New Site

I know I haven’t written in a while, but I now have a new site. Www.SwagNotSwine.com please follow me.

My goal with this segment is to not only continue with a pork free diet, but a more healthy diet overall. No more sugary drinks and snacks, and avoiding all other high calorie and fat intake, and depending on healthier alternatives. Not only will I be documenting my personal progress, but sharing positive advice, support and information for all of you to also begin or continue a healthy, positive lifestyle.

Change is good and it’s good to change. Enjoy!

-Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Week 6 of Budget 101

Part 6: Save on the Special Things

Vacations.  Birthdays.  Holidays.  We know they’re coming, and yet it is so easy to blow our budgets just because “it’s a special occasion.”  If you’re still with me after all this time, you should be starting to feel pretty good about your budget.  After all, you’ve been able to make a distinction between your wants and needs, you’ve set a budget for yourself, and hopefully found ways to save some money on the big things (like housing & insurance), the necessary things (like utilities & groceries), & even the fun things (like shoes and wine!)

(NOTE: Before we go any further, if you are new to my blog or missed out on the last five weeks, you might want to start at Week 1 of Budget 101 before starting this week’s assignment!)

If there is no leeway in your budget for those things that only come up once in a while, you may find yourself seriously strapped for cash when the time comes.  Since holidays, birthdays, & vacations are terrible times to be worried about money, it is best to plan ahead.

This week’s assignment:

Keeping your online buying hidden

1. Set a Special Occasions Budget.

Sitting down and actually writing down how much you can afford to spend is a giant step towards saving money in this area.  Too often we get caught up in wanting to “splurge” for something special, but those splurges can catch up with us!  After all, there are a LOT of special occasions throughout the year!  By looking at them as a whole, rather than a once-in-a-while thing, it is easer to see the big picture.  It is also easier to set limits for ourselves when we are not caught up in the moment!

2. Find ways to save throughout the year.

I realized during my college years that coupons DO work. The key to saving lots of money with coupons is to buy things when they are at their rock bottom price, then stock up for when you need them.  This method of shopping has easily been carried over to the rest of my life, and has saved me a lot of money in the long run.

The more you plan ahead & buy things when they are cheapest, and not when they are most convenient, the better off you will be.  Stock up on items for the next year in the post-holiday clearance sales or buy toys & other gifts in bulk when you find a great special.

You can also keep in your purse or wallet, a list of people or occasions you know you will need to buy gifts for in the next year. Make sure it includes how much you have budgeted to spend.

3.  Be on the lookout for good deals!

Once again, this is more of an ongoing assignment, and once again keep in mind there are always going to be more bargains available than you can afford to spend. Stick to the list and to your budget. Last week I listed several of my favorite places to score great deals; those same places apply here.

4.  Shop around & compare prices

This almost goes without saying, but is especially important when you are booking vacation travel!  Because prices fluctuate so much, there are no hard, and fast rules about where to find the best travel deal.  The only constant is that prices change a LOT, so shop around!

If you are traveling to a specific destination, be sure to price out all your different options, and to check a variety of travel sites before you book.  Don’t assume that package prices will be cheaper–sometimes they will and sometimes they won’t– be sure to check smaller, independent airlines in addition to larger travel sites when booking flights.

On the other hand, if you just want to get a great deal on a vacation but aren’t too particular about where you go, you may want to check out some of the daily deal sites like Groupon, Eversave, Totsy, & Living Social that offer vacation deals.  Additionally, Jet Setter is a daily deal site that exclusively offers high end vacation deals for a fraction of the normal price.

5.  Start Working On Handmade Gifts

Consider handmade gifts for as many people as possible.  With more time to plan, you also have more time to put together something really special.  Even better, those gifts will probably mean a lot more–it truly is the THOUGHT that counts!
Even if you’re not that creative on your own, the internet is full of amazing handmade gift ideas.
*   *   *

And that’s all for this week!!!!! Stay tuned for next week’s saving challenge next Sunday.

Color Code Your Keys

Nail Polish Keys

Its self-explanatory. Any questions, feel free to send an Email or comment.

Make sure to do two coats on each side. The only task that took up time was waiting for one side to dry before painting the other side.

Food Pyramid Turned My Pyramid Turned My Plate

Most of us have seen the iconic USDA Food Guide Pyramid at some point. It was first introduced in 1992, was remade in 2005 as My Pyramid, and in 2011 was changed to My Plate. All of these eating guides incorporate the different food groups and try to give us an understanding of how to eat a healthy diet. But have you ever wondered if they are correct? Who wrote them?

What research are they based on? Does profit or the food industry create a bias in these models? Why have they changed? Do you really need to eat 11 servings of grains in a day? Is there really a one size fits all diet? This article will help you understand the answers to all of these questions.

Food Pyramid

THE FOOD GUIDE PYRAMID

The original Food Pyramid was created in 1992 by the United States Department of Agriculture. It became the uncontested model for a “healthy diet” in schools, doctor’s offices, on food labels, and in the media. For more than 20 years, Americans tried to follow this high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet recommended by the Food Pyramid. The results are in, and sadly Americans are sicker and more over weight than ever before in our nation’s history. So what went wrong?

As the Food Pyramid held the power to greatly influence the multibillion dollar food industry, was the original Food Pyramid solely based on nutritional science, or was it was influenced by commercial interests? As more research has been done, it has become clear that a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat is not optimal for disease prevention. (1)

A diet high in pasteurized dairy and carbohydrates causes inflammation and an overly acidic body pH, which is an underlying factor in almost every chronic disease. (2) It is also clear that many people are allergic to or have a difficult time digesting dairy and grains.

The Healthy Eating Pyramid has six levels. Foods from the six major food groups are shown in the levels of the Pyramid. The food groups are:

  • grains;
  • vegetables;
  • fruits;
  • milk and dairy products;
  • meat, fish, beans and nuts;
  • oils and fats.

File:MyPyramidFood.svg

MY PYRAMID

The 2005 My Pyramid model, which was like the original one turned on its side, was heavily criticized from the beginning as being too confusing and overly vague. The one good thing about this model was that it incorporated exercise as one of the “steps to a healthier you.” However, it still placed grains as the largest source of calories and did not incorporate our need for healthy fats.

With the massive increase in processed foods, this model did not help Americans navigate all of these choices. Many products advertised the number of “whole grains” it contained while being full of refined sugar, food additives, trans fat, genetically modified corn and soy, preservatives, artificial colors and flavorings, and other unhealthy ingredients. (3) A great example of this is breakfast cereals. The idea that Lucky Charms, Coco Puffs or Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a good and healthy breakfast choice—just because it contains whole grains—shows how far off track we’ve gone.

MyPyramid was a visual illustration of suggested healthy eating habits and physical activity. Like its predecessor, the Food Guide Pyramid, MyPyramid combined the government’s dietary guidelines and recommended allowances into six food groups. But instead of illustrating the number of servings based on a one-size-fits-all 2,000 calorie intake, the MyPyramid symbol itself showed six vertical color bands, each representing varying proportions of the pyramid. These colors represented the food groups as follows.

  • Orange for grains
  • Green for vegetables
  • Red for fruits
  • Yellow for oils
  • Blue for milk
  • Purple for meat and beans
  • Fruit Group should provide 4 daily servings, or 2 cups.
  • Vegetable Group should provide 5 servings, or 2.5 cups.
  • Grain Group should provide 6 ounce-equivalents (1 ounce-equivalent means 1 serving), half of which should be whole grain..
  • Meat and Beans Group should provide 5.5 ounce-equivalents or servings.
  • Milk Group should provide 3 cups/servings.
  • Oils should provide 24g or 6 teaspoons.
  • Discretionary Calories: The remaining amount of calories in each calorie level after nutrient-dense foods have been chosen. Up to 267 calories could be consumed in solid fats or added sugars if the other requirements were been met

MyPlate Food Pyramid Replacement

MY PLATE

In 2011, the new “My Plate” was introduced. This is a significant improvement from its predecessors as it is much easier to visualize what it actually means on your plate. My Plate really makes meal planning easier. Just by looking at the icon, you know right away that vegetables and fruits should take up half the plate (with the veggie portion being a bit bigger), and grains and protein foods should take up the other half (with more grains on this side). And with a side helping of dairy, you’re reminded to include milk or another dairy food (like cheese or yogurt) in your daily meal plan.

Because My Plate is a divided plate, no one food group overpowers the others. That’s because dietary guidelines encourage eating a variety of foods and discourage “super-sized” portions which can lead to weight gain and obesity.

Although the food guide icon has changed, the USDA’s message about eating well has stayed the same. Everyone still needs to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with lean meats or other forms of protein and low-fat dairy products.

Oils provide important nutrients and are recommended in small amounts but aren’t included on the My Plate icon. Choose oils over solid fats, but limit the amount you eat.

Exercise is also no longer included in the icon, but it’s still an important component of a healthy lifestyle. Everyone should and will benefit from exercise. Starting at 2 years old, kids need at least 60 minutes of moderate to physical activity each day.

Criticisms are that it still does not help us navigate what kinds of foods should be in each category. Before the industrialization of our food supply, these categories were very simple. Now we are bombarded with thousands of choices and new “food products” on the shelves of the supermarket every week.

So what should we eat!? The question, “what is a healthy diet?” seems to still remain once we take a deeper look at the shortcomings of these food models.

9 Smart Ways to Save on Car Insurance

Understanding Auto Insurance Basics Liability Collision Comprehensive

Much like having to pay for utilities or car repairs, paying for car insurance is one of those annoying expenses that we all have bear, even if we don’t really want to. But while purchasing auto insurance may be unavoidable, paying too much to insure our vehicles are something to watch out for.

Although most of the time we simply just pay the bill without really thinking about it, there are actually some clever ways most of us can decrease our car insurance rates, at least a little.

Don’t believe me? Here are nine smart ways to save on car insurance that are well worth reviewing. Even if you’ve heard some of them before, taking the time to make sure you are following them could save you hundreds with just a phone call or two:

1. Review Your Policy Annually

Like with home insurance, it is important to be vigilant about reviewing your auto insurance policy on an annual basis to make ensure you are getting the best rate and to find out if there are any new or additional discounts available. Your insurance agent will not do this for you, at least not without you asking him to. Instead, you must be your own best advocate when it comes to paying less for insurance.

2. Shop Around

While it is easy to get attached to a particular agent or agency, particularly one who has served your family for years, it always pays to shop around.  Even if you decide to stick with your current provider, comparing prices and getting multiple quotes will give you a much clearer idea of what you could or should be paying, and will also give you more leverage for negotiating rates.

Interestingly, according to the Allstate policy specialist I spoke with, choosing the cheaper premium may not always be the best route to take. He suggested determining what coverage you need or expect to require as well as researching claims procedures (such as time to respond, special benefits, etc.), and then determining what type of relationship you want (face-to-face, web only, etc.) Once you’ve researched all these factors, and created a list of companies that offer what you are looking for you will have a much better way of comparing cost to value.

3. Combine Insurance Policies

While shopping around is important, it can also payoff big time to carry all your various insurance policies with the same carrier to take advantage of a multiple-policy discount.  Furthermore, bundling policies can not only cost you less money, it can also make life easier by giving you one reliable contact (your agent) for your insurance needs and questions.

4. Be a Safe Driver

One of the most effective ways to pay less for insurance is to be a safe and conscientious driver, as the best premiums and rates are offered to those without speeding tickets or accidents tarnishing their records. On top of that, many insurance companies give bonuses and credits for every additional year of safe driving.

But what if your record is already tarnished? Is there any way to redeem yourself once you’ve made a mistake?

Surprisingly, yes. While you can’t magically erase a bad driving record, you can vow to become a better driver from now on, and the longer you can go without any driving infractions, the more likely you will be to get a discount. Turn off your cell phone before getting in the car, eliminate other distractions as much as possible, and obey the speed limit and other traffic signs. Furthermore, it is sometimes possible to go to traffic or driving school to keep tickets from appearing on your driving record. Be sure to inquire if this is a possibility in your area!

5. Increase Your Deductible

Increasing your deductible is a quick and easy way to get a lower rate. Yes, your deductible will cost more if you ever need to file a claim, but as a good driver you may never need to. Even increasing your deductible by just a few hundred dollars can save you thousands over the long run. Of course, as our Allstate policy expert reminds us, just make sure it’s still an amount you can afford in case there comes a time that you do have to make a claim. Remember too that changes you make don’t have to be permanent—if the deductible feels too high you can always lower it again later on.

6. Drive an Older or Safer Vehicle

Insurance is often the last thing we think about when shopping for a new vehicle. We become distracted by all the beautiful colors and the shiny bells and whistles, and it isn’t until we actually have to write that first insurance check that we consider how much our pretty new car is really going to cost us.

Thus, before purchasing a new or used vehicle it is important to do a little research in order to factor in the cost of insurance. Older vehicles are generally much cheaper to insure than new vehicles because their value is greatly reduced. But, according to our Allstate analyst, age and value are not the only factors that come into play: The type of car could impact your insurance rates. For example, safety aspects of certain vehicles may end up costing less, while an expensive car could cost more to insure because it can cost more to replace. You also may be eligible for discounts if your vehicle includes certain safety features or is deemed an economical car.

7. Drive Less

Most auto insurance companies will offer discounts for vehicles that incur low annual mileage, which means that if you own a car that doesn’t get driven much or if you can find a way to drive less, you can save a bundle. There are many ways to do this, including carpooling to work (which can also provide additional carpool discounts), moving closer to work, walking, bicycling, or taking public transit when possible, or becoming more efficient with your errands by bundling them as much as possible. The added benefits of driving less include less wear and tear on your vehicle, significant gas savings, and less risk of accidents. 

8. Install Safety Features

While most newer vehicles come pre-equipped with standard safety features, installing additional safety features to older cars can help greatly decrease your insurance premium. Vehicles equipped with safety features such as automatic seat belts, running lights, an alarm system or anti-lock braking system can all save you money on your policy.

If your car doesn’t already have ABS installed in it, check to see if it would be worth the cost of installation. Insurers love the anti-lock braking system because its been tested thoroughly as a safety device and has a track record for effectiveness. Anti-lock brakes are highly effective in driving conditions where you may need to brake hard. You can keep control of the vehicle better especially when it comes to stopping on ice in a pinch.

Likewise, installing an anti-theft device may also help reduce your premium. Check with your insurance agent to be sure.

9. Take Advantage of Special Discounts

In addition to safe driver discounts, most insurance companies offer a variety of other discounts on auto insurance. While these do vary by state and company, just a few of the discounts that you may be able to take advantage of include Good Student Discounts, Senior Discounts, Retired Discounts, and Resident Student Discounts. At Allstate, Teen drivers can even take a TeenSmart driving class to lower their premiums.   There can also be significant discounts available for paying early, paying in full, or paying through automatic withdrawal.

Furthermore, while some occupations are not at all favored by insurance companies, others may qualify for discounts. You can end up with a higher rate of insurance for jobs in such fields as journalism, real estate agents, sales representatives and even entertainers, but giving your insurer information that is as specific as possible can help lower your rate. A journalist for example may get a high premium but if she is listed as an editor then she can get a lower premium. In any case do NOT be dishonest about your occupation or you may hurt your chances of qualifying for future claims. The occupation you state has to be reasonably close to what you do for a living.

While taking the time to review your auto insurance policy may not be the most enjoyable hour of your life, the thrill of saving a couple of hundred dollars should more than make up for a few minutes of tedium. These nine smart discounts are certainly a great place to start, but always remember be your own advocate and to seek out the best possible rate no matter what.

12 Smart Ways to Save on Home Insurance

Key chain: Home shape and car keys

Few of us would consider the possibility of not having homeowner’s insurance.  Like paying for health insurance or utilities, it is just one of those annoying-but-necessary expenses we simply have to put up with, whether we want to or not, or whether we ever actually use it or not.

But have you ever stopped to consider whether you might be paying too much to insure your home?

The problem with expenses like insurance is that because we accept them as a fact of life, we don’t always think about making sure we are getting the best possible rate.  The truth is that homeowner insurance policies can vary a lot, and even if you shopped around when you first purchased your policy, new options or reductions may have become available in the meantime.  The most important thing to remember is that it is not your insurance provider’s job to make sure you are getting the best rate.  YOU must be your own best advocate when it comes to paying less for insurance.   As such, it is best to be vigilant about re-checking your policy once a year to make sure you are always paying as little as possible.

Still not sure where to start?  Here are 12 very smart ways to save on homeowner’s insurance that you may not have considered:

Shop Around

While it is easy to get attached to a particular agent or agency, particularly one who has served your family for years, it always pays to shop around.  Even if you decide to stick with your current provider, comparing prices and getting multiple quotes will give you a much clearer idea of what you could or should be paying, and will also give you more leverage for negotiating rates.

Take Advantage of Special Discounts

Many insurance companies provide special discounts for a variety of factors, including age, driving record, student report cards, and more.  They will not automatically apply these savings—you have to ask for them!  Be sure to review an updated discount list each year to see if your family has qualified for any new discounts.

Raise Your Deductible

One of the quickest ways to lower your insurance payment is to raise your deductible—the amount you would have to cover before your insurance kicks in.  This works because the more you have to pay out of pocket in case of emergency, the less risk the insurance company has to assume.  Of course the flip side is that in the event of an emergency, you would need to cover a much larger deductible, which means that this is only a good option if you are willing and able to keep an emergency fund in place. (In a sense, your emergency fund is like your own mini insurance policy.)

Only Insure the Cost to Rebuild

Most home insurance policies will automatically cover the total value of the home, rather than the cost to rebuild.  If you live in an area where the property values are higher, this means that you may be paying a premium to insure your land, when all you really should be insuring is the cost to rebuild in the event of emergency or disaster.  It is important to note that changing the amount you have insured may or may not be an option depending on your mortgage company.

Combine Policies

While shopping around is important, it can also payoff big time to carry all your various insurance policies with the same carrier to take advantage of a multiple-policy discount.  Furthermore, bundling policies can not only cost you less money, it can also make life easier by giving you one reliable contact (your agent) for your insurance needs and questions.

Make Your Home More Disaster Resistant

While prepping for a disaster won’t necessarily lower your insurance rates (though it might), it could save you from having to make an expensive claim.  In other areas, smart ways to prepare might include cutting down tall trees close to the house

The best way to prepare for a disaster is before it happens. In addition to taking precautions for protecting your house, it is a smart idea to create a disaster preparedness kit and household emergency plan just in case.

Improve Home Security

Installing a home security system is not as difficult or expensive as it might sound, and many insurance companies will offer a significant discount for homes with a home security system.  Adding additional locks, motion sensor lights, and other home security features can help as well.  Check with your provider for specific details.

Maintain A Good Credit Score

While this is not always the case, your credit score can have a big impact on your insurance rates.  Some insurance companies will consider anyone with poor credit “high risk,” which will ultimately result in a higher rate.  While not all insurance companies use credit as a gauge, it is definitely a smart practice to use credit wisely in any case in order to avoid potential red flags.

Ask for a Long Term Discount

While it is not necessarily a good idea to stick with the same old insurance carrier you’ve always had, there might be a way to make that loyalty work in your favor.  If you have been with the same insurance company for more than five years, be sure to ask about long-term discounts, which are rate reductions based on the number of years you have been insured through a particular company.  Again, these discounts won’t happen automatically, so you do still have to be vigilant, but it never hurts to ask!

Switch to Private Insurance

If you live in a high-risk areas that has been susceptible to flooding, hurricanes, or other natural disasters, you may have been told that your government insurance is your only option.  However, this may not be the case!  Be sure to check with a local insurance provider to see if there is a private insurance option available at a less expensive rate.  You may be surprised at what you find.

Buy a Cheaper House

While it might not be practical to move just to save on home insurance, the house you live in does have a huge impact on your insurance rates.  It goes without saying that the more expensive your home, the more expensive your insurance will be.  If you are in the market for a new house, consider downsizing to a smaller house or cheaper location.  Also look for features to your new house that will help keep rates down, such as added security or features that make it more disaster-resistant.

Compare Insurance Rates by Neighborhood

All neighborhoods were not created equal when it comes to homeowner’s insurance.  Proximity to the ocean, elevation, flood risk, and any other claims common to your neighborhood all play a factor, and, according to the Allstate policy expert that we spoke with, things like how close you are to a fire hydrant and fire station, environmental issues, theft and more are also considered.

This means that even just a few blocks can make a huge difference in what you will pay for your policy.  If you are shopping for a new home, be sure to consider location in your decision, and to find out what your insurance rate would likely be before you make an offer.  (Allstate has a tool you can use called Calm and Costly Claims  that helps identify the most common and costly claims in your zip code.)  The “perfect” house might not be as good a deal as you think!

The common theme running through all these ideas is that YOU as a homeowner must be vigilant about making sure you are always getting the best insurance rates.  Your insurance agent will not do this for you!  Set a date on your calendar to review your policy using the ideas on this list, then make sure to repeat the process annually.  You just be pleasantly surprised at how much you are able to save!

What Every Mom Needs to Know About Insurance

As parents, it’s our responsibility to make sure our kids are cared for. We go out of our way to keep our kids safe, from buying bicycle helmets to Band-Aids to winter coats, right down to holding their hand when they cross the street.

Most of us worry endlessly about our kids’ well-being. I know I do! But as much as we worry about the little things, it’s sometimes easy to let the big things, those risks and dangers that are a little more intangible—slip by ignored or unattended to.

A big part of protecting our kids, as well as securing financial peace, is making sure our families are covered for the big things including natural disasters, an injury or illness, job loss, or worse. Even so, it can sometimes be hard to determine exactly what coverage you need, especially when it seems like most insurance salesmen only want to play on your emotions.

When money is tight, you certainly don’t want to overspend on coverage that you don’t need, but you need be protected from major catastrophe. The best approach is to do your research ahead of time and be aware of the state of your family’s finances before you get a sales pitch.

It is important to remember that it’s not the insurance agency’s role to make sure you’re getting the best deal on insurance. It is up to you to be your own advocate and to get the best rate. Insurance isn’t something you can put on the back burner and just pay each month.

To get the best rates, you must continuously (at least once a year) revisit your insurance policies and do some comparison shopping. Plans and offers are constantly changing to meet the needs of the market. Rates can fluctuate as your family’s needs and situation change as well. Adding another driver, building on an addition to your home, changing your security system, or bringing a new member of your family into the world can all raise insurance questions and call for a little guidance.

There are seven types of insurance that you NEED: Homeowners/Renters, Auto, Health, Disability, Long-Term Care, Identity Theft, and Life.

Other insurances you should consider is also boat, farm and travel.

resizedimage600583-Home-Insurance-Icons

Home

If you’re paying a mortgage, the lender requires homeowner’s coverage, but even if you’re lucky enough to own your home outright, you want to be sure that you’re protected.

For renters, insurance protects your possessions in case of fire, theft and, in some cases, flood. Renters insurance is often thought of as optional, but as a parent, you must cover yourself in case of tragedy. Renters insurance is often really quite inexpensive (less than $20/month!) and it’s very important if you have big-ticket items that might be difficult to replace, such as audio equipment, collectables, exercise gear, televisions and appliances. Take inventory of your household and make a list of those larger items that could be damaged or stolen, and would result in major financial hardship if you’d have to replace them.

There are several ways to save on homeowner and renter’s insurance. You can raise your deductible, combine policies and do some home improvements and emergency preparations to raise the protection level on your home. Improvements to home security can also help you save, as can new windows, doors, and extreme weather protection.

Auto

 When we think insurance, auto insurance is often the first thing that comes to mind. Driving is possibly the highest risk activity that any of us do almost every day, and we all know the importance of having liability coverage. In many states, it’s now illegal to operate a vehicle without liability insurance or proof of financial responsibility.

In our litigious society, unfortunately, coverage is mandatory to protect yourself from financial ruin in case of an accident or driving mistake. One moment can change your life and the life of another driver forever. Trust me, your mind will be at ease when you know you’re protected.

When it comes to auto insurance, the value of your vehicle is important when you’re determining the amount of coverage and type of insurance you need. If your car is in its twilight years, you may feel comfortable with less coverage or just liability. If you have a newer car (or if you’re paying off a car loan), you need to have full coverage to keep your investment safe.

There are several other ways to save on car insurance. Shop around, compare rates, and don’t become too loyal to just one agency or provider. There are good driver discounts, multiple car discounts, and even good grade programs for driving teens and students. Installing safety upgrades or attending defensive driving courses can also help lower your monthly payments and save you when it comes to paying for coverage.

family health insurance coverage

Health

Health insurance is so important. As parents, we know we must take children to the doctor for regular checkups. We also know that serious health issues can come out of nowhere, and without coverage they can leave households financially devastated. For the many of us just surviving in todays middleclass, we make enough to pay all our bills, not enough for the extras, and too much for any assistance such as government plan health insurance such as Medicaid, family health plus and their attached HMO plans.

Many employers offer health insurance at a cost which also requires deductibles and co-pays, but if yours does not, or if you’re independently employed, private insurance providers are available. Under the Affordable Care Act, you may qualify for low-cost coverage based on your income. Keep in mind though, low-cost means anywhere from $200-$400 per person a month with deductibles and co-pays which is low cost for health insurance.

Consider a Health Savings Account and/or a high deductible plan to save the most. An HSA can save families thousands of tax-free dollars every year, which you can use toward your deductible, so your monthly premium will be lower. You can use your HSA for prescriptions, and depending on the plan, eye exams and preventative care.

Disability

Disability insurance should cover 65% of your income, and most employers offer disability coverage. It’s often something that’s overlooked, but one in seven workers will face a disability before retirement.

You should be sure your disability insurance is long-term. My personal opinion is that you should have 3–6 months of expenses saved up, which would cover your needs in the case of a short-term or minor disability. It’s the long-term scenarios that you should plan for. Most disabilities (90%) are not covered by worker’s comp or social security.

The effects of a disability can financially ruin a family if you’re not properly prepared. Many workers facing disabilities can be out of work for three years or more. Consider what would happen to your family should they face an unforeseen accident or tragedy that leaves you unable to work.

Long-Term Care

As a parent, long-term care is not necessarily something that’s on any of our minds, but it’s a necessity for anyone over age 60. If your parents cannot afford long-term care insurance, this may be something you want to consider.

Consider the scenario of a parent who is facing a condition like dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, and requires long-term care. This situation can quickly eat up your parents’ retirement savings and even dip into your own savings and accounts. Those who qualify for Medicaid will receive some assistance, but it often leaves patients with limited options and plans for complete care.

As you near your 60s, long-term care should be on your horizon and part of your post-retirement financial plan. It’s a way to make sure you don’t financially burden your children or spouse and ensures you won’t leave them unable to make ends meet.

Identity Theft

If you’ve never faced the horror in dealing with having your identity stolen, then consider yourself very lucky. With data breaches on the rise among major retailers, it seems like everyone is at risk. Identity theft can cost you big-time in terms of time, money, effort, and just general headaches. In a worst-case scenario, identity theft can damage your credit and make recovery very difficult—even if you’re an innocent victim.

Part of your insurance portfolio should include identity theft protection. You should be sure it includes an identity restoration service that can fix the damage and get your identity restored and safe once again. Teaching your family good identity-safety habits such as limiting your exposure online and protecting your passwords can help protect you as well, but should the worst happen, insurance will be a lifesaver.

Long Island Insurance Company

Life

Life insurance can be a little confusing. The general rule of thumb is you need term, not whole life. Cash value insurance can sound like a great way to invest and save money, but truth be told, it doesn’t offer high returns at all and generally is a poor performing product.

Term life insurance, on the other hand, is a way to cover yourself until you’re debt free and in a position to invest. It offers a way to help your spouse or children settle your estate and survive in relative comfort should something happen to you.

Term life insurance can help you cover burial costs and the costs of paying off your debt, plus further support of your family, particularly if you’re the sole breadwinner.

Facing uncertain scenarios in life is always unsettling, but having the proper insurance coverage can ease your mind and allow you to sleep a little easier at night. Look into the faces of your children and think of all the ways you would love to keep them safe. Insurance is one of the most simple, practical, and logical ways to protect your loved ones. 

Beginners Budget 101

 

My goal for this series is to guide you through a series of assignments intended to put you on sounder financial footing.  Basically it is eight weeks to a better budget. It is my personal guide, a beginners budget 101.

Each week we will tackle one specific area for us to work on, and then complete assignments related to that segment of our financial life. Keep in mind, just as anything you need to do in life, following this series will take some effort & commitment on your part. There are many ways to budget your financial life, and this is the blood, sweat, & tears edition. Okay, well maybe no blood 🙂

Every Sunday will mark a new week towards a better budget. Come join me and save! Click on Budget 101 in the menu scale, and use the drop down to view the series by week.

Disclaimers: 

  • I am not a financial expert or certified financial planner.  I have degrees in business administration, criminal and business law, have studied accounting, and am a certified tax preparer.  I have no credentials whatsoever beyond my own experience to qualify me for teaching anyone about saving money.  There are plenty of money experts out there who could probably explain this stuff far better than me, and some I will even refer you to.  My only goal here is to try to break down the scary world of budgets and saving into manageable bites.  Yes, this is the baby steps guide to saving. This is my personal guide, and its work for me.

Don’t Sign That Lease Yet

When looking for a living rental, whether being an apartment, loft or house; you may have a lot lingering in your head such as, questions, expectations, plans and maybe even excitement or stress. Perhaps you’re excited about turning your new place into a home and decorate (which is my favorite), or you are nervous about your move. No matter what your situation, when shopping for living rentals, the most important thing you must do is to thoroughly study your lease before signing it. Aside from reviewing the lease, always ask your landlord or apartment manager questions about renting, or about any other aspect of life in your perspective new dwelling. He or she should be helpful and must address all your queries, and more importantly, put what you’ve discussed into writing in case you have to return back to it for reference. Whatever you do, always read your lease, and don’t adjourn it for after you sign it.

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So, what are some important questions to ask when looking at rentals before signing a lease???

  • How much is the rent?
    • Questions about rent cost are very basic yet very crucial, as the apartment must fit your budget of course. You may be able to even negotiate a change in the rents price, but some landlords are settled for what they want to rent their property for. Keep in mind that it may send a red flag that you may have difficulties in paying your rent if you ask to lower the price.
  • When is the rent due?
    • Usually rent is due on the first of every month, but it may be different due to your move in date. Sometimes an extension is available, so ask if there is one, and if there is interest or a fee attached to your late payment.
  • What is the length of the lease?
    • Some leases are month to month, every half year or yearly. If you are renting a room, a lease is normally weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or yearly. It is also important to be aware of what happens when your lease is up since some landlords do renew the lease, and some may just void it and allow the tenant to stay as long as they continue to pay their rent.
  • Under what circumstances can I break the lease?
    • Some landlords allow their tenants to break their lease once they prove that they have been relocated for work or have purchased a house, keep in mind that not all do. Some landlords or agencies may even allow you to break your lease due do crime such as a burglary. A few years ago, my apartment was robbed while I was at school, and my landlord allowed me to break my year lease since I was worried I may be targeted again because I was barely home and lived by myself. Leases can also be broken if the landlord does not keep their end of the bargain as well.
  • Which utilities am I responsible for?
    • Utilities make a big impact in apartment costs, so be sure to gather as much information about them as possible. If you are responsible for electricity, heat, trash and/or water, you want to make sure you can afford those payments within your budget. If utilities are included, you should know if there are any limitations. Some places have a set thermostat with a limit temperature and timer included when heat is included.
  • What is the cost of the utilities for the apartment I would like to rent?
    • To help budget your cost, ask the property owner what is the normal monthly rate for utilities. If he or he is unaware, you have the ability to call your local utility companies, and request an estimate based upon the past usage of previous tenants.

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  • Is the heating electric or gas?
    • Generally it is cheaper to heat water with gas than with electric. Electricity costs about four times as much as natural gas for the same amount of heat. If a dwelling is heated by electricity, it’s especially important to call the utility company to find out about past electric bills at that address.
  • Who is responsible for hot water?
    • Sometimes the landlord pays for hot water, and sometimes tenants pay. Hot water is often the second biggest part of your utility bill, so it’s important to ask this question before renting. Again, call the utility company to find out what past gas and electric bills have been for that address.
  • Am I provided with cable, satellite service or internet?
    • Some places include internet with a monthly limit of GB usage while cable may only include only certain channels.
  • Who is in charge of yard work?
    • Some rentals include yard work such as snow plowing, and mowing of grass as well as bush trimming in the rent. Not all rentals include these services and it is the tenants responsibility to care for the properties yard. My rent includes all yard work, except my own personal gardening of course 🙂

Image result for street parking signs

  • What is the parking situation?
    • This is a very important question if you own a car. Check if you will be provided with your own parking spot, and ask whether your guests can use other parking spaces when they visit your place. If there are no off street parking spaces available, it’s good to know where parking on the street is available, the distance from there to your dwelling, as well as the city/town laws in regard to parking on the street. Some cities have alternating parking days while others may not.
  • Can I make improvements in the apartment?
    • We sometimes may not like how the sink or shower spits out water, and may want to change faucets. Check and see if there is anything in the dwelling that you would like to have changed, and see if you can change it. Some landlords may even deduct from your rent if you show proof of cost for your efforts.
  • Can I re-paint or hang décor?
    • This is important as well. You might have found the perfect location, but what if its walls are painted in a dreadful color? Some landlords will allow you to re-paint while others won’t. Some rentals also will not allow to have anything hanging on the walls due to the potential damage from drilling holes or hammering nails. Details about redesigning should be included in the lease.
  • Is there a lot of noise? Are there rules to noise?
    • If noise is a huge issue for you, you better make sure you know if other tenants or neighbors make a lot of it. If you are one who creates the noise, ask what are the limits, and if it will be a problem. You have to show neighbors respect no matter where you move. Having company shouldn’t be an issue, but when it’s loud company, it can be.
  • Can I have pets?
    • Ask about the pet policies. Each place will have its own set of rules and regulations about pet ownership. Some will allow pets while others won’t. Some communities are very particular and will even look into a pet’s breed type and weight. Additional security deposits may apply for your pet, and you should be aware, just as the landlord should be aware of your pet’s presence.
  • Can I sublease?
    • In some rentals, you will be allowed to take in a roommate or perhaps, add another name to the lease after moving in. Make sure this option is available in case you are in need for the extra help with expenses or just want to help out a family or friend.

When looking at rentals and asking questions, try to think in both the long and short term. There are lots of rentals out there, and asking the right questions is key to choosing the best one for you.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Language Barriers Create Country Borders

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We all should learn a new language not just to communicate, but to be able to get a better understanding of others around us. We need to start the process for the generations to come to live life where we all get along and live in a world where we survive together instead of fighting one another. We should be able to live in a world without borders or barriers, but it begins with language……Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

我們都應該學習一種新的語言不只是溝通,但要能更好地理解我們周圍的人。我們需要啟動該進程為世世代代居住生活的地方,我們都相處和生活在一個世界裡,我們生存的戰鬥,而不是彼此在一起。我們應該能夠生活在一個沒有邊界或障礙,但它開始用語言。……Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Todos deberíamos aprender un nuevo idioma no sólo para comunicarse, sino ser capaz de obtener una mejor comprensión de los que nos rodean. Tenemos que empezar el proceso para las generaciones por venir a vivir la vida en el que todos llevamos y vivimos en un mundo donde sobrevivimos juntos en lugar de luchar entre sí. Debemos ser capaces de vivir en un mundo sin fronteras ni barreras, pero comienza con el lenguaje…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Мы все должны выучить новый язык не только для общения, но, чтобы иметь возможность получить лучшее понимание окружающих нас. Мы должны начать процесс для будущих поколений жить жизнью, где все мы вместе и жить в мире, где мы выживаем вместе, а не бороться друг с другом. Мы должны быть в состоянии жить в мире без границ и барьеров, но это начинается с языка…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Nous devrions tous apprendre une nouvelle langue et pas seulement de communiquer , mais pour être en mesure d’obtenir une meilleure compréhension des autres autour de nous . Nous devons commencer le processus pour les générations à venir de vivre la vie où nous entendons tous et nous vivons dans un monde où nous survivons ensemble au lieu de se battre les uns les autres . Nous devrions être en mesure de vivre dans un monde sans frontières ni barrières , mais il commence avec la langue…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

يجب علينا جميعا أن نتعلم لغة جديدة ليس فقط للتواصل، ولكن لتكون قادرة على الحصول على فهم أفضل من الآخرين من حولنا. نحن بحاجة للبدء في عملية للأجيال القادمة أن تعيش حياة حيث أننا جميعا الحصول على طول ونعيش في عالم حيث نعيش معا بدلا من محاربة بعضهم البعض. يجب أن نكون قادرين على العيش في عالم من دون حدود أو حواجز، ولكنها تبدأ مع اللغة…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Noi tutti dovremmo imparare una nuova lingua, non solo per comunicare, ma per essere in grado di ottenere una migliore comprensione di altri intorno a noi. Abbiamo bisogno di avviare il processo per le generazioni a venire a vivere la vita in cui siamo tutti d’accordo e viviamo in un mondo in cui sopravviviamo insieme invece di combattere l’un l’altro. Dovremmo essere in grado di vivere in un mondo senza confini o barriere, ma inizia con il linguaggio…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Tất cả chúng ta nên học một ngôn ngữ mới không chỉ để giao tiếp, nhưng để có thể có được một sự hiểu biết tốt hơn về những người khác xung quanh chúng ta. Chúng tôi cần phải bắt đầu quá trình cho các thế hệ mai để sống cuộc sống mà tất cả chúng ta được cùng sống trong một thế giới mà chúng ta tồn tại với nhau thay vì chiến đấu với nhau. Chúng tôi sẽ có thể sống trong một thế giới không biên giới hoặc các rào cản, nhưng nó bắt đầu với ngôn ngữ…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Dapat namin ang lahat ng malaman ng isang bagong wika ay hindi lamang upang makipag-usap, ngunit upang magagawang upang makakuha ng isang mas mahusay na pag-unawa ng iba sa paligid sa amin. Kailangan namin upang simulan ang proseso para sa mga darating na henerasyon sa live na buhay na kung saan namin ang lahat ng makakuha ng kasama at mabuhay sa isang mundo kung saan nagpapatuloy kami magkasama sa halip na labanan ang isa’t isa. Kami ay dapat ma upang mabuhay sa isang daigdig na walang hangganan o hadlang, ngunit ito ay nagsisimula sa wika…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Մենք բոլորս պետք է սովորել նոր լեզու է ոչ միայն շփվելու, այլեւ կարողանան ստանալ ավելի լավ հասկանալ, թե ուրիշների շրջապատում: Մենք պետք է սկսել գործընթացը, որ սերունդների է ապրել կյանքը, որտեղ մենք բոլորս միասին, եւ ապրել մի աշխարհում, որտեղ մենք գոյատեւել միասին, այլ ոչ թե պայքարում են մեկը մյուսին. Մենք պետք է կարողանանք ապրել մի աշխարհում, առանց սահմանների եւ արգելքների, բայց դա սկսվում լեզվով…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Wir alle sollten eine neue Sprache nicht nur zu kommunizieren, aber in der Lage, ein besseres Verständnis der anderen um uns herum zu sein zu lernen. Wir müssen den Prozess zu starten für die kommenden Generationen zu leben, wo wir alle zusammen zu bekommen und leben in einer Welt, wo wir zusammen statt gegeneinander kämpfen zu überleben leben. Wir sollten in der Lage, in einer Welt ohne Grenzen oder Barrieren zu leben, aber es beginnt mit der Sprache…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Ba chóir dúinn go léir teanga nua ní hamháin a chur in iúl, ach a bheith in ann a fháil tuiscint níos fearr ar dhaoine eile thart timpeall orainn a fhoghlaim. Ní mór dúinn chun tús a chur le próiseas do na glúine atá le teacht an saol nuair a fháil againn go léir chomh maith agus ag maireachtáil i ndomhan ina maireachtáil againn le chéile in ionad an troid a chéile chun maireachtáil. Ba cheart dúinn a bheith in ann maireachtáil i ndomhan gan teorainneacha nó bacainní, ach tosaíonn sé le teanga…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Waxaan oo dhan waa iney bartaan luqad cusub ma ahan oo keliya in ay la xiriiraan, laakiin si ay u awoodaan in ay helaan faham wanaagsan oo dadka nagu wareegsan. Waxaan u baahanahay si ay u bilaabaan habka loo jiilasha soosocda in ay ku noolaadaan nolol halka aan dhan u hesho iyo ku noolnahay adduun halkaas oo aan ku noolaan wada halkii ay dagaal midba midka kale. Waa in aan awoodin in ay ku noolaadaan dunida oo aan xuduudaha ama caqabadaha, laakiin waxay ka bilaabanaysaa afka…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Ние всички трябва да научат нов език не само да общуват, но за да бъде в състояние да получи по-добро разбиране на другите около нас. Ние трябва да започне процеса за идните поколения да живеят живот, където всички ние се разбираме и да живеем в един свят, където можем да оцелеят заедно, вместо да се биете един на друг. Трябва да можем да живеем в свят без граници или бариери, но тя започва с език…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Children and News

 
                 
Since my stepson was 3, he has been viewing the news on our local channels as well as NBC, MSNBC and CNN with me. At 9 years old, he now watches the news every morning before going to school, and at night during the evening broadcast. I am a current event and history fanatic, and see a major importance in both.  CNN, NBC and MSNBC not only take over my television screen, but my phone, including apps for breaking news notifications. I love to know what’s going on not only locally, but world wide. I believe children should be just as aware. Today’s news will be tomorrows history. Take my poll below and see what others believe and how you and I may agree or differ.

Don’t Always Baby Your Baby

Don’t Always Baby Your Baby

It is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings

Good parents realize that there is always much more for them to learn about in regards to being “good parents”. In a perfect world, parents would all have boundless energy, patience, knowledge, tolerance, understanding and flexibility, but no one is perfect. There is so much more to being a parent than just putting them to sleep, feeding them and buying their necessities. It also includes having a wide variety of practical skills in which more than majority of parents aren’t equipped with to have the ability to inquire, or even have the knowledge of the skill’s being, let alone their importance and affects.

When it comes to my stepson,  or my own future biological children….it is not my job — and it is certainly not anyone else’s — to prevent them from feeling frustration, fear, or discomfort. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that those things are not the end of the world, and can be overcome or used to their advantage.

If they get stuck, it is not my job or anyone else’s to save them immediately. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn to calm themselves, assess their situation, and try to problem solve their own way out of it.

  • I don’t want my children to learn that they can’t overcome obstacles without help.
  • I don’t want them to learn that they can reach great heights without effort.
  • I don’t want them to learn that they are entitled to the reward without having to push through whatever it is that’s holding them back and EARN it.
  • I want my children to know the exhilaration of overcoming fear and doubt and achieving a hard-won success.
  • I want them to believe in their own abilities and be confident and determined in their actions.
  • I want them to accept their limitations until they can figure out a way past them on their own significant power.
  • I want them to feel capable of making their own decisions, developing their own skills, taking their own risks, and coping with their own feelings.
  • I want them to climb that ladder on the slide without any help, because they can. I know it. If I give them a little space, they will soon know it too.

Because, as they grow up, the ladders will only get taller, and scarier, and much more difficult to climb. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather help them learn the skills they’ll need to navigate them now, while a misstep means a bumped head or scraped knee that can be healed with a kiss, while the most difficult of hills can be conquered by chanting, “I think I can” to “I know I can” to “I did it”

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

A Blog For My Step Son

This article is based on the free eBook

My nine year old stepson Felix is filled with creativity, quite more than energy, but I love that he has a creative side. We spoke  about starting a blog made by him for other kids who share similar interest or just like to explore into other thoughts and ideas, but we have yet to begin one. Im thinking of allowing him to express freely to the free world about random subjects or stories that comes to his mind including recipes and crafts. Of course I’ll  be monitoring his sharing and interaction with others, but maybe an audience greater than our household would give him more initiative to use and share his creativity in writing format as well as also help him with his computer, syncing, coding and writing skill. For all my fellow wordpress artist and writers, like this post if you believe a child should be able to create thier own site and blog , but even better, leave a comment with ideas or thoughts you have towards this subject or ideas about what he should blog about.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

X-out E-Cig Reliance

X-out E-Cig Reliance

vapor

The terrible health and social consequences of being a smoker are convincing more and more people to make the switch to smoking electronic, or e cigarettes. E cigarettes provide smokers with a means to avoid the agonies associated with nicotine withdrawal, without the harmful side effects caused by tobacco usage. Unlike using snuff, chewing tobacco, pipes, cigars, or other ways to obtain nicotine without smoking cigarettes, e cigarettes completely free former smokers from the toxic and carcinogenic effects of tobacco smoke. Within a few weeks of switching to e cigarettes, smokers find that they stop coughing, regain lung capacity, and generally feel much healthier. Even though the carcinogenic effects disappear, the carcinogen matter doesn’t. A recent study claimed hidden high levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde were found in e-cigs, potentially increasing lifetime cancer risk by 5 to 15 percent.

People using, or considering using electronic cigarettes should acknowledge that they are not healthy for you. Using them entails inhaling a highly addictive, somewhat toxic compound – nicotine – into your lungs. Hence, just like cigarettes are highly addictive, so are electronic cigarettes. As a result, all of the side effects associated with nicotine use are associated with electronic cigarette use.

That said, electronic cigarettes are certainly preferable to traditional tobacco products, because even if they contain nicotine and entail its side effects, they do not contain the thousands of other toxic compounds in tobacco that cause other health issues. For instance, nicotine, on its own, is not known to be a carcinogen. This means that nicotine alone does not cause cancers; the many other tobacco compounds found in cigarette smoke, as well as additives that cigarette manufacturers add, cause cancers. Cigarettes contain over 4000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing carcinogenic compounds and 400 other toxins.

Chemicals in a Cigarette

So, though electronic cigarettes are admittedly, somewhat negative for your health, it seems that they are far less risky or unhealthy than using tobacco. Some doctors and researchers even suggest that switching from tobacco use to e cigarettes is an effective implementation of a strategy known in the medical world as “harm reduction”.

The idea behind harm reduction is that though addiction (such as that of a smoker’s to nicotine) and other issues will lead some people to participate in behavior that is detrimental to their health, that these people should be encouraged to engage in those behaviors that are of the least harm to themselves and others as possible. Harm reduction only reduces, but does not cure nor put an end to habit.

 

Therefore, a smoker switching to e cigarettes does not help he individual quit the habit of smoking or addiction to the nicotine or tobacco, but ONLY represents harm reduction for two reasons:

  • It minimizes the smoker’s exposure to toxic and carcinogenic compounds while satisfying their physiological and psychological cravings for nicotine.
  • The switch to e cigarettes also reduces the health impact that smoking has on bystanders near a smoker.

while a smoker will pollute the air around them with side stream and second-hand smoke, a person using an e cigarette inhales harmful products, but exhales a harmless vapor that dissipates nearly instantly. Though this vapor looks like smoke, it is odorless, and contains none of the chemicals that are so harmful in secondhand smoke via cigarettes. As a result, bystanders have nothing to worry about whenever someone smoking an e cigarette is nearby. If more people switch to e cigarettes, the negative public health effects of secondhand smoke will be reduced, but the harm done to its host and addiction does not completely disappear.

 

Smoke by gorky

The nicotine that is contained within electronic cigarettes is known to have certain side effects. But first, a few facts about nicotine: first, it is highly toxic. Doses over 30 mg have the potential to be fatal to human beings, who have a fairly low nicotine tolerance (however, ingesting this much nicotine at once would require smoking at least a pack of cigarettes simultaneously, affixing dozens of nicotine patches to the body at once, or drinking the fluid from e cigarettes – as a result, death by nicotine poisoning, like many other substances, is a very difficult thing to achieve by accident). In the lower doses that are administered by tobacco products (measured in single milligrams), nicotine has various effects. It is a mild stimulant, and like most stimulants, it affects the cardiovascular system. It elevates heart rate, and constricts the blood vessels in the body. As a result, the use of nicotine is strongly related to the development of heart disease, high blood pressure, and vascular diseases. Given that coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death of people within the United States, this is certainly a serious concern to be aware of.

In addition to nicotine, the liquid that is used by e cigarettes contains two or more other compounds: the base compound (propylene or vegetable glycol), and one or more food flavoring compounds (which give the vapor a flavor). The base compound, usually propylene glycol, is listed by the United States Food and Drug administration as a compound “generally recognized as safe” for use in products that humans use. Hence, it’s used in foods, medicines, cosmetics, and other products quite regularly without ill effects. The food flavor compounds used are the same compounds that one would find in candies and other processed food products on a regular basis, and as a result, are recognized as safe. Neither is known to cause side effects.

So regardless of the much popularity amongst potential quitting smokers, electronic cigarettes are not intended to be used as a smoking cessation aid. Some people find that it is helpful to kick the tobacco habit before working on kicking the nicotine habit so don’t expect to rely on E-cigs to do the job of quitting smoking. Cigarettes may have been an addiction you are fighting to quit, but E-cigs can become your next.  X-out E-Cig reliance.

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Samantha Jonas-Rongo

My Every Day Dillema

PROUD TO BE NATIVE AMERICAN, AFRICAN AMERICAN AND NIGERIAN

Genocide-Slavery

lol they don't start speaking spanish to me but they do assume I'm hispanic

Seriously my situation, no one ever guesses im black and white its always hispanic they think I am until they see my dad

Even after I explain my ethnicity, people still assume I speak Spanish. I have even been told that I should  because even “Puerto Ricans”, “Dominicans” and “Cubans” stem from African, European, Native American and Spanish roots and Spanish is their native language. Well, I’m not Puerto Rican, Cuban nor Dominican and neither is anyone in my bloodline of my ancestry. I do not have Spanish nor European roots and no one on my mothers Native American side speaks Spanish and neither does anyone from my father’s African American and Nigerian side, so I’m unable to speak Spanish to benefit your racist stereotypical expectations. I’m proud to be a Native, Nigerian and African American.

You want to fix racism, start in the mirror.

BASED UPON WHO BUILT THIS COUNTRY, LOOKS AS THOUGH I AM A TRUE AMERICAN.

-Samantha Jonas-Rongo

I Am a Mother, Accept It

I Am a Mother, Accept It

A mother is a mother; is a mother. I don’t care if she gives birth, adopts, fosters, or is co-parenting her boyfriend’s/ fiancé’s/ husband’s kid(s) with his kids’ mother.

Giving birth immediately makes a woman a mother, a bio mother, but not necessarily a parent. A mother, yes, this is biological destiny, a religious blessing, and simple anatomy science. This is fact. It does not matter if she is not raising her child. It does not matter if she does not play any significant role in the child’s life at all. It does not matter who she is or what she does for a living or how much money she has or what her IQ is. The fact that she gave birth is indisputable. It makes her a biological mother, but not a parent.

Adopting or fostering makes one a mother and a parent. You have a legal document that says so. You are doing the mothering, parenting and the loving. You are building a relationship and a history with your child. You are a mom.

Mom is in the term “step-mom”.  Again, you are building a relationship, and a history with a child, or children, they’re your child, your children.

I am a mom as well. I didn’t give birth to any, but I am a mother, accept it.

To those many woman in my shoes or alike, that’s loving, providing for and protecting a child or children that’s not theirs, you are a mother to that child or children, regardless of their bio moms availability, relationship or opinion. In your heart, as well as the child(ren)s, their father’s, maybe mother’s (depending on your sexual preference), you do have a role without boundaries, because your love has none. Don’t believe you have a place that is limited or a role that is minimum, you loving a child that’s not yours is normal, not weird. A woman who’s says its weird is a woman who has the inability to do it herself.

When another woman takes place in a childs life, this woman is automatically a bad character in too many mothers eye’s. Some even take it to the extent to share that opinion with their child(ren). She now becomes topic in conversation amongst a mother’s conversation with her family and friends, but majority of the time, a jealous, classless and even coniving woman makes it a negative one almost everytime. Some are even caught in lies when others from her party try to intervene.

It’s still a valid question to ask why do many woman say they want to know who’s around their child(ren), but do not take the time to learn about them woman to woman. She may say she wants to see if she’s a good person, but when she finds the good, its not shared amongst her circle, but she rather negatively discuss her and even tease her flaws. Most likely because that other woman is a better woman, and may even make a better mother. In the end, from the very beginning, a mother can continue to show that the only negative woman involved in that child’s life is the actual mother herself with her rude comments, disrespectful, and even violent demeanor towards the woman she expects to be of high value to be good enough for her child(ren).

 

Why does it feel like some bio-moms need to make it a war, or a competition? Someone always has to be the loser, and the other the winner. Or another woman has to be trying to take over instead of working with. Some women and their “territory”, it’s sad. A child isn’t property. A child is human aren’t they? Aren’t people, people, and not ones property?

Why must a woman be able to accept another woman as a mother figure, and even call them mom, ma or say they are “like” or “are” their mom, but when it comes to their own child(ren), no other woman can be that to them? Why must she ask her child(ren) if the other woman makes them call her mom? Or even tell their child(ren) never to call her mom? Eventually the child(ren) will realize that his or her neighbors, celebrity idols, friends, and other family members call another woman mom or ma and realize it is normal, and not a crime. Thus, he or she will then realize how selfish, immature and even jealous their mother is or was, and will call that other woman ma or mom at their own will.

shooting-star-tattoo-1

What many of us woman need to understand is, is that woman who do act like that, are woman who do not have the ability or willingness to love, and nurture a child that is not their own, and maybe one that is as well. She cannot be with a man who has children Of his own nor take care of a child or children who isn’t hers and provide that child with what One needs emotionally and spiritualy to grow healthy and happy.

You’re a mother. She’s a mother. You’re a mother. I’m a mother, accept it.

How does a child have the ability to have a step-father, or simply have a man around and involved, who’s not their father, in their life, but another woman can’t step foot near or have time spent with them and a step mom is of nonexistence and is treated as a crime? I’m confused.

Be glad that a child of yours has extra love and guidance in their life. Even though you may have used, or use your child(ren) as pawns, doesn’t mean that “house” is a game that another woman plays with your child(ren) as its pieces.

“This is MY child”, “These are MY kids”, an unconfident or threatened woman would reply or start a conversation with. Obviously the other woman didn’t give birth, you did, so that is not needed to be mentioned. You aren’t proving a point of who’s the mother, or that you are the one in control, you’re showing how weak, threatened and unconfident you are as a woman, as a mother.

A woman who shows that persona when it comes to her own, and shows her over protectiveness to a man that has children himself, shows that his children will never be priority nor good enough to be considered her own and therefore, that relationship nor any other will work. It scares and turns off a man, its shows far off from being a loving woman and a mature mother.

It is crazy and completely irrational, but one may think another woman is trying to take her kid(s) from her, or that their kid(s) would like the other woman better and wish she were their mom instead. A not so great mother with a guilty conscience or unconfident woman feels her motherhood has been threatened or questioned, like perhaps she was being judged and maybe she has been discovered as not a good enough parent. But, a great and confident mother would know better, and therefore would do better.

Love is what makes a mother, not just biological science or spiritual religion.

Whether our children are biological, adopted, fostered, step or spiritual, love is what gives us that role of influence in another’s life. We are mothers because we love, and love is paired, so often and necessarily, with sacrifice.

Having a heart doesn’t make you compassionate any more than having a brain makes you intelligent. You had the tools to create a child as any woman does, but that doesn’t mean you have the correct priorities or guidance to raise one. Some woman, and their so-called “motherly love, fight and awareness”, it’s sad and even sadder of the lack of knowledge and commitment some have to fulfill the role of a positive, rational and loving mother.

Good mothers set a high enough bar of being ones mother and a confident and mature mother would not be in fear of losing the role she loved and valued so much. If she knew she was doing the job correctly, there would be nothing to fear, only something to gain, the additional love that her child(ren) would endure. And being a mother involves sacrificing your own pride for your child(ren)’s emotional well-being and allowing your child to love another.

Love and sacrifice.

The love we give, and the sacrifices us woman make for the love we give is what makes us mothers. Its about what our child(ren) needs, not what we want. I will be dressed in rags before I keep my stepson, well my son, away from what pleases him. He wants to do martial arts, my hair appointments will now take place in my own bathroom. He needs extra support with school work, I will adjust my schedule. He wants to spend more time with me, my nights out come to an end. He is the son of my fiancé, I am the fiancé of his father. In the same, I am a mother, he is my son. He’s not a part of my biological DNA, but we are both major key parts in each other’s positive emotional well-being, spiritual world and life in whole.

It was love that led Christ to come to earth, and it was love that led him to, and through the cross. As women made in his image, we are called to love and serve those in our care, whether they are our physical or spiritual children. But truly loving and sacrificing for others is costly, in small and large ways. And in this way, it is Love that makes us mothers. We need not be biological mothers to fulfill the role.

I am a mother, accept it.

– Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Protect Your Jewelry From Tarnishing

Protect Your Jewelry From Tarnishing

I love jewelry. Whether its costume, solid gold, gold filled, gold plated or sterling silver, I’ll wear it. I compliment every outfit of mine with jewelry and even though I have many pieces of the real deal materials, I love to dress up with the use of costume jewelry.

Like many people, I want to wear jewelry, but can’t see spending the prices for real gold and silver each and every time. However, dime-store quality jewelry leaves green or black marks on some people’s skin and it’s their only option. Luckily for me, I don’t have that issue and I have a large collection of…..

  •  Costume jewelry:

  • And real gold jewelry:
pile of scrap gold & silver
  • And real silver jewelry:

SAMANTHA Personalized Name Necklace with Rhinestone Gold or Silver Tone

The rate at which things tarnish will vary depending on your body chemistry: how acidic or basic it is and how much you sweat. With some complicated pieces that incorporate stones or unusual types of metal, it can be difficult to stop tarnishing and/or cleaning.

Gold-plated jewelry is a good substitute for solid gold, as it is difficult to tell the difference and is nowhere near as expensive, but gold-plated jewelry still needs to be given a certain amount of care if you want the gold to stay bright and keep the luster. Following a care regime for your gold-plated and costume jewelry is worth the extra few minutes it takes.

Here are some cheap, costume earrings bought at a local store.

How to Keep Your Jewelry From Tarnishing

First step for protection:

  • Find a well ventilated area
  • Spread out your protective barrier for your jewelry. (old newspaper or ads)

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  • Lay out your jewelry

Lay out your jewelry

At this time if you are sensitive to smells or harsh chemicals, you may want to put on the gloves and mask.

  • Grab your acrylic and begin the process.

Grab your acrylic and begin the process.

  • Spray an even coat front and back.
  • Air dry at least 20 mins before storing or wearing.

Air dry at least 20 mins before storing or wearing.

  • Be sure to clean the backs w alcohol before wearing.

Voila!! Beats nail polish anyday. Be sure to clean the backs w alcohol before wearing.

Now your jewelry is protected!

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Simple, Healthy Baked Avocado and Egg

Simple, Healthy Baked Avocado and Egg

Avocado Baked Eggs | thetwobiteclub.com

Avocado Baked Eggs are made by filling creamy avocados with eggs and then baking and seasoning them in the oven until the yolk is set to your liking. This dish really couldn’t be any easier to pull together.  It’s fresh, simple, smooth and tasty.  Avocado, egg, seasoning, bake… done!

You can decide to add a couple of add-in ingredients, which you totally don’t have to do, but bacon and cheese seems like it would be amazing!

You could go Italian and do tomatoes and basil, go Greek and do feta and oregano.  Or how about tex mex!  Salsa avocado baked eggs, anyone? Either way, these avocado baked eggs are a perfectly decadent, filling, and gorgeous breakfast!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 avocado, or more.
  • 2 eggs per avocado. (I recommend medium or large eggs)
  • Adobo or salt and pepper
  • optional add-ins* (cheese, bacon, tomatoes, green onions, salsa, fresh herbs, etc.)
    • If using bacon, cook and set aside.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Slice your avocado in half lengthwise to the pit.  Twist the two sides in opposite directions and gently pull apart.

  • Remove the pit. Scoop out a little of the avocado from the center to make a little additional space for the egg.

  • Season the avocado with Adobo. If Adobo is unavailable, salt and pepper will do perfectly fine.

FOR EXTRA JAZZ: Sprinkle a small bit of your choice of toppings into the hole for the egg, then gently crack the egg into the avocado.

  • Crack your egg inside the avocado. If you like, place avocado in shallow dish that you will be baking them in ahead of time in case the egg spills out. Extra large eggs tend to always spill over.

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  • Top with the remaining toppings of your choice and season again with Adobo or salt and pepper.
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes, depending on how you like your yolk set.  Check after 15 minutes and then continue cooking to your liking.

I’m all about a little bit of texture, and, to be honest, when you eat these on their own it’s soft even more due to the avocado and egg.  Spread that avocado and egg on a nice slice of toasted bread and you’ve got the much needed texture.

Avocado Baked Eggs ~ Creamy avocado baked with eggs, salami, and white cheddar cheese.

*The optional add-in toppings I used in the photo above were sliced salami and shredded white sharp cheddar cheese

My favorite way to eat avocado baked eggs is spread on toast.  YUM!

Enjoy,

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Ruby Red Cranberry Syrup and Margarita Recipe

Makes ~ 3-4 cups syrup (great holiday gift!). Store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Learn to make, and enjoy this beautiful homemade ruby-red cranberry syrup. Use it for cocktails, margaritas, daiquiris, etc. or also over pancakes and waffles. This recipe makes approximately 3 to 4 cups of syrup, and can be stored in the refrigerator for up 6 weeks.

In a shaker over ice, mix 2-3 T cranberry syrup, 3 T silver tequila, 2 T orange liquor (not triple sec!) juice of 1 lime and a squeeze of agave nectar. Pour into chilled martini glasses. Cheers!

INGREDIENTS:

For Cranberry Syrup Recipe:

  • 4 Cups of cranberries (frozen or thawed)
  • 1 1/2 Cups of sugar
  • 3 Cups of water

For Margarita Recipe:

Use all of the ingredients listed above for cranberry syrup, including:

  • Agave syrup
  • 5 tablespoons of white tequila, I prefer Patron, but any blanco tequila of your choice is fine.
  • 4 tablespoons of orange favored liquor, (Not a triple sec)  I prefer Bacardi O.
  • Limes

DIRECTIONS:

  • Combine cranberries, 2 cups of water and sugar in a large saucepan over high heat.

Combine cranberries, water and sugar in a large saucepan over high heat.

  • Cook, stirring frequently with wooden spoon, for 10-15 minutes. Cranberries will burst naturally due to heat. If you press against pot with back of spoon, it will release more fruit, and mixture will thicken.

Cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes. Cranberries will burst (press against pot w/ back of spoon to release more fruit), and mixture will thicken.

  • Strain cranberry mixture through fine mesh sieve, adding up to 1 cup additional water to make more syrup. Press and stir cranberries against sieve to extract as much syrup as possible.

Strain cranberry mixture through fine mesh sieve, adding up to 1 cup additional water to make more syrup. Press and stir cranberries against sieve to extract as much syrup as possible.

  • You will end up with this beautiful ruby-red cranberry syrup!

You will end up with a beautiful ruby-red cranberry syrup! I use mine for cocktails (margaritas, champagne, etc...), but this syrup would also be good over pancakes or waffles.

  • Makes 3-4 cups of syrup. Store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Makes ~ 3-4 cups syrup (great holiday gift!). Store in refrigerator for up to one month.

NOW FOR THE DELICIOUS CRANBERRY MARGARITA:

  • In a shaker over ice, mix 3 1/2 cups of cranberry syrup, 5 tablespoons of white tequila, 4 tablespoons of orange liquor (not triple sec), juice of 1 lime and a squeeze of agave nectar.
  • Pour into chilled martini glasses.
  • Enjoy!!!

In a shaker over ice, mix 2-3 T cranberry syrup, 3 T silver tequila, 2 T orange liquor (not triple sec!) juice of 1 lime and a squeeze of agave nectar. Pour into chilled martini glasses. Cheers!

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

I love you

I HOPE WHEN YOU READ THIS THAT YOUR NOT MAD I WROTE ON YOUR WEBSITE MY LOVE. IM SO PROUD OF YOU AND MUST SAY YOU ARE DOING EXCELLENT WITH YOUR BLOG. I KNEW THAT YOU WERE GOING TO KILL IT BECAUSE I NEVER SEEN ANYONE TALK NOR WRITE LIKE YOU. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH AND YOU MEAN MORE THAN LIFE TO ME. CONTINUE TO PROSPER AND CONTINUE TO LET OTHER PEOPLE SEE WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY AND SHARE. AGAIN DONT BE MAD AT ME JUST LETTING THE WORLD KNOW THAT YOUR HUSBAND LOVES YOU DEARLY. MMMUUAAAHHHHH 9821……. SIGNING OFF MR. CUEVAS. 20140825_181415

DIY Bedazzled Heels

DIY Bedazzled Heels

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Why Spend hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars for one pair of Miu Miu heels when you can create your own pair to look just as chic and stylish. The only difference, you can turn your old heels, or a new $25 pair into heels that look like you spent 10x as much.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • a pair of heels
  • 40-50 large and medium (10-15 mm) multi shaped rhinestones…(Find at dollar store)
  • 30-40 small (3-6 mm) round rhinestone…(Find at dollar store)
  • E-6000 Glue…(Find at Walmart, Michaels or other craft store)
  • tweezers
  • small dish or container
  • toothpick
  • flat nose pliers (optional if needed)

DIRECTIONS:

These rhinestones are connected to a metal hold back, so with flat nose pliers, pry the prongs open to release the crystal rhinestones. Skip this step if you’re using loose flat back rhinestones:

Squeeze some E-6000 into a small dish or container. Pick up one of the larger rhinestones with the tweezers, dip the backside into the glue:

Press the stone into the top of the center of the heel. Add several other large stones around the top, gradually working your way down to the middle of the heel with smaller stones. Go back and add small round stones in bare spots. There is no right or wrong way to creating the pattern – have fun with it:

TIP: the smaller round stones will require the tiniest bit of glue. Dip a toothpick into the glue, dab it onto the backside of the stone and apply to the shoe.

Repeat the same steps on the other shoe . . .

Let set for 1 hour

Quick, Easy and Delicious Fruit Dip

 

rainbow fruit kabobs recipe

One of my favorite dips as a child was fruit dip, not only because I could eat it along with fruit, but because it was so quick and easy to make.

Made with only two main ingredients, and a side of any fruit or cookie of your choice, this dip will please anyone.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 17 oz container Marshmallow Fluff

  • 18 oz container of cream cheese

Cream Cheese Package Of every cream cheese box

(For Strawberry flavored dip, use strawberry cream cheese. And my other tip: have fun and add strawberry chunks to the mixture Mmmm!!!)

  • Fruits of your choice for dipping
  • Optional: 1 cup of Cool Whip

DIRECTIONS:

  • Allow the cream cheese to sit out for 10 minutes to soften. This is my personal preference, but not mandatory
  • Place the marshmallow fluff, cream cheese and cool whip (optional) into a bowl
  • Using a fork, an electric or handheld mixer, beat the ingredients together until smooth
  • Optional: To be even more creative, add flavored extracts such as raspberry, orange, vanilla ect…slowly add to your tasting.

  • Spread on, or dip with your favorite fruit

This is even great with graham crackers, animal crackers, Pizzelles and Nilla wafers. Even have kids dip their favorite Teddy Grahams for an easy accessible afternoon snack.

Dip can be prepared two days ahead, set in a Tupperware covered dish, and placed in refrigerator. Left overs are good for 7 days but  should be covered and stored in refrigerator.

Enjoy,

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Children and Social Networks

Children and Social Networks

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Social media, the world where the socialites and others alike, along with those non socially active can be whomever they like, meet, greet, chat and even build relationships and/or friendships. It is the nesting ground for friends, family and even predators. As a parent and an educator, this topic is near and dear to my heart. Every week that passes, the social media landscape changes, and keeping up with it can be a nightmare.

If you’re a parent or guardian of any child or teenager, you have to keep up with it. You have to be savvy enough to know what social networks your kids are using. You can’t use the excuse: “I don’t understand this stuff!”, for example: Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Google+, Facebook etc. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s time to start doing some research. You don’t have to be an expert, but you should know how these networks operate. These are the platforms your teenagers, or soon to be teenagers are probably using right now or are interested in doing so.

What if your child asks you if they can get a Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, etc… account?

Don’t start with NO! You want to start this journey with them knowing you’re there for them. That doesn’t mean you have to say yes either but hear them out first. Start with questions like these:

  1. Why do you want a Facebook account? They’ll probably answer with something like “Because ALL my friends have one”.
  1. Which of your friends are on Facebook and are allowed by their parents? Hopefully they tell you. If not, maybe they’re not ready to be on social media.
  1. Are these the only people you would be friends with on Facebook? This might be a good time to talk about only interacting with people they know in real life.
  1. What do you know about Facebook? They may say something like “You talk to friends and share photos”.
  1. What kind of photos would you be sharing? My guess is they’ll say something like “I don’t know. Me and my friends.” This is a great time to talk about what types of photos are appropriate to share online and why.

social media tips for law firms

After you’ve had this conversation with your child you need to make a decision as to whether they’re ready for social media or not. If you’re on the fence about letting them you can always say “Yes, but under one condition. You have to share your password with me. If you’re being honest about why you want to be on Facebook then you have nothing to hide from me”. You can also tell them you’ll only use the password if you feel like they’re hiding something from you or not using the network responsibly. A written agreement between you and your teen might serve as a reminder of rules that are not to be broken and consequences that will happen if they are. Refer back to it often and review the rules when appropriate.

 finger on keyboard

Here is some advice to get you started on educating yourself and your children on how to use social media safely:

  • Teach your child about respect. Respecting themselves and respecting others. If you stop them from being on Twitter or Facebook, they’ll just move to WhatsApp or Instagram or SnapChat or Google+ or … you get the point. Give them the skills to make good decisions first and foremost.
  • Teach your child that whatever they put online is permanent, this includes Emailing! Private is not always private. The photo or video they post online is not owned by them anymore. It’s owned by Facebook, Instagram, Google, etc…whatever site they posted on, and they can do what they want with it. Not only are certin things crimes, they can be persecuted not only by their peers, but even the law if it is reported. Certain photos even make them easy targets for bullies and predators as well.

SocialMediaPostRemorse

  • Some day your kids may apply to a high school or college, or submit a resume for a job, and I can assure you they will most likely be researched online. An employer, or school may still conduct a background check, but it is very common that a simple Google, and then social network search is part of the process. Ask yourself, what will their impression of my child be when their done? Therefore, teach them to also share their accomplishments like academic awards, sports awards, volunteering, community events, school club activities etc. online when they are involved in them and keep the negative outlook off of the web.
  • Tell your child to never take seductive photos and text them to her “boyfriend”. It’s incredibly risky and foolish because at some point her boyfriend probably won’t be the only person to see those photos. The same is true for girlfriends. They share pictures of ‘hot guys’ around as well. ‘Sexting’ should be a subject discussed before any smartphone is purchased. All this applies to pictures of under-age drinking, doing drugs, or any other illegal activity due to the negative outlook on their personality and being, your parenting, as well as their future job and school inquiries.
  • Explain to your child that communicating verbally is completely different than communicating online. If you happen to say something verbally that you later regret you can fix this over time. If you happen to post something online that you later regret, that content may never disappear and you may never be able to fix it. It is easy to press delete, but let’s be real, the internet does not erase, and everything sticks to the IP address. With technology allowing screen shots and downloads to occur, it may be deleted on your end, but still exist on another. So besides it still available on the IP address, the other party still has the physical evidence available at hand.
  • Trust goes as far as they trust their friends! ‘Private’ or “Protected’ accounts give teens a false sense of security, since those ‘trusted friends’ might post pictures of you, tag you, or leave accounts open and accessible to parents or worse, peers. This is where ‘Don’t say ANYTHING you wouldn’t say out loud’ applies most!

  • Make sure your child knows to come to you with a problem right when it occurs, so you can help fix it. Things can get out of hand quickly online, as pictures, texts and posts can go viral within hours! Whether something is happening on their accounts, or an a friends’ account they need to know to report it to you. Let them know coming to you is their only option and that you will always listen.
  • Be present and aware of what your children are doing online. Don’t give a laptop/iPad/iPod etc and let them go to their room for the night if you don’t plan on keeping an eye on them. Know what apps they have. Know their password to these devices. You have to find a balance between trusting your child and parenting. If you don’t give them some space they’ll never learn to make good decisions (even if that means making a mistake here and there) and if you’re completely oblivious to their online activities you’re making it far too easy for them to potentially make an unrepairable mistake as well as making it difficult for them to open up and share their online world with you. You are their parent/guardian, not their friend…some things just shouldn’t be tolerted not accepted.
  • Review the privacy settings of each app with your child. You’ll probably want to make sure that they’re not sharing their current location due to the potential ifs of bullies and/or predetor.

 Location matters Spatial standards for the Internet of Things

  • Teach your child not to interact/follow people they don’t know in person, tech them that having many friend on social network doesn’t mean that everyone is their friend in real life. Now a days, following a celecrity can even be a risk dur to the scam artist protrying to be them.
  • Start this journey into social media by making your teenager responsible for their hardware as well. Paying for their own smartphone and monthly bill will quickly teach a teen responsibility and accountability. No work, no money, no phone. It’s how the real world works. As a parent, I have a $10 pay-as-you-go phone as a back-up in case my stepson hasn’t paid his bill. He’s too young to work but allowance is given and that is his source of income. If your child is in the same predicament and your child is using your device, I will give you the same advice I have shared with many of my closest friends: “A parent’s device means all time-limits, usage rules, passwords are completely dictation by the parent”.

My favorite tip is lead by example. Practice what you preach if you want them to navigate their digital life safely.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Keep Calm and Love Animals

“In order to learn it’s strength, purpose, and ability to build happy, healthy relationships, everybody deserves a chance to love and to be loved: so do animals”…..Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Keep calm and love animals

Keep calm and Love Animals                                                                                Samantha Jonas-Rongo 

I love all of the animals of my family. I don’t like to use the label or term, “pet”, so I don’t. They are my family and I love them as so. We have one dog and two cats.

Kaine, our entertaining and rambunctious 18 month American Red Nosed Pit-bull has blessed our lives when he was only 8 weeks old. He has grown very quickly and is filled with so much energy and love for all of us and those he comes across.

My eldest feline friend, who we have had since she was 4 weeks old, is now 5 months and is an intelligent and affectionate black and white Tuxedo cat, who I must say loves to cuddle and has the most softest fur to compliment. She’s one of the first things I see when I wake in the morning and of the last things before I go to bed.

Then the youngest member of our tribe; Kyra, is our cinnamon swirl, American Short Haired cat. She is now almost 4 months old and she has been a joy in our life for more than 3 of those months. She is still growing, learning and maturing but is doing it fairly quickly.

We have fed each one of these amazing animals by the bottle, had trained them, bathed them, played with them, cared for them, fed them, cleaned up after them, and still continue to do it all and are thankful for the opportunity and ability to do so. Not only are they all a part of our family, but our extended family loves them all as well.

One day my sister and I had been leaving our brother’s house and as we walked past his neighbor’s porch, we noticed there were about 9 kittens slowly walking and playing in and outside a large cage. We asked if they were for sale, they weren’t, but because the ASPCA was actually on their way to pick them up since the owner was unable to provide for all of them alongside the cats she already had. However, she agreed to let me choose one of my choice before they arrived. I chose Kyra, not only because I loved her cinnamon swirl fur, but I admired her effort and ability to make her way towards me, as if she knew right then and there I had to make that decision. Since then, our house has been her home.

Kaine had been given to me on mother’s day from my fiancé. He opened the door and there he was with his bright blue-collar, wagging his tail ready to play and be held. We love him and he returns the love gracefully. We don’t know much about his past before he entered our lives, but we know what the possibilities for his life could have been. He was put up for sale by someone in the neighborhood we use to live in, and we know that as a male Red Nosed Pit-bull, he may be forced into living a life of fear, violence and danger due to his breed, and never given the chance to be that loving and affectionate dog he is today. Unfortunately, pit-bulls are given labels and are stereotyped, but that’s not any different from an individual profiling and discriminating another due to their race or religion. Due to Kaine’s situation, Mothers Day in effect, and my fiancé knowing how I feel and my stance when it comes to less fortunate issues, he knew it would make my gift even more special.

I love them both so very much!

Kylie was abandoned after her birth when the woman who had once owned her mother had moved and left all of them there in the empty house. They were only 2 weeks old. The neighbor had found them, nurtured them as much as he could, and decided to give them away for free to those who he knew would take good care of them. He happened to be my mother in laws friend so we were both given a kitten of our choice. Kylie was, and still is very adorable. When she was a kitten, she had a wondering left eye that I was worried may have a detachment so I felt even more compassion towards her. I chose her due to the love I felt immediately after I seen her. I wasn’t too sure at the time if her eye would be like that permanently, or if it was just a birth effect that she would grow out of, but I knew she would be loved regardless in my family. I was told to give it time and her eye may set itself in place naturally, it did in fact just a couple of days later. If that man had never saved them , who knows where my Kylie would have been or treated.

Not everyone can care for animals though, some can’t afford too. I would say may not have the time, but c’mon, as busy of a super woman as I am, along with the many other busy bodies I know with animal(s) to care for, that can’t be possible or an acceptable reason. Unless of course you are always traveling and are never home, then maybe so.

In my personal opinion, cats do not need an owner, they just need a safe environment to live in, maybe food, but they’re capable of finding their own source. They can survive on their own and are very independent, cleanly and intelligent which is why I love their company. Dogs however, have a more immature state of mind and are in more need of attention and play. They seem to stay in a child’s mind set throughout their life but become able to grow more loyal, loving and secure relationships easier.

 Having animals isn’t much different from having children. They require both the same needs besides clothing, unless of course you live in Beverly Hills. Unlike humans, animals can only signal,and cant speak the same language to tell you what they want or feel so communication which is key in any relationship, is limited. However, with children, if needed, you can get assistance in the care and support of them for food, medical, shelter, cash, utility payments, job search, etc with available government programs, with or without more help by their other parent/guardian and even tax credit incentives. Having animals takes 100% independence to care for. So as a single pet owner, I guess it is correct to say you’re a real single mother/ father.  Their medical bills to food is of the owners responsibility, and it isn’t cheap.  Toilet paper and Pampers overtime are cheaper than forever needing kitty litter.

 If I didn’t enter their life, who knows what could have happened to them. They could have ended up in a shelter and then released or put up for adoption. Regardless, Kylie, Kyra and Kaine, along with all other animals around the globe deserve to be treated humanly. They could have actually ended up in a better home than mines that included more amenities but I know that what I have and can offer to them is more than they need and will always be available.

Animals deserve all the love and rights that we expect as humans to have. Throughout the year,  donations are needed to help with the shelter, and support of animals in shelters, and in the wild. You don’t have to donate a lot. Any amount is enough to add some assistance for an animal in need whether its money towards a shelter’s electric bill or food count, a private veterinarian practice, or food and fresh water for those who are stray . I have attached some links where you can also learn more about animals and how you can help in their survival and well-being.

Why not help those who would do anything for us?                                              Samantha Jonas-Rongo

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Click here to donate to the ASPCA

Click here to donate to The Humane Society

Click here to donate, adopt or learn more about the North Shore Animal League

Click for AllPaws and find a local animal shelter near you