Merry Christmas :) Now Leave Me Alone :(

It happens every year. We look forward to the holiday lights, the office party, impromptu get togethers with friends and family, and most of us look forward to giving and getting Christmas gifts. So why is this most joyful time of the year so stressful? Why are we so good at sucking all the goodness, peace, and good cheer into shopping madness, stress, and quick tempers.

failed expectationsThe answer is obvious…or should be. It’s the disappointment of failed expectations.

Setting expectations for ourselves is meant to be energizing, motivating, and a guiding light toward a purposeful life. When done right, setting expectations for ourselves can make us better people, improve our relationships, and make us more value employees. When done wrong, as we tend to do with these short term “to-do” lists for the holidays, we fail and stress out. Why?

Setting expectations for the long term can help us change from being self-centered infants to meeting the needs of ourselves and those around us in the framework of a wide perspective.

However, at this time of year we’re setting expectations for about a month’s worth of days that lay between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We have little time, so we over-program ourselves. Our to-do lists automatically set up bloated expectations for ourselves and for those around us, with the results being a tendency toward being cranky, tired, and ungrateful.

Take for example, gift shopping! Since so many of us shop online, we don’t even get to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas malls and the ringing of Salvation Army bells. Instead, we hear only the click-clack of the keyboard as we learn that the gift we’ve located for our grandson has “only 1 more left” so we buy it anyway knowing full-well we’re being lied to in order to get us to “add to cart” before we second guess our decision, which we will anyway when the shipping we expected to be free is more than the money saved choosing gifts on sale.

After we blow our budget, max out our credit cards, give in to whining demands of spouses, employees, store clerks, and Amazon’s shopping cart, we feel like a failure yet still accept every invitation to every holiday party so we can talk with much animation to people we barely know while we snack raw carrots and molasses cookies.

The double-edged sword comes when we not only continue to have failed expectations of ourselves, but also become disappointed in others. But we can stop the madness! This Christmas, let’s agree to appreciate ourselves more, be more patient with ourselves, and accept our shortcomings. It may well be our greatest gift to those around us.

Merry Christmas from the DL MoneyMatters Team

Gratitude & Thanksgiving

Gratitude opens more doors. When you send thank-you notes to new customers or acknowledge the value of their business in any way, you open new doors to opportunity from referrals and additional business.

gratefulGrateful business owners feel better. Long or irregular hours take their toll on business owners and their employees. Busy people often ignore their health and lack time for exercise. Studies show that grateful people take better care of themselves, exercise more frequently, and enjoy better overall health.

Gratefulness improves mental health. It’s as important to take care of our mental health as it is our physical health. Grateful people have better emotional balance. They are less likely to be envious, resentful, frustrated or regretful. Being grateful makes us happier and less depressed when the inevitable downsides occur.

Grateful people don’t get as upset when others are rude or negative. When confronted with unkindness by co-workers or customers, they are better able to handle negative feedback appropriately because they are able to be more empathetic towards others.

Gratitude reduces stress and plays a major role in overcoming adversity. How can we all become more grateful? We practice and experience gratitude on those occasions when bad things happen and we still find something to be thankful for—and not just on Thanksgiving Day.

At DLMM, we are grateful for your friendship and for your business and hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. We wish you plentiful opportunities in the coming season for which to be grateful!

8 Tasks for Small Business Now

 clock (time) and coins (money)Are you still eating the leftover Reese’s Peanut Butter bars left over from Halloween? Are you thinking about where to share Thanksgiving Dinner? Has it occurred to you yet that you need to start a Christmas list for friends, family and co-workers? And what about that holiday party? Sometimes it seems as though early November is merely a gateway to planning, scheduling, socializing and going just a little nuts thinking about the coming holiday season.

Slow down there, cowboy! It’s time to add some end of the year business planning to that mix. We can help!

  1. Verify your employee data. Make sure your records have a few things correct, because employees marry, divorce, and move. The items to check include correct spelling of names, name changes, current addresses, birth dates, and SS numbers. Also be sure tax ID numbers for independent contractors’ Form W-9 are correct and local taxes are accurate.
  2. Have you closed out each quarter for filing payroll tax returns and personal income tax? If there are any discrepancies, make corrections on the 4th Quarter Form 941.
  3. Check for any 3rd party payouts for disability so you have accurate reported amounts on tax returns and W-2 forms.
  4. Even though Congress is beating the drums regarding the ACA, tax form requirements are still in effect. Be sure you know whether you need to comply and check the IRS website for 2017 instructions for Forms 1094 and 1095.
  5. Check for unpaid bills or open invoices and clean up all your accounting-related processes so you can hit the ground running for end of the year reports.
  6. Change your passwords now to protect your business going into 2018. Don’t let your company be at risk for data hacks.
  7. Conduct employee reviews to ensure that everyone understands what’s expected and don’t forget to praise employees for the good job they did for the company this year.
  8. Set new business goals for the coming year. Write them down and share them with key employees.

Early preparations and organization helps us better reflect on the successes of the past, see clearly where change is needed, and prepare you for the challenges ahead.

You can spend more time watching the weekend games, get some fishing in before the really cold weather sets in, or shop early—if you have us do the accounting-related processes for you. If you only have to tackle Items 7 and 8, the coming holiday season just might be better than ever.

Senior Drug Misuse and Abuse

The following article is provided by Cincinnati-based senior home care provider, A Caring Choice. We consider A Caring Choice to be a subject matter expert on senior care and commend them for winning Business of the Year from the Colerain Chamber 2015, and USA Cincinnati Chamber 2014. We encourage our subscribers to sign up for their free monthly newsletter Cincy Senior Corner on their website.

Underestimated and under diagnosed, senior drug misuse and abuse means older adults don’t get the help they need.

seniorMore than 80 percent of seniors age 57 to 85 use at least one daily medication, and more than half take at least five medications or supplements daily, reports The National Institutes of Health (NIH). These older adults are more likely to use long-term prescriptions, use medication improperly, or use another’s medication to save money. All increase the risk of bad drug interactions.

Older adults are in danger of misusing and abusing drugs, particularly by accident. Their bodies have trouble metabolizing drugs. Some medicines they use don’t mix well with other prescribed medications, over-the-counter drugs and herbal remedies. And according to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), highly addictive drugs for anxiety, pain and insomnia often are prescribed for them.

Possible Causes, Likely Symptoms

Life changes can lead to dependency on drugs (and even alcohol):

  • Retirement, loss of income or financial strain
  • Death of a spouse, family member, close friend or pet
  • Loss of mobility, relocation or nursing home placement
  • Family conflict
  • Mental health decline such as depression, stress and memory loss
  • Physical health decline due to major surgeries and pain

Unfortunately, symptoms of dependency often mimic those of actual diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, dementia or depression, or aging itself, the FDA advises.

Treatment and Prevention

Older adults don’t always realize the risks of drug interactions, may be reluctant to admit a problem or ask for help. If family and friends recognize what’s going on, they may not want to intervene—or believe seniors are less likely to benefit from treatment, or that it’s a waste of resources to try.

A family member or friend may need to accompany a senior on doctor visits, organize the older adult’s prescriptions and monitor his or her daily regimen. Abuse may require detoxification, counseling to change unhealthy thinking patterns, and medications to counter the effects of other drugs or relieve withdrawal symptoms—not to mention ongoing support to recover fully.

Prevention is key:

  • Manufacturers can develop safe, effective and non-addicting pain medications.
  • Doctors can spend more time with patients, look for symptoms, notice increases in amounts and frequency of refill requests, and watch for patients who change providers to get prescriptions they want.
  • Pharmacists can help patients understand instructions for medications and watch for prescription falsifications or alterations.

With the help of family and friends, seniors can:

  • Inform doctors about all prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and dietary and herbal supplements.
  • Ask questions about potential interactions with other drugs and alcohol.
  • Follow pharmacist and label directions.
  • Store medications safely.
  • Get rid of unused or expired medications.

Editor’s remarks: DL MoneyMatters and A Caring Choice may from time to time exchange articles for publishing to our respective audiences. We welcome your feedback and hope that you share it with your friends and colleagues who have an interest in topics related to personal finance and senior care.

Amended Bill to Protect Seniors

The vast majority of cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults in the United States go unidentified and unreported. Not less than $2,900,000,000 is taken from older adults each year due to financial abuse and exploitation. Elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation have no boundaries and cross all racial, social, class, gender, and geographic lines. Older adults who are abused are 3 times more likely to die earlier than older adults of the same age who are not abused. Up to half of all older adults with dementia will experience abuse.

Almost 3 billion dollars? It’s sound unbelievable, but these words are from the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act passed by the House and sent to the President this week.

Abuse of senior citizens comes from a multitude of sources. So what can we do to help protect the seniors we love?

WHAT TO DO RIGHT NOW

  • Choose caregivers carefully
  • Keep an inventory of jewelry and other valuables in the senior’s home
  • Gift your senior with a shredder and teach them the importance of using it
  • Monitor their incoming and outgoing mail
  • Obtain their credit score annually
  • Remind them never to answer a phone call that doesn’t have caller ID
  • If having work done in their home or residence, ask to see the worker’s license
  • Review bank statements and credit card bills monthly
  • Talk to your senior about scams and warn them that they may be victimized
  • Stay involved in their life so you can spot warning signs of abuse before they happen
  • If you suspect a scam, call law enforcement to report it

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Medicare/Health Insurance Scams: someone posing as a Medicare representative asking for personal information or providing bogus services from mobile clinics with the intent of gaining personal information so they can bill Medicare and pocket the money.

Counterfeit Prescription Drugs: usually sold over the Internet at cheap prices. They may resemble real drugs but either won’t help a person’s condition or be harmful.

Funeral & Cemetery Scams: Grieving widows or widowers are told their deceased loved one had an outstanding debt with them to extort money to settle the fake debt, or funeral homes that add unnecessary charges or try to up-sell more expensive caskets or funeral services.

Anti-Aging Products: Completely bogus products that do nothing to reverse the signs of aging, and may have toxic consequences.

Telemarketing/phone Scams: With no paper trail or face-to-face interaction, a con artist might lie about finding a large sum of money and is willing to split it if the person will make a “good faith” payment first, or a lie about a child or relative being in the hospital and needing money, or fake charities that are rampant after natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.

Internet Fraud: Popup windows that fool victims into downloading virus-scanning software that is actually a virus, then demanding money to remove it, or an email message that appears to be from a legitimate, familiar company asking them verify or update personal information.

Investment Schemes: Foreigners seeking U.S. partners to claim inheritance money, or complex financial products, are completely fraudulent.

Phony Reverse Mortgages: A “request” from the County Assessor’s Office to, for a fee, reassess the value of a home to reduce the tax burden.

Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams: A phony call or letter saying they have won a lottery or contest of some kind but need to make a payment to “unlock” the prize.

The Grandma Scam: Grandma receives a call from someone who says, “Hi grandma, know who this is?” The unsuspecting grandma guesses a name, and the caller agrees. Once the connection is established, the scammer asks for money to be wired via Western Union to solve a problem (car repairs, medical expenses, etc.).