I Feel So Small

Occasionally, I feel so very small.  I’ll try and explain. (Also, excuse me a bit, as this is only vaguely about money and finance, but please read to the end.)

I recently attended the Financial Bloggers Conference.  It’s a conference of people, like me, who run and write (or just write) blogs that are finance related.  Mostly, we write about personal finance.  Whether it’s by design or not, each of the FINCONs I’ve been to have had a very distinct “feel” to them.  The first had an emphasis (at least in my perception) of building the blog, and ways in which we can monetize our blogs to make them self-sustainable.  This year, the theme, as I perceived it, was all about voice.

Perhaps that can be attributed to Adam Baker (of Man Vs. Debt) and his opening keynote.  Throughout the speech, he spoke about defining the why.  Writing for the why.  Living out the why.  What is the why?  It’s the purpose.  It isn’t the product, and it certainly isn’t the site.  It’s the reason that we write what we write.  It’s the reason that we come back night after night to write articles for our sites.

For me, the “why” of Beating Broke is to share the knowledge I have.  It’s to share the knowledge I learn.  It’s to have an outlet that allows me to reach a few people and, hopefully, help them make their financial lives better.  I write articles about finance to make your financial life better.

During Adam’s keynote, I realized that I was surrounded by 450 or so other writers.  Each with their own unique voice, talents, and experiences.  The realization of that, and the realization of how many people there are out there that don’t even use the internet makes me feel so small.  I’m such a tiny, tiny, drop in a sea of information.

Later, I sat in on a panel of some of the pioneers in the financial blogging community.  During that panel, they spoke about how the community has grown, and how much the community’s influence has grown.  Another keynote speaker, Liz Weston, spoke about how our influence is growing.  She touched on how what we do, sharing information online, has become more and more accepted and acknowledged as a source of information.  Again, surrounded by the community of bloggers that I am a part of, I felt so small.

If you’re reading this, it’s because you have become a part of the Beating Broke community.  It’s a small community in the middle of a much larger community.  But, it’s a community with one overarching “why”.  We exist to make financial lives better.  We do it by making our financial lives better and then sharing that with others.

So, today, I’m going to ask you to share.  Share the community with someone else today.  Invite someone else into the community.  You’ve got plenty of options on how you do that.  With all the social media available, it’s becoming pretty easy.  Send an email, write a tweet, share on Facebook, or any number of other ways to share.  But, share.  We become better by helping others become better.

Share your favorite blog, blog post, or any bit of information today.  Invite them into the community.

And, finally, if you’re a part of the community, I want to help make your financial life better.  If you’ve got questions, please feel free to ask them.  Leave a comment below.  Or use the contact form to send me a note.  I’ll do whatever I can to get you an answer.

img credit:C! on Flickr

Long Term Care: Are you Prepared?

When we are young, our parents take care of us.  From the time we are mere babes, they wash us, feed us, clothe us, and give us the love and nurturing that we need to grow up into adults.  Even as young adults, our parents are often right there to help us get back up if we fall down.

As our parents age, there may become a time where we have to return those favors, and care for them.  For many, this will likely mean an independent living arrangement of some sort that may eventually become a full nursing home situation.  Not only can that transition be a very expensive one, but it can also be a very emotional one.  While I’m not sure that there is any way to prepare for the emotional toll caring for your parents brings, you can prepare for the financial toll it brings.  We’re financially minded folks, after all, and believe in preparation for all financial burdens.

If you’ve ever become a parent, you likely remember the months leading up to the first childs’ birth.  Baby showers, shopping trips, and plenty of DIY crib and nursery work. People come out of the woodwork to give you things that “every baby needs” or to give you advice on how to deal with “fussy babies.”  All of that serves one real purpose.  To prepare us for the coming of a dependent child.  But, we don’t have any elderly showers.  And we don’t usually know even a month or two in advance to do any shopping or DIY projects when our parents are suddenly in our care.  In most cases, we can’t be totally prepared.  But, there’s no reason that we should be totally caught off-guard.

How do you prepare for the long term care of a parent?

In a way, it’s not that much different from preparing for any life changing event.  There are certain things that we can do ahead of time to try and make any necessary transitions as easy as possible.

Know the possible costs.

There are plenty of ways to find the costs.  Personally, I’d start with something like the tool below.  The costs are going to vary some based on your city and whether you plan on having your parents live in a facility or in your home, but you can get a really close estimate from something like that.

If you think that your parents will need you sooner rather than later, you’ll likely want as accurate of an estimate as possible.  Do your research on the facilities in your area, and then call a few of them to get an idea of how much it the costs will be.

Knowing the costs of long term care aren’t the only concern, however.  Knowing your parents financial situation, and how they feel about the options they may have is something that you need to be concerned about.  For instance, my dad has always said that when it comes time for him to move into a nursing home, he’d rather we just drove him out into the mountains and shot him.  That’s an extreme example. A true one, but extreme just the same.  But, if you really care about your parents, and want what’s best for them, that has to include what their wishes are as well.

Your parents financial situation can sometimes be a touchy subject as well.   It’s something you’ll need to know, though.  Someone has to pay for the care, and if your parents aren’t financially stable enough to do so, it’s up to you and any siblings to figure it out.  Know what your parents finances look like ahead of time.  If there’s any question about whether your parents are getting close to needing care, get involved and get it figured out.

I’m not an expert on the subject.  But, as my parents age, and as my friends’ parents age, it’s a topic that is increasingly coming up in my social circles.  I do know enough to know that it can get complicated.  I’ve seen it get complicated.  I’d love to hear from any of you out there who have been through this process and have stories to share with us.  Sometimes that’s the best way to learn about something.  So, share your stories in the comments below!

Swagbucks Special Sign Up Code for 80 Points

I’ve written about Swagbucks before, but for those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s a program that you can sign up for and get paid to do certain things.  They’ve incentivised just about everything. You can win Swagbucks for searching using their search site.  You can earn Swagbucks for printing coupons (my favorite) and using them, and a whole bunch of other things.

Once you’ve earned the Swagbucks, you can trade them in for some cool stuff.   They’ve got sweepstakes that you can “buy” entries in.  My favorite way of using my balance is to trade 450 of them in for a $5 Amazon.com gift card.  Every other month or so, I can add $5 to my Amazon account which usually goes towards a couple of ebooks or something (although, we used quite a few of them on a new backpack for our oldest this year).

One of the things that Swagbucks likes to do is put out special codes to encourage people to sign up for their service.  And, Melissa, who writes here and at Mom’s Plans, was kind enough to send me over one.

So, from now until next Friday (9/21/2012), you can use the code FINCON12 (NOTE: I had FINCON as the code at publication and that was wrong.  It’s been updated to the correct code FINCON12) when you sign up and get an extra 80 points when you do!

The code has been updated, and the deadline has been extended to 9/28/2012.  Use the code FINCON2012 when you signup for Swagbucks, and receive an extra 80 points!

Go sign up and give it a try!