Honoring Our Veterans this Memorial Day

SoldiersontheMoveOn this Memorial Day, it is fitting that we take a moment to remember those Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, as well as, members of the Coast Guard and active reserves who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we may all enjoy the freedoms we have today. As a veteran, I understand many of the struggles my fellow comrades in arms face as they prepare for battles yet waged and endure hardship away from friends, family and loved ones. So, on this Memorial Day, here are 10 things each of us can choose to do to honor those veterans who gave their lives so that we can be free, for those who still wear the uniform and for those who recently returned from being in harms way. May God bless them all on this Memorial Day.

1. Tell a veteran “Thank You”. For most veterans, that’s enough. All anyone really wants is to be recognized for a job Well Done.
2. Listen to their story. Whether an old WWII veteran or a Soldier returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, each veteran deserves to be heard now more than ever (i.e., PTSD).
3. Visit the wounded and infirmed at your local VA Hospital. Regardless of the troubles the VA is going through today, there’s no reason for their troubles to become your troubles. Visit your local VA hospital a give thanks to those who served.
4. Lay a flag at a Veteran’s Memorial/Cemetery. To find a local veteran’s memorial or hospital near you, visit the Veteran Administration’s website at www.va.gov and select the “Locations” menu.
5. Make a donation to a non-profit veteran’s organization, such as, the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars (VFW), the USO or the Wounded Warrior Project.
6. Volunteer at your local Veteran’s Hospital or veteran’s organization. They’ll be glad for your assistance and the veteran’s will appreciate your time served.
7. Hire a veteran. If you’re in the position to hire new employees, consider hiring a veteran. Most returning veterans only want a chance to contribute and feel useful again.
8. Pay for their meal. Paying it forward is always the kind thing to do. Why not show such generosity to a veteran at breakfast, lunch or dinner time?
9. Give ’em a beer. If paying for a meal’s too much for your pocket book, how about putting a cold one on your tab?
10. Pray for our brave servicemen and women. Many are still on-station manning a post or patrolling the oceans or the high seas. Some are still on the battlefield in harm’s way, protecting our freedom is a 24/7 job. I would ask that you keep them in your prayers.

NoManLeftBehind

That’s my blogpost for this week. Join the discussion and post your comments below. And don’t forget to tune in next week where I’ll once again share more ways you can break the debt cycle and then go…beyond.

Zebert L. Brown is the author of Break the Debt Cycle in 3 Simple Steps and a 16 year Navy veteran with specialties in administrative management, career development and public relations.  Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Building Wealth….Slow, but Steady

Zebert L. Brown

Let’s face it, unless you win the lottery, receive a large inheritance or are fortunate enough to bring your own product to market, most people will simply have to go from rags to riches the old fashioned way – spending less, saving more and investing for the future. And while this may sound simple enough, very few are able to follow this simple plan. The reasons vary, of course, everything from low earnings, over spending, not taking advantage of apparent opportunities or the circumstances of life got in the way, but most people can slowly build wealth over time if they follow a few simple steps.

  • Monitor your spending. Unless you know exactly how your hard earned dollars are being spent you’ll never be able to determine if you’re spending your money wisely. The only tool at your disposal that will chart your spending habits is your budget. I can’t emphasis this enough! By planning your budget for the long-term, you’ll be able to better gage spending and take better control of your personal economy.

  • Make credit work for you. As consumers, most of us used credit not to build wealth but rather to supplement our income. As such, credit card debt skyrocketed over the last decade for the average middle-class household. However, today’s consumers are starting to get smarter about using credit as credit card debt is down since 2012. The best way to make credit work for you is to only buy routine household items you can afford using your credit card and paying off the balance in full immediately when the bill comes due. It’s clear that irresponsible use of credit is the leading cause of credit card debt. So, use that plastic source for short-term “loans” wisely.

  • Invest wisely. While most consumers would love to find that one stock buy that will make them rich, few people have the disposable income to make a big-time investment that stands to eventually make them millions. So, what’s a person of modest means to do if they want to get involved in the stock market? The answer is “move slowly, build up your cash infusion through savings, study industry trends, then invest wisely.” Unless you get extremely lucky and happen to put your money in a hot stock of the moment, most investors invest for the long haul through value investing. But to get there takes time and patience. In the beginning, you’ll have to take baby-steps to investing which means putting money into savings first and learning how stock trading works, but after you’ve dipped your feet in the financial water and gained experience you can take bolder moves as your earnings begin to accrue. An alternative actively trading on the stock exchange is to start a monthly stock purchasing plan with a reputable broker where installment payments are set aside until the full amount is accumulated to buy a share of stock. It’s a slow process, but at least you’ll be able to get your feet wet in the stock market and build your investment income over time.

That’s my blogpost for this week. Join the discussion and post your comments below. And don’t forget to tune in next week where I’ll once again share more ways you can break the debt cycle and then go…beyond.

Zebert L. Brown is the author of Break the Debt Cycle in 3 Simple Steps and a 16 year Navy veteran with specialties in administrative management, career development and public relations. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

10 Smart, Cost-Saving Grocery Shopping Tips

 

Zebert L. BrownAccording to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a family of four spends approximately $627.90 a month on groceries – and that’s being on the thrifty side! For most Americans, their grocery bill constitutes the third largest household expense behind paying the mortgage and transportation costs. And from the looks of things it doesn’t appear that foods costs will be coming down any time soon. So, what can you do to reduce your grocery bill?  Here are 10 cost-saving tips that can save you big bucks on your grocery bill:

  1. Plan your meals. It might sound tedious, but planning your meals a week at a time helps to streamline your grocery shopping. This way you only purchase those food items you need. This works whether you’re on a tight budget or a fixed income.

  2. Make a grocery list. If done right, your grocery list should include all the necessary ingredients to make your menus complete. By making a grocery list, you also minimize the risk of impulse buying which only adds to your grocery bill. And at today’s food prices, who wants to spend more than they have to on food?

  3. Price Matching. Most grocery store chains will match the price of a competitor’s sales price provided you can show them the sales price. Bring coupons or competitor’s sales ads with you and present them at the check-out to save a few bucks.

  4. Use Coupons. The stories you’ve heard of The Coupon Lady saving hundreds on her grocery bill are true! Clipping coupons remains the best way to save money on your grocery bill. It’s no easy task; you have to do a lot of work up front to get organized, but the cost savings are worth it provided you’re willing to look for bargains. Collect weekly circulars for coupons or print them from such on-line sites as Coupons.com, MyCoupons.com or GrocerySmarts.com.

  5. Use In-Store Discount Cards. We all look for the sale price whenever we go shopping, but many grocery store chains, such a Kroger, offer in-store discounts using their store discount card on top of their sale price. Using a store’s discount card can add extra savings to your grocery bill.

  6. Shop Generic. We’ve heard it said before, “shop generic”, and it’s true that buying off-brand food items can save you money. In fact, many name brand grocery store chains now offer store brand items of their own in place of the old white or yellow “generic” packaged food items. If you’re worried about taste or quality, don’t be! Most store brand foods taste just as good as the retail brands or better, and are of high quality, too. So, don’t be afraid to try an off-brand item. You won’t be able to tell the difference and you’ll save a lot of money in the process.

  7. Shop at Discount Stores. While the big grocery store chains offer many of the name brand items we all love, discount stores, such as Dollar Tree, Dollar General and Aldi’s, offer quality grocery items at very competitive prices. In most cases, their every day low prices beat the retail grocery store chains hands down. So, don’t be fooled into thinking low-cost means “cheap”. Discount stores offer significant cost-savings on many of the common food items you routinely buy at a faction of the cost. And they taste good, too.

  8. Be tech savvy – Use Shopping Apps. You can compare prices of name brand grocery store items or even create shopping lists using shopping apps, such as GroceryIQ or Grocery Pay. So, if you think $2.95 is too expensive for that 20 oz. can of named brand soup, compare prices right from your iphone and if you find the same item for a cheaper price at another store in your neighborhood, head across town and by it there. Better yet, show the cashier at check-out and if they price match, buy it! Talk about choice and competition!! There are several other grocery shopping apps you can download at the Google Play store and most apps are free. So, shop around and find the best app that works for you.

  9. Shop at Farmer’s Markets. Fresh fruits and vegetables are already expensive and unstable weather conditions can only mean prices will go higher. But your local Farmer’s Market can help lower the cost of fresh produce because all items are locally grown providing you with significant savings. All Farmer’s Markets undergo rigorous state health and safety inspections. So, you can rest assured they meet the highest health and safety standards. But just as important, the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables are cheap compared to your local grocery store chain. So, give your local Farmer’s Market a try. You can find a Farmer’s Market near you at www.localharvest.org.

  10. Buy in Bulk. If you’re feeding a small army, chances are buying bulk is worth your time and can save you money. But even if you’re feeding a family of four, buying in bulk can provide long-term savings for those grocery items you buy routinely. Simply use what you need for the here-and-now, and store the excess away for later use. Membership at the leading two bulk buying stores, Sam’s Club and CostCo., is relatively inexpensive. So, if you have extra pantry space, buying in bulk can be worth it in the long-run.

That’s my blogpost for this week. Join the discussion and post your comments below. And don’t forget to tune in next week where I’ll once again share more ways you can break the debt cycle and then go…beyond.

Zebert L. Brown is the author of Break the Debt Cycle in 3 Simple Steps and a 16 year Navy veteran with specialties in administrative management, career development and public relations. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.