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05/07/2010
IconTime with the Kids vs a Home-Cooked Meal? You can have both! By Elizabeth Yarnell www.GloriousOnePotMeals.com Believe it or not, today's mothers spend more hours focused on their children than the mothers of the 1960s did. While we like to hark back to the Leave It To Beaver halcyon days of mothers greeting kids after school with milk and cookies as an ideal for raising happy children, the reality, according to a University of Maryland study, actually looks better these days. Based on detailed time diaries kept by thousands of Americans, mothers in 1965 spent 10.2 hours a week focused on their children in activities such as reading with them, feeding them or playing games. While the number of hours dropped in the 1970s and 80s, it began rising in the 90s and is now higher than ever at almost 14.1 hours each week. But ask those same moms how they feel about it, and at least half will say they don't have enough time with their kids. The study shows how these extra hours spent with kids have been stolen from time spent on housework, cooking, meal cleanup and laundry. Oh, and sleep! What I found most interesting was that moms almost halved the time they spent in cooking and meal cleanup. Unfortunately, this might suggest that we're relying more on take-out, fast food or prepackaged frozen meals. Along with the cost of convenience, we're also paying for undesirable amounts of sodium, additives, fats and calories. I firmly believe that meals don't have to be time-consuming to be healthy; that you don't have to face an hour of cleanup after dinner in order to serve delicious, home-cooked food. Here is a quick and easy kid-friendly recipe that can be easily adjusted for using fresh or frozen foods, depending on your rush level and how recently you've been to the grocery store. Regardless, you can feel good about serving it, and it won't eat up important time better spent with your kids! Garlic Fish and Potatoes Serves 4 16 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole 1 - 1 1/2 lb. filets of white fish, such as flounder, tilapia or sole fresh or frozen 2 russet potatoes or 16 oz. frozen hash browns (loose, not in patties) 4 cups broccoli florets, fresh or frozen 4 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen 2 cups sliced carrots, fresh or frozen Sea salt and pepper, to taste Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray inside of 3 1/2- or 4-quart cast iron Dutch oven and lid with olive oil. Drop whole, peeled garlic cloves into Dutch oven. Scrub and cube potatoes and place in pot; or shake frozen hash browns in (break apart hash browns so that they are not frozen in a single mound). Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and pepper, if desired. Set fish filets in next, in a single layer as much as possible. With thinner filets, it is ok to have multiple layers as long as the filets are not frozen to each other. I find it easy to separate frozen fish filets using the tip of a knife as a lever and applying a little pressure. Tuck carrots into the crevices and follow with corn and broccoli until pot is full. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and pepper. Cover and bake for 40-53 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the fish. Note: using frozen foods WON'T necessarily increase cooking time! You'll know its ready 3 minutes after the aroma of a fully cooked meal wafts from the oven. Notes Your kids won't eat fish? Although the fish species suggested here are very mild flavored and a great way to introduce more fish to non-fish-eaters, try substituting 4 pieces of chicken for a different meal. Don't be nervous about the amount of garlic! Although it may seem like a lot, when the cloves are left whole they impart a milder, nutty flavor. Nutritional Analysis per serving, based on 2 servings and using flounder, fresh potato and carrots and frozen corn and broccoli. Calories 326 Protein 33g Carbs 53g Fat 2.8g Cholesterol 54mg Sodium 150mg Fiber 11g Elizabeth Yarnell is the inventor and author of Glorious One-Pot Meals: A new quick healthy approach to Dutch oven cooking . Visit www.GloriousOnePotMeals.com for more information on this unique, patented cooking method and to sign up for Elizabeth's newsletter. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconHome Cooking -- Mmmm Good! (easy ways to make fixing meals at home doable) by Jill Cooper www.LivingOnADime.com OK -- There's no way around it. Just accept the fact that tomorrow your family will eat three meals -- again. People have been doing it since Adam and Eve started munching fruit in the garden of Eden. Burying your head in the sand and not thinking about it will not make it go away. I know that even the thought of making a meal at home strikes terror in some of your hearts and the only reason the rest of you aren't feeling terror is because you are probably so tired you can't feel terror or any other emotion. But with going out to eat being one of the top 3 causes of credit card debt and child obesity and diabetes on the rise, I think we need to start reconsidering cooking at home. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started: One of the biggest reasons people hate cooking at home is their kitchen is such a disaster area. Take the time to clean and organize that one room. If you need to get some help, then do, even if that help means hiring someone to help you get it organized. In the long run, it will pay for itself (probably after the first one or two weeks cooking at home). Once your kitchen is clean and organized, keep it that way. When your kitchen is clean it should only take you about 15-20 minutes to clean up after each meal. For the $40 or more you would have paid plus all of the time you would have spent going out to eat, keeping it clean and organized is time well spent. The evening or day before you go shopping for groceries, clean out the fridge and check your pantry. Remember that once it has been organized, if you do minor cleaning and organizing weekly, it won't take much time. Plan a a leftover night that evening, too. This will help reveal what you have too much or too little of, what you need to use or buy and empty the fridge so you have room for the new groceries. Make a week's worth of menus. Sit down with grocery ads, your recipe file and your favorite cookbook (hopefully that is Dining On A Dime ;-). This is a good time to throw in one or two of those new recipes from magazines that you have wanted to try. If you get stumped or you need help to get you started, flip through your cookbooks or recipe files. You will be surprised how much this will help motivate you. Planning Menus In a notebook, write a weeks worth of menus. You only have to do this for 3 weeks, because at the end of that time you will have 21 menus. You now have almost months worth of menus (since most people will go out at least once a week to eat and have a leftover night once a week this helps to fill in the days for the rest of the month). You can then just use these same menus over and over. Don't restrict yourself by saying that you have to have fried chicken on Monday, roast on Tuesday, etc. Instead, list the menus in categories like elaborate (for the days you have more time) and quick (for those "nothing has gone right today, so what can I fix when I am blurry eyed and have only 5 minutes" days). I usually make about 3-4 menus in each category. Be flexible. If you get to the grocery store and they have some thing unbelievable on sale then adapt your menus accordingly. Plan what you are going to have for dinner the night before or first thing in the morning. Make sure you have all the ingredients on hand and take out anything that needs to be defrosted. Prepare as much as you can the night before or first thing in the morning. Clean carrot sticks and veggies and make Jello, pudding or desserts. Fry hamburger for a recipe or even make a whole casserole so all you have to do is pop it into the oven. It is much easier and less stressful to do as much as possible ahead of time than to try and do it at 5 o'clock -- the busiest time of day (when everyone is tired, fussy and needs your attention). Besides, it is easier to concentrate on fixing 2 or 3 items ahead of time instead of trying to take care of 5 or 6 things all at the last minute. Give yourself a break. You will be saving a great deal by eating at home, so use some convenience foods like bagged lettuce or sliced and buttered French bread. Line your pans with aluminum foil and don't feel guilty about using disposable pans or paper plates. We are funny creatures. We don't feel guilty spending money to go out to eat (where people throw away the trash for you), but feel awful about buying much less expensive disposable pans and paper plates. Go figure. Don't forget the meal is not finished until the kitchen is clean and left ready for the next meal. Jill Cooper raised two teenagers alone on $500 a month income after becoming disabled withChronic Fatigue Syndrome. She is the co-author of Dining On A Dime Cookbook with her daughter Tawra. To read more of Jill's articles and for free tips and recipes visit www.LivingOnADime.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconWhat Do I Do With My Tax Refund? by Jill Cooper www.LivingOnADime.com It's that time of year when all that "free" money starts rolling in. I'm talking about the bonus money, you know -- the fun money (otherwise known as our tax refund)! That is the way so many of us think of a tax refund and five minutes after we spend this year's refund we are already thinking about what we are going to do with next years money. Many of us look at it almost as if we have won the lottery. We are going to do so much with it and it seems to have such amazing powers. I mean a $1000 tax return can buy a car, furniture, big screen TV, or a family vacation all in one fell swoop. There is almost nothing it can't do; no problem it can't solve. It's our mad money, our fun money. Not!!!!!!!!! It you have debt, it is none of the above. It is not mad money. It is an opportunity to move closer to getting out of the debt you have already committed to pay. If you have credit card debt, use your tax return to pay off that debt rather than to buy that big screen TV or the couch you have wanted. Ouch!! Use common sense and wise thinking when it comes to spending that tax return. It is no different than a regular paycheck. In fact, when you look at the fact that you make so much money a year, the tax refund is actually part of the salary that you say you make. It is not a bonus, but because it has been protected from your usual spending habits, it is more income available to pay your debts. Once you pay off those debts, a tax refund can be a great opportunity to start a savings account. We get so many questions from people who are panicking and asking what we do for an emergency fund. Instead of throwing away that tax return money on something that gives you instant pleasure, set aside that tax return for an emergency (keeping in mind that even most "emergencies" are not true emergencies). Once your debts are paid and you have enough savings, then use your refund for fun. We live in a society where we always put the cart before the horse. People used to get married and then have children but now it is common to have children and then get married. We used to carefully save our money and buy what we wanted from our stockpile but now we charge what we want and later try to figure out how to get the money to pay for it. Because of how we think about credit, many of us don't give any serious thought to paying for something until it is worn out and we want to buy the next one. Once the item is worn out, how do most of us feel about still paying for it? "It's not fair that I have to pay for this and I don't even have it anymore..." Avoid the stress later -- Pay off what you owe now and stop buying things on credit. If you are behind on your credit payments or not making the payments at all, use your tax refund as an opportunity to get current. When we buy an item on credit or with our credit card we are saying "If you let me have this product now I promise (vow) to give you money for it later". When we don't pay our credit card bills it is no different than walking into a store, filling a basket with whatever we want and walking out with it. To my knowledge that is still called stealing. (I'll have to check because they change the meaning of words so often to make them more politically correct. I mean who knows, maybe it's not stealing anymore but just "temporarily using it until it is repossessed"). When you literally put the cart before the horse, (kids before marriage, buying and then trying to save money to pay for something, etc.) it will cause extra stress in your life and will make it much harder to get where you are going. So re-think not only how to use your tax refunds more wisely but give the same consideration to any other "extra" money that comes into your life. Once you get a handle on your debt and your spending habits, you will be surprised how far your money will go. Start by making a wise decision about your tax refund. Jill Cooper raised two teenagers alone on $500 a month income after becoming disabled withChronic Fatigue Syndrome. She is the co-author of Dining On A Dime Cookbook with her daughter Tawra. To read more of Jill's articles and for free tips and recipes visit www.LivingOnADime.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconBuying Eggs: Carton Confusion By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers www.FreshBaby.com Egg cartons used to be so simple - an off-white carton printed with the egg size and possibly a farm name. Today, walking past the egg section in the dairy case is quite a different picture - new fangled plastic containers with brightly-colored imagery packed with claims and commentary fill most of the shelves. While the updated packaging is nice to look at, all of the jargon and phrases on this packaging is downright confusing. What does it all mean? In the past few years, the egg industry has come under consumer scrutiny. Most eggs come from hens that are raised in crowded, caged habitats which many people consider inhumane. In addition, more and more consumers are learning that the quality of feed a hen eats has a direct relationship to the nutritional value of the egg it lays. These two concerns have led egg producers to add many labels and phrases on their cartons of eggs. These labels refer to two primary subjects: The humane treatment of the hens The type of feed that hens are fed An Organic label on eggs is the only statement that refers to both subjects: Treatment: Access to outside, walk around inside barns Feed: organic, all-vegetarian diet free of antibiotics and pesticides Certification/Audit: USDA Certified Organic Program Labels related to treatment of the hens: Certified Humane: Walk around inside barns with certification by Humane Farm Animal Care Certification Cage-free: Walk around inside barns. No outside certification or audit system. Free-Range or Free-Roaming: Walk around inside barns and access to outside. No outside certification or audit system. Labels related to the type of feed that hens are fed: Omega-3 Enriched: High Omega-3 ingredients, such as flaxseed, in the hen feed. Vegetarian-Fed: Feed that is free of animal products which reflects a more natural diet for a hen. One final note - Don't be fooled. The claim "natural" simply means not artificial. It implies nothing about the hen treatment or feed - or the quality of the egg inside the carton. Now you know the facts, we hope you will enjoy your eggs in a different way. Eggs for the Family At the market: Always buy eggs from a refrigerated case. Eggs age more in one day at room temperature than in one week in the refrigerator. Brown or white - which is best? There is no difference. The color of an egg does not indicate health benefits, flavor or naturalness. It simply tells us what kind of hen it came from. Hens with white feathers lay white eggs; hens with red feathers lay brown eggs. Storage: Store eggs in their carton on a shelf in the refrigerator. Freeze leftover egg whites: If you make a recipe that calls for egg yolks, don't throw the whites out. You can freeze them. Preparation: Eggs should be cooked - boiled, fried, baked, poached, scrambled, etc. Eating raw egg is not recommended. They can contain salmonella, which can cause illness. When handling raw eggs, it is wise to: Be careful not to splash egg onto other foods, worktops or dishes. Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly after touching eggs or working with them. Clean surfaces, dishes and utensils thoroughly, using warm soapy water, after working with eggs. Here are some quick ideas to add eggs into your family meals: Basic hard boiled eggs: If you can boil water, you can make hard boiled eggs. There is a trick to making the hard boiled eggs so the shells don't stick to the eggs. Here's how: Start with cold water in a pan and add the eggs, make sure that there is enough water to cover the eggs. Place pan over high heat until the water starts to boil. Once water has boiled cover the pan and turn off heat. Let the eggs rest for 15 minutes. Then drain off hot water and fill pan with ice water (chilling the eggs in cold water will also prevent the greenish "ring" from forming on the surface of the yolk). Allow eggs to cool (about 20 minutes). Using a marker or a pencil mark each egg with the date and place them in the refrigerator or simply peel and eat! Snack-time stuffed eggs: 8 hard boiled eggs, peeled. Slice lengthwise, remove yolks and place them in a small mixing bowl. Mash yolks with 1/4 cup mayonnaise and 2 Tbsp. milk. Mix in one of the following flavor combinations: 2 Tbsp. garlic herb cheese and 1 tsp. fresh basil 1 Tbsp. chopped green chile and 3 Tbsp. Colby jack shredded cheese 2 Tbsp. crumbled bacon and 1 tsp. chopped green onion 2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese, 1 Tbsp chopped black olives and 1/4 tsp. fresh rosemary 2 tbsp grated apple and 1 tsp chopped onion Using a teaspoon, fill each white half with filling. Place on a plate and serve. Breakfast burritos: Start your day with a little Tex-Mex punch! A breakfast burrito is made with a flour tortilla, a scrambled egg and a little cha-cha-cha - sprinkle 1 Tbsp of each black beans, shredded jack cheese and salsa over the scrambled eggs. Fold in two sides of the tortilla and roll it up. Ole! A Simple Niccedil;oise Salad: This delicious and simple tuna salad is great for a girlfriend lunch or a light family dinner. On a large platter, spread salad leaves, and top with boiled, sliced red potatoes, lightly steamed green beans, thin-sliced red onion, black olives, chopped hard boiled eggs and canned tuna (pack in water). Dress with Red Wine Vinaigrette. Eggs are not just for breakfast: Serving eggs for dinner is terrifically healthy, affordable, and will likely win applause from the kids! Here are some simple dinner combos with eggs as the main attraction: Scrambled eggs, baked beans and steamed cauliflower Scrambled eggs with refried beans, sliced avocado and salsa Scrambled eggs with baked potatoes, crumbled bacon and steamed green beans Homemade fried rice: This recipe will brighten up your meal. Fried rice goes great with a stir- fry, but it also perfect with grilled meats too. Ingredients: 2 cups cooked brown rice 3 eggs 1 Tbsp. butter 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion 1 cup frozen peas 3 Tbsp. sesame oil 1/4 cup soy sauce 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds 1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro Directions: Make 2 cups of Brown Rice according to package directions, set aside. In a large skillet or wok, melt butter over medium heat. Break eggs into the butter and stir fry until dry and slightly browned. Add onion, peas and oil. Stir fry until moisture is gone, about 3-4 minutes. Add rice, soy sauce and sesame seeds, stir fry until heated through, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, sprinkle with cilantro and serve. Makes 8 1/2 cup servings. About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby. Creators of products that include the So Easy Baby Food Kit and Good Clean Fun Placemats; Fresh Baby offers parents convenient and practical support in raising healthy children. Visit them online at www.FreshBaby.com and subscribe to their Fresh Ideas newsletter to get monthly ideas, tips and activities for developing your family's healthy eating habits! Fresh Baby products are available at many fine specialty stores and national chains including Target, Wild Oats, and Whole Foods Markets. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
Icon7 Ways to Tell If You Are on the Trail to Success By A. B. Jacobs www.onthemoneytrail.com At some point in most people's lives comes a realization that the dreams of youth and more sober aspirations of early adulthood may never come to pass. A childhood fantasy to become a famous movie star, a teenage obsession to excel on the athletic field, or a young worker's aspiration to be a millionaire, are among the hopes that remain a distant vision. But as years pass and illusions fade, each of us must come to terms with the success we achieve-or fail to achieve. Success may be defined in different ways, such as gaining the respect of friends and relatives, attaining proficiency in the arts and sciences, or living a satisfying domestic life. However, in our culture the very word success denotes financial achievement. It is in this context that we shall evaluate whether you're headed in the right direction. You regularly take in more than you spend. As a first step toward success, you must embrace a fundamental concept: income exceeds outgo. This is the most important principal to which you must adhere. It goes without saying that there are times, such as medical emergencies or personal mishap, when unanticipated expenditure is incurred. In these instances you'll vary from our rule of frugality. But, at other times, you will consistently live below your means. Persons who fail to comply may expect a series of misfortunes with no relief. You honor your financial commitments. Persons who promptly fulfill their financial obligations will find all involvement more profitable. Conduct your affairs in this manner and success will court you. You owe no debt. One important factor separating winners from losers is debt. Although mortgage financing to acquire real estate, as well as wisely arranged business loans, can prove beneficial, personal borrowing is normally a mistake. This means that the clothes on your back, the furniture in your home, and the vehicle you drive, are owned without obligation. I'll concede that you may appear prosperous behind the wheel of a newly financed Mercedes Benz, but your actual prosperity is vastly enhanced if your auto is fully paid for, even if you must drive a 1984 Toyota Corolla. And concerning debt, credit card use is particularly insidious. It's my belief that a credit card serves a single purpose: a convenience when neither check nor cash is handy. Most importantly, when the monthly statement arrives, pay the full cash balance due before the date that interest is charged. Follow this rule and success will follow. If you cannot regulate your credit card use in this manner, destroy your cards and fashion your life accordingly. You control the present. As we journey through life, there are three principal objects upon which we may fixate: the past, the present, and the future. All three serve a function. It's important to reflect upon the past, for by evaluating earlier performances we fashion a guide for handling new demands. It's equally vital to keep an eye on the future, as how a course is steered determines its outcome. But it's neither the past nor the future over which we exercise control. It is only the present that affords an opportunity to grapple with events and arrange favorable results. If you regularly conduct your affairs so to resolve situations in ways that satisfy you, you are exhibiting qualities that lead to success. You are a skeptic. In navigating the perilous waters that lead to prosperity, you'll encounter shoals. Avoid them by demonstrating skepticism, defined as the recognition that ninety-five percent of everything is nonsense. Your thoughts then run in the following manner. You find it baffling why anyone buys a lottery ticket. You understand that the variable annuity your neighbor just invested in is a sad mistake. You entertain no illusions that a financial advisor will provide sound counsel merely because of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation held. You're not tempted to invest in something because of a hot tip from a friend or relative. It's beyond your comprehension why anyone not certifiably insane purchases a timeshare property. Such is the mindset of one who is successful. You are able to retire at 50. Admittedly, this is arbitrary, but there is something significant about reaching this particular age. Perhaps it's the undeniable realization that there are fewer years ahead than behind. If the first half of your life is spent working for your assets, is it unreasonable that during the second half your assets work for you? This doesn't mean you must actually retire at this age, and indeed most successful people pursue gainful-and usually enjoyable-endeavors as long as they are able. Nonetheless, the option should be yours. You have a reputation for honesty. It's my firm conviction that a reputation for impeccable honesty is among the most valuable assets you can possess. There are no limits to the doors that open and the opportunities afforded a man or woman whose words and actions can be trusted. Whether you are of truly high moral character, or possess the personal values of an eighteenth century London pickpocket, is not the issue. From a purely pragmatic frame of reference, conduct your affairs in a way that your reliability can never be questioned, even if it goes against the grain. This quality is truly a mark of success. I'd like to share a final thought on the matter of success. Wealth, at least a certain amount of it, is a necessary criterion for success. However, the possession of wealth is not in itself sufficient, and I know persons with net worths of seven and eight figures that are abject failures in every respect. It is the combination of assets, lifestyle, and attitude that engenders success . . . but this is a subject for another time. AL JACOBS has been a professional investor for nearly four decades. His business experience ranges from real estate, mortgage, and securities investment to appraisal, civil engineering, and the operation of a private trust company. In addition to managing his investments on a day-to-day basis, he is a featured financial columnist for both online and print publications. He is the author of Nobody's Fool: A Skeptic's Guide to Prosperity. You may subscribe to his financial Newsletter, "On the Money Trail," at no cost or obligation, by visiting www.onthemoneytrail.com . More >>

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05/07/2010
IconThe Family Dinner: Fast and Simple By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers www.FreshBaby.com Home made foods are healthier than processed, prepared, or restaurant meals. Take-out foods and prepared foods are generally much higher in fat, salt and calories than home cooked foods. We would encourage you or your spouse to make home-cooked dinners at least three times per week If just thought of making dinner exhausts you, here are few tips to ease the burden of getting dinner on the table during your busy week: Set aside time on the weekends to make foods in advance and freeze them. Connect with a friend, double the recipes and split up the meals for both families. Don't schedule your kid's day out so heavily that it intrudes on time to prepare dinner. Instead invite the kids into the kitchen and teach them a few things about cooking - it's life skill that they will certainly thank you for some day! Invest in a slow cooker. This is fabulous machine for busy families. You can prepare your main dish in the morning and come home to a delicious ready-to- eat meal. Buy pre-washed veggies in the produce section of stores. The clean and prep is often the most time consuming part of cooking. Buy "no cook" items like apples, pears, avocadoes, tomatoes. A fruit plate or veggie salad makes a terrific side dish. Keep it simple. There is no need to strive for gourmet everyday. It is often the simpler dishes that have the best flavors too. Share the burden. Team up with a friend and have a family dinner at their house one night and switch to your house on another. For a different twist on the same concept, divide up the menu between families and share the work. Plan your menus and make a grocery list. These two steps require finding spare time, but they will save it in the long run. Buy a few cookbooks with titles like 30 minute meals, slow cooker recipes or 5 ingredients or less. These types of books are geared toward getting meals on the table quickly and easily. Look for books that offer shortcuts, pre-written shipping lists and menu ideas. Make extra for leftovers. It goes without saying; leftovers make great lunches and snacks. If you're making a family favorite, double the recipe and freeze a portion for next week. About the authors: About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby. Creators of products that include the So Easy Baby Food Kit and Good Clean Fun Placemats; Fresh Baby offers parents convenient and practical support in raising healthy children. Visit them online at www.FreshBaby.com and subscribe to their Fresh Ideas newsletter to get monthly ideas, tips and activities for developing your family's healthy eating habits! Fresh Baby products are available at many fine specialty stores and national chains including Target, Wild Oats, and Whole Foods Markets. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconSeven Foolish Mistakes People Make When They Come Into Money By A. B. Jacobs www.onthemoneytrail.com There is something uniquely human about the way many of us mishandle money, particularly when it's received unexpectedly. Whether it's a bequest from a long-forgotten uncle, an unexpected court settlement, or a sweepstakes winning, suddenly coming into a stash of cash can unhinge any of us. Every day the media reports the misery befalling citizens who previously struck it lucky, but then fell on hard times. We chuckle over poor Joe Slidebuck who pocketed a $3.8 million lottery winning just two years ago and is now filing in bankruptcy. We also shed a crocodile tear for Suzy Highstep whose palimony settlement a few years back slipped a cool bundle into her savings account, but whose Jaguar is now being repossessed. Of course, we breathe a collective sigh of relief that the misfortune is not ours, while wondering if we might have fared better under similar circumstances. For various reasons, many persons can't handle a windfall. Let's analyze the mistakes made. 1. An urge to spend. Perhaps the single greatest weakness of mankind-and womankind-is an inability to resist purchasing things. The late English historian C. Northcote Parkinson summed it up in his 1960 masterpiece The Law and the Profits: "Expenditures invariably rise to meet and exceed available income." It's this impulse to spend whatever is available that's the undoing of many otherwise rational individuals. It's not necessarily human nature. Rather, it's a learned reflex that must be unlearned if you hope to remain solvent. If not held in check, spontaneous spending is a recipe for disaster. 2. Voices out of the past. It's amazing how many people you knew that you no longer see-that is until your name appears in the paper as the sole beneficiary in rich old Aunt Emma's will. Within a few days long lost cousin Calvin phones to remind you how much he always admired you, and how his current misfortune can be resolved if you can just see your way clear to assisting him. And don't forget your former classmate Ernie, with whom you stopped exchanging Christmas cards a decade ago. His email extols the close camaraderie you two always shared, adding that the technology IPO his brokerage firm is underwriting is certain to be right up your alley-just like the good old days. If you fail to fend off these moochers and hangers-on, you'll find yourself in deep trouble. 3. Take care with those who are closest. With newfound prosperity, relations with friends and relatives begin to change as you are viewed as something apart. It seems that admiration and envy are opposite sides of the same coin, and you will be the recipient of both emotions. Your advice and assistance will be solicited, and although you may at first welcome the attention as a novelty, you will eventually find it more burdensome than complimentary. The pressures to be placed upon you can become overwhelming. You may soon become convinced that fame and fortune constitute a mixed blessing. If you don't take a step backward, life can become most unpleasant. 4. Loss of Anonymity. Although it may seem that sudden prosperity a cure-all for whatever troubles us, it doesn't work that way. Perhaps the problems of meeting the mortgage and financing the children's schooling may no longer exist, but other problems move in to take their place. You are now a known and recognized commodity in your community and as such, a natural target. You may expect requests for contributions to presumably worthwhile groups. Invitations to attend various functions will be forthcoming. You may even find yourself offered honorary positions or encouraged to become involved in activities for which you have no real interest. The toughest job of all will be to say "no." Unless you learn to diplomatically turn a deaf ear to the entreaties, there'll be no peace. 5. The investment trap. For those without prior investment expertise, coming into money can be an intimidating experience. No one is born with an ability to astutely manage assets. This is a talent that requires knowledge and practice. Perhaps the safest procedure is to refrain from any investment decisions for a full year, while any windfall is parked in non-risk vehicles such as certificates of deposit, government insured savings accounts, and treasury notes. It's during that period of time that you will seek to educate yourself. By selective reading, attendance in legitimate instructional courses, and guidance from those persons you trust, you can hope to gain an understanding of what it means to prudently invest. If you attempt to become involved before you acquire an appreciation of the risks and rewards, you are fair game for the thieves and charlatans who regularly prey upon moneyed novices. 6. Charity is often uncharitable. Not a day goes by that the media fails to interview someone who has come-often blundered-into money. Invariably the declaration is blurted out: "I'm gonna' give leventythousand dollars to the Zilch Foundation 'cause I care about feedin' the leprechauns." Unfortunately, there is not enough money in the world to satisfy the myriad of organizations with outstretched hands. Charitable institutions that are carefully selected and effectively monitored can be an excellent way to share your good fortune in a meaningful way, but simply pouring out dollars in a spastic impulse is no way to accomplish any good. 7. Beware of yourself. I've saved for the last the most potentially insidious mistake of all. A malevolent effect of sudden prosperity can be your relationship with yourself. Despite the personal unpleasantness of impecunity, it imposes no demands on the ego. Affluence is another matter entirely, and the pressures it creates can be formidable. It is fulfilling the mundane requirements needed to meet daily financial obligations that keeps many people in balance. When this necessity is removed, the balance often goes with it. If you then add to that the ability to acquire unneeded possessions, exert unwanted influence on others, and seek unwarranted involvement, the potential for impairment is unlimited. One thing is certain: You must come to terms with yourself or you will surely live to regret it. AL JACOBS has been a professional investor for nearly four decades. His business experience ranges from real estate, mortgage, and securities investment to appraisal, civil engineering, and the operation of a private trust company. In addition to managing his investments on a day-to-day basis, he is a featured financial columnist for both online and print publications. He is the author of Nobody's Fool: A Skeptic's Guide to Prosperity. You may subscribe to his financial Newsletter, "On the Money Trail," at no cost or obligation, by visiting www.onthemoneytrail.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconToday's Family Man "How to Avoid the Kids' Menu" By Gregory Keer Here's a report I could classify as a "No, duh." After almost nine years of living with at least one child, there is now a study to confirm one of the reasons I have steadily gained weight. The recent research, coming out of the University of Iowa, says that adults who live with children consume more fat than those minus kids. That makes sense, especially when you're eating in a restaurant. How often do we give in to ordering the meals that our kids will eat, which are frequently full of satisfying fat? And how many of us have finished that plate of chicken fingers after eating our own meal? Now that all this is confirmed, how do we keep our hands off that unfinished cheeseburger? Here are a few ways to show willpower and shed a couple of pounds: Order Less Simply order less food for yourself, knowing that you will have leftovers from the kiddies. If you get a burger, have them put the fruit on the side instead of the fries. You'll eat your kids' potatoes, but not in addition to the ones you would've eaten off your own plate. Go Low Fat Help teach good eating habits to your kids by ordering less fattening food for them - and for that matter, yourselves (since we're trying to be good role models). Some restaurants now serve grilled chicken strips and offer vegetables instead of the french fries. With that kind of fare on the tempting plate next to you, you'll be finishing off food with less calories.Have Them Take It Away Once your child loses interest in her meal (wait about five minutes since the last bite) and she's had what you think is enough, call the server over and have him take it away. No greasy temptation, no added calories. Don't even bring the food home. Otherwise, if you're like me, you'll be the one eating the cold leftovers at 11 p.m. Stay Away From the Soda It's not just the stuff you chew that packs on the pounds. It's finishing off the soda or blue-raspberry lemonade in that cute cup. Try going with the milk for your children (low- or non-fat) and, if you must sip some of their beverage, at least it'll be nutritious. When In Doubt, Make It Disgusting Your kids will love this one: Dump pepper, salt, or ketchup all over what's left. I mean, smother it (hopefully, this is not enticing to you). It will be fine to play with food and that should make the tempting morsels too disgusting to consider popping in your mouth. Good luck and feel good about each time you refrain from eating the bad stuff. You'll save calories and teach your kids better eating habits along the way. copy; 2007 Gregory Keer. All rights reserved. Gregory Keer is a syndicated columnist, educator, and on-air expert on fatherhood. His Family Manreg; column appears in publications such as L.A. Parent, Boston Parents' Paper, and Bay Area Parent. In addition to writing for Parenting magazine and the Parents' Choice Foundation, Keer publishes the online fatherhood magazine, www.familymanonline.com . He also contributes to USA Today , the Fox News Channel, Pregnancy , DrLaura.com, and ParentingBookmark.com. Keer is a guest expert on television and radio and advisor to the Cartoon Network. He and his wife are the proud parents of three sons. Keer can be reached at www.familymanonline.com . For details on his parent coaching, go to www.familymanonline.com/section.php?section=consulting . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconSave In Your Sleep! By Jill Cooper www.LivingOnADime.com "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28Sleep, Sleep, Sleep... We hear it all the time-- You must get 8 hours of sleep and 8 glasses of water a day. We pay as much attention to that warning as our children do when we tell them for the umpteenth time "Don't play with that or you will get hurt". But after living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 15 plus years, I have learned the hard way how very important sleep is. It is so important that God devoted 8-10 hours each and every day to sleeping and one whole day a week to resting. Think about it. Is there anything else that He gave so much time to? And since He knew we were like silly little children who refuse to take a nap, He put resting in the 10 commandments hoping that that would really get our attention. There were only 10 things that made it on that all important list and resting was one of them. Sleep is as necessary to life as food and water. Each of us needs to realize how much lack of sleep affects our whole life. Are we too tired to clean the house, fix meals, or do the laundry? Are we so tired that when our children come to us for our help with something, we snap at them or when our spouses want some snuggle time, we look at them like they have grown two heads? Lack of sleep affects children even more than adults and yet many of us let them keep the same late hours as the adults. When I was a young mom I was told that children usually whine and cry for one of two reasons: They are tired or hungry. If you keep them well rested, and make sure they get snacks throughout the day, you will eliminate most of their whining and crying. I have found that to be so true. I had an example of that happen just the other day. My three year old grandson is always so good about going down for his nap. He allows himself to be picked up, passed around for kisses and then laid down without a peep. The other day, however, when he was told it was time for his nap he said "NO! I don't want a nap," and fought all the way to bed. This seemed so out of character for him but then it dawned on me: He always takes his nap at 12:00 but this day, he did some running around with his dad and by the time they were done, it was almost 2:30. He was tired, so there was no reasoning with him. He couldn't think rationally because he was tired. What often happens is that the parent gets angry at the child for throwing a fit, but it was really the parent's fault for not allowing the child to get his proper rest. We adults act the same way when we are tired. We become irritable, impatient, discouraged and depressed. No one can reason with us. We start acting just like that tired child and usually don't realize it. Exhaustion also affects us physically. Your doctor will tell you that people tend to catch more viruses when they are tired and our bodies simply don't work at 100 percent. We start seeing the world through a hazy fog and everything becomes a burden. Have I painted a clear enough picture for you? Does that describe the way you feel most of the time (maybe even right now)? Then you need to get serious about your family's sleeping habits. Here are some tips to help you get your family the sleep it needs: If you are a new mom or a mom with sick children, you may have to let some things go for a season. Just accept it and scale back your activities. I discovered this many years ago when I had an 18 month old and a newborn with colic. My oldest would be up 3-4 times each night and my newborn was up most of the night just crying. If I had two hours of sleep, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. On the rare occasions when they would take a nap at the same time, I made the mistake of trying to get really dumb things done, like iron my children's pajamas and tee shirts, instead of taking a nap. Needless to say, it didn't take long for me to become seriously ill with walking pneumonia, which lasted three months. Learn from my mistakes and take a nap when you can, even if it means hiring a babysitter to watch the kids at home while you sleep. If you think you don't have the money to hire a babysitter you might want to think again. Which is cheaper, a babysitter or doctor bills? Keep your meals as simple as possible If all you can manage for a few months is sandwiches, make sandwiches. The same applies to cleaning the house. Do only the necessary cleaning and upkeep. This is not the time for spring cleaning. Even if you have to let the dusting and vacuuming go for a while, the rest will help you more. Give yourself permission to take a nap or, if you have to, make yourself take a nap. You say you don't have the time, but most people can find serious improvement with even 20 minutes' rest to refresh themselves. Find the time. Make your shower 10 minutes shorter or get rid of one of your non essential activities during the day like shopping, volunteer work, killing time on the computer or talking on the phone. If you work, take an alarm with you to work and take a quick nap in your car. Where there's a will there's a way. Find that 20 minutes some place. Make your children take a nap. Up until first grade, on the days my kids weren't in school, they always took a nap. When they were older and for whatever reason stayed up late the night before, I made them at least lie down and rest the next day. No matter how old they are, children need some daily down time. If they were too old for naps, I would send them to their rooms for 30 minutes each day during the summer to read, color or do some quiet activity. This not only helped them rest, but it separated them from their siblings and me. No matter how much you love each other, living in the same house 24/7, you will get on each others nerves if you never get a break. This gives everyone a break. Have a regular bedtime routine. Whether it is bath time, story time, prayer time or just tucking the kids in with hugs and kisses, have a routine. When you are tucking the children in, give yourself an extra 15-20 minutes to talk to them. That is one of the best times of day to find out about things they have on their minds. Why? Because they are relaxed and they will use every stall tactic known to man to keep from going to bed, even if that means talking to mom and dad. Make sure that they have a regular bed time and stick to it. This is very important! Children have their own built in clocks. When you wake them up and put them to bed at different times every day it causes their biological clocks to go haywire. They need to get at least 10 hours of sleep a night. That means putting them to bed at a decent time. Up until they started high school, my children always went to bed at 8:30. That may seem hard to believe but I didn't have near the problem with attitudes, whining, sulking or outright rebellion that a lot of parents had to deal with. I don't know how many moms over the years came to me tearing their hair out saying "I don't know what is wrong with my child but he won't stop whining or throwing tantrums." I knew exactly what the problem was. Mom had taken them to her Bible study the night before and didn't get home until 10:00. She then dragged the child out of bed at 5:30 in the morning to get ready before they left for school and work. The day before that the child got to sleep in until 11:00. You may think that irregular sleeping hours doesn't affect your child but you might be surprised to find that at least 50 percent of whining and fussing would stop if the kids had regular hours. One thing to keep in mind is that when you start putting children to bed at an earlier than usual time, you will have to start slowly. If the children are used to going to bed at 10:30 or 11:00 at night, don't suddenly make them go to bed at 8:30. Start at 10:00 for a few nights then move it up to 9:30 and so on until you reach the bedtime you want. Don't forget to adjust for daylight savings time or if you will be traveling between time zones. A week or so before the change, start putting the kids to bed 15 minutes earlier or later so the can start adjusting to the new time. Adults need regular bedtime routines, too. As much as possible, try to have a set time that you go to bed each night. An hour or two before you go to bed, try to start unwinding. This is the time to talk over your day with your spouse, read a good book, or sip a hot cup of cocoa. It is also a good time to take a warm bath. Not only will it relax you, but it will be one less thing to do in the morning. If you are a new mom you probably don't need to unwind because you will fall asleep the minute you sit down, so just go to bed while you can. Make your room and your children's rooms as comfortable as possible. Make your bed in the morning. A made bed is so much more inviting then a rumpled mess, where you have to clear off loads of junk before you can crawl into it. Keep a low wattage bedside lamp on your night stand to start letting your body know it's getting close to time for bed. Keep your room at a pleasant temperature. Be sure to check the temperature in your children's rooms too. Sometimes when babies and young children have their bedroom doors shut, their rooms can be different temperatures than the rest of the house. This can then cause them to wake up because they are too hot or cold. This can also be the reason if they are having a hard time getting to sleep. Soft music or a fan that helps to drown out background noises are good for children and adults alike. Since we usually write about getting out of debt, you may wonder how being well rested can help save you money? How often do you go out to eat because you are too tired to fix dinner? When something breaks, do you just go buy a new one because you are too tired to fix it? Do you buy more clothes then you really need because you are too tired to keep up with the laundry? Do you just say "yes" all the time to your children when they ask to buy something because you are too tired to fight with them? Trust me the little monkeys are smart. They know when the enemy is tired and weak and that's usually when they attack! So if you want to win the war you need to get some sleep! Jill Cooper is the co-author of Dining On A Dime Cookbook. For more free tips and recipes visit our web site at www.LivingOnADime.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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