Monthly Archives: December 2013

It’s almost 2014: want to change?

It’s almost 2014: want to lose weight, exercise more, or quit smoking in the new year?

Try a commitment device. http://ow.ly/s5NT0

(From Freakonomics)

Simple Stuff – Joy and Giving

(Simple Stuff is simply a bunch of inspirational, motivational and other quotes meant to make you think, reflect, smile, even laugh a bit. Hopefully helpful, useful stuff….)

 

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.-Buddha
The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.-Richard Bach
Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.-Albert Einstein
Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.-Mother Teresa
Joy is not in things; it is in us.-Richard Wagner
Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.-Mother Teresa
Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.-Lao Tzu 
I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.-Maya Angelou
Have you filled a bucket today? – Carol McCloud

 

For it is in giving that we receive.-Francis of Assisi
Love grows by giving. The love we give away is the only love we keep. The only way to retain love is to give it away.-Elbert Hubbard

 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.-Jesus Christ

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Rising riches: 1 in 5 in U.S. reaches affluence

Hope Yen, AP Economics Writer, USATODAY.com 12/6/13

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s not just the wealthiest 1%.

Fully 20% of U.S. adults become rich for parts of their lives, wielding outsize influence on America’s economy and politics. This little-known group may pose the biggest barrier to reducing the nation’s income inequality.

The growing numbers of the U.S. poor have been well documented, but survey data provided to The Associated Press detail the flip side of the record income gap — the rise of the “new rich.”

Made up largely of older professionals, working married couples and more educated singles, the new rich are those with household income of $250,000 or more at some point during their working lives. That puts them, if sometimes temporarily, in the top 2% of earners.

Even outside periods of unusual wealth, members of this group generally hover in the $100,000-plus income range, keeping them in the top 20% of earners.

Companies increasingly are marketing to this rising demographic, fueling a surge of “mass luxury” products and services from premium Starbucks coffee and organic groceries to concierge medicine and VIP lanes at airports. Political parties are taking a renewed look at the up-for-grabs group, once solidly Republican.

They’re not the traditional rich

In a country where poverty is at a record high, today’s new rich are notable for their sense of economic fragility. They’re reached the top 2%, only to fall below it, in many cases. That makes them much more fiscally conservative than other Americans, polling suggests, and less likely to support public programs, such as food stamps or early public education, to help the disadvantaged.

Last week, President Obama asserted that growing inequality is “the defining challenge of our time,” signaling that it will be a major theme for Democrats in next year’s elections.

New research suggests that affluent Americans are more numerous than government data depict, encompassing 21% of working-age adults for at least a year by the time they turn 60. That proportion has more than doubled since 1979.

At the same time, an increasing polarization of low-wage work and high-skill jobs has left middle-income careers depleted.

“For many in this group, the American dream is not dead. They have reached affluence for parts of their lives and see it as very attainable, even if the dream has become more elusive for everyone else,” says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, who calculated numbers on the affluent for a forthcoming book, “Chasing the American Dream,” by the Oxford University Press.

As the fastest-growing group based on take-home pay, the new rich tend to enjoy better schools, employment and gated communities, making it easier to pass on their privilege to their children.

Their success has implications for politics and policy

The group is more liberal than lower-income groups on issues such as abortion and gay marriage, according to an analysis of General Social Survey data by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. But when it comes to money, their views aren’t so open. They’re wary of any government role in closing the income gap.

In Gallup polling in October, 60% of people making $90,000 or more said average Americans already had “plenty of opportunity” to get ahead. Among those making less than $48,000, the share was 48%.

“In this country, you don’t get anywhere without working hard,” said James Lott, 28, a pharmacist in Renton, Wash., who adds to his six-figure salary by day-trading stocks. The son of Nigerian-American immigrants, Lott says he was able to get ahead by earning an advanced pharmacy degree. He makes about $200,000 a year.

After growing up on food stamps, Lott now splurges occasionally on nicer restaurants, Hugo Boss shoes and extended vacations to New Orleans, Atlanta and parts of Latin America. He believes government should play a role in helping the disadvantaged. But he says the poor should be encouraged to support themselves, explaining that his single mother rose out of hardship by starting a day-care business in their home.

“I definitely don’t see myself as rich,” says Lott, who is saving to purchase a downtown luxury condominium. That will be the case, he says, “the day I don’t have to go to work every single day.”

Sometimes referred to by marketers as the “mass affluent,” the new rich make up roughly 25 million U.S. households and account for nearly 40% of total U.S. consumer spending.

While paychecks shrank for most Americans after the 2007-2009 recession, theirs held steady or edged higher. In 2012, the top 20% of U.S. households took home a record 51% of the nation’s income. The median income of this group is more than $150,000.

The new rich are now spread across the U.S.

Once concentrated in the old-money enclaves of the Northeast, the new rich are now spread out across the nation, mostly in bigger cities and their suburbs. They include Washington, D.C., Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. By race, whites are three times more likely to reach affluence than nonwhites.

Paul F. Nunes, managing director at Accenture’s Institute for High Performance and Research, calls this group “the new power brokers of consumption.” Because they spend just 60% of their before-tax income, often setting the rest aside for retirement or investing, he says their capacity to spend more will be important to a U.S. economic recovery.

In Miami, developers are betting on a growing luxury market, building higher-end malls featuring Cartier, Armani and Louis Vuitton, and hoping to expand on South Florida’s Bal Harbour, a favored hideaway of the rich.

“It’s not that I don’t have money. It’s more like I don’t have time,” said Deborah Sponder, 57, walking her dog Ava recently along Miami’s blossoming Design District. She was headed to one of her two art galleries — this one between the Emilio Pucci and Cartier stores and close to the Louis Vuitton and Hermes storefronts.

But Sponder says she doesn’t consider her income of $250,000 as upper class, noting that she is paying college tuition for her three children. “Between rent, schooling and everything — it comes in and goes out.”

Economists say the group’s influence will only grow as middle-class families below them struggle. Corporate profits and the stock market are hitting records while the median household income of $51,000 is at its lowest since 1995. That’s a boon for upper-income people who are more likely to invest in stocks.

At the same time, some 54% of working-age Americans will experience near-poverty for portions of their lives, hurt by globalization and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs.

Democrats and Republicans are awakening to the new political realities

Traditionally Republican, the new demographic bubble makes up more than 1 in 4 voters and is now more politically divided, better educated and less white and male than in the past, according to Election Day exit polls dating to the 1970s.

Sixty-nine percent of upper-income voters backed Republican Ronald Reagan and his supply-side economics of tax cuts in 1984. By 2008, Democrat Barack Obama had split their vote evenly, 49-49.

In 2012, Obama lost the group, with 54% backing Republican Mitt Romney. Still, Obama’s performance among higher-income voters exceeded nearly every Democrat before him.

Some Democratic analysts have urged the party to tread more lightly on issues of income inequality, even after the recent election of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who made the issue his top campaign priority.

In recent weeks, media attention has also focused on growing liberal enthusiasm for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., whose push to hold banks and Wall Street accountable could stoke Occupy Wall Street-style populist anger against the rich.

“For the Democrats’ part, traditional economic populism is poorly suited for affluent professionals,” says Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University professor who specializes in political polarization.

The new rich includes Robert Kane, 39, of Colorado Springs, Colo.

A former stock broker who once owned three houses and voted steadfastly Republican, Kane says he was humbled after the 2008 financial meltdown, which he says exposed Wall Street’s excesses. Now a senior vice president for a private equity firm specializing in the marijuana business, Kane says he’s concerned about upward mobility for the poor and calls wealthy politicians such as Romney “out of touch.”

But Kane, now a registered independent, draws the line when it comes to higher taxes.

“A dollar is best in your hand rather than the government’s,” he says.

AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta, News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius, and AP writers Suzette Laboy in Miami and Kristen Wyatt in Denver contributed to this report.

Simple Stuff-Miracles

Xmastree

(Simple Stuff is simply a bunch of inspirational, motivational and other quotes meant to make you think, reflect, smile, even laugh a bit. Hopefully helpful, useful stuff….)

Usually miracles happen a good bit before you see their effects.  Like starlight reaching the earth, except faster. Which means some really huge ones may have already happened.  Act surprised, The Universe (Mike Dooley, tut.com)

Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing.-Wayne Dyer


Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature.-C. S. Lewis


Miracles happen everyday, change your perception of what a miracle is and you’ll see them all around you.-Jon Bon Jovi


Don’t believe in miracles – depend on them.-Laurence J. Peter


Out of difficulties grow miracles.-Jean de la Bruyere

See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky?-M. Night Shyamalan


I think miracles exist in part as gifts and in part as clues that there is something beyond the flat world we see.-Peggy Noonan

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
― Albert Einstein

How much do you need to retire?

Do you know over 58% of people don’t know how much they need for retirement?

Do you?
Here is a good, simple site that you can plug in info and play with…in just 1 minute.

Take the time! It is easy to look at, don’t wind up broke!

Most people spend more time buying the right big screen TV than they do planning their retirement.

http://money.cnn.com/calculator/retirement/retirement-need/

A great video about giving, making others feel special

I don’t know WestJet but this is a great video about making others feel special, giving, happiness, and touching others.

Please watch!

Teens Who Feel Supported At Home And School Sleep Better

Teens Who Feel Supported At Home And School Sleep Better

by Patti Neighmond

from NPR.ORG 12/5/13

A teen’s relationship — or lack of good relationship — with parents, pals or teachers may have a lot to do with why most kids aren’t getting the nine to 10 hours of sleep that doctors recommend. The hormonal disruptions of puberty likely also play a role.

That’s the word from David Maume, a sociologist and sleep researcher at the University of Cincinnati. Maume recently analyzed federal health data from a survey of 974 teenagers who were questioned first when they were 12 years old, and then again at age 15. His findings appear in the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Teens who had very warm relationships with their parents — who said they felt supported, for example, and could talk to their folks — tended to sleep better, Maume found. “Whereas, families going through distressful times — divorce or remarriage — that tended to disrupt teen sleep,” he says.

Having problems or feeling unsafe at school also disturbed sleep, though students who said they had good relationships with teachers tended to sleep better.

Teens who reported having strong friendships with peers who shared similar academic goals, or who were involved in sports or other school activities also got a better night’s sleep.

Kids, it turns out, aren’t so different from adults in this way. “If we’re happy and content,” Maume says, “we’re much more likely to sleep better than if we’re distressed and anxious and worried.”

Of course, teens are often more drawn to their computers and social networking than adults are. But Maume found that when parents were strict not only about bedtime, but also about limiting technology, the kids slept better.

“It’s a finding that seems obvious,” Maume says. “But perhaps we need reminding that parents really do matter when it comes to health habits of their teenagers.”

The national data suggest that, on average, kids lose about an hour and a half of sleep a night between ages 12 and 15 — dropping from about nine hours per night to a little less than eight.

Nudging that number back up to the recommended nine or 10 nightly hours seems impossible to Stacy Simera, an Ohio mental health therapist who is also mother to 14-year-old Graig.

“As a mom, my role is to set the right environment for my son,” Simera says. “He does not have caffeine. He does not have TV in the bedroom, [and] no cellphone or iPad in his room when he’s supposed to be asleep.”

Graig’s good about all of that, Simera says. But even if he hits the sack at 9 p.m., she’ll often hear him tossing and turning until after 11.

Dr. Shalini Paruthi, who heads the pediatric sleep and research center at St. Louis University, blames the shifting hormones of puberty for throwing a wrench into the internal clock of many teens.

“They’re not as sleepy as early as they used to be,” Paruthi says. “So, in grade school they were easily going to sleep and getting sleepy at 8:30, [but] now they’re getting sleepy at 9:30 — and for some kids it goes much further.”

As with many hormonal changes, some people are more affected than others. But whatever the cause, statistics suggest that kids who don’t get the ideal nine or 10 hours total of shut-eye each night are at higher risk for things like poor academic performance, colds, flu, depression and — among teens old enough to drive — accidents on the road.

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