Making Your Money Go Further

One of the things we all seem to have in common these days is not having enough money.  Too often, we get by from paycheck to paycheck and even then we end up short.  For disabled veterans who must make do on a fixed income unless the VA increases their disability rating, it can feel like there is no way out.

If you don’t do something, the problem just continues.  The worst part is that it also tends to keep growing.  The bills you can’t pay this month become the first ones you pay next month, but that leaves more bills that can’t be paid.  If you can’t find more money, then it makes sense to look for every way you can to make the best possible use of what you have.

Try some of these tips and see if they help:

 

  • Make a list of what you need and stick to it.  That doesn’t mean you can’t spend money on things you like, but start by paying the necessary bills.  The other good thing about using a list is that it helps you remember those items you really need to pick up.
  • Comparison shop.  Often products are cheaper if you’re not buying a name brand.  Don’t scrimp on quality though on important items.  Think about if the item is going to have to last you long term or if it’s just something that you can get by with using the cheaper version.
  • Use caution if you’re thinking of consolidating your bills.  You want to be sure you know what the initial cost of using the company is going to be and what interest you’ll be paying.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers tips on locating consolidation companies and for doing business with them.
  • Set your furnace on the setting you’re most comfortable at and leave it alone!  Changing the temperature can be a big power drain.
  • Keep your checkbook balanced.  The fees for overdrafts can really set you back.
  • Keep a list of what you’re spending your money on for one month.  Then review it to see what items you can cut back on.
  • Save a few dollars each paycheck for emergencies…and use it only for that.
  • Go to the library instead of to a movie.  There is something for everyone there.  Books, DVDs, artwork, book clubs where you can socialize and learn.  You may even find film screening events or lectures.

Budgeting requires effort in order to work.  But in the end, it pays off in less anxiety over those unpaid bills.  Give it an honest try…I think you’ll be surprised!

 

Resources:

Budgeting: Save Money on Entertainment – Quicken Support, and Budgeting: Stretch a Small Income.  http://quicken.intuit.com/support/help/money-guide/

Money Saving Tips & Ideas.  http://www.moneymanagementtips.com/savings.htm

 

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“I Didn’t Even Know Anything Had Happened!”

Sometimes soldiers may be wounded and not even know they’ve been hurt.  You might ask how that could be, but the effects of a traumatic brain injury may not become evident until a day or two has passed. 

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be caused by being too close to an explosive device when it detonates.  Following the explosion, a pressure wave expands outward, and if the soldier is in its path, it may cause a concussion and disrupt brain function.   Traumatic brain injury may also be the result of being hit by shrapnel.

Symptoms of traumatic brain injury may include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confused or disorientation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headache, sometimes becoming severe
  • Chronic pain
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty in social situations
  • Social isolation
  • Verbal or physical outbursts
  • Irritability

TREATMENT —  Many of the symptoms of TBI are similar to PTSD, and so are many of the treatments.

  • Support groups provide emotional support and teach new coping strategies
  • Keep records of important events, people’s names, tasks or other things that are difficult to remember.
  • Develop a routine and stick to it.   Put things back in the same place to keep from losing them and stick to the same schedule to reduce confusion.
  • Pace yourself and know your limits.  Don’t ask too much of yourself, especially at first.  Know your limits and learn to pace yourself so you don’t become overly tired.

Resources:

Mayoclinic.com/health/traumatic-brain-injury

Maketheconnection.net/events/injury

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 Press 1

“Order Up!”

My sister visited over the Labor Day weekend and asked me, “What can I do to help support disabled veterans?”  She wasn’t asking if she could support an individual veteran, but whether there was anything she could buy that would help disabled veterans as a group.  I pointed out that they aren’t after a handout.  I don’t know of one veteran I’ve worked with who wouldn’t trade the disability he or she has to contend with on a daily basis in return for a decent job.

As I pointed this out and she went on to say, “I know they must be good workers, because they have to be able to follow orders.”  That may sound like a simple thing, but being able to follow directions really can be the deciding factor between a good worker and a poor one.

I remember my mother, a school teacher, as she tried to teach her students things that would help them keep a job as much as the lesson plans she was required to teach.  One of her favorite activities was to ask each child to write down the directions for making a peanut and butter and jelly sandwich to take to school for their lunch.  Then she’d take the recipes and make the sandwiches in the front of the class exactly as the recipe stated.  It was a favorite activity for the children too as they were able to watch what happened when she did not follow their directions correctly!

If the recipe said, “take a piece of bread and put peanut butter on it and jelly and put it in your lunch bag.”  She’d take a single slice of bread, put a spoonful of peanut butter on one side, a spoonful of jelly on the other and then she’d stick it in a lunch sack.   As it soaked through the bag, she’d say, “Well, class, is this how you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”  “No!” they’d scream back at her.”  Years later they would come to her and tell her that was one of the best memories they had of their elementary school years.

Knowing how to take orders, follow directions and execute them correctly can be a lifesaver when you’re in a combat situation.  In an employee means having someone who is dependable and capable.  Veterans know the importance of following orders.  They make wonderful workers because they know how to work.   That’s one of the bonuses of hiring a veteran.  We’ll talk about other benefits next week.