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How to Budget for Charity Donations This Year

animated picture of hands and a calculator going through a budget

This Blog Is A Guest Blog By: Paige A. Mitchell

Charitable donations in the United States are at an all-time high. People all over the country are proud to support causes such as disaster relief, colleges and universities, and medical research and innovation. Still, many people are under the impression that only those who are financially well-off are in a position to donate. But that isn’t actually the case.

With the right budget adjustments, almost anyone can set aside some money to donate to a worthy cause. So, just how can you do it? Keep reading to learn how to budget for charity donations this year.

Think about areas where you can cut back

Even if you’re a financially responsible person, there are probably a few areas where you can cut back your spending a bit.

Still paying for a monthly subscription, or even worse, a gym membership that you haven’t used in three months? Now might be the perfect time to cancel. Although small monthly amounts may not seem like a big deal, when you add then up over the course of a year, the number is likely more substantial than you think.

Plan ahead as much as possible

Life is unpredictable and you never know when you’ll have to spend money on a big purchase or repair. Although you may not be able to plan for everything, there are certain things you can do to help yourself stay ahead. For example, you may want to consider investing in home repair insurance so you won’t be stuck paying out of pocket if something major, like your AC, breaks. Enrolling in round-up savings programs is an easy way to add to your savings account without having to put aside too much of your paycheck.

Understand where your money is going

One of the key elements of knowing how to better spend each dollar you have is to understand how you’re currently spending your money.

To do so, take a look at your bank statements from the past three months and categorize each payment: essential expenses (rent, mortgage, transportation, groceries, utilities, etc.), personal choices (gifts, clothes, dinner at a restaurant, etc.), debt (credit cards, student loans), and savings.

This exercise will likely be eye-opening. You may be spending more on personal choices than you should be. You can create your budget based on your current spending habits. Writing this plan down creates a tangible and visual representation of your financial situation, giving you a clearer picture of where you can cut back and how much you’ll be able to donate.

Create a separate savings account strictly for donations

If the money you plan on donating is sitting in your checking account, it can be easy to accidentally spend it. Setting up a savings account just for the money you’d like to donate is the perfect solution.

There are lots of free savings account options out there and many of them have very low balance minimums.

Find a cause you care about

When you find a cause you’re truly passionate about, setting aside some money to donate will feel like a privilege instead of a chore.

When thinking of donating to charity, it’s important to take some time to think about what type of organization you’d like to give to. Whether you’d like to support an anti-bullying campaign or donate to a local shelter, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find a cause you can stand behind.

Giving back to others helps make the world a happier and more positive place. As Anne Frank put it, well, frankly, “No one has ever become poor by giving.”

By following these tips, you can make your saving expression less stressful. Once you’ve successfully saved for one year, you’ll be even more excited to give in the future.

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Helping a Child Cope with a Loved One’s Terminal Illness

young kid sitting in a field looking somber

This Blog Was Wrote As A Guest Blog By: Laura Pearson

When a loved one becomes ill, many people are affected. Family members may be unsure of how best to help, while children might not understand exactly what’s happening. For those who are coping with a loved one’s terminal illness, it can be extremely difficult to figure out how to start a conversation about what to expect or how to deal with all the feelings that come with it. No one wants their child to be in emotional pain, but it’s important to keep a regular dialogue open about the illness and allow your child to be involved in your loved one’s life.

There are several things you can do to help your child cope during such a difficult time. From letting them visit and even care for your loved one to looking for a support group to help them sort out and possibly share their feelings, there are many ways you can help your child get through the illness of someone they love. Keep reading for tips on how to get started.

Know What to Expect

It’s important to know what to expect, both from your loved one’s illness and from your child. Do some research on the illness to learn how it can affect someone, and understand that an individual who knows their diagnosis is terminal may begin to withdraw from friends and family. While this is normal, it can affect your family and leave your child with many questions. It can also help to understand how to talk to your loved one about their illness and how they’re feeling.

Facing the terminal illness of a loved one can be confusing for young children. They may exhibit many different emotions, from fear to anger to sadness. Understanding the complicated nature of these feelings can allow you to help your child through this difficult time.

Allow Your Child to Be Involved

It can be very helpful for your child to be involved in your loved one’s life and care. Even if it’s only in a limited way, assisting may help your little one feel useful and can give them an outlet for coping with the situation. You might ask your child to help you prepare a meal to take to your loved one or to make a visit and help clean their home. Think of the best ways you and your child can help your loved one during this time.

Focus on the Good Times

It can be very helpful to focus on good memories, so get out some photos of your loved one, watch old home videos, and talk about fun times with your child. Allow them to sort out their feelings by talking them out, and let them know that it’s okay to feel whatever they’re feeling. Sometimes nostalgia can bring about a little sadness, and that’s okay; however, focusing on the good times will help your child see that your loved one has had a good life.

Look for Some Help

Your child may benefit from having a professional to talk to, especially if their grief or sadness begins to affect them at school or keeps them from getting good sleep. Look for a therapist, counselor, or support group that can help, and attend with your child to help them get through this difficult time with support.

Helping your child cope with such a difficult life experience can be hard on you, too, so it’s important to take care of your mental health during this time. You may be experiencing grief as well, which can take a toll on you both mentally and physically. Talk to a professional if you feel you need help getting through it.

Image via Pixabay by Langll


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Healthy Ways Kids Can Cope With Anxiety

black and white photo of a boy walking his dog

This Blog Was Wrote As A Guest Blog By: Laura Pearson

Many kids with anxiety do not receive the care their condition requires. A whopping 80% of children with anxiety are not formally diagnosed, which makes it difficult for them to receive the treatment they need. If you suspect your child has anxiety, schedule an appointment with a pediatrician, psychologist, or psychiatrist for testing and treatment. The suggestions below may also help alleviate common symptoms associated with anxiety, regardless of whether your child has a chronic mental health condition or is temporarily concerned about a specific situation.

Pursue a Hobby

Anxiety is generally not an unobtrusive condition. It occupies an affected child’s thoughts frequently, making it difficult to focus on schoolwork or accomplish daily commitments. In an effort to fend off feelings of fear or loneliness, many children turn to hobbies.

Taking up a hobby can boost your child’s mood by giving them an enjoyable activity to concentrate on rather than dwelling on feelings of uneasiness. Hobbies give kids a sense of purpose, which is important because many children with anxiety struggle with low self esteem.

Not sure which hobbies your child should try? Here are some ideas for younger kids:

⦁ Drawing
⦁ Painting
⦁ Singing
⦁ Collecting rocks or other objects

Older kids may enjoy the same hobbies as younger kids, as well as:

⦁ Writing
⦁ Baking
⦁ Growing plants or flowers
⦁ Knitting
⦁ Scrapbooking
⦁ Candle making

You and your child can get additional ideas by browsing the craft section of a local retailer.

Exercise Regularly

There are physical and environmental factors that make a child likely to develop anxiety. Some experts believe that anxiety stems from inflammation in the body. If that theory is true, then exercising regularly may help decrease inflammation, thus reducing or eliminating the symptoms of anxiety.

Before you encourage your child to start an exercise regimen, meet with his or her pediatrician to make sure it’s okay. If your child is usually not active, start with gentle, simple activities like walking or swimming before building up to more strenuous activities or sports. Yoga is another excellent option for kids with anxiety because it’s gentle yet effective and may help promote a calm state of mind.

Take Up Dog Walking

Does your child have any furry friends? Many children find joy and comfort when they spend time with friendly animals. Encourage your child to help walk your family’s dog, or ask neighbors if your son or daughter can help walk their pets. Here are some potential benefits associated with dog walking:

⦁ Exposure to fresh air
⦁ Access to sunlight, which provides Vitamin D
⦁ Encourages physical activity
⦁ Improved mood
⦁ Sense of purpose
⦁ Ability to earn extra spending money

Some dogs are difficult to manage, so you may want to limit your child’s exposure to them. A dog who frequently bites people or runs away may cause more stress for your kid rather than helping them feel better.

You may want to make sure that your child only walks dogs that are vaccinated against rabies or other common illnesses that affect dogs. Dogs can pass some canine illnesses on to humans. The same is true for many other animals, such as cats and birds.

Practice Meditation

Meditation isn’t just for adults. When your child feels anxious, encourage them to sit down and meditate until they feel less worried. Close the curtains and turn off the TV, or put on some soothing music to help your child relax. Have them close their eyes and inhale through their nose, then exhale through their mouth. This should be done slowly and carefully.

Your child can continue focusing on taking deep breaths, or you can ask them to picture something that makes them happy. Depending on their age, this may be a special toy or stuffed animal, a friend or family member, or a special location.

Untreated anxiety can make it difficult for your child to handle homework, extracurricular activities, or outings with friends. Encourage your child to manage anxiety with the helpful coping methods above.

Image via Pixabay

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Your Child Can Learn the ABC’s of Getting Good Zzz’s

This Blog Was Wrote As A Guest Blog By: Laura Pearson

Between sleepovers, camp and family vacation, it’s not uncommon for kids to get off their regular sleep routine during the summer. But with the season coming to a close and school right around the corner, it’s important that you get them back into a healthy sleep routine.

Along with making it easier to get up in the morning, other benefits derived from quality shut-eye for youngsters include increased attention span and learning ability (important when hitting the books), growth support, heart health, weight maintenance and a tougher immune system to help combat all those germs from other peers. Here are some ways to create a back-to-school sleep routine for before and after the first day of class.

Ease Back Into The Sleep Schedule

The best way to adjust your child’s schedule is by easing into it. Sleeping in is easy, but going against the clock is a lot more difficult. With that in mind, gradually set their bedtime back by a half an hour leading up to the first week of school. If you have less time to work with, then you may have to up the ante a bit. If necessary, use a reward system to help motivate your child to get up in the morning.

Set A Homework Routine

Once school starts, create a homework routine that won’t interfere with bedtime. Since studies can sometimes be stressful, it’s not a good idea to schedule a time right before sleeping as it can make it more difficult to fall asleep. Rather, the two most popular possibilities are right after school when your kid is still in work mode, or right after dinner — some kids need a break before diving into homework, so let them choose what works for them.

Eat Dinner At An Appropriate Hour

Eating dinner at the same time every night affects both the homework and sleeping schedules, so choose a time that makes sense — not too late and not too early so you don’t feel stressed coming in the door after work. While there will be some days where everyone’s schedules clash, do make an effort to have dinner as a family on a regular basis.

Research suggests family dinners improve relationships, promote healthier food choices, lead to better grades, increase happiness and relieve stress. Should your child have a hankering for something before bed, don’t hold back as it can make it difficult for them to sleep. However, choose a small snack that’s high in protein and fiber such as hummus, eggs, berries, Greek yogurt, and unsweetened cereal. Avoid sugary sweets and caffeine as that will only make them wired.

Improve Their Sleeping Conditions

Regardless of age, a bedroom should be a place of peace so that it’s easier to fall asleep at night. Start by decluttering — or having your child clean his/her room providing they’re old enough to do so. Not to mention, experts believe that clutter causes kids to become stressed, depressed and teaches them poor habits for the future.

A quality mattress is another a crucial component to good sleep. An old, worn out mattress can negatively affect your child’s rest. Mattresses older than five years will start showing their age by sagging and losing their shape. A new mattress with proper support doesn’t have to break the bank; just be sure to carefully read through mattress reviews for a model that won’t give you sticker shock.

The earlier you can get your child into the back-to-school mode, the better it is for both of you. If you fell behind this year, no worries — simply take note for next summer. After all, getting quality sleep is a year-round concern that’s part of an entire routine, so make sure you’re also addressing meal and homework times so that your kid feels grounded.

Photo Credit: Pexels