HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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It is often difficult to practice the art of saving money in the United States. With roughly 5 percent of the world’s population and 30 percent of its global waste, our country seems to have lost the “save for a rainy day” mentality. Tapping into and exploiting the consumer mindset, the emotional shoppers and the less frugal among us are companies that charge exorbitant rates for goods, services and loans.


Your choices as a consumer dictate saving and spending, abundance and servitude. Dave Ramsey, perhaps the world’s most recognizable financial maven, constantly recommends his callers cut up their credit cards.


This flies in the face of the general misinformation that has been put out there by the credit card companies, who claim debt is good and you need it to become wealthy. But many people who have developed small and large fortunes did not use personal debt to build it. If they had to go into debt to buy a house or car, they quickly got out of it so they were not subjected to high interest rates over long periods of time. How can you save for anything if your money and cash flow are tied up in debt?


Debt must be cleared as quickly as possible before optimal saving can begin. You must put a saving plan in place and stick to it so you will not be subject to buying whims. America Saves has a terrific Web site (www.americasaves.org) that offers tips on ways to save.

SAVING FOR A RAINY DAY - CLEAR DEBT QUICKLY, THEN FOLLOW A PLAN

Here are a few:


•  Keep track of your spending.

•  Think over each potential expensive purchase for at least 24 hours.

•  Put what you think you might spend for the month on transportation, food,    entertainment, etc., into envelopes. This will help you avoid buying things you    don’t need, and what’s left over can go into savings.

•  Aim for short-term savings goals, such as setting aside $20 a week or month.

•  Use only the ATMs of your bank or credit union.

•  Refinance your mortgage to lower interest charges.


While all these methods mentioned are wonderful, the essential ingredient is you have to be willing to do them. Discipline is necessary. It requires strength of character and fortitude when temptation knocks. This is the real financial issue: becoming a stronger person and making good decisions. Money is meant to be spent and saved appropriately, but past that, it has no value. The last time I checked, you can’t take it with you.

CHARLES SEBASTIAN

Charles Sebastian is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

more articles by charles sebastian