Saturday, January 26, 2008
Simmer 30 minutes:
1 cup lentils
2 cups water
1 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced in 2 Tbsp. olive oil
Add with onion and garlic to lentils:
2 - 28oz.cans tomatoes
2 –24oz. cans green diced chilies
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt.
Simmer until lentils are tender. Serve with cornbread (for a complete protein) and salad.
HOMESTYLE HAM AND BEAN SOUP
2 – 15oz. cans great northern beans
2 – 14 ½ oz. cans chicken broth
1 – 16oz. can diced potatoes, drained
1- 16oz. an diced carrots, drained
½ pound ham, diced (OR CANNED)
½ cup chopped onion
¼ cup dried parsley flakes
1 bay leaf
¼- ½ tsp. pepper
In a large kettle or Dutch oven, combine all ingredients. Bring to boil, reduce heat. Simmer covered 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and serve. Makes 6 servings. (Can be frozen up to 6 months)
One package of lentils
Place the package of lentils in a large soup pot and add the appropriate amount of water (1-1/2 cups water to one cup of lentils works best). Peel the potatoes and carrots, and slice to bite size. Add to soup pot. Season to taste. If you have it: Add a ham bone, a bit of leftover beef, bacon bits, bay leaf, or favorite herbs.
WHERE TO START
- Beans and other legumes:
- Bread Crumbs:
- Canned and Dried Fruit:
- Canned Vegetables:
- Canned Soups:
- Cereal and Crackers:
- Honey and Maple Syrup:
- Oils and Vinegars:
- Salad Ingredients:
- Use a grill, hibachi, Dutch oven, or camp stove (this must be done outside and can require special cookware)
- Prepare “heat only” foods like canned soups, stew, chili or “just add water” foods like instant soup and oatmeal on a canned heat stove
- Use prepared raw foods or canned food that do not need heating
- Prepare easy to cook meals on a one burner butane stove.
The butane stove will allow for larger size cookware than the canned heat stove and normal kitchen cookware can be used. The butane stove can be used indoors with GOOD VENTILATION. The gas flame is easier to regulate than canned heat and hotter. These advantages allow the preparation of recipes rather than just heating up canned foods.
If you are lucky enough to have a gas range, you can cook on the range top (as long as nothing has happened to the natural gas lines) even without power.
6-hour cans with chaffing dish
At a recent Cooking without Power Class, I saw this method utilized. The instructor used 6 cans to start cooking her split peas soup. When boiling, she placed the lids on the cans and covered 3 leaving the rest to let it simmer. You can get these cans at Sam’s Club for 12/about $13.00.
Propane has indefinite shelf life and you can legally store 5 canisters. Don’t store them in your home; it may negate your homeowners policy.
Use outdoors and store in an airtight container because it absorbs moisture out of the air.
Source: Simply Prepared by Cheryl Driggs
Arrange all or some on a serving platter:
Thin sliced salami or summer sausage
Marinated artichoke hearts
Baby Corn cobs
Mix together equal parts red wine vinegar and olive oil. Add salt, pepper and dried sweet basil to taste. Drizzle over platter. Serve with crackers or bread.
DEVILED HAM STUFFED PEACHES
1 can (4 ½ oz.) deviled ham
½ Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 can (29oz.) peach halves, well drained.
Mix together deviled ham and mustard. Spoon the mixture into the cavity of each peach half. Serve with soup or toast for lunch or supper.
TUNA WHITE BEAN SALAD
2 cans Albacore tuna, drained
6 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 jar (4 oz.) diced pimiento (opt.)
1 tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. sweet basil
Place tuna in a bowl and break into bite size pieces. Add beans and pimientos, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together oil, vinegar, onion powder and basil. Pour over mixture and let set out for ½ hour for flavors to blend.
Source: Pantry Cooking by Cheryl Driggs
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
A few years ago, my niece and her husband went for a mountain drive on a winter's day. Their car broke down on a remote snow-covered road, and it was two days until they were found. Under this scenario, the ordinary things they found in their car became things of extraordinary value.
Sometimes it's the everyday things that save lives or help us avoid tragedy during a crisis. Whether stranded in the snow, by a heat wave, power outage, hurricane, or by the simple cancellation of our return flight from abroad — we need to take a new look at the items we commonly have in our possession for their possible value in our emergency.
As an example, let's talk about some items we could use if we were stuck like my niece on a cold winter's day. The first thing to do is to assess the items you have in your possession that will help in your battle to survive. Search the trunk, your purse, luggage, pockets, under the hood, storage compartments and even the parts of the car itself, for things that will help.
Let's begin by emptying pockets, purses, backpacks, briefcases. Have we got a cell phone that works? Do we know our true location? Have we got a map? Can we see a populated area from where we are? Is there any traffic in the area that can be seen or heard? If we can answer “Yes” to any of these questions, help may be not far away. If “No” to all these questions, then you may need to prepare for a long wait.
Great for writing a message on the window of a car if you are leaving the car. However, leaving the car is not a good idea unless you know exactly where you are going and are sure of the walking distance, or the car is in danger because of a gas leak. Because of the wax and oils in lipstick, it is also good to help start a fire. Just rub some on a flammable material, and light.
Often used as a lip balm, and can be used to start a fire. Rub on another flammable material and light it with a match or the car's cigarette lighter. It can also be rubbed on the door gaskets to help stop drafts.
A great signaling device. Not only your makeup mirror but also the rear-view or side mirrors on your car. Rip one off and use it to signal when you hear aircraft (obviously, you need direct sunlight in this situation). If you are leaving your car, take a mirror with you.
Hard Candy, Gum and Mints
These should be grouped together and used sparingly, especially if you have no other food. All of these will help to keep you feeling hydrated as they encourage production of saliva. I read a few years ago about an elderly woman whose car went off an embankment and was unnoticed for several days. She stayed hydrated by sucking on a button. Gum can also be chewed and use to attach a Mylar blanket to the top of the car as a signal, or to the inside of a door to cut down drafts.
Keys can be used to pry bark from a tree to start a fire, cut the upholstery on your car seats if you don't have a knife (see below), and to carve a mark on a tree to mark your path as a guide to return to your car. Everyone in our family carries a small Swiss knife on our key chains. Just remember to remove the knife before you fly, or TSA will confiscate it.
Checks, store receipts, gas station receipts and all the other miscellaneous papers we carry around are great to crumple up to start a fire. Make sure you apply the lipstick or petroleum jelly to crumpled paper and it will burn longer, giving you time to add other kindling to get a real fire going. See the Boy Scout Handbook for more fire starting ideas.
These are a great item to add to that small fire you have started. Remember adding the lipstick and petroleum jelly will increase the time they will burn. Feminine pads can be burned, but are also valuable first aid compresses for an injury.
Other Fire Starters
If you happen to have these items, they are also great to help start a fire: cotton balls, cotton swabs, paper towels, newspapers, cardboard.
Pencils, Rulers, Wooden Toys, and Everything Wooden
These make great kindling once you have a small fire started. Search outside the vehicle too for dry wood scraps and any flammable material that can be used to build a fire.
Hair Spray and Perfume
Both of these products contain alcohol and will aid in fueling a small fire.
Do you remember as a kid starting a leaf on fire with a magnifying glass? Prescription eye glasses will accomplish the same thing.
These make great ice scrapers. Be sure to wear gloves or a plastic bag on your hands to minimize getting wet.
If you are caught without a hat, find something else to wear on your head. Even your purse — really. Forty to fifty percent of your body heat is lost through your uncovered head. Keep it covered in cold weather survival situations. If you are in your car and your feet are cold, slip them into your purse or tote bag. It will help to contain and maintain the temperature, and after a few minutes the temperature inside the bag will increase. You may feel silly but you will stay warmer.
This can be a great “game” if you have kids with you — who can look the silliest. If you have a very brightly colored purse and no other materials to do the job, hang your purse on the radio antenna or door handle or place in the rear window. Bright colors can be seen for long distances by rescuers. Backpacks also work great!
Now for the car ...
Floor mats are great insulators. You can wear a floor mat under your clothing for added warmth. Prop it against the bottom of a door to help eliminate drafts. Put it under you if you need to change a tire. Remember, we want to avoid getting wet at all costs to survive a winter emergency. You can also use a floor mat under your tires to create traction, if being stuck is the cause of your problem.
A “hub cap,” or wheel cover as they are called now, can be an important tool. Use it as a shovel to make a path for a car that is stuck, clear the snow from behind the exhaust pipe, or to build a snow cave. Use it as a fire ring to hold a small fire. Wash it out well with some snow and use it to melt snow to drink. If your engine runs, you will want to run your car for ten minutes every hour to warm up the car. Fill a hub cap with snow and place on the engine as you run your car. It will melt and heat the snow. Be careful when removing it as it will be hot. Remember you have four of these!
These are great for use as a signaling device but also as a scraper to remove the snow from your car. Removing the snow from your car will make it more visible to rescuers, even if you have a white car. Remove the snow regularly, because the car will reflect search lights and snow on the car may look like just more snow.
CDs and DVDs
Take them out of the players and use them to signal, like a mirror. They also make great reflectors if you are pulled to the side of the road and want to be seen by oncoming traffic.
Upholstery foam can be used as an insulator. Use your knife or key to cut a hole in the seat and remove what is needed.
Oil, Antifreeze and Gasoline
If you have engine oil in the trunk, be prepared to help search aircraft find you. Place some oil in one of your hub caps. Use a small amount of gasoline and ignite. The smoke will be seen for miles.
To remove gasoline from your tank, tie a rag to a coat hanger or dip stick and carefully lower into the gas tank. Even the small amount of gasoline on the sides of the pipe will be enough to ignite and help start a fire. Naturally, you will want to use all these materials away from your car.
The coolant in your radiator cannot, repeat, CANNOT, be used for drinking. Antifreeze will kill you! Antifreeze is ethylene glycol. If you have a jug of 100% antifreeze, it can be a fuel for a signal fire; it has a much higher flash point than gasoline, and a much lower flash point (minimum ignition temperature) than engine oil.
Don't forget your best signaling device. The universal signal for help is a long blast either from a whistle, horn or as a last resort, your voice. Sound it long, follow by a short pause and then another long blast, and then a third.
Newspapers and Magazines
These are not only great for fuel, but also for insulation. When my children were young I was asked to train as a counselor for girls' camp. At the time this involved a two-day hike and night in the great outdoors. Boy, did we pick the wrong week. As we got our little two-man tents up, down came the rain and up came the wind — and then there was lightning and thunder. It was a really frightening night.
As we lay awake in our tent watching it sway, we got little sleep. When we ventured out in the morning, we discovered some of the women had taken refuge in a car. They froze — while we were nice and warm. The difference? We were on the ground, and they were in a car with the cold winds blowing not only around them but also under them.
I learned the lesson. When you are in a car, you need to keep in as much heat as possible and prevent cold air from coming in. That means insulating the floor. Newspapers and magazines are a great insulator. Layer them on the floor and then cover with any extra clothing, rags or blankets. Search out all the empty backpacks, clothing, or paper grocery bags you may have in the car.
Most of us have an umbrella in the trunk. If not, get one. If you are stranded in your car, it is important to keep a window open slightly, especially when the engine is running. This window should always be one that is downwind. This may not always be possible because during a storm the winds may be blowing. If this is the case, open the window slightly, slip the handle of the umbrella out the window, and open the umbrella. Pull the umbrella tightly against the car and close the window. The small space that remains will support the umbrella and will also provide air circulation. The umbrella will prevent cold gusts and snow from being blown into the car while allowing air to circulate, thus preventing carbon monoxide poisoning. Try to choose a window that is upwind from the path of the exhaust when the engine is running.
Umbrellas can also be used to shield a fire from wind gusts until it can become established.
When building a snow cave or other shelter, an umbrella can be used to “seal” the doorway. In the case of a leaky roof in your snow cave, an umbrella opened inside may protect you from getting wet. Again, don't leave the shelter of your car if it is possible to stay safely there. If you do leave, leave a message on the car with your location or direction of travel. But generally, do as Scouts do. They are taught to hug a tree if they become lost. The same wisdom applies here — stay in your car or you may not be found by your rescuers.
What's in the luggage? If you have been headed out on vacation, you will have luggage in the trunk. Carefully plan what you will need to retrieve from that luggage so you only have to leave the vehicle once to fetch it.
Hard-sided luggage can be used to provide shelter or a windbreak. Soft-sided luggage can be placed on the floor to provide insulation.
Food and Drink
Food and drinks should all be brought into the passenger space because they will be valuable and needed. In the trunk, drinks may freeze.
Clothing should be a top priority, but only the right clothing. Any sweater, long-sleeve shirt, long pants, coats, scarves and mittens are absolute necessities. Remember you will remain warmer in loose fitting layers because the air trapped between layers will warm up and thus keep you warmer.
In addition to these items, be sure to get all the socks. If your socks become wet, they should be changed immediately. Socks should also be layered for warmth and they make great mittens. You may feel you won't need all that clothing and couldn't possibly wear it all, but it can be used as a blanket, pillow, or to place on the floor over the newspaper you have put down to provide more insulation from drafts. Try rolling some clothing and placing it at the base of the windshield and rear window to cut down drafts.
My niece and her husband were found safe and in time. It was a humbling experience for the whole family, but a close call.
The first step if stranded in snow on a lonely road is to assess what things are available, then to plan for ways to protect ourselves and family from the elements, provide something to drink and eat if possible, clothe ourselves to stay dry and warm, maintain clean air to breathe, find a way to signal our location to searchers, and never to go anywhere without leaving a message for rescuers with details of our plan. Better yet, stay put until help arrives.
Hopefully, we are working to be prepared for emergencies. Prepared in our homes, prepared in our cars, prepared at work, and while traveling by air. But there are lots of exceptions when all our best plans and intentions are out of reach, or when we may have trusted our safety to others. In such situations, we have to look around us at what is available, and apply those things to solving our situation.
Remember the adventure series “MacGyver”? There was no situation he could not resolve with the ordinary stuff at hand.
For more ideas on this topic, see our Meridian article “Surviving the Hazards of Winter Travel” and “Survival in your Pocket” at blog.totallyready.com. It's time to get ready for whatever comes!
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Spending less money than you make is essential to your financial security. Avoid debt, with the exception of buying a modest home or paying for education or other vital needs. If you are in debt, pay it off as quickly as possible. Some useful tools in becoming debt free are a debt-elimination calendar and a family budget worksheet.
Distinguish between Needs and Wants
We must learn to distinguish between wants and needs. We should be modest in our wants. It takes self-discipline to avoid the “buy now, pay later” philosophy and to adopt the “save now and buy later” practice.
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin taught: “All too often a family's spending is governed more by their yearning than by their earning. They somehow believe that their life will be better if they surround themselves with an abundance of things. All too often all they are left with is avoidable anxiety and distress” ("Earthly Debts, Heavenly Debts," Ensign, May 2004, 42).
Getting and Staying out of Debt
We should avoid debt. There is nothing that will cause greater tensions in life than grinding debt, which will make the debtor a slave to creditors. A specific goal, careful planning, and determined self-discipline are required to accomplish this.
President N. Eldon Tanner taught: "Those who structure their standard of living to allow a little surplus, control their circumstances. Those who spend a little more than they earn are controlled by their circumstances. They are in bondage” ("Constancy Amid Change," Ensign, Nov. 1979, 81).
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Week 1: 6 lbs. salt
Week 2: 5 cans cream of chicken soup
Week 3: 20 lbs. of sugar
Week 4: 8 cans tomato soup
Week 5: 50 lbs. wheat
Week 6: 6 lbs. macaroni
Week 7: 20 lbs. sugar
Week 8: 8 cans tuna
Week 9: 6 lbs. yeast
Week 10: 50 lbs. wheat
Week 11: 8 cans tomato soup
Week 12: 20 lbs. sugar
Week 13: 10 lbs. powdered milk
Week 14: 7 boxes macaroni and cheese
Week 15: 50 lbs. wheat
Week 16: 5 cans cream of chicken soup
Week 17: 1 bottle 500 multi-vitamins
Week 18: 10 lbs. powdered milk
Week 19: 5 cans cream of mushroom soup
Week 20: 50 lbs. wheat
Week 21: 8 cans tomato soup
Week 22: 20 lbs. sugar
Week 23: 8 cans tuna
Week 24: 6 lbs. shortening
Week 25: 50 lbs. wheat
Week 26: 5 lbs. honey
Week 27: 10 lbs. powdered milk
Week 28: 20 lbs. sugar
Week 29: 5 lbs. peanut butter
Week 30: 50 lbs. wheat
Week 31: 7 boxes macaroni and cheese
Week 32: 10 lbs. powdered milk
Week 33: 1 bottle 500 aspirin
Week 34: 5 cans cream of chicken soup
Week 35: 50 lbs. wheat
Week 36: 7 boxes macaroni and cheese
Week 37: 6 lbs. salt
Week 38: 20 lbs. sugar
Week 39: 8 cans tomato soup
Week 40: 50 lbs. wheat
Week 41: 5 cans cream of chicken soup
Week 42: 20 lbs. sugar
Week 43: 1 bottle 500 multi-vitamins
Week 44: 8 cans tuna
Week 45: 50 lbs. wheat
Week 46: 6 lbs. macaroni
Week 47: 20 lbs. sugar
Week 48: 5 cans cream of mushroom soup
Week 49: 5 lbs. honey
Week 50: 20 lbs. sugar
Week 51: 8 cans tomato soup
Week 52: 50 lbs. wheat.
Some weeks you will have leftover change. Save the change each week in a kitty to be used for the weeks you may exceed $5.00 (like wheat or milk.)
You will end up with:
500 lbs. wheat
180 lbs. sugar
40 lbs. powdered milk
12 lbs. salt
10 lbs. honey
5 lbs. peanut butter
45 cans tomato soup
15 cans cream of mushroom soup
15 cans cream of chicken soup
24 cans tuna
21 boxes macaroni and cheese
6 lbs. yeast
6 lbs. shortening
12 lbs. macaroni
This should be enough to sustain two people for a year. For every two people in your family, add $5.00 more and double or triple the amount of the item you are buying that week.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Don't panic. Take a deep breath. You'll get through this, though it might appear pretty gloomy at the moment. In fact, losing a job may actually turn out to be an opportunity to land a better job or a new career.
Don't make any hasty financial decisions. In times of such stress, it's easy to make hasty financial decisions that turn out poorly. So, in the immediate wake of your job loss, don't cash in your retirement plan, sell off long-term investments or move until you've worked out a realistic plan for dealing with your reduced income.
Put a plan into place
Start looking for work immediately. Many newly unemployed assume they'll find a job quickly and decide to take a little vacation before initiating their job search. As appealing as it sounds, this is probably a bad idea. You may be misjudging the job market and your ability to secure a comparable position, especially when unemployment is high and the economy is struggling to recover from a downturn. If that is not enough to convince you consider pounding the pavement instead of hitting the beach, experts warn that potential employers may not be impressed with a six-month gap in your employment history. Additionally, while you're soaking up the sun, you're draining precious financial resources, such as an emergency fund or severance pay, which you could put to better use.
Reassess your career. A job loss may be a good opportunity to reassess your career. However, before launching into a new career during a time of unemployment, answer honestly the following questions.
- Is it realistic to make a change? It can be costly to abandon a career in which you have years of experience in order to tackle a career for which you may have little or no experience.
- Are you qualified for this new career?
- Are your job skills and education up-to-date?
- Can you afford to invest the time and money to upgrade or learn new skills?
- Do you have the money to live on while you make the transition? For example, some financial planners having at least two year's worth of living expenses available if you plan to start your own business or consulting firm, that's not including any investment needed to start the business.
Where to look for work. Now is no time to be shy or embarrassed about your job loss. Announce it to everyone you know: friends, colleagues, family, old high school chums. Network with people in your field. Join or make use of trade association membership to circulate your resume and learn about jobs. Other job sources include the newspaper want ads, online sites, professional job search services, government employment agencies, job fairs, and job-hunting services offered by your former employer. Your former employer may even have openings in other departments or divisions.
Financial Steps to take while looking for work
Promptly file for unemployment insurance. Not all workers are entitled to unemployment insurance. To help qualify, you'll want your employer to confirm that you were laid off instead of resigning or being fired for cause.
Handle severance package with care. Your employer may offer a severance package, probably before you are dismissed. This package typically extends salary and perhaps benefits for a certain dollar amount or period of time.
- Don't sign on the dotted line until you take it home and review it closely. Consult your Certified Financial Planner or perhaps a benefits attorney about issues you don't understand. Keep in mind, this is a legally binding contract.
- Review your employee handbook. See what benefits are promised to departing employees. Make sure the company pays you for unused vacation or compensation time, and perhaps a pro-rated year-end bonus, especially if you're near the end of the calendar or fiscal year. Learn what fellow laid-off employees have been offered.
- Negotiate the severance package. You may have more leverage than you realize. Did you recently move across the country to take the job? Did you make the company money because of your special skills or a particular project you headed? Put forward anything that individualizes your situation. Talk with the person who extends the package, or go to their superior if you remain dissatisfied with the response. Some workers even hire an attorney. However, be careful not to say anything you'll regret. Burning bridges will hurt any possibilities of being rehired and lessen your bargaining power for a severance package or a strong letter of recommendation.
Negotiating Points. For example, if the company offers two weeks of severance for each year worked, ask for three weeks or a month for each year you worked.
You may need to choose whether to collect the severance pay over time or in a lump sum. Taking it over time may extend valuable employee benefits such as health care coverage and retirement plan funding that might otherwise end immediately. Spreading out the payments also could keep you from jumping into a higher tax bracket for the year.
On the other hand, taking the pay in a lump sum avoids the risk that the company might go bankrupt and not be able to make extended payments. You also might want the lump sum if you plan to put the money into finding another job or launching your own business.
Negotiate continuation of company--paid health benefits when possible.
Typically, if you leave before vesting your pension benefits or stock options, you lose the benefits. However, if you're close to vesting, you might persuade the company to keep you on the payroll until then, even if it means losing some pay from your severance package.
If federal stock option or pension rules forbid your request, ask for a cash settlement in lieu of the outright benefits.
Bargain for years of work credit that will make you eligible for early or full retirement benefits.
Vested stock options might need to exercised within a certain time, such as 90 days, or you lose them. You may be able to negotiate an extension. However, review carefully with your financial adviser whether it's wise to delay the exercise and sale of stock options, particularly if the company is in financial difficulties.
Negotiate for the best references you can get, not merely a verification of your employment dates and salary. This may be more important than anything else, because your future work may hinge on good references.
Bargain for outplacement services--anything from counseling to an office and a phone for job hunting. However, it may be more valuable to ask for cash in lieu of the service and target that cash for outside professional services and your own job hunting.
Review any non-compete clauses with an attorney before signing anything.
Maintain health insurance. Incurring major medical bills without insurance would be financially disastrous. Consider these options:
- See if your former employer will continue coverage for you.
- Convert benefits under the employer's group plan to coverage under an individual policy.
- Switch to a working spouse's plan.
- Obtain regular private coverage.
- Continue employer group coverage through COBRA--a federal program that may allow you to continue group-plan coverage for up to 18 months and in some situations as long as 36 months. However, you must pay the full premiums, and often a small administrative fee. You may find it less expensive to but a short term health plan or high-deductible catastrophic policy on your own.
Continue life and disability insurance. You may be able to convert a group term life insurance or disability policy at work to individual coverage. You'll have to pay the premiums but it's important to continue these types of insurance. Conversion is especially useful for disability, because you won't be able to get it on your own without a job.
Develop an emergency spending plan. Establish a spending plan or revise an existing plan.
Start with sources of income. What can you realistically count on for the coming months? Sources might include severance pay, unemployment benefits (which are taxable), funds from a cash emergency account, a working spouse's income, or perhaps temporary work.
Consider taking early Social Security benefits if you are 62 or older. However, first visit a financial planner to determine if this is the best financial move, given your individual situation.
Do you have mortgage unemployment insurance that might cover house payments for the next six months, or credit card insurance that will make payments while you're laid off?
Can you rent out a room in your home or take in a roommate? Or more drastically, move in with relatives or a friend and rent out your home or sublet your apartment, if the lease allows that.
Avoid dipping into your retirement funds. A job loss is usually temporary, while your eventual retirement may last 20 or even 30 years. Pulling out tax-deferred funds to pay for today's bills is shortsighted for several reasons unless you've exhausted all reasonable alternatives. First, you're losing the opportunity to earn tax-deferred money on withdrawn funds. Furthermore, you probably won't end up with as much cash as you might think because you'll need to pay income taxes on the withdrawal, and possibly a ten percent penalty tax if you're younger than 59 1/2. Taxpayers in higher tax brackets could lose as much as four to five dollars on taxes and penalties out of every ten dollars withdrawn.
List expenses. List expenses in order of priority: mortgage or rent, groceries, utilities, car payments, transportation, insurance premiums, clothing and so on, down to the least important discretionary items. Don't forget to include expenses such as resume preparation, job hunting transportation., education or retraining, and so on. On the other hand, you may be able to temporarily reduce some expenses such as childcare and transportation because you're home.
Subtract expenses from your income. If you still need to cut more to balance expenses with income, consider such strategies as deferring any major purchases you were planning, refinancing your mortgage, shopping for less expensive insurance premiums, reducing eating out, swapping child care services with friends, and talking to creditors about delaying or stretching out payments.
Reduce or stop contributions to retirement plans temporarily, if absolutely necessary, but do not withdraw funds already in your retirement accounts.
Talk to your family. Tell any children or other family members who depend on you financially how the job loss will affect family spending. Ask them for budgeting suggestions. This can help ease anxiety they may have, especially if you have to make a major change such as moving.
Consider government or private assistance. After reducing expenses, you may find that you still don't have enough financial resources for subsistence. You may qualify for help from government or private agencies to tide you over until you find sufficient work.
Make retirement plan decisions. Losing a job will likely force you to make some crucial decisions regarding any retirement account you had at your former employer, such as a 401(k) plan, 403(b) or other qualified plan.
Typically, you will have three choices: cash out, roll the funds over into a new employer's account or into an individual retirement account (IRA), or leave it in your former employer's plan. Check the options with your employer. For example, some plans don't allow participants to leave funds in the plan once employment is terminated. Which action should you take?
- Cash out: You may need to cash out some or all of our funds to help pay for living expenses during this difficult time. But as noted earlier, taxes and penalties could reduce much of that withdrawal, and you're draining your future nest egg. Another drawback is that you will likely have to pay back, say within 90 days, any outstanding plan loans. If you can't pay it back, you may face income taxes and possibly penalties on the outstanding balance.
- Roll-it-over: If you can't stay in the existing plan, consider rolling the assets into an IRA to prevent taxation and allow continued tax-deferred earning. You can later roll the assets into a new employer's plan if so desired. Rolling over into an IRA will likely force prompt payback of plan loans. You may also want to roll over if you have any doubts about the financial stability of your former employer.
- Stay in the plan. You won't be able to contribute to the plan any long, but you won't face any income taxes or penalties on withdrawals. Second, you may not need to immediately pay off any outstanding loans, though most companies will probably still require it. Third, plan assets are protected from creditors under federal law, while not all states fully protect IRA assets from creditors.
Avoid short-term investment decisions. In tough times, the temptation is to become more conservative with investments. Some movement into more liquid assets and cash may be called for. This certainly isn't the time to take fliers on some hot stock in the hopes of generating a quick profit to help make up for lost income.
However, investing should be for the long term, while your unemployment, hopefully, will be only short term. Consequently, try to avoid selling stock in a panic. Often this results in selling during a down market at a loss, and perhaps incurring taxes on capital gains that you can't afford to pay or that eat away at spendable cash. An exception to selling might be your former employer's stock if you are concerned about the company suffering financial reversals or even bankruptcy.
When debt becomes a burden. You may find debts accumulating faster than you can pay them off, particularly if you are out of work for an extended time. Here are some steps to help alleviate that burden:
- Try to further reduce expenses.
- Don't accumulate any additional debt if possible. Minimize or avoid using credit cards.
- Contact creditors to see if you can reduce or defer payments briefly, extend the payment period, or refinance.
- Sell collateral such as a car or boat to pay off the loan (be sure selling it pays off the debt).
- Consolidate debts--carefully. Don't transfer lower-interest debt to a higher-interest consolidation loan. Be sure your consolidated payments are smaller than the total of all your payments over the same time period.
- Consider tapping the equity in your home to pay of credit cards and cars, since the rates may be lower and the interest paid is usually deductible. However, you are putting your home at risk if you can't pay back the loan.
- Work with a credit counseling service. They may be able to work with your creditors if you can't.
- Avoid filing for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy should be viewed as a last resort. Beyond the emotional issues of filing, it will stain your credit for years to come. Exhaust all other alternatives first.
See a financial planner. A qualified financial planner such as a CFP professional, can help you assess your unemployment situation, suggest strategies for conserving your financial resources, and perhaps most importantly, help you avoid costly mistakes that could harm your personal finances and your ability to find a good job.
Source: The Financial Planning Association, "How to Survive Financially after a Job Loss," 2004. www.fpanet.org/public
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
2 C Sugar
1/2 C Butter
1/2 C Milk
1 1/3 C Whole Wheat Flour
6 Tbsp Cocoa
2 Tbsp Oil
1 C Chopped Nuts
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Almond Flavoring
1/4 tsp Salt
Mix sugar, butter, eggs, add chocolate; add flour and salt alternately with milk, stir in nuts and flavoring. Pour into 9 x 13 greased pan, bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
Lee's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 Sticks Butter
1 1/4 C Sucanot
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 C Oats
1 tsp Baking soda
2 C Chocolate Chips
1 C Chopped Walnuts
Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter with sucanot until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in rest of ingredients (except chips and nuts), mix well. Add chips and nuts. Drop by tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes.
Whole Wheat Pancakes
1/2 C Milk
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 C Whole Wheat Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
2 Tbsp Sucanot or pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
Add enough milk to make batter about as thick as heavy cream. Use 1/4 measuring cup to dip batter. Cook on medium hot griddle or pan.
Combine 2 C Wheat and 4 C Water. Simmer one hour. Turn off heat and let cook until water is absorbed or wheat is soft.
Using an 8 quart heavy pan on medium heat, cook :
1 Tbsp Vegetable oil
1 Large onion
1 Carrot, grated
3 Cloves Garlic
1 Medium green pepper, chopped
Cook covered for 10 minutes.
1/2 C Dried lentils
2 tsp chili powder (or more)
1 Bay leaf
1/8 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 or 2 large cans tomatoes with juice
1/2 C cooked and drained chick peas
1/2 C cooked and drained black peas
1/2 c cooked and drained pinto beans
Cover and simmer 30 minutes--until lentils are done.
Whole Wheat Bread (machine)
1 1/2 C Water
2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 C Honey
4 C Whole Wheat
2/3 C Oatmeal
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Powdered Milk
3 Tbsp Gluten
2 1/4 tsp yeast
- Am I fit enough to walk out of here (10 - 20 miles or more) if I have to in order to survive?
- Could I carry a pack that far?
- Could I carry my child?
- Could I dig myself or others out of a mudslide?
- Am I strong enough to construct an emergency shelter, haul wood to a fire for heat and heft heavy kettles onto that fire?
- Can I lift sandbags?
If not, you need to begin a fitness program. The benefits are not only that you will be prepared for emergencies, but include enhanced health in mind, body and soul. There is also a financial benefit in that health care costs will be reduced.
WHAT IS PHYSICAL FITNESS?
Definitions and performance standards of physical fitness vary. However, most experts agree that the five basic components aer:
- Cardio-respiratory or Aerobic Endurance: The ability to do moderately strenuous activity over a period of time. It reflects how well your heart and lungs work together to supply oxygen to your body during exertion and exercise. Also called aerobic fitness.
- Muscular Endurance: The ability to hold a particular position for a sustained period of time, or repeat a movement many times. This could be the capability to required to hold a two pound weight above your head for five minutes or the effort to lift that weight 20 consecutive times. Muscular endurance is required to maintain balance.
- Muscular Strength: The ability to exert maximum force, such as lifting the heaviest weight you can budge, one time. It is possible to have muscular strength in one area (i.e. arms) while lacking strength in another area (i.e. legs.)
- Flexibility: The ability to move a joint through its full range of motion; the elasticity of the muscle. This is how limber or supple you are.
- Body Composition: Relates to the proportion of fat in your body compared to your bone and muscle. It does not refer to your weight in pounds or your figure.
Sleep is a major component of fitness. When we don't enough sleep, it makes us more vulnerable to illness, accidents, irritability, conflict, and depression. We have less energy and even think less clearly when we constantly get less sleep than we need. Making up for this by sleeping in or napping over the weekend only partially solves the problem.
Try setting up a trade system with yourself to get the sleep you need. Make a list of everything you do from the time you leave work until you go to bed and turn out the light. Make the same list for morning--from the time you wake until you close the car door to go to work. Do this for two weeks. By then, you know what you are doing and can shift some of that time to sleep time. The first week, eliminate one or two activities from your night list. Trade them for time at night by moving them until tomorrow or the weekend or eliminating them. By excluding one or two activities, you may gain 15 to 30 minutes more sleep.
STARTING AN EXERCISE PROGRAM FOR HEALTH AND FITNESS
The time to begin exercising is now. However, you should always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. As long as your doctor agrees, you are never too old to start an exercise program. The fitness program should include weight training and aerobic exercise.
- Work muscles with weights for a total body workout at least twice a week. This should be combined with 40 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least 4 times per week.
- Cardiovascular exercise should include five minutes each of warm up and cool down plus thirty minutes of exercise at your correct aerobic heart rate. After three months, you should see a difference in the way your clothes fit. You should feel it in our motivation, energy level and metabolism.
- Dense muscle fiber burns calories which will help you lose weight in the long run. In the short run, however, muscle weighs more than fat so you may gain weight at first, therefore, only weight once a month. Rather, use the way your clothes fit plus your mirror as indicators of how many inches you are losing.
WALKING IS A LIFETIME EXERCISE
Walking is a good exercise for people of any age, fitness level, body build, energy level, etc. In about two weeks of regular walks, blood pressure begins to drop. With another week or two, unless you increase fat intake, cholesterol counts are lower. With each month of walking, your heart and lungs become stronger and more efficient. Your resting pulse rate decreases, too, a sign of better health. Even your bones will become stronger. If you keep walking and don't change your diet, you will lose a pound or two per month. Reduce your calorie intake slightly and lose even more. This is because you burn calories when you walk. The faster you walk, the more calories you burn in a set time period. Your metabolism stays slightly higher for a few hours after you exercise, burning even more calories; and your lean muscle mass increases and burns even more calories. You have a good chance of maintaining weight loss if you continue your walks. 90% of people who walked regularly kept off lost weight, while only 34% of non-walkers maintained their weight loss.
Walking offers the following benefits:
- Cardiovascular benefits
- Disease Prevention (heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and hypertension)
- Psychological benefits (reduced depression, anxiety and tension
- Increased energy
- Toned muscles
- Youthful appearance and energy levels
A good walking program includes setting goals, making a commitment to follow the program and measurable results. Researchers found walking with hand-held weights especially beneficial.
When walking, one should begin slowly, pick up the pace gradually until there is a feeling of exertion during the walk and result in a feeling of pleasant fatigue at the end. Walks should be at least 30 minutes, 4 to 5 times weekly at 60-80% of one's maximum heart rate. As always, check with your doctor before you start your walking routine.
SWIMMING AND WATER WORKOUTS BUILD FITNESS
Water is cool and relaxing, supports the body, adds natural resistance that helps tone and strengthens the muscles of the body, and will help heal any muscle strains.
- You do not need to be able to swim to benefit from water exercises. You don't need to have your face in the water. any sustained stroke (including dog paddle) for swimming back and forth across the shallow end of a pool will suffice for aerobic exercise.
- If you swim, however, vary your strokes to work different muscle groups and allow you to swim longer. If you can't swim 20-30 minutes straight, work up to this by swimming for five minutes, then resting for one minute.
- Equipment necessary to start swimming consists of a bathing suit and an available pool. Swim goggles, kick boards, hand paddles and flippers can come later (or never.)
- Parents can take older children swimming while working out as long as they can swim unsupervised, of course, because otherwise you will be distracted.
- Swimming is easy on the joints.
Check with your doctor first; warm up before each water work-out; stretch out after each swim. Use sunscreen if you are swimming outdoors; check out the pool and water depth before you begin, especially if you are a poor swimmer. Realize that your maximum heart rate is 13 beats per minute slower when swimming than with other exercising. Also look for a pool that is clean and safe, has a large shallow area, has hours that fit your lifestyle and is relatively uncrowded at the times you need to use it.
Compiled by Carol A. Pooley from cyberparent.com
Ten Outdoor Essentials for any trip:
- First-Aid Kit
- Extra Clothing
- Rain Gear
- Water Bottle
- Trail Food
- Matches and Fire Starters
- Map & Compass
Additional items to make a survival situation more bearable:
- Duct tape: repairs, patching, bandage tape, etc.
- Signal: Metal mirror, bright clothing, something to attract attention
- 2 - 3 bouillon cubes
- 2 - 3 flavored drink mix packets
- Money--coins for a call
- 50 feet of fishing line with hooks
- 24 feet of thin (18 gauge) wire
- Cell phone with phone numbers of area emergency responders
- Prescription medications
Two Basic Survival Items that should be carried on your person:
- A large heavy-duty plastic bag (30-39 gallon size and bright color): This can be an instant shelter--cutting a small hole for your face/breathing
- A whistle: 3 short blasts help signal your emergency
Managing a Survival or Emergency Situation
Phase I - Immediate Actions to Take
- Keep a positive attitude
- Stay put if your are lost
- Protect and maintain life (immediate actions to stay alive and well, immediate shelter for protection against the elements and other threats)
- Administer first aid.
- Inventory the equipment and resources available and improvise as needed.
- Signal to others that you need help.
- Conserve internal body resources (body temperature, water, energy, etc.)
Phase II - Manage Risk and Maintain Life
- Determine and fulfill the body's physiological needs.
- Maintain a positive attitude.
- Apply survival skills as needed:
- Building a fire
- Improving your shelter
- Finding and treating water
- Improving signaling methods
- Looking for food
4. Reassess the environment for existing and potential threats and take protective measures.
Phase III - Rescue
- Continue to improve signaling methods and introduce new ones.
- Devise a plan
- How to maintain life.
- How to assist the search and rescue effort.
Source: Curtis Vielstich
"Many areas of the world have experienced difficult economic times. Businesses have failed, jobs have been lost, and investments have been jeopardized. We must make certain that those for whom we share responsibility do not go hungry or unclothed or unsheltered. When the priesthood of this Church works together as one in meeting these vexing conditions, near miracles take place.
"We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt."
- President Thomas S. Monson, October 2008 Priesthood Session, General Conference
"Avoid the philosophy that yesterday's luxuries have become today's necessities. They aren't necessities until we make them so. Many enter into long-term debt only to find that changes occur; people become ill or incapacitated, companies fail or downsize, jobs are lost, natural disasters befall us. For many reasons, payments on large amounts of debt can no longer be made. Our debt becomes as a Damocles sword hanging over our heads and threatening to destroy us."
- President Thomas S. Monson, April 2006 General Conference
“We have built grain storage and storehouses and stocked them with the necessities of life in the event of a disaster. But the real storehouse is the family storeroom. In words of revelation the Lord has said, ‘Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing’ (D&C 109:8.)”
President Gordon B. Hinckley
"We need to make both temporal and spiritual preparation for the events prophesied at the time of the Second Coming. And the preparation most likely to be neglected is the one less visible and more difficult--the spiritual. A 72-hour kit of temporal supplies may prove valuable for earthly challenges, but, as the foolish virgins learned to their sorrow, a 24-hour kit of spiritual preparation is of greater and more enduring value.
"We are living in the prophesied time 'when peace shall be taken from the earth' (D&C 1:35,) when 'all things shall be in commotion' and 'men's hearts shall fail them' (D&C 88:91.) There are many temporal causes of commotion, including wars and natural disasters, but an even greater cause of current 'commotion' is spiritual." Elder Dallin H. Oaks
“Every father and mother are the family’s store keepers. They should store whatever their family would like to have in case of an emergency…(and) God will sustain us through our trials.” President James E. Faust
“We live in a most exciting and challenging period in human history. As technology sweeps through every facet of our lives, changes are occurring so rapidly that it can be difficult for us to keep our lives in balance. To maintain some semblance of stability in our lives, it is essential that we plan for our future. I believe it is time, and perhaps with some urgency, to review the counsel we have received in dealing with our personal and family preparedness. We want to be found with oil in our lamps sufficient to endure to the end.”- Elder L. Tom Perry, Ensign, Nov. 1995
"Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their year's supply of food. . . and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year's supply of debt and are food free." President Thomas S. Monson
"Just as it is important to prepare ourselves spiritually, we must also prepare ourselves for our temporal needs. … We have been instructed for years to follow at least four requirements in preparing for that which is to come.
“First, gain an adequate education. Learn a trade or a profession to enable you to obtain steady employment that will provide remuneration sufficient to care for yourself and your family. …
“Second, live strictly within your income and save something for a rainy day. Incorporate in your lives the discipline of budgeting that which the Lord has blessed you with. As regularly as you pay your tithing, set aside an amount needed for future family requirements. …
“Third, avoid excessive debt. Necessary debt should be incurred only after careful, thoughtful prayer and after obtaining the best possible advice. We need the discipline to stay well within our ability to pay. …
“Fourth, acquire and store a reserve of food and supplies that will sustain life [if local laws permit such storage]. Obtain clothing and build a savings account on a sensible, well-planned basis that can serve well in times of emergency. As long as I can remember, we have been taught to prepare for the future and to obtain a year’s supply of necessities. I would guess that the years of plenty have almost universally caused us to set aside this counsel. I believe the time to disregard this counsel is over. With events in the world today, it must be considered with all seriousness.” - Elder L. Tom Perry, October 1995 General Conference
“Maintain a year's supply. The Lord has urged that his people save for the rainy days, prepare for the difficult times, and put away for emergencies, a year's supply or more of bare necessities so that when comes the flood, the earthquake, the famine, the hurricane, the storms of life, our families can be sustained through the dark days. How many of us have complied with this? We strive with the Lord, finding many excuses: We do not have room for storage. The food spoils. We do not have the funds to do it. We do not like these common foods. It is not needed -- there will always be someone to help in trouble. The government will come to the rescue. And some intend to obey but procrastinate.” - The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.375
“All too often a family's spending is governed more by their yearning than by their earning. They somehow believe that their life will be better if they surround themselves with an abundance of things. All too often all they are left with is avoidable anxiety and distress” - Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
"Be prepared in all things against the day when tribulations and desolations are sent forth upon the wicked." D&C 29:8
"Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not aquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them." President Ezra Taft Benson
"Fear not little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. . .Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." D&C 6:34, 36
"I believe that the Ten Virgins represent the people of the Church of Jesus Christ. . . They (five foolish) had the saving, exalting gospel, but it had not been made the center of their lives. They knew the way but gave only a small measure of loyalty and devotion.
"The foolish asked the others to share their oil, but spiritual preparedness cannot be shared in an instant. . . . This was not selfishness or unkindness. The kind of oil that is needed to illuminate the way and light up the darkness is not shareable. . . . In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living." - President Spencer W. Kimball
“We encourage families to have on hand this year’s supply; we say it over and over and over and repeat over and over the scripture of the Lord where he says, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say?” How empty it is as they put their spirituality, so-called, into action and call him by his important names, but fail to do the things which he says." - President Spencer W. Kimball