Monday, September 26, 2016

Family Emergency Communication Plan

If an emergency occurs, it is unlikely that emergency response services can immediately respond to everyone’s needs. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least the first 72 hours.
One of the most important steps you can take in preparing for emergencies is to develop a Family Communication Plan. With this plan, you will be taking the first step to keep your family safe.

Get in the know! Gather emergency facts and plan for what to do:
·         Learn about emergencies that could occur in your area.
·         Talk with employers and school officials about their emergency response plans.
·         Talk about these potential situations with your family.
·         Make plans for what to do for each...tornados, earthquakes, home fire, etc.
·         Know how to reach one another if a disaster prevents you from joining up.
·         Determine where to meet, if going home is not an option.
·         Plan where to take shelter within your home if needed.
·         Decide on pick-up locations for the workplace and school of every family member, and who will do the picking up.
·         Practice your evacuation plans if you have to leave quickly.
·         Make sure young children know how and when to call 9-1-1.
Designate an emergency contact person outside the family:
·         Choose a friend or relative to serve as an emergency family contact point.
·         Choose someone that is far enough away to not be affected by the same emergency.
·         Provide this person with the names and contact information of the people you want to keep informed of your situation.
·         Instruct family members to call the out-of-town contact point, and tell them where they are. Remember, long-distance phone service is often restored sooner than local service.
·         Program the name, phone number and email address of your contact person into each family member's cell phone. Remember to update frequently because cell, school, and job numbers can change throughout the year!
·         Carry your family contact person's information in your wallet and give a copy to children for his or her book bag, wallet or purse. This will be very important, since cell phones can be lost or broken, and wireless service can become overloaded from increased traffic.
Keep records of emergency contacts and personal information:
·         Make a list of key emergency contact numbers and keep the list current.
·         Duplicate important documents and keep copies off-site, either in a safety deposit box or with someone you trust. Documents may include: passport, driver's license, social security card, wills, deeds, financial statements, insurance information, marriage license and prescriptions.
·         Inventory valuables, in writing and with photographs or video. Keep copies of this information off-site with your other important documents.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Keep it Updated

I know -- just the thought of accumulating enough food for your family to survive for a year or more is overwhelming! And just when you may think you're making headway, life has a way of changing and you can feel like you need to start over. That's why we recommend a very individual approach to storing food -- store what you eat and what works for your family. Then when circumstances change, hopefully adapting won't be so painful. Here are some ideas:
  • Diversify. You have no way of knowing when you will need the food you have stored (earthquake, storm, unemployment?), so it is best to be prepared for a variety of situations. Short term storage (72 hours) should be easy to access food for an emergency. A longer term storage (3 months or more) should include items that your family easily uses in everyday life. Store extra ingredients for meals your family eats often -- this ensures that the food gets rotated and minimizes waste. Long term storage can last 30 years and should include foods to sustain life in emergency situations. You might consider grains (properly preserved to lengthen their life), dehydrated foods, powdered milk, etc.
  • Update! If you have small children, store foods and supplies that will keep them happy. Teenagers in the house require extra calories. Empty nesters won't need as much food as a family of 6 or more. Keep your changing family in mind when adding to and rotating your food storage. 
  • Be consistent. Buying large boxes of dehydrated food, putting it in the basement and never thinking about it again is one food storage strategy, but we think it wiser to make your food storage a part of your everyday thoughts. Do the easy things -- a case lot sale can provide a year's supply of some items. One or two extra of seldom used items or items with a short shelf life are easy to store. Pick up an extra package of toilet paper on each grocery trip. The little consistencies add up to storage success. Don't forget your water storage -- especially important if dehydrated food is part of your plan.
  • Learn. Keep educating yourself about nutrition, food variety and emergency preparedness. A well thought out food storage plan is much more effective than a haphazard one.
We never know what life has in store. Keeping your food storage adequate, updated and suited to your individual needs will give you peace of mind for any situation.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

An Employee with Integrity

Integrity in the work place is imperative for a healthy working environment.

It does not matter whether you are the janitor or CEO, living with workplace integrity will make a difference not only to your long-term professional development, it will also enhance the overall company culture – it’s a ripple effect!

Workplace integrity starts with honesty, decency and trustworthiness. Following through with your word and being impeccable and honorable with your actions creates respect and professionalism.
There are many reasons as to why someone may or may not be enjoying their job or acting with integrity. Regardless, if you choose to stay in your current job, you might as well do it with integrity.

What kind of boss or employee are you? Are you setting a good example for your team, staff and colleagues? More often than not the less productive employee will find more to complain about than the industrious type.

Here are some points to get you thinking:

A clean attitude:  When we are confident and comfortable within ourselves we have next to no reason to belittle others or act with arrogance. Build your confidence and clean up your language and communication skills.

Honor your working hours:  Do not steal time from your employer. You are there to get a job done, not to surf social networks, talk to your friends and waste time.

Confidentiality:  Keep workplace secrets such as; client information, employee salaries and 
upcoming company changes to yourself – it’s an absolute integrity must.

Be truthful:  Managers are less likely to have confidence in you and promote you if they feel as though you are not open and truthful. Over time most lies come back to bite you! Mistakes and mishaps can be your greatest time for growth and learning.

Are you the person you want to be?  Maybe it’s time to redefine your workplace values, attitude and behavior for overall development and success.

Written by Nadine Piat-Niski 

An Eternal Perspective on Personal and Family Finance

Monday, June 20, 2016

Composting 101

Our family built a house several years ago on a piece of land that had been horse property. We chose a location for our garden in the spot that got the most sun and set out to enjoy our harvest. Except. One part of the garden simply would not grow anything. When we thought back to what had been there before, we realized that a large (and probably leaking) fuel tank sat on our infertile spot. Not knowing what else to do, we set out to amend the soil in that part of the garden. This began our composting adventure. We have a composting bin in a back corner of our yard that collects all of our organic kitchen waste (vegetable waste, eggshells, potato peels, etc.), our lawn clippings and our fall leaves. Once a year we dump it onto the garden and gradually, we have seen our soil quality improve to the point that we can now grow anything we want on the previously dead spot. We are not perfect in our proportions of brown to green waste, but the compost doesn't seem to mind too much. This has been a great way to reduce our garbage output and make our garden soil happier.

Here is an article from the Utah State University Extension on the basics of composting:


Compost is an excellent, inexpensive way to increase the productivity and workability of soil It reduces and recycles yard waste and produces excellent soil.  Help the garden, the environment, and the pocketbook by composting lawn and garden waste.

You can begin compost either indoors or outdoors. For indoor composting, use a type of bucket and place it under your sink. For outdoor composting, you have more flexibility in the size of bin you can handle. Base the size of compost bin on how much waste you produce, do you have a large family or have a large garden? If your your answer is no to both, begin with a smaller box. If your answer was yes, then make space around your garden for a larger box. 

When choosing the location of your compost box, find a site that includes:
·         At least 6 hours of sunlight a day.
·         A site that does not detract from the landscape.
·         Convenient for adding materials and removing compost.
·         Available water.
·         Acceptable materials.

A compost pile isn't just rotting garbage. Successful compost piles are structured as follows:
·         Turn pile every 2 to 4 weeks, and keep pile moist to speed composting, allow air circulation and eliminate unpleasant odors.
·         Build pile 3 to 5 feet tall, with and equal circumference. Small piles don't heat enough, and large piles don't receive enough air in the middle for good composting.
·         Apply a 1" layer of soil every 8 to 14 inches of organic waste to increase microbial activity

Acceptable Material
Not Acceptable Material
·         Grass Clippings
·         Leaves and Weeds
·         Manures
·         Coffee Grounds
·         Wood Chips and Sawdust
·         Bark,Stems, and Stalks
·         Gardening and Canning Waste
·         Fruits and Vegetables

Trouble Shooting
Strong odor?
Needs more oxygen. Turn the pile over more often to increase air circulations. If the material is too wet, add dry materials
Pile is damp, but won't heat?
Insufficient nitrogen, add fertilizer or grass clippings. The materials could also be too wet.
Ammonia Smell?
Too much nitrogen, add sawdust or high carbon materials and turn the pile.
·         Meats
·         Bones
·         Large Branches
·         Dairy Products
·         Synthetic Products
·         Plastics

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Foods That Heal

6 Foods That May Help You Live Stronger -- and Maybe Even Longer

Bananas -- This tasty fruit is a compact packet of health benefits. One medium banana contains roughly 422 mg of potassium and also packs 10 mg of vitamin C. This antioxidant busts free radicals, which damage cells and may contribute to heart disease, arthritis and even cancer. A 2015 study shows vitamin C can be deadly to some cancer cells.

Cherries -- A 2012 study showed that people with gout who consumed cherry extract had a 35 percent lower risk of gout attacks compared with people who did not. And in a 2013 study by the Osteoarthritis Research Society, people with osteoarthritis who drank 16 ounces of tart cherry juice every day for six weeks felt less pain and stiffness. Cherries also contain anthocyanins, which may protect the heart, control obesity and reduce the risk of diabetes, according to the American Society for Nutrition.

Onions -- Inside an onion's layers lies a dense package of antioxidants and nutrients that can help prevent -- and heal. A 2015 study showed that onion skin extract, which is a good source of the antioxidant quercetin, helped lower blood pressure. Onions are also packed with the antioxidant vitamin C.

Beans -- Beans are brimming with heart-healthy nutrients. Beans may also help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes and control blood sugar levels because of their high fiber content, according to the Mayo Clinic. A cup of kidney beans offers 13 grams of protein, as much as 2 ounces of chicken breast, and a whopping 11 grams of fiber.

Carrots -- Carrots are rich in vitamin A -- a half cup of raw carrot has 459 micrograms of the vitamin. For those aged 14 and older, the recommended daily amount is 700 - 900 mcg, according to the National Institutes of Health. Vitamin A helps keep your eyes healthy and may lower the risk of cancer, says the NIH. Carrots also contain vitamin K. This vitamin helps maintain strong bones to help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. A 2014 study also found that eating vegetables such as carrots may protect people from colorectal cancer, thanks to an antioxidant in these foods.

Cabbage -- Cabbage makes a fabulous base for recipes such as coleslaw and sauerkraut. Like its cousins broccoli and Brussels sprouts, cabbage offers anti-cancer compounds, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Red cabbage also contains anthocyanins, the flavonol that can keep your heart, liver and eyes healthy. In sauerkraut, fermented cabbage is used as the base. A 2014 article reports that such fermented foods may help improve your gut health and alleviate mood disorders. Load up your plate!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Be Financially Literate

From an article by Suze Orman . . .

April is financial literacy month. To be honest, as much as I laud the message behind any effort to raise financial know-how, I don't subscribe to the notion that financial literacy needs a special month of attention. Financial literacy needs to be a part of your everyday life. Being financially literate means you have committed to consistently making the right choices day in and day out, for a single purpose: You want to be in control of your life.

Here's a short list of what I think qualifies someone as being financially literate. They are people who . . .

Embrace the importance of delayed gratification. That's what saving for a future goal is all about. Instead of spending a dollar today, you invest or save that dollar for a tomorrow goal, whether it is a down payment for a home, your retirement or a great anniversary vacation that you can pay for without running up credit card debt.

Live within their needs, but below their means. I want every child who wants a college education to get a college education. But that does not mean you should shoulder the burden of expensive college tuition that requires taking on lots of debt or scaling back your retirement savings. An affordable education should always be the goal.

I want each of you who needs a car to have a car. But that does not mean you should aim for the nicest car that you can finance only with a long-term loan. All you need is a car that gets you where you need to go, and it should never be financed with a loan that is longer than three years. That's a sign you're spending well above your needs.

And I want everyone who wants to own a home to have a home. But again, a home that you can easily afford, not one that you stretch into. What is affordable? One that lets you still have money left at the end of the month to save and invest for your future.

Can say no out of love, rather than yes out of fear. There will likely always be people you love who want or need or could just use your financial help. But you are never to give of yourself financially if it erodes your financial security. Don't be fearful that someone may think less of you for saying no to co-signing a loan or raiding your emergency fund to bail them out of a pinch. There is no valor in helping someone if it hurts your security.

Know the best financial adviser is staring at them in the mirror. I have no problem if you work with a financial planner or adviser. But I will never condone not being an active participant, questioner and decider in your major money decisions. Please, make this the year you become an active participant in understanding all of the moving parts of your financial security: investments, insurance, debts, etc.

Know that money does not define them. I'll be the first to insist that money is important. It is incredibly necessary -- for food, for shelter, for clothing. But please listen to me: Your net worth does not determine your self-worth. Embrace that truth and you will have achieved true financial brilliance.