to be a good housekeeper in addition to being a good student.  And if you have a roommate, you should set house cleaning ground rules from the beginning.  Once you get in the habit, you'll think nothing of it.

Iron clothes:  OK so you're thinking, "Who irons anymore?  Everything is permanent press.  Perhaps, however, a nicely pressed shirt/blouse with pants and skirt tells others you are well-groomed.  Believe me, Professors take note of your appearance as well as how you speak and write.  I always say we are judged on 4 things:  1)  How we look  2)  How we act  3)  How we speak  4)  How we write. 


STUDENT CARE: 

Know how to write an essay/research paper:  You'll be doing a lot of it in college so get prepared and don't ever be afraid to ask for help. Don't ever pay someone to write your papers for you.  You have to learn for yourself because writing will be a part of your life for the rest of your life.

Form Good Study Habits: Eliminate distractions by choosing an environment that will help you focus on your studies.  Find a good study buddy--someone who is as serious about their education and actually trying to graduate!

Maintain a Positive Mindset: Trust me, there will be times when you get completely frustrated and want to give up but keep reminding yourself why you're in college. And by all means, don't keep your frustrations bottled up inside of you because when you least expect it, you will explode.  Reach out to family for your life support.


PERSONAL CARE: 

Work on your conflict resolution skills.  In a perfect world, we would all get along and sing Kum Ba Ya but we all know there is nothing perfect about society.  You will be coming together will different types of personalities from different walks of life and not everyone is going to like you (or you them).  This is where your home training will kick in.  If your parents have taught you to be respectful of others, follow that golden rule.  If you get into a beef with someone (even if you didn't cause it), know how to apologize and walk away.  Remember your WHY for being in college.  On the other hand......

Defend Yourself:  Don't be a pushover and allow others to just walk all over you.  You don't have to be a bully but you can let people know (in a respectful way) that you don't tolerate foolishness.

Get Some Exercise:  I've always been told that a healthy mind and a healthy body go hand in hand.

Stay in Touch with Family and Friends Back Home:  They're your life support remember.

Stay Spiritually Connected:  All I have to say about this is, you will say "Lord Help Me!" "Help Me Jesus!" or "Lord, if you just help me get through this......" more than a few times over a four-year period.  I PROMISE YOU!  

There are plenty more life skills I could mention but I do believe these are the most important to get you started.  

Best of Luck to you!



Wednesday, March 31, 2021

How to Cash In on Your Ex's Social Security Benefits

Did you know that if you are divorced you can get social security benefits from your ex?  That's right and check this out:  Chances are very good that you will get a higher benefit based on your ex's employment since we all know most men make more money than us.  Even if he remarried, you can still get a piece of his pie if you fall into the following categories:  

1) Your marriage lasted at least 10 years

2) You are unmarried

3)  You are at least 62 years old

4)  The benefit you would be entitled to is LESS than what he would get

5)  You are eligible for Social Security retirement or disability benefits

Furthermore, if your ex-spouse is eligible to receive SS but hasn't applied, you can still collect if you've been divorced for two consecutive years.

If you are also qualified to receive benefits, SSA will pay your benefit FIRST.  If your ex's benefit is higher, SSA will pay the difference.  OK--let's do the math.  If you are eligible for $1500 a month and your ex is eligible for $1900.  The SSA will pay you the additional $400 to bring you up to his amount.  

Another little caveat:  If you've been married more than once and over 10 years to more than one spouse and you get divorced, you can collect on the higher earning records of each spouse.

If your ex dies after your divorce (without remarrying), you may be eligible for up to 100 percent of his benefits.  You can apply for benefits as early as 60-years-old AND even if you remarry after 60, you can still collect survivor's benefits.

If HE remarries and dies while married to his new wife, both she and you can collect under the survivor benefits.  As the first wife, you could be entitled to 100 percent of survivor benefits if you have not remarried and have reached the full retirement age of 66.  Whatever SS benefit you are collecting on your own would disappear in lieu of the survivor benefits and if you chose to collect BEFORE the age of 66, the amount you collect would be reduced.

When you apply you will need to provide your ex's social security number, his date and place of birth and the name of his parents.

Look at it this way----you can still be able to have the last word on your divorce--especially if he mistreated you throughout the marriage.  Or worse yet---dumped you for a younger woman!  

Check out this Guide to learn more:  Retirement Benefits

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Don't Blame Being Fat on Aging

 


If you're over the age of 50 and weigh at least 20 pounds more than you did 20 years ago, you can blame  it on the pandemic.  Being stuck in a house, day after day for over a year, with nothing much to do but eat surely packed on some pounds.  

Okay-----You can stick to that story if you like but there's an even bigger reason as to why some of us are carrying around a thicker waist, thighs, and butt.  As we age many of us tend to be less active, which slows down our metabolism and we all know metabolism determines how many calories we burn daily.  The older we get the more likely we are to scale back on all of those strenuous, but fun, activities we used to do like biking for 5 miles, hiking, being a gym rat while showing off how much you can lift. or those one-hour Zumba classes three days a week.

But here's the REAL truth:  SUGAR is the guilty culprit.  Most packaged foods, snacks, and drinks are sweetened with fructose, a simple sugar from fruits or veggies like corn. Your liver turns it into fat. If you regularly pump fructose into your body, tiny drops of fat build up in your liver. This is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar a day for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men. But the average American intake is more than double that:  22 teaspoons a day (88 grams). For example, just one 12-ounce can of regular soda has 10 teaspoons of sugar -- and no nutritional benefit.  So if you drink a can of soda every day and don’t cut calories elsewhere in your diet, in three years you’ll be 15 pounds heavier. Putting on too much weight can lead to problems like diabetes and some cancers. The more ut over time, swelling and scarring can damage your liver. 

Too much sugar during the day can also mess with your blood glucose levels and cause energy spikes and crashes. You may struggle to stay awake at work or doze off  for that "afternoon nap."  In the evening, a bowl of ice cream, cookies or a couple of glasses of sweet wine can pump you with sugar and keep you up at night. It also can cut short the time you’re in deep sleep so you may not wake up feeling refreshed.

Several studies have linked sugar and mental health problems. One of the latest showed that men who ate more than 66 grams of sugar a day -- almost double what’s recommended -- were 23 percent more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression than men who ate 40 grams or less. Too much sugar could fuel depression through swelling, or inflammation, in your brain, which is more common in people with depression.

Here's the KILLER:   Sugary drinks may add years to your biological age. DNA called telomeres cap the end of your chromosomes to protect them from damage. Longer is better. Shortened telomeres may go hand in hand with age-related diseases like diabetes. One study found that people who drink 20 ounces of soda a day have shorter telomeres. Researchers figure that’s like adding more than 4 years to the age of your cells.

I'm not writing to tell you to cut all sugar out of your diet but what I am saying is you may want to cut back if you've also cut back on your active lifestyle.  Right now, everyone is using the pandemic as an excuse for those extra pounds but the pandemic will soon be behind us so what will your excuse be then?

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Have Funds But Less Travel for Baby Boomers

Did you know baby boomers (born between 1946-1964) spend nearly 160 billion dollars a year on travel?  Yes, I guess you could call us the cash crop of the industry.  If you break it down it means approximately 73 million of us spend around $6600 for every trip we take during the year---which is normally more than two.   

BUT--beginning January 26, some major changes by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are being made as a result of COVID, which could seriously alter our travel plans.  If you plan to travel internationally, you will need to get tested no more than 3 days before you travel to or from the United States.  If you tested positive, you must show documentation of recovery (proof of a recent viral test and a letter from your healthcare provider or public health official stating that you were cleared to travel.  

The CDC also recommends that you get tested 3-5 days AFTER your international trip and then quarantine at home for at least 7 days even if you test negative.  If you refuse to get tested, it's recommended that you stay at home for at least 10 days after travel and isolate yourself from others for at least 14 days.  If course, we know that will be a challenge for those of you who believe COVID is a hoax or not all that serious. 

Will CDC provide information about international testing locations?

CDC is unable to provide information about locations and availability of testing in other countries. Check COVID-19 Country Specific Informationexternal icon for information on how and where to get tested in the country from which you are traveling or contact local authorities in that country.

Does an at home test qualify?

The Order requires a lab report to be presented to the airline or to public health officials upon request. A home specimen collection kit that is tested in a laboratory should meet the requirements, if such methods have been approved by the country’s national health authorities.

What is a verifiable test result?

A verifiable test result must be in the form of written documentation (paper or electronic copy) of a laboratory test result. Testing must be performed using a viral test (NAAT or antigen), and negative results must be presented to the airline prior to boarding. The test result documentation must include information that identifies the person, a specimen collection date and the type of test. A negative test result must show test was done within the 3 days before the flight. A positive test result must show the test was done within the 3 months before the flight.

Who is checking to make sure that people have a negative test or documentation of recovery before they board a plane to the US?

The airline will confirm a COVID-19 negative test result or documentation of recovery for all passengers before boarding.

So 2021 may be an excellent time to use our vacation funds for investments or just saving for a lavish trip in 2022.  What do you think?


Sunday, December 27, 2020

Code Switching and Black Baby Boomers


Recently I came across an article regarding the slang words and phrases we, as baby boomers, used to say as young adults and the fact that these words are no longer spoken by the younger generations.  After reading the article, it occurred to me that many of my black friends and I have been code-switching practically all of our lives (that means at least 50 years).  Now for all of you "educated white folks" reading this post, code-switching is the practice of interacting in different ways depending on what environment we're in.  It's what we do when we are interacting OUTSIDE of our own communities. We change the way we talk when we switch from our world to yours.  Why?  One reason is because we would have no opportunities for growth or advancement in the business world since whiteness is the dominant culture.  Whites, on the other hand, do not see or feel the need to code switch because their way of speaking is considered natural, normal and legitimate.  I could certainly write a whole blog about code-switching but the purpose is to show how different the slang talk was for whites and blacks during my young adult years.

Here are some of the words my generation used:

THREADS--clothes 

GAS--something or someone is a lot of fun 

FLIP A WIG--to get very angry or upset 

GROOVY--cool  

SQUARE--uncool  

DROP A DIME--make a phone call 

DRAG--boring 

KICKS--doing something for fun 

SCRATCH--money 

Now I will admit I am familiar with all of these words, however, they weren't widely used in my circles.  THREADS was universal for clothes "Those are some nice threads you got on!" and while I heard many of my white friends use the terms SQUARE and DRAG, the only time I really used the word GROOVY was when I was singing lyrics to Groovy Situation by Gene Chandler:

Oh it's a groovy situation

A splendid combination

That we should meet

At a time like this...... 

DROP A DIME may have meant make a phone call but in the black community it meant (and still means) to tell on someone or betray them. (to rat them out)<another slang phrase. 

SCRATCH may have meant money to white baby boomers but we called money BREAD.

KICKS meant some nice shoes

Other words we used that white baby boomers didn't....

FLY--meant good looking or fine

THE MAN--the police (or someone in authority over you like your boss)

RAP--conversation

RIGHT ON!--to be in agreement with

BAD--good!

CRIB--your house

JIVIN' "Stop jivin' around man!" Stop lying or playing around. 

CAN YOU DIG IT?--Do you understand?

If you can dig it, that's outta sight!

Peace.




Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Scam Alert for Baby Boomers


 "Tis the season to be jolly...."
Yes, and it's also the season when older adults need to be on high alert because scammers are lurking online to prevent us from having a holly, jolly Christmas this year.

Did you know that more than 500 million passwords have been exposed in data breaches.  Yours could have been one of them and you may not even know it unless you have some type of fraud identity protection.  For identity thieves, your passwords open doors to the kinds of things they're looking for---personal information and banking accounts.

Here are some tips on how to stay as financially secure as possible while you're engaging on social media during the holidays (or anytime for that matter).

1.  Now would be a good time to change your passwords, especially if you've had the same one for more than a year.  For some of us, that may mean coming up with several passwords but it's better to be inconvenienced a little bit than to be sorry later on.  And when you're creating a new password, be unique and creative. You should never use your name unless you have characters behind it that don't seem to make any sense.  For example:   It would be easy for someone to figure out Beverly57 because that's my first name and the year I was born.  BUT If I use Beverly577506&!$----that would be pretty hard to decode.  I am also an advocate for writing your password down and keeping it in a safe place.  I know there are many people who say you shouldn't do that but if you are only using your computer inside your home you shouldn't have to worry about someone trying to steal it.

Along those same lines, don't share your password(s) with anyone, especially your children or grandchildren.  There's no reason they should have it.  Let me give you an example:  Let's say you ask your grandchild to order something for you from the Amazon website and you give them the login information. Not only do they order what you asked but later on they decide to order something they want because they still have your password and the attitude is "Oh grandma (grandpa) won't mind because she/he loves me!"  WHATEVER! 

You are not too old that you can't navigate your own way online and if you think you are, then you shouldn't be online anyway.

2.  Do not log into public places with unsecured networks.  Some people love going to coffee shops with their laptops or smartphones and hopping onto some website.  Logging into an unsecured public wifi network gives hackers the opportunity to watch your activity.  Also, talking business on your cell phone in a public place leaves you at risk of someone eavesdropping on your conversation---especially if you are trying to make a purchase and using your credit card/bank account information.  

3. Do not throw away information that contains personal information in a public place.  You may think nothing about throwing that old utility bill that's been in your jacket pocket for months but that bill contains information that could become a good fortune for an identity thief.  The best thing to do with personal information is to shred it.

4.  Now if you get a phone call from someone claiming to represent one of your utility companies or a government agency, don't give them any information until you can verify, for sure, that they are who they say they are.  Ask to call them back via a number posted on their business or government agency website.

Finally, don't fall for the Fake IRS refund scams.  Scam artists have gotten pretty clever in disguising themselves as IRS representatives on the phone and online.  If you get an email from someone claiming to represent the IRS, disregard it and call the IRS directly to see if it is legitimate.  Also, don't wait until the last minute to file your taxes.  Did you know identity thieves will often file fake taxes with stolen information in order to capture tax refunds?  

If you suspect you have become a victim of a scam act quickly.  Contact your creditors and financial institutions about any unauthorized charges or debts and close any compromised accounts.  File a report with your local police and the Federal Trade Commission.  In order to avoid becoming the victim of a scam stay informed and research any communication that seems slightly questionable to you.



Sunday, October 25, 2020

Returning to Work After 50

 When I left the news business, I was in my late forties. Now that I'm over 60  I see that so much has changed and I am having to learn how to adapt. I chose not to return to my chosen career of "established media" because, quite frankly, I no longer had the stomach for "breaking news" that starts out with A LOT of half-truths and stations always trying to out do the competition. Furthermore, I was no longer interested in going toe-to-toe with younger, less-talented journalists who always seem to have the advantage because of their "blondeness" and desire to work no matter how little the pay.


These days I'm working part-time as a Writing Tutor for college students.  While I absolutely LOVE what I do, the challenge is dealing with young people who come to the table thinking they know as much as you and don't particularly like being told their writing needs drastic improvement.   As I travel through this leg of my journey I am learning a lot about getting back in the game even on a part-time basis. 

Here are some things for you to consider if you are thinking about returning to the job market:

HAVE A CLEAR OBJECTIVE: Know why you are returning to the workforce. To make ends meet is one thing but you should also be thinking about what you would like to accomplish while in your position. Just going through the motions of working from 9 to 5 (or whenever) will ultimately make you unhappy and could lead to your untimely termination. 

Once I was hired for the position I'm in, I decided to set a goal and am now striving towards it. 

Understand this: THE JOB MARKET HAS CHANGED: Not only are many of the employees half our age, but some of them may end up being our supervisors. I've been in that situation.  Some of my previous managers were just a few years older than my 31-year-old daughter and, honestly, it was hard to appreciate and see them as my superiors but THEY WERE and if I was going to succeed I was going to have to accept that fact and act accordingly.

HAVE SOME MARKETABLE SKILLS!:  Just because you spent 20-30 years with one Company and worked your way up to middle-management doesn't mean you are qualified for any available job.  As I said before, the market has changed and you will have to learn to adapt to the times.  Since the pandemic, more employers are looking to hire remotely.  That means you will need to be up to speed on how to deal with technology and be able to troubleshoot any technical problems that may arise because, trust me, trouble will happen! 

ACQUIRE NEW SKILLS:  If you see a job that captures your interest and you know you don't have the necessary skill requirements, find a course at your local community college to help you obtain the skillset necessary.  If you have children or grandchildren who are tech savvy, don't be afraid to ask them.  I'm always my grandson how to do something because I know he knows and he gets a kick out of helping his grandma.

LEARN TO BE HUMBLE: I've always been a take charge person so it isn't easy for me to sit back in a subservient role as I am currently having to do. Quite frankly, humility as an employee is something I'm still working on but I do keep my devotional reading with me at all times to remind me of WHOSE I am so I don't get it twisted and end up saying things I will live to regret. 

If you have aspirations beyond the job, you will have to learn to swallow your pride, know-how and "I can do it better than you!" attitude sometimes for the greater good. 

BE WILLING TO ACCEPT LESS MONEY: The job market today is what I call an "employers' market." They can get away with paying less money for employees because the market is saturated with young, hungry professionals who just want to get a foot in the door so they can begin to navigate their way throughout the company. For many baby boomers, like myself, we have been accustomed to the nice, comfortable salaries that afforded us the opportunities to have beautiful homes, a sizable bank account and take fabulous vacations. That is no longer the case. You must be willing to accept the going rate but I would caution you to NEVER accept minimum wage because it devalues your skills and abilities---especially if you have 20 to 30 years of talent and skills to bring to the table. 

GET A SIDE HUSTLE:  This may not be for everyone but if you are thinking about retirement (and you definitely should be!), then you should look for a gig that can pay you some extra cash.  I recommend checking out Fiverr and see how you can put some of your "other skills" to use.  

HAVE A CLEAR EXIT PLAN: Going back to work is serious business for those of us who are more mature than the average employee. Know why you are returning and have a plan for an exit. Working indefinitely without a plan or purpose only leads to frustration.