NEWS & STORIES


Explaining financial plans and why you need one
A clear understanding of personal expenditures and savings rates is essential for securing a strong financial future. A financial plan can help everyone from the extraordinarily wealthy to those struggling to make ends meet.

The Financial Planning Association says a financial plan identifies goals and objectives that take finances to achieve and creates a plan for making those things happen. A financial plan can serve as a road map that people can look to for years to come as they work toward securing their financial futures.
Whether you aim to retire by age 50 or to reduce your debt, a financial plan can be just what you need to turn your dreams into a reality. Here are some steps for devising a financial plan.
1. Identify what you want. You must identify what you want to achieve. Goals may include buying a home, retiring early, providing for a child's education, or having more time and money for travel. Putting your goals on paper may inspire you to pursue them more vigorously.
2. Audit your finances. Conduct an audit of your finances so you can get a clear grasp of your current situation. Make a list of all of your assets, and then subtract existing debts to figure out your net worth. While you're tabulating, find out how much you bring in and spend each month so you can get a clear picture of your spending habits. This will help you make smart choices in regard to spending and saving.
3. Eradicate existing debt. One of the key parts of a financial plan is to pay down high-interest debt to free up money for the future. Focus on paying off credit card balances, high-interest loans or balances for other accounts where interest is high. A debt consolidation loan may be worth exploring if you're having trouble paying down high-interest debt.
4. Start saving. Building savings is essential to reaching many goals. It also is key to help avoid financial ruin during emergency situations, such as home or car repairs, disability that takes you out of work, etc. Start small by having a certain percentage of money deposited into a separate account automatically. Then watch it grow. Investing in the right products also can help you grow your savings.
Financial advisors can help individuals devise plans to meet their short- and long-term goals.


Mother's Day ideas for moms from all walks of life
 Mother's Day is a celebration of women who devote so much of their effort and energy to their families. Celebrating Mom on Mother's Day lets her know all of her efforts haven't gone unnoticed.

Mothers may perform similar tasks, but no two moms are the same. Finding ways to celebrate Mom's uniqueness can make the day that much more meaningful and memorable.

The Crafter- Mothers who are avid crafters may enjoy a craft-themed Mother's Day. A family crafting project can make for a fun afternoon and produce mementos that Mom will cherish for years to come. Dads and kids can plan the project in advance without Mom's knowledge, arranging all of the materials ahead of time and setting up the crafting station the night before or while Mom is relaxing on Mother's Day morning. Kids can even get a head start on the day by making their own craft for Mom and giving it to her as a Mother's Day present. Dads can keep the craft theme going at dinner and get a laugh out of Mom by pouring her a craft beer when dinner is served.
The Reader- A 2017 survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that women read more than men. Women read an average of 19.8 minutes per day, which can make a Mother's Day focused on Mom's love of books an ideal and unique way to spend the day. Kids can write Mom their own books, and Dad can help put them together. Dads can visit rare bookstores and look for original copies of Mom's favorite books that she might not find elsewhere.
The Nature Lover- Fishing and other outdoor activities might have a reputation as predominantly male hobbies, but studies show that's not really the case. A 2016 report from the Outdoor Foundation found that 46 percent of people who participated in outdoor activities were women. If Mom is a nature enthusiast, families can plan a Mother's Day enjoying the great outdoors, even giving Mom a new fishing pole, hiking gear or other items that align with her favorite nature activity.
The Relaxation Specialist- Of course, some mothers may want to simply unwind with a relaxing morning at the spa on Mother's Day. In fact, the 2018 U.S. Spa Industry Study found that the spa industry has enjoyed seven consecutive years of consistent growth, with more than 187 billion spa visits in 2017 alone. A relaxing morning at the spa can be the perfect way for moms to begin Mother's Day before they enjoy a brunch of dinner out with their families.
Mother's Day celebrations can be as unique as the women being celebrated.



Helpful home security tips for seniors

Seniors are often targeted by criminals. Though many criminals target seniors from afar via telephone or internet scams, criminals seek to enter seniors' homes. The Bureau of Justice Statistics offers that, between 2003 and 2013, the ratio of property crime to violent crime was higher for the elderly and persons between the ages of 50 and 64 than it was for younger persons between the ages of 25 and 49.

Home security is important for people of all ages, but especially so for seniors and aging individuals living alone. By following certain safety tips and developing a home security plan, seniors can feel safer at home.
· Lock windows and doors. It may seem like common sense, but failure to repeatedly lock windows and doors can, and often does, give burglars easy entry into the home.
· Think about a smart doorbell. Technology now enables doorbells to provide a video feed to a person's smartphone or tablet over WiFi. This allows residents to see who is at the door and speak to this person without having to open the door. Some products like Ring® will even register motion activity and record short videos from outside of the house.
· Don't share or leave keys. Avoid leaving keys under a mat or in a flower pot. Others may be watching your actions and gain access to your home while you are away.
· Ask for ID. When service people or other individuals come to the door, verify their credentials by asking to see some identification.
· Get a home security system. The best protection against burglars is a home security alarm, states HomeSecurityResource.org. Such an alarm often deters burglars from breaking in.
· Install a lockable mailbox. Locked mailboxes restrict access to sensitive information, such as bank account numbers, sent in the mail. Make sure retirement checks or other payments are deposited directly into bank accounts instead of having them sent by check.
· Use home automation. Home automation, or a "smart home," can be utilized to turn on lights, set the thermostat, lock doors, and much more.
· Adopt a dog. Dogs can be an asset to seniors. Dogs provide companionship and can bark or alert seniors if someone is around or inside of the home.
Home security is serious business for seniors who are vulnerable to criminals.


Coping with an empty nest

Many people find it rewarding to start a family and raise children. Watching kids grow through the years and sharing in their experiences can bring life to a household.
Mothers spend 18 years or more devoted to their children, and often their identities are defined as "Mom" above all else. As a result, it can be difficult to think ahead to life without kids in the home, especially when children are toddlers or school-aged. But children will someday grow up and move out, and the emotions that resonate when that day comes can be overwhelming.

Many parents feel a sense of sadness and loss when their last child leaves the family home. Referred to as "empty nest syndrome," these feelings are not officially labeled as a clinical mental health issue, but they are very real for many people. While parents encourage their children to become independent and branch out in their own lives, not every parent can cope with an empty nest. The parenting and family resource Verywell Family states that mothers with empty nest syndrome experience a deep void in their lives that oftentimes makes them feel a little lost.
Moms who are feeling the pangs of sadness due to an empty nest can employ some strategies to alleviate these feelings.
· Keep friends close. Use this opportunity to spend more time with close friends and put yourself first. Schedule all of those activities you may have temporarily put on hold while caring for children through the years.
· Make time for travel. New experiences can broaden anyone's horizons. Travel as a couple or with a group of friends. Put the focus on fun and then share the experiences later on with your adult children.
· Redefine yourself. The experts at Psychology Today suggest finding new roles and interests to explore, or spend more time exploring existing hobbies. For example, if you've thought about doing community theater, do so now that you have some free time. Or maybe you've always had a goal of going back to school? Now may be the time to make that happen.
· Reconnect with your partner. Recall the years before you had children when it was only the two of you and devote time to making more memories as a couple. Plan date nights, go to sporting events, attend a summer concert, or pursue other shared interests.
· Change things up at home. Turn children's rooms into spaces you can use for your own interests. One can be a crafting room or a home office. Another may be a home theater. No longer labeling those rooms as the kids' spaces can help the transition.
Empty nest syndrome is real, but there are many ways to move past the mixed emotions synonymous with this phenomenon.