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  • October Caregiving Webinar: Marital Conflict

    first_imgJoin us this month as we host our FREE monthly caregiving professional development webinar, Handling Marital Conflict Constructively: It Starts with Me, and Begins with “I.”Date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014Time: 11:00 a.m. – Noon EasternEvent Location: Handling Marital Conflict Constructively: It Starts with Me, & Begins with “I”Michael Roos, a licensed marriage and family therapist with Anuway Counseling, LLC and a Military Family Life Counselor at Magellan Health Services at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will introduce participants to the primary origins of marital conflict within the military. Military service members and their spouses often experience unique challenges that come with military life, for instance, frequent deployments, long distance relationships, and challenges if the service member becomes wounded in combat. Roos will share with participants how conflict develops within relationships and how to confront such conflicts instead of avoid it, and to work together to bring about resolve and growth as a couple.CEU Credit Available!The Military Families Learning Network will be providing 1.0 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) continuing education credit to credentialed participants. Certificates of Completion will also be available for training hours as well. For more information on CEU credit, see NASW Continuing Education Instructions.Interested in Joining the Webinar?*No registration is required; simply go to Handling Marital Conflict Constructively the day of the event to join. The webinar is hosted by the Department of Defense so you must install security certificates if you are not located on a military installation. Instructions for certificate installation can be found by clicking on DCO Adobe Certificate Installation.For those who cannot connect to the Adobe site, an alternative viewing of this presentation will be running on Ustream. You can connect to the Adobe webinars using iPhone, iPad, and Droid apps. Search for DCO Connect in the respective stores.This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on October 13, 2014.last_img read more

  • Key Takeaways from Caregiving Webinar: Promoting Knowledge

    first_imgStages of change: Recognize how adults put behavior change into practice to enable them to receive really high quality outcomes from the education that they are being provided.Key TakeawaysSo what is the moral of the story? What can you as a service provider do to increase the knowledge of your service members and their caregivers using the three core competencies discussed in Tuesday’s session?Remember, communication is a cycle in which errors can occur. Learn to tailor your messages to what the person you are working with wants to know. For example, you are providing high quality information, but you are also looking for that feedback from the client. You must acknowledge their experience and their need to be self-directing and that you are listening and responding appropriately.Adults want task-oriented learning. Make your education about the tasks, not about the education. Give your clients something they can take and run with and appeal to their variety of learning styles. Support what you are saying with written information and give your client something that they can do on their own. Change is hard and relapse happens, but if we can plan accordingly we can look for ways to help facilitate that change and plan for action.If you missed Tuesday’s webinar click on Promoting Knowledge Gain and Behavior Change through Effective Education to learn more. There is still time to watch the recording and receive continuing education credit or a certificate of completion.This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on May 17, 2015. Principles of adult learning: Understand how and why do adults learn new information and what it takes to effectively transform information into education to promote knowledge gain. This week the MFLN Military Caregiving team hosted their monthly professional development webinar on, ‘Promoting Knowledge Gain and Behavior Change through Effective Education.’ After presenting the content to professionals, Andy Crocker, webinar presenter and Extension Specialist in Gerontology and Health at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, provided key takeaways for participants to implement in their work with clientele.During the presentation Crocker addressed eliciting knowledge gain and behavior change by highlighting three core competences to professional development: (1) effective communication, (2) principals of adult learning, and (3) stages of change.Each of the core competences identified in the presentation provided a framework to effective education.Communication: Identify how helping professionals can be active listeners and active responders when working with service members and their caregivers and understand the importance of interpersonal relationships among helping professionals.last_img read more

  • Pension Advances: Not a Good Option for Military Retirees

    first_imgBy Carol ChurchAs anyone who works with service members knows, a military pension is a valuable and honorable thing. It signifies many years of hard work and devotion to our county. And for many people, it is an incredibly important financial lifeline.That’s why it’s so galling to hear about companies who prey on veterans by offering so-called “pension advances” that actually consist of predatory loans. Service members, retired service members, and those us who work with these populations need to be aware of this problem.What are Pension Advances?These companies market “quick” “pension loans” to veterans (and often other government employees) using flags and patriotic imagery. They know that some retirees have poor credit and may be in need of money for bills or emergencies, while being entitled to guaranteed pension income.  The companies take advantage of this by offering a fast lump sum of money that “buy out” some of the pensions. The lump sum, while tempting, will inevitably be worth far less than the pension rights that are signed over, making this a bad deal.The pensioner then has to pay back the company. Though a pension advance is not legally considered a loan, it really is one, and the effective interest rates can be astronomical—from 20% to 100%+. For instance, a person receiving a $5000 lump sum might end up having to pay back more than $30,000!There may be very high fees associated with the transaction, and the pensioner may be required to buy life insurance to protect the company’s “investment.” (If the person dies before the company gets all its payments, this policy benefits that company.) What’s more, the lump sum may push some people into a higher tax bracket and cause them to have to pay more taxes.Are They Legal?Pension advances are in a legally gray area. Their status varies by state and is constantly changing. Some law firms, states, and government agencies have pursued legal action against companies in this area. Congress has held hearings to consider whether to outlaw the practice. The fact that the companies insist they are “not loans” when all evidence points to the opposite means that they are on legally shaky ground. In many cases, the companies also are not offering the legal disclosures required by the government. But for now, these companies are still operating in most areas.What Should Be Done if Someone I know Has Participated in a Pension Advance? Pensionhelp.org, a free government service, may be able to assist those who have questions or concerns about their pension plan, including questions about pension advances.Legally, it may be possible to have pension advance agreement invalidated, as has happened in some established cases. However, this is not something to rely on. Even when courts find in favor of borrowers, the companies involved frequently declare bankruptcy, leaving the pensioners with nothing.Those who feel they’ve been taken advantage of by a pension advance may be able to file a complaint with the FTC.What Other Options Are There?These companies are able to find customers because people feel they have no other option. However, these terms are so poor that almost any other loan would be a better choice, including a typical high-interest credit card. Other possibilities include:Working with creditors to reduce interest rates or consolidate loans. Contact a nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency through www.nfcc.org for more assistance.Taking out a home equity loanA reverse mortgageA personal loan, possibly through a peer-to-peer lending platform like Lending Club No matter what they or their websites say, experts agree that pension advances are a poor choice for veterans. These companies are not in business to offer a fair service, and financial advisors need to warn their clients about them.Further Reading:Beware of the Pension PredatorsPension Advances: Not So FastReferences:Davis, O. (2015). Controversial Pension Advance Industry Flourishes With Little Federal, State Scrutiny.Federal Trade Commission. (2014). Pension Advances: Not So Fast.Marte, J. (2015). Some retirees are making a terrible mistake with their pensions.Pension Rights Center. (2016). The facts about pension advances.last_img read more

  • Redefining Saving and Your Relationship with Money with a No-Spend Challenge

    first_imgBy Carol ChurchSaving more money, decreasing debt, and establishing an emergency fund are all basic “money goals” that financial counselors work hard to help clients meet. Sometimes, however, we may all get a little “stuck” or bored using the same familiar methods—experts and clients alike! At times like these, it can be a great idea to shake things up a little bit and try something like a 30-day “No-Spend” Challenge.What is a No-Spend Challenge? Part of the strength of this idea is that you can set your own rules and define it in many different ways. However, the basic idea is to dramatically cut back or eliminate all spending on non-essentials for a set period of time. Typically, this is 30 days, but some people start off small with a week– or even smaller than that, with a weekend.What Does It Really Mean Not To Spend?Most of us will have fixed costs that can’t be eliminated, such as rent or a mortgage, food, basic household needs (like toilet paper!), gas, pet food, and utility bills. (However, some people in the military, especially if they’re single, may actually be able to cross a couple of these off their lists! Great start!) And of course, if a true emergency comes up, such as a medical bill or house repair, that’s okay.As for the rest, it’s really up to the individual to decide what to eliminate, although you’re obviously not going to get too far if the only spending you cut out is “buying alpaca sweaters.” Typically, eating out, buying clothes, books, or gifts, going to the movies or for drinks, picking up toys for the kids, spending on crafts, hobbies, or gaming, and general non-essential shopping are a no-go during a no-spend month.Some people choose to go further and dramatically cut food costs by eating out of the pantry as much as possible and eliminating common but non-necessary groceries, like coffee or prepackaged snacks. Or they might try to avoid filling up the car with gas. Some take this time to use up all those travel-size items and samples. These decisions are individual.How Do We Do It?Set goals firstIf you’re going to set out on a challenge like this, make sure you decide on a reason for doing it. Is it to build up that emergency fund? To pay down the credit card bill? To save for an upcoming trip? Visualize your goals and plans. And it may sound cheesy, but try putting up some pictures or written reminders around the house of why you’re doing this!Track your savingsBefore you start the month, make sure you have a ballpark idea as to how much you typically spend on the items you plan to cut out in a month and a way to track your spending week by week. That way you can track you much you’re saving, and put it away where it’s supposed to go!Plan for how to manageThings are going to get tough sometimes over the course of the month. What’s going to tempt you? Is it take-out? Going out on Friday night? Whatever it might be, figure out your game plan. Check your local papers and Facebook and websites for free events you can attend. Find out what movies you can rent for free at the library. Plan some particularly tasty meals. Make plans with friends to do something free, and ask for their support.Don’t freak out if you slip upSo it was your boss’s birthday and you had no choice but to go out for lunch. It’s okay. Don’t give up. Forgive yourself for the lapse and move ahead….there’s still plenty of saving to be done!Reap the rewardsOf course, a no-spend challenge has the obvious reward of keeping more money in a family’s wallet and bank account. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. If that money is used to pay off debt or to start an emergency fund, it can do much more, preventing families from paying expensive interest charges or from damaging their credit.It can also bring awareness to small but expensive habits, like eating lunch out or getting manicures, that hurt your financial bottom line. Once you stop spending on these items, you may find you don’t miss them as much as you thought you did, and can cut back.You may also discover fun new free activities and pastimes that you’ll keep up in your “regular” life after the spending challenge is over.Most importantly, if there’s a spending problem happening, a no-spend challenge can help redefine your relationship with money and remind you that you don’t need to spend money to have fun, enjoy time with your loved ones, or feel happy.Some worry that after the challenge is over, they’ll “make up for” their economizing with a spending spree. Most report that this doesn’t happen, though, and instead say they gained a lot from the experience—both financially and on a broader level, too. A no-spend challenge of any type or length may be a great tool to help families save and redefine their relationship with spending. References:Centsibly rich. (2016). How to get ready for a no spend month challenge.Tretina, K. (2016). Make January a No-Spend Month and Save Hundreds in 2017.Perez, K. (2016). 4 Steps for a Successful No-Spend Challenge.Davis, L. (2015). Savings challenge: Try a no-spend month.last_img read more

  • Food insecurity in America’s Heroes

    first_imgWindome R, Jensen A, Bangerter A, Fu S. Food Insecurity Among Veterans Of The US Wars In Iraq And Afghanistan. Cambridge Core; 2019. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/food-insecurity-among-veterans-of-the-us-wars-in-iraq-and-afghanistan/F03B64DD63287F2BE5F2067F3E5AC5FB/core-reader#. Accessed June 18, 2019. Bushatz A. Advocates Are Building a Plan to Take on Military Hunger. Military.com. https://www.military.com/spousebuzz/2018/09/24/advocates-are-building-plan-take-military-hunger.html. Published 2019. Accessed June 25, 2019. Sobol Z. Why Are So Many Veterans Food Insecure? | Move For Hunger. Move For Hunger. https://www.moveforhunger.org/why-are-so-many-veterans-food-insecure/. Published 2019. Accessed June 18, 2019. Jones A, Ngure F, Pelto G, Young S. What Are We Assessing When We Measure Food Security? A Compendium And Review Of Current Metrics. American Society for Nutrition; 2019:481-505. Food insecurity in America’s HeroesBy Sarah Pittman, Human Nutrition Graduate Student at the University of Illinois SM W. Prevalence of food insecurity among military households with children 5 years of age and younger. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26976798. Published 2019. Accessed June 18, 2019. References:Eatrightpro.org. https://www.eatrightpro.org/advocacy/legislation/all-legislation/food-security-veterans. Published 2019. Accessed June 18, 2019. NPR Choice page. Npr.org. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/04/19/524563155/when-active-duty-service-members-struggle-to-feed-their-families. Published 2019. Accessed June 25, 2019. What Is Food Insecurity in America? | Hunger and Health. Hunger and Health. https://hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/understand-food-insecurity/. Published 2019. Accessed June 18, 2019. Food insecurity is one definition that has changed meaning since the term first came into existence. The current definition of food insecurity by the USDA is “a lack of consistent access to enough food to live a healthy, active life.”5 Food insecurity has three domains: availability, access and utilization but also included is having the ability to acquire socially and culturally acceptable foods. Food insecurity can change over time, whether it is seasonally or as a result of unexpected shocks like weather events, deaths or regional conflicts.2 Depending on the circumstances, there are two possible food insecurity conditions, chronic or transitory (being food secure one month and food insecure the next). For veterans, food insecurity often stems from the mental health issues that our veterans endure. Veterans can experience difficulty adapting back to civilian life when they return overseas, especially if they don’t have support from friends and/or family when they return.4Food insecurity in our veteransThere is a growing number of active duty service members becoming food insecure, relying on SNAP for assistance.1 In 2018, a study showed that 1.5 million veterans live in a household that completely relies on SNAP to supplement their food intake.4 And in 2016 it was noted that families spent about $67 million in food stamps at commissaries.8 A study by Cambridge University conducted in 2015 found that about 27% of veterans that had served in Iraq or Afghanistan wars were food insecure with 12% reported being very low food security.6Consequences and challenges of food insecurityHaving soldiers that are food insecure increases risk of health conditions that may decrease military readiness.3 Although there are supplemental programs available to veterans, many are unaware they exist.1 A study completed in July of 2016 found that military families facing financial hardships face challenges seeking assistance benefits, which include: limited awareness, stigma, misconceptions and inconsistent eligibility.1Is there hope for food insecure veterans and their families?Yes! In an article from September of 2018, stated that officials with the Military Family Advocacy Network are planning to work with Feeding America, the Food Research & Action Center, National WIC Association and the United Way to tackle food insecurity in veterans and their families. With this help they plan to “find the best ways to help families access services, while increasing education on the assistance that’s already available”, while also reducing the shame of asking for help.7Lawmakers in action“Because of a quirk in the law, some service members can be disqualified from programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP… Service members can be considered ineligible because of certain military pay, such as housing benefits.”8 The Military Hunger Prevention Act excludes the value of a housing allowance for service members in determining eligibility for any federal program issuing benefits for nutrition assistance.9Do you know any veterans that are food insecure? Do they use or at least know the resources available to them? H.R.1078 – 115th Congress (2017-2018): Military Hunger Prevention Act. Congress.gov. https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1078. Published 2019. Accessed June 25, 2019.last_img read more

  • Total Force Fitness and Military Families Learning Network: Nutrition and Wellness

    first_imgIn this week’s Friday Field Notes, we will continue our exploration of the resources and programming that the Military Families Learning Network provides to support Total Force Fitness with our Nutrition and Wellness team.Total Force Fitness and Nutrition and Wellness In addressing all aspects of Total Force Fitness, incorporating nutrition and wellness is of paramount importance.  Supporting military families in this endeavor can markedly improve physical and mental health.  You will find that the MFLN Nutrition and Wellness team provides education and services to address many aspects of health, such as avoiding burnout on the job, the microbiome of breast milk, and food insecurity among active service members and veterans.The Nutrition and Wellness team has an upcoming webinar, Incorporating DASH Diet Principles into Everyday Living.  The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) focuses on incorporating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein while maintaining flexibility in order lower blood pressure.At the completion of the course, presented by Rosanne Rust, MS, RDN, attendees should be able to effectively explain the DASH diet to patients and colleagues, identify resources and references for the DASH diet, identify patients who would benefit from the DASH diet, explain the new high blood pressure guidelines to patients as well as risk factors for hypertension, and help patients set goals to adopt the DASH Diet.On the topic of diet, military families may also have children with special needs that can complicate healthy eating.  In order to address the complex issue of diet and children with developmental delays, you may also wish to check out a past webinar about selective eating in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.If you are interested in this event and believe it will help you better serve military families, then you may also want to check out some related upcoming events from Nutrition and Wellness, such as Building Partnerships Beyond Policy With Your Commissary or Empowering Diabetes Self-Management Utilizing the Latest Technology in Personal Blood Glucose Monitoring.Additional Resources from Nutrition and Wellness With a focus on the unique needs of military service members and their families, the MFLN Nutrition and Wellness team is an excellent example of how Cooperative Extension is a force multiplier in Military Family Readiness. Their focus on preventive and medical nutrition by staying up to date with the latest research in the field and applying new information through education and counseling positions them as an indispensable asset in the pursuit of Total Force FitnessTo learn more about the MFLN Nutrition and Wellness team, check out their upcoming as well as past webinars, podcasts, and blog posts.last_img read more

  • Add a Dash of the DASH Diet into Your Daily Eating!

    first_imgDietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH diet) was developed in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a dietary treatment to reduce high blood pressure. Similar to a Mediterranean eating pattern, the DASH diet emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins, and a limited intake of saturated fats and sugar.1 This eating pattern provides key nutrients for blood pressure reduction: calcium, potassium, and magnesium.1 Along with the consumption of nutrient-dense foods, the DASH diet emphasizes a reduction in sodium and saturated fats.1Why Use the DASH Diet?Blood pressure reduction is the most well-known outcome of following the DASH diet, specifically the low-sodium version.2 Americans eat large amounts of sodium (3600 mg daily is the average), as it is found in packaged foods, fast foods, restaurant meals, and is naturally contained in several foods.3 A high sodium diet leads to increased blood pressure because salt disturbs the water balance in our kidneys leading to a larger blood volume which stresses our cardiovascular system. On the DASH diet, it is ideal to consume less than 1 teaspoon of table salt (2300 mg sodium) daily for the Standard DASH Diet, or one-half teaspoon (1500 mg sodium) for the lower sodium pattern.In addition to lowering blood pressure, the DASH diet is cardioprotective. High adherence to the diet is associated with a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and death due to cardiovascular disease.4 Furthermore, following the DASH diet leads to improved blood lipid levels.3Adding a Dash of DASH into Your Diet!Everyone can improve their diet by using DASH diet principles. Here are some easy ways to add a dash of DASH into your daily life!Limit your intake of sugar-sweetened sodas, coffees, and juices. Try to swap these drinks for their unsweetened counterparts, such as black coffee or unsweetened tea, water, or low-fat unflavored dairy.Aim to have a lean protein source at every meal. Lean proteins include low-fat dairy, beans, poultry, fish, and lean beef. Dairy products provide calcium and protein – double win!Utilize whole fruits and vegetables as snacks. Apples, bananas, carrot sticks, bell peppers, and pears are all great on-the-go snacks.Swap your refined grains (white rice, pasta, white bread) for whole grains (brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and whole-wheat bread). Whole grains pack a lot of nutrients without a major taste change!When cooking, utilize unsaturated fats such as olive or canola oil. Avoid using butter or coconut oil as these are a source of saturated fats.For more information on reducing blood pressure using the DASH diet, see this guide from the NIH. References How to make the DASH diet work for you. (2019). Retrieved 16 September 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456Stamler, J., Chan, Q., Daviglus, M., Dyer, A., Van Horn, L., & Garside, D. et al. (2018). Relation of Dietary Sodium (Salt) to Blood Pressure and Its Possible Modulation by Other Dietary Factors. Hypertension, 71(4), 631-637. doi: 10.1161/hypertensionaha.117.09928DASH Eating Plan | National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). (2019). Retrieved 16 September 2019, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/dash-eating-planJones, N., Forouhi, N., Khaw, K., Wareham, N., & Monsivais, P. (2018). Accordance to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet pattern and cardiovascular disease in a British, population-based cohort. European Journal Of Epidemiology, 33(2), 235-244. doi: 10.1007/s10654-017-0354-8 By: Annabelle Shaffer, BS, Master’s candidate in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaignlast_img read more

  • Total Force Fitness and Military Families Learning Network: Family Development

    first_imgIn this week’s Friday Field Notes, we will continue our exploration of the resources and programming that Military Families Learning Network provides to support Total Force Fitness with our   (FD) and Early Intervention (EI) teams.Family Development and Total Force FitnessMilitary families face similar challenges as civilian families, but they can sometimes have unique challenges that can be addressed through Total Force Fitness. The FD and EI teams produce online professional development opportunities on topics relevant to family strengthening, prevention and treatment of family violence as well as early intervention and special education services for young children (birth to 5 years). Both FD and EI aim to provide meaningful learning opportunities and helpful resources connected to Total Force Fitness. Below are a few topic areas related to various Total Force Fitness domains.Social, Psychological, Physical & Behavioral Domains of Total Force FitnessThe Webinar Series on THRIVE highlights programs focusing on positive parenting practices, parent and child stress management and physical health promotion. The series features representatives from Penn State’s Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness who will discuss the implementation of the THRIVE initiative which aims to empower parents as they nurture their children from the prenatal period until their children reach 18 years of age. THRIVE consists of a series of face-to-face and online parenting programs and a range of online resources and interactive learning modules.In October, FDEI will host the third webinar in their 2019 autism series, Stepping Out: Family Outings with Young Children with Autism.  Dr. Katie Wolfe, assistant professor of Early Childhood Special Education at the University of South Carolina, and Dr. Hedda Meadan, professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Illinois, will present ways professionals can help families develop strategies to support families of young children with autism during common community outings.The FD team is co-hosting a webinar with the Military Caregiving team in November, What Helping Professionals Need to Know About Kincare. With the rising trend of kincare – the care of children by relatives and other loved ones – it’s helpful for service professionals to be knowledgeable about how this affects military families. Though such arrangements can provide benefits such as love and stability for children, caregivers can struggle with various barriers to this non-traditional parenting role. This webinar will educate helping professionals like social workers, counselors, and case managers on how to identify risk and protective factors for caregivers as well as children, while also providing strategies of support.Exploring struggles faced by families is an important component of Total Force Fitness. The MFLN Family Development and Early Intervention teams work to keep service professionals informed to support work with military families.Additional Resources from Family Development and Early InterventionBe sure to check out previous events from the Family Development team on topics like the Family Finance Series that addressed other domains of Total Force Fitness, such as psychological fitness.  Be sure to register for upcoming FD and FDEI webinars and explore blog posts, podcast episodes and more on the FD homepage!last_img read more

  • What is Bitcoin? And Should Anyone Be Buying it?

    first_img Return to article. Long DescriptionMichaelWuensch/Pixabay.com, CC0What is Bitcoin?Bitcoin is a currency system that is 100% “virtual” or computer-based. It is decentralized, meaning that no one bank or government controls it, and it is also anonymous and completely global. Transfers are made via computer through a very complex system, and do involve transaction fees. Some businesses (not many) accept bitcoin as payment.Recently, bitcoin prices have been rising astronomically, creating a lot of buzz and excitement around this currency. You or those you work with may have heard that “if only” they had invested just a small amount in bitcoin some years back, they would be very wealthy now. So, what’s the catch?Why is Bitcoin Risky?Bitcoin is a risky investment in part due to the risk that it can be hacked. Hacking is obviously a significant issue whenever we talk about a computer-based currency. Though innovators are working hard to come up with solutions to keep the “keys” that secure bitcoin more safe and to make it more and more difficult to hack the system, the problem is far from solved.It’s also true that if you lose the “keys” that unlock your bitcoin, you have a problem. Again, technology is working to solve this problem. For instance, it’s possible to buy hardware-based “wallets” whose information can be recovered even if they are physically lost.Scammers also have taken advantage of the allure and mystique of virtual currencies and have managed to cheat people into purchasing completely fake cryptocurrency.Another reason bitcoin is risky is that the government still hasn’t really figured out how to regulate it. Bitcoin’s anonymous nature has meant that it has been a favored currency of some unsavory characters, which has caused some general concern. The concept of bitcoin is also still so new that the government is unsure what it really “is” and how to handle it. It is possible that new laws could drastically regulate bitcoin in unfavorable ways or even shut the bitcoin market down, which would be a major problem for anyone holding it.Bitcoin is also risky due to its historical price volatility. Over its short existence, it has been 5 times more volatile than the S&P 500. Historically, prices for bitcoin have tended to go up spectacularly and then crash. One-day drops have been as much as 80%. Keep this in mind when you see dizzying figures.It’s important to understand that bitcoin and other virtual currencies are not backed by any bank or government. If you have a problem with bitcoin, you may not be able to get help from anybody; there may not be any customer support. In the past, some companies holding bitcoin have been unreliable, difficult to deal with, and have even lost customer funds. Who (if Anyone) Should Invest in Bitcoin?Over and over again, experts make these same statements about investing in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies:Only invest after you have paid off consumer debt, secured your retirement, and put away money for any children’s college funds—basically, only if you have “money to play with.”Be absolutely sure you know how to keep any investment safe. This requires a high degree of tech savvy.Only invest money you would be perfectly okay with losing.This is a pretty high bar, and one most of us are not likely to be able to meet. However, it is fair to add that people have made money off of cryptocurrency, and many are highly optimistic about its future. Others say it’s a bubble, and predict a huge crash.Bitcoin is the type of opportunity that may be likely to appeal to some service members due to the intrigue that surrounds the concept, as well as the excitement of an opportunity that some see as “the next big thing.” You may also see or hear of people offering affiliate links that give others a discount on their first bitcoin purchase. These discounts are tiny compared to the risk involved.Be aware that bitcoin is not the only cryptocurrency out there, though it is still the most well-known. Ethereum and Litecoin are the two most well-known alternatives, but thousands of other cryptocurrencies exist. In generally, even less is known about these currencies than bitcoin.Finally, don’t forget that bitcoin gains are taxable. Just like gains from the stock market, gains from bitcoin sales must be reported at tax time. You can find out more here.Here is some info from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about bitcoin and virtual currencies:Risks to consumers posed by virtual currenciesWhat are virtual currencies and what should I know if I’m interesting in using one?References:Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (2014). Risks to consumers posed by virtual currencies. Retrieved from http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201408_cfpb_consumer-advisory_virtual-currencies.pdfConsumer Financial Protection Bureau. (2016). What are virtual currencies and what should I know if I’m interested in using one? Retrieved from https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-are-virtual-currencies-and-what-should-i-know-if-im-interested-in-using-one-en-1893/ By Carol ChurchHas anyone you know been talking about bitcoin lately? If your life is like mine, perhaps someone you know can’t STOP talking about it! It’s enough to make a financially minded person either very curious or very skeptical. https://pixabay.com/photos/bitcoin-cryptocurrency-digital-2007769/last_img read more

  • Community Outings with Children with Autism

    first_imgImage from Pixabay.com, CC0 Return to article. Long DescriptionImage from Pixabay.com, CC0By Katie Wolfe, Ph. D., BCBAAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 59 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism.  The two primary characteristics of autism include deficits in social communication and interactions and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior.  These characteristics can make community outings, such as going to the park, library, store, or a restaurant, challenging for the whole family.Studies report that families of children with autism may avoid community outings and often report feeling socially isolated. (Higgins, Bailey, & Pierce, 2005).Families of children with autism may avoid going on community outings for a number of reasons, including concerns about their child’s challenging behavior (Myers et al., 2009) or the stigma they may feel from the general public (Gray, 2002). Safety is one of the primary factors limiting families’ participation in community outings.  In one survey, more than half of parents reported that their fear of their child wandering or running away stopped them from going out into the community (Andersen et al., 2012).Not being able to access community settings and resources can have a negative impact on everyone in the family.  Participating in the community in which we live is an important aspect of quality of life for everyone.  Limited access to community settings can adversely affect not only the child with autism but also parents and siblings (Myers et al., 2009).Resources are available online to inform and support parents, caregivers, and professionals.Autism Speaks provides resources to help families plan for and navigate community outings.  The Marcus Autism Center has specific tips related to safety concerns that may hinder families from taking community outings with their child with autism.  Other resources are available from Sesame Street and the Children’s Specialized Hospital.While interventions should always be individualized, a few recommended strategies for successful outings include:Prepare preferred toys and snacks to bring on the outing to use during wait times or to reward appropriate behavior.Use visual supports to prepare the child for what to expect on the outing.Identify a task that the child can assist with on the outing. For example, teach your child to get items on a shopping list.Start with small goals and build on your success. For example, work on shopping at a small market before you work on shopping at a warehouse club.In our upcoming webinar, “Stepping Out: Family Outings with Young Children with Autism,” we will discuss additional strategies practitioners can utilize to support young children with autism and their family.  Join us on October 16, 2019, at 11 a.m. EST!  RSVP here to attend!last_img read more

  • “Here, First Sergeant!”

    first_imgThe South Dakota Army National Guard has a strong tradition of supporting their Service members and families. The 114 Service members deploying are from 40 different communities in 4 states— South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. They are temporarily leaving jobs from 112 different employers. This is a second deployment for 34 of the Service members and a third deployment for 25 of the Service members.Several prominent individuals participated in the ceremony providing their support, including SD State Adjutant General Major General Jeff Marlette, Aberdeen Mayor Travis Schaunaman, US Congressman Dusty Jonson, US Senator John Thune, and SD Governor Kristi Noem. Collectively, they offered thanks to the Service members and families for their sacrifices. Employers were recognized for their support of the Service members and their sacrifices as they support the country. Mayor Schaunaman shared that the Service members were “leaving behind family who love them, friends who admire them and communities who thank them”. Governor Noem emphasized that the Service members truly leave a hole in the community.Several of the speakers also spoke about mission readiness and the focus that requires. Major General Marlette acknowledged that the Service members know their jobs – they are well trained, well equipped and well led. However, Service members often times worry about their families. He encouraged everyone to reach out and provide needed support so the Service members can stay focused on the mission. He challenged the Service members to stay mission focused – on safety, standards and discipline. Commander Captain Craig Evenson, spoke of the challenges in front of the community. He indicated the Service members should expect hard work and that families need to always place mission first. Governor Noem stressed that strong families make for a better tomorrow, and deployment events such as this, drive it home.Governor Noem also commented on the t-shirts that many of the family members were wearing, which stated “Got your six” on the back of the t-shirt with the name of their Service member. She encouraged the Service members to bring each other home and challenged them “to be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to ask for help, and brave enough to ask for it.” This same advice could apply to the families as well.The ‘roll call’ portion of the ceremony was an emotional time for many Service members and families. First Sergeant Breen read off the names of each deploying Service member, who in turn stood up from where they were sitting with family members, and responded “Here, First Sergeant!” The Service members walked to the front of the gymnasium to shake hands with the dignitaries and  then returned to their families, but remained standing. For me, this was so symbolic of who was giving the greatest sacrifice. Earlier in the ceremony, Governor Noem quoted the great Teddy Roosevelt speech, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”Kudos goes out to the South Dakota Army National Guard on a well done activation ceremony. For the Service members and families— may you focus on mission, seek support when needed, and support one another along the way. This post was written by Sara Croymans, MEd, AFC, University of Minnesota Extension Educator, member of the MFLN Family Transitions team, military spouse and mother. Family Transitions provides education, resources and networking opportunities for professionals working with military families to build resilience and navigate life cycle transitions. Engage with the MFLN Family Transitions team on our website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. by Sara Croymans, , MEd, AFCOver the recent long Labor Day weekend I attended a deployment Activation Ceremony in Aberdeen, SD for 114 soldiers of Alpha Battery, 1-147th Field Artillery Battalion and 147th Forward Support Company. The Unit will be supporting Operation Atlantic Resolve, which builds readiness, increases operability and enhances the bond between ally and partner militaries using multinational training events in Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.I didn’t personally know anyone deploying, but attended to show my support for the Service members and their families. The experience was moving. From the moment I walked into the Aberdeen Central High School and watched the gymnasium fill up with family, friends, employers and community members, I was reminded of the ripple effect deployment has on everyone throughout a community.Greeting attendees at the doors of the high school were members of the local Freedom Riders. Support for our Service members is shown in a variety of ways and from many sectors of the community. Just outside the gymnasium, members of the local VFW Auxiliary were handing out buddy poppies. The proceeds are used for aid, relief and comfort of veterans and members of the armed forces and their dependents who are in need.The VFW Auxiliary members were also distributing little ‘care packages’ for family members and supporters. These packages included a listing of available resources, messages of gratitude and items to remind us to keep the Service members in our thoughts and prayers. My favorite items were these little Army men with the message “Please take a soldier home as a reminder of the men & women serving our country”.last_img read more

  • Wrap-Up: Total Force Fitness & Military Families Learning Network

    first_imgOver the past seven Friday Field Notes, we have examined the ways in which the Military Families Learning Network can help military family service providers support fitness in all eight domains of Total Force Fitness.Social Fitness:  The 2019 Virtual Conference, Relationships for Readiness, is a great example of how networks are crucial to supporting military families.  The conference focused on the Department of Defense Family Readiness System, which focuses on meeting the needs of family members in all domains of wellness.  Sessions emphasized collaborating with other professions, best practices for building professional networks, and effective communication across disciplines.Physical Fitness: The Family Transitions team takes a well-rounded approach to many aspects of Total Force Fitness including physical fitness.  For many families, the diagnosis of a chronic illness and subsequent lifestyle changes requires a multifaceted perspective in order for military families to effectively cope with change.  The Family Transitions team assists in this effort by collaborating with other MFLN like Family Development and Military Caregiving.Nutritional Fitness:  The Nutrition and Wellness team in MFLN focuses on the unique needs of military families.  We explored the services provided by this team, such as education and services to address many aspects of well-being.  The Nutrition and Wellness team’s services are designed to address aspects of health that go beyond physical health to include mental health as well.Medical and Dental Fitness: MFLN’s Family Development and Early Intervention team was featured with their focus on supporting military families and emphasis on early intervention with children who are at risk for disabilities and developmental delays.  Their series, Sunrise Through Sunset: Supporting Children with Autism Through Their Day is a great example of increasing social fitness in military families who may face concerns like limited outings and isolation.Psychological Fitness:  In the first week exploring the offerings of MFLN, the Network Literacy Team was featured as a crucial support in serving military families.  Network Literacy’s programming is designed to increase resilience through relationships and networks so military families can grow and maintain their essential networks.Behavioral Fitness: MFLN’s Nutrition and Wellness team has overarching benefits for the service providers by also addressing behavioral fitness as a part of overall wellness.  Programming, such as how to avoid burnout, was briefly mentioned in our exploration of the Nutrition and Wellness team.Spiritual Fitness:  Spiritual Fitness was addressed through our exploration of Military Caregiving.  Their upcoming webinar was featured as it will educate service providers on topics unique to service members, such as PTSD, moral injury, killing in combat, and survivor’s guilt.Environmental Fitness: The Family Development team effectively addressed aspects of environmental fitness in our exploration of kin care in military families.  This type of transition can be difficult for children as well as their new caretakers.  Ensuring that service providers are knowledgeable about the environmental risk factors and protective factors can help to create a suitable environment for families involved with kin care.We hope these posts have informed you about the variety of programs available through MFLN when working to support military families. We are excited to continue to share resources to support Total Force Fitness in future Friday field Notes, which will feature examples of Cooperative Extension programs working in TFF domains, in the words of the practitioners themselves.last_img read more

  • Sports Betting and Gambling: What Financial Practitioners Need to Know

    first_imgBy Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, boneill@njaes.rutgers.eduOne of the most far-reaching events of 2018 with implications for the personal finances of millions of people was the legalization of sports betting nationwide. Sports betting is the process of placing bets on the outcome and/or features (e.g., how many shots a basketball player takes in a game) of sports events such as football and baseball games. In May 2018, a Supreme Court ruling allowed states to legalize sports betting. By November, eight states had legalized sports betting and others were drafting legislation to authorize it.This is not to say that sports betting did not exist previously. Prior to 2018, a handful of states (DE, MT, NV, OR) had sports lotteries because they were grandfathered under a federal law. In addition, many underground sports betting venues exist at home and abroad. Perhaps the most famous U.S. sports betting scandal was the 1919 World Series, where a professional gambler paid eight Chicago White Sox players to “fix” the game.Legalized sports betting winnings, like those from state lotteries or casinos, are taxable income. Losses up to the amount of winnings are deductible if taxpayers itemize deductions. However, many taxpayers now have a larger standard deduction than itemized deductions following passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Only about 10% of taxpayers can itemize now so most gamblers will no longer benefit from gambling expense write-offs.Pixabay.com, CC0What does this have to do with financial education and counseling? A lot. As many practitioners know firsthand, gambling strains finances and relationships. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), about 2 million Americans are problem gamblers and average gamblers may have debts up to $90,000. Simply put, sports betting provides gamblers with more opportunities to lose money. Those who avoided illegal sports betting venues in the past now have a legal opportunity to place bets, often on mobile phones. Residents of states without legalized sports betting can simply drive to a state that allows it and place bets online. Americans lost $107 billion in regulated bets in 2017 and more through unregulated “black market” betting.What do financial practitioners need to know about sports betting? Four things: 1. What it is and how it takes place (see above), 2. Warning signs of a problem gambling addiction, 3. Recommended strategies to reduce financial damage resulting from gambling, and 4. Local resources to assist problem gamblers.According to debt.org, “red flags” that someone has a gambling problem include:Talking constantly about gambling opportunitiesTaking time off from work to gambleTrying to hide gambling habits from family and friendsAsking for loans to cover gambling lossesLying about money lost or time spent gamblingBetting larger amounts of money to overcome previous gambling lossesSelling possessions or stealing money or property to finance a gambling habitAttempting to hide a gambling habit by shifting money around various accountsRecommended strategies for families to reduce financial damage resulting from a problem gambler from the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health include: throwing away credit card applications that come in the mail, canceling overdrafts on bank accounts, setting up separate bank accounts, removing family members’ names from shared accounts, not sharing passwords and PINs, and not leaving credit cards lying around.Other recommended strategies include putting valuables in a safe deposit box, asking financial institutions to cut off access to additional credit, warning friends and family not to lend the gambler any money, and arranging for the gambler’s pay to be direct deposited into a family member’s account and giving the gambler a weekly “allowance.” In addition, credit counseling and/or a support group for problem gamblers may be useful.For additional information, review the 53-page NEFE publication Problem Gamblers and Their Finances.Please make plans to join us October 22 as Dr. Lori Rugle presents Gambling Disorders: Special Considerations for Service Members. 1.5 continuing education credits are available to AFC and CPFC-credentialed participants. Free. RSVP: https://militaryfamilieslearningnetwork.org/event/22045/last_img read more

  • Cancer & Caregiver Emotions

    first_imgThis image was purchased by MFLNMC from iStock.com under member ID 8085767. Return to article. Long DescriptionWritten by: Mary Brintnall-Peterson, Ph.D., MBP Consulting, LLC, Professor Emeritus, UW-ExtensionAs a mother of a cancer victim, I remember vividly when I first heard my son had cancer. I prayed and hoped that the doctors were wrong and that it wouldn’t be cancer. I was overcome with emotions—fear, uncertainty, anger, hope, guilt, helplessness, grief and others. If I was overwhelmed with emotions, what was my son experiencing? I knew I wasn’t feeling the same as my son, as the cancer was in his body, destroying his life as he knew it and charting a life as a cancer victim and hopefully survivor. I also knew that he and I dealt with emotions differently and used different coping mechanics. This is probably not different than other families.Regardless of how you or your cancer victim deal with emotions what’s critical is to realize feelings are neither right or wrong—they are just there. We don’t get to choose our feelings or when they will hit us.  As individuals we have the option of how to deal with our emotions. We can try to hide or deny them or accept and express them. What gets people into trouble is not the emotion, but how they deal with them. Some individuals adopt unhealthy ways of coping with emotions such as eating too much or eating too little or using alcohol or drugs. In many cases, people don’t want to acknowledge they have feelings and if they do have them, they hide them, hold them inside and ignore their existence. They think by not acknowledging them they will go away. If they show emotions it’s a sign of weakness or loss of control. They don’t want people to feel sorry for them and they don’t want to upset family members (children) or others by being emotional. In some cases, individuals might feel they don’t have time to deal with emotions with everything else going on in their life. Regardless of why an individual is ignoring their feelings they won’t go away and will eventually find a way to be expressed.Hiding emotions is hard work and wears an individual out, plus it is physically harmful. If not dealt with, emotions come out in ways that cause regret by saying or doing something, they wish they hadn’t said or done. Helping someone acknowledge their feelings isn’t easy but in the long run will be beneficial for everyone in that’s person’s life. This goes for everyone involved as it could be that the cancer victim is showing emotions and others in their life aren’t. These individuals could be hiding their emotions as they don’t want to upset the cancer victim, plus they might think their emotions don’t matter as they don’t have cancer. Not true! Everyone involved with the cancer victim will experience some type of emotions which need to be acknowledged, accepted and expressed.There is no magic way to acknowledge, accept and express feelings.  Remember it’s not the emotion or feeling that gets us in trouble, but how we express those feelings that sometimes gets us in trouble.5 Ways to Express Feelings or EmotionsTalking with someone. A someone can be any person(s) you feel comfortable with—a friend, another family member, a professional or sometimes a complete stranger is a good listener. For some individuals they talk to a spiritual or faith leader and God. Support groups offer a safe place to express feelings and the individual can be validated by others who have or had similar experiences.Crying. Tears are a way of cleansing the body and soul. It helps to release your emotions and tensions.Writing. Journaling or jotting down one’s feelings can be helpful to some individuals. Writing also can clarify how they are feeling.It can also provide documentation of how the individual felt in others situations. Writing for some, makes it easier to express their feelings because they have a better idea of what they are feeling. For some, writing helps to let go of the feelings or cope with them better. They may find they aren’t continually thinking about how they are feeling as its now on paper.Creative Activities. For some individuals using their emotions help them create artwork, drawings, crafts or other creative forms of expression. In some cases, the creative activity becomes a symbol of how they feel.Physical Activities. For many physical activities are a way to release emotions. The type of physical activity doesn’t matter but it is dependent on what the individual can or can’t do. Any type of activity even walking, or moving in a chair or stretching can help in releasing difficult emotions.Emotions and cancer go hand in hand. Learning to acknowledge, accept and express them is in everyone’s best interest throughout the cancer journey which is full of ups and downs.last_img read more

  • Your questions answered by Rosanne Rust MS, RDN on the DASH diet

    first_imgWhat a great webinar yesterday, October 9, 11:00 am ET, INCORPORATING DASH DIET PRINCIPLES INTO EVERYDAY LIVING presented by Rosanne Rust MS, RDN.During the webinar, many questions were asked and answered in the chat pod.  Some questions needed further research and as Rosanne promised, she has included those answers in the below document.DASH Diet Questions and AnswersIf you missed the webinar the recording is now posted on the Event Page at https://militaryfamilieslearningnetwork.org/event/34426/.Dietitians can earn 1.0 CPEU by watching the recording and completing the evaluation.This is a webinar everyone can benefit from to help follow and healthy diet and lifestyle. So tune in today to learn about the DASH Diet.last_img read more

  • A Follow-up to the 2019 MFLN Virtual Conference

    first_imgThis image was purchased from iStock.com under member ID 18347305 Return to article. Long DescriptionIt has been just a little over a month since our annual MFLN Virtual Conference entitled “Relationships for Readiness”. The 2019 three-day conference was a great opportunity to showcase  the innovative ways that service providers and educators can rethink their work with military families.The primary focus of this year’s conference was on the Department of Defense’s Family Readiness System. Explained in full detail in this article from Military One Source, the Family Readiness System is all about the network of programs and services that increase the quality of life for service members and their families, as well as promoting collaboration within this network. It is in this spirit of collaboration that we as helping professionals can bridge the gap and work across disciplines, making resources more readily available for military families.The MFLN 2019 VC opening session provided the foundation of the what the Family Readiness System is and featured several panelists from various backgrounds for an in depth discussion on how the Family Readiness System can work for you. The remaining sessions over the three-day conference focused on issues such as: networking, problem solving by utilizing creative visual language (doodling), how to collaborate across boundaries, financial health and issues related to human services, and how to create a network that works for you. Each day’s sessions were also followed up with Q & A sessions to discuss questions and insights throughout the day’s events.A really great tool that was shared for the VC was our printable Idea-Catcher Journal! This pdf printable journal was provided for those who wanted to have a space to doodle and capture their thoughts in a visually represented way. Our Family Development team utilized this journal and it helped us to map out our professional networks. Here is the link to the Idea-Catcher Journal should you choose to use it when watching the archived recordings of the 2019 VC.If you happened to miss out on these great sessions, follow this VC 2019 link to the virtual conference main page. Click the titles for session descriptions and the archived recordings for each session, as well as recordings of the Making Connections Q & A sessions that took place daily. Also, there are multiple types of continuing education credits that are provided for all six sessions; follow this CE credits link for more info and requirements.ReferencesMilitary One Source (2018). Family Readiness System. Retrieved from: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/family-relationships/family-life/keeping-your-family-strong/family-readiness-systemThis post was written by members of the MFLN Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Learn more about us at https://militaryfamilieslearningnetwork.org/family-development, and connect with us on Facebook, and on Twitter.  Subscribe to our Anchored. podcast series on iTunes and via our podcast page.last_img read more

  • Things You Didn’t Know You Could Rent

    first_imgReferences:Bruce, K. (n.d.) 5 Things You Should Rent Instead of Buy (And 10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Rent). Retrieved from http://www.lifehack.org/articles/money/5-things-you-should-rent-instead-buy-and-10-things-you-didnt-know-you-could-rent.htmlYeager, J. (2015). 10 things you should rent instead of buy. Retrieved from http://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-2015/items-to-rent-vs-buy-photo.htmlPresidio of Monterey. (n.d.) Car leases. Retrieved from http://www.monterey.army.mil/Legal/consumer_law/Car_Leases.pdf By Carol ChurchIn part 1 of this series, we discussed the increasing popularity of renting some consumer goods, and why renting appeals to military families. In part 2, we’ll talk about things to consider when making the rent vs. buy decision, and items experts commonly advise for and against renting.What to Consider When Deciding Whether to Rent or BuyWhen is it a good time to rent, and when isn’t it? Experts advise considering these factors: How often will you use the item?If you’ll only pull out that (tent, kayak, circular saw, etc.) two or three times a year, renting is probably the better choice. If you anticipate frequent or long use, don’t rent.Temmu R/Pexels.com, CC0How many times or for how long would you have to rent it before rental costs equal the cost of purchase?For something like a large fishing boat, you’d have to rent it many times to even approach the cost of purchase. On the other hands, items available at typical rent-to-own stores could typically easily be bought for what you’d pay to rent for a fairly short time. What is your commitment to this item or to the activity that the item is for?Ask yourself honestly: will I continue to use this? If the time of high interest is short (as with a video game) or if you’re really not sure if the interest or need will last (as with a fancy tool or a piece of equipment for a new sport), it may be wise to consider renting. How difficult is the item to store and maintain?How much space do you have? Will you be moving soon, and if so, are you going to want to bring this item? Does the item need care and maintenance on a regular basis—and do you want to provide it? Might you actually have to pay to store it? All these factors should be considered. Who are you renting from and what are the terms and conditions?Some rental services are convenience-oriented, some are for luxury-lovers, some are looking to rake in as much profit as possible, and others are trying to appeal to people on a budget. Renters should consider who they’re renting from when thinking about whether this rental is a good choice.They should also look carefully at the conditions and terms.  Are there late fees? What if the item breaks while you have it? Have you looked at the company’s reputation online to make sure they’re not known for poor business practices?What to Rent, and What Not ToAlthough every situation is a little bit different, in general, there are some items that financial experts do and don’t advise people to rent.Good candidates for renting:BoatsThere’s a reason a boat is sometimes jokingly described as “a hole in the water that you throw money into.” Although renting a boat can look costly upfront, these expenses still aren’t likely to compare to the sums you’ll spend on buying, maintaining, and storing your own watercraft.Musical instrumentsIs Junior starting the saxophone? Music teachers and money coaches alike suggest renting a quality instrument from a reliable music store until you’re sure the habit will “stick.”Movies and video gamesFor most people, these are short-use or even one-use items. Accumulating the physical version may not make sense.Vacation homesDoes owning your own cabin in the woods seem tempting? Unless you have the time, energy, and know-how to rent it out to others, this is often another money sink.Poor candidates for renting:Furniture and personal electronicsExperts have long warned against “rent-to-own” businesses that offer short- and long-term rentals of items like electronics and furniture while allowing you the option to buy those items. While they may be appealing to those with limited cash or poor credit, the concern is that consumers end up paying way more than the items is worth if they eventually do buy it. The businesses are also often accused of various shady practices, and even of preying in particular on the military.However, this equation may sometimes look a little different for those in very short-term living situations. In a few limited cases, it might sometimes make sense to rent furniture briefly. However, it’s almost never a good idea to try to buy what you’ve rented, as you will overpay.Leased carsFinancial experts typically advise against leasing cars, considering it an option mainly for self-employed people who can consider it a business expense, or those with a lot of disposable income. Why? Although monthly payments may appear lower, hidden costs can be high and include mileage overages, early termination penalties (almost all leases run 3 years), damage fees (they can keep your security deposit), higher insurance, unneeded extended warranties, and more. What’s more, leases often have special dangers for service members, since their location and needs may change with no notice (did you know you typically cannot move a car lease to another state?) The Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) does provide some protections for military in this situation, but it’s likely to be best not to even get started with car leasing.Stay tuned for part 3 of this series, where we’ll introduce you to some of the interesting rental options available today. Renting or Owning….New Questions to Asklast_img read more

  • Meet us at AFCPE

    first_imgThe Personal Finance team will be set up in the Exhibitor’s Hall at the AFCPE Symposium November 19 – 21, 2019. Will you be there?Stop by our table to share your feedback of our webinars, blog posts, podcasts. What topics would you be interested in learning more about in 2020? We’d love to get to know you and hear from you.Can’t make it to the Symposium this year? Send us an email.last_img

  • U.S. Supreme Court Finds West Virginia Discriminates Against Federal Retirees

    first_imgWest Virginia exempts income that police officers and sheriffs receive from state pension plans from personal income tax. It does not provide the same exemption to pension income received by federal law enforcement retirees who live in the state.The U.S. Supreme Court found that the exemption unlawfully discriminates against federal law enforcement employees.U.S. Marshal Challenges Pension ExemptionThe taxpayer spent most of his career as a U.S. Marshal. He served in West Virginia before his retirement. After his retirement, he received retirement benefits from the Federal Employee Retirement System. He claimed an exemption for this retirement income for the tax years in question. West Virginia denied the exemption.He then challenged the West Virginia exemption claiming it violated the intergovernmental tax immunity doctrine under 4 U.S.C. §111. The statute allows state taxation of compensation paid to federal employees. It also prohibits discrimination against federal employees in the taxation of that income.A West Virginia trial court agreed with the taxpayer. The West Virginia Supreme Court reversed. It concluded that West Virginia:applies the exemption only to a narrow class of state retirees; andnever intended the exemption to discriminate against former federal marshals.Unanimous Supreme Court ReversesJustice Gorsuch delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. It agreed with the trial court’s finding. West Virginia expressly affords state law enforcement retirees a tax benefit that federal retirees cannot receive. So, the pension exemption discriminates against federal retirees The Court rejected West Virginia’s argument about the narrow preference of the exemption.The Court admitted the breadth or narrowness of a state tax exemption is not irrelevant. Under §111, the scope of a state’s tax exemption may affect the scope of its resulting duties. A state that exempts only a narrow subset of state retirees can comply with §111 by exempting the comparable class of federal retirees. But the narrowness or intent of a discriminatory state tax law has never been enough to render it lawful.The Court reversed the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and remanded the case for further proceedings.Dawson v. Steager, U.S. Supreme Court, Dkt. 17-419, February 20, 2019, ¶401-370Login to read more on CCHAnswerConnect.Not a subscriber? Sign up for a free trial or contact us for a representative.last_img read more

  • Kansas Economic Nexus Bill Introduced

    first_imgA sales tax bill introduced in the Kansas Legislature contains economic nexus provisions specific to remote sellers and marketplace facilitators.Economic Nexus ThresholdsAs drafted upon introduction, the bill would require a remote seller or marketplace facilitator lacking physical in-state presence to collect and remit state and local Kansas sales or use tax on taxable Kansas sales if they had:– over $100,000 in Kansas sales in calendar year 2018;– over $100,000 in Kansas sales during the first half of calendar year 2019; or– over $100,000 in Kansas sales during the current or previous calendar year.H.B. 2352, as introduced in the Kansas House of Representatives on February 14, 2019Login to read more on CCHAnswerConnect.Not a subscriber? Sign up for a free trial or contact us for a representative.last_img read more