Think of your family as a business.
Your family is your personal corporation that makes sales (your work income), has operating expenses (bills), and needs to make a profit (savings and retirement). If you want your corporation to make money, you can do some of the same things a CEO does.
As CEO you should identify expenses that happen once or twice a year: Auto and home insurance, car maintenance and repairs, property tax, or anything over $400 to $500 that occurs regularly. Add them up and divide by 12. This is what you have to save every month to not come up short. Set up a simple transfer to a savings account.
Next, total up last year’s spending by category: Groceries, utilities, phones, maintenance, clothing, dining out. Spreadsheets or checking apps make this fairly easy to keep up with.
Some of that spending is discretionary; things you want instead of actually need. Some things are going to fall a little bit in both categories.
Make big decisions; set limits
Compare income and expenses. If you spend more than you earn, it’s time to put on the CEO hat. Look at discretionary expenses. This is where you can cut spending. Set limits here.
Do you really need a new company car? You can save $300 to $800 a month if you stick with the old one. (Think about how much that adds up to if you keep the car for 10 years! Even with annual repairs, you come out way ahead.)
Think big picture
As CEO you want to focus on the big picture. Don’t make the process too complicated. Maybe for a month — as an experiment — save all your grocery receipts and then analyze expenses as wants or needs. But, too much detail will probably make you want to quit. Stay big picture. If you’re spending within limits, then the plan is working.
Appoint a CFO
Having established spending guidelines for the year, appoint a CFO to make sure bills are paid and spending is within limits. If that is your spouse, and not you, then make sure your partner understands the plan and is on board. Hold a monthly board meeting. Tweak your plan as needed.
A brief introduction to canning
Do you have more produce on hand than you know what to do with? If so, canning is a great way to make sure your food keeps all winter long.
Preparing food for canning
Here are some ways of preparing produce before it goes bad.
• Cooking. Turn your fruit into jam, make tomato sauce or blanch your vegetables before canning them.
• Pickling. Vinegar helps produce become acidic enough to be canned in a water bath. Try cucumbers, carrots, green beans or even peaches in a brine of vinegar and water.
Methods of canning
Home canning involves using sealed glass jars to conserve your food. There are a couple of ways to do this.
• Water bath canning. This method uses boiling water to heat jars and seal them. Only foods with high acidity like berries, pickles and tomatoes can be safely canned this way.
• Pressure canning. This technique involves using high temperatures to can meat and vegetables that aren’t acidic enough to be safely water canned. You’ll need a pressure canner, which is similar to a pressure cooker.
No matter what canning method you use, make sure to sterilize your jars and always use rings that are free of rust and lids that are brand new.
Teaching children to appreciate diversity
The ability to respectfully relate to people from all walks of life is an essential life skill. To this end, parents should strive to teach their children to appreciate differences in others. Here are some things you can do to ensure your kids respect their peers and understand the value of diversity.
Seek out other cultures
Exploring an array of different cultures is a great way to familiarize children with diversity. Traveling is one way to do this, but you can also attend multicultural events in your area. Reading books and watching documentaries are also good options.
Consume inclusive media
Set a good example
If you demonstrate an interest in others and approach differences with understanding rather than prejudice, your child is likely to imitate you. Teach them to take pride in what’s unique about themselves too.
Children need to be taught from a young age that all people are worthy of consideration and respect. Above all, encourage your children to ask questions and be curious about others. Just make sure they understand how to be respectful when doing so.
Is the best blueberry fertilizer grass?
Blueberry bushes are notoriously vulnerable to iron deficiency. This condition causes low fruit yields and can decrease the concentration of antioxidants in the berries.
While the solution is usually to apply artificial fertilizers to the soil, new research suggests there’s a simpler, safer and more sustainable way to help your blueberry bushes: plant grass around them.
Standard ways of correcting iron deficiency
However, both solutions are expensive, difficult to manage, generate toxic byproducts and can harm plant growth.
How grass helps fertilize blueberry bushes
Intercropping, or growing a crop among plants of a different kind, may be a better solution. The roots of some grass species, including the common creeping red fescue (Festuca rubra) and Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), secrete an acidic compound that forms a soluble complex with iron in the soil and blueberry bushes can easily absorb it.
Researchers found that bushes grown in close proximity to these grasses had higher fruit yields and berries with an increased concentration of antioxidants.
If you notice yellow leaves on your blueberry bushes, consider buying some grass seeds. In addition to fertilizing your blueberry bushes, grasses make a great cover crop and will help reduce soil erosion.
Into the woods
Come September, there’s no shortage of reasons to venture into the woods. The leaves are changing color, the days are getting cooler and wildlife is on the move.
If you’re a hunter or fisher, grab your gear. Enjoy a brief escapade in the wilderness and then return home with food for your family to feast on. Or, if you have a free weekend and a tent, you could turn your hunting trip into an overnight excursion.
Is adventure your middle name? Then consider hitting the trails on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or a dirt bike. If you want to do so with your spouse or partner, take the wheel of an off-road utility vehicle (UTV); it has room for more than one.
Do you prefer a quieter, more contemplative experience? Then enjoy the serenity of the local flora and fauna from a canoe or kayak. If you want to stay on dry land, consider hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding through the woods.
Studies have shown that spending time in nature can improve your mood. So, what are you waiting for? Go head out into the woods!
Fall gardening: best bulbs to plant
With the arrival of fall, gardeners should start preparing their yards for winter and spring. For most, an important task is to plant their spring-blooming bulbs. Here are some of the hardiest types.
• Crocuses. This will be one of the first to bloom in your spring garden. Choose from a variety of species in different colors and sizes, and plant them in a spot that gets partial or full sun.
• Daffodils. These spring flowers will grow back year after year with little help from you. Plant them in partial shade or full sun for best growing results.
• Alliums. This ornamental variety of the onion family produces big purple balls of blooms. They love the sun and will return every spring.
• Tulips. These blooms come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. They do best when planted in areas with partial shade or full sun. They’re perennials, so you won’t need to plant new bulbs every year.
To ensure they take, bulbs should be planted before the ground freezes but only after the weather is reliably cool. For a spring garden that’s continuously in bloom, be sure to plant bulbs that flower at different times during the season.
How to help your teen choose a career path
It’s normal to worry about what your teen’s going to do after high school but remember, they’re probably just as nervous as you are, if not more so. Here are some guidelines for helping them make good choices about their future.
Support but don’t hover
Think of yourself as the foundation of your child’s support system. Give them the tools needed to make informed decisions but don’t attempt to make choices for them. Similarly, teach them how resumes and cover letters work, but don’t write them yourself. Let your teen choose and follow their path autonomously.
Identify their strengths
Push passion not prestige
Even if you’re convinced your child would make a great doctor, don’t push them down that path unless they’re interested in it. Spending 40 hours a week doing something they’re passionate about is a lot easier than spending the same amount of time doing something they don’t care for.
In addition to offering your own guidance, encourage your teen to consult a career counselor in your area. These professionals can provide further strategies for choosing a career path.