Financing experts Lukasz Wieczorek and Nika Lane shared their tips for establishing goals, maintaining a good credit score, and making the most out of your paycheck. Need a refresher?
- Principle 1: Set Goals
- Principle 2: Maximize Your Earning Potential
- Principle 3: Save & Invest
- Principle 4: Use Debt Wisely
- Principle 5: Build Your Credit Score
- Principle 6: Take Advantage of the Free Stuff
Personal Finance Tips:
- Set automatic bill pay for recurring payments close to paydays, so most important needs are covered immediately (car payment, rent/mortgage, credit cards).
- Avoid impulsive decisions – leave your cards at home when shopping and take a set amount of $$ with you.
- Put spare change in a “fun money” jar.
- Take advantage of pre-tax benefits and workplace benefits – FREE MONEY!
- Shop your options when financing large purchases. Financial institutions compete for customers as hard as any other industry.
- Making timely payments and having low credit utilization is the best way to maintain a good credit score.
- Set aside a cushion for emergencies.
Your Finance Questions Answered:
What is better in the long run a 401k or an IRA? And can you have both?
Lukasz: 401k is an employer sponsored plan while IRA is available to anybody. There are different contribution limits allowed by law. Yes, you can have both, however there are tax implication that should be discussed with a financial advisor and/or tax specialist based on amount of earned income.
Nika: I would not necessarily recommend one over the other. However, if you have access to an employer 401k plan, educate yourself on the Company’s 401k match. This can be beneficial in terms of the amount of $ that gets contributed on your behalf that is not necessarily only coming out of your own pocket (free money). In short, more money makes more money.
Any particular strategies for older folks?
Lukasz: The answer is, it depends. I think at that later stages of life is really important to understand how much income will be needed to support self after we stop working. Healthcare expenses tend to rise as we age, and I think it is important to do our best to stay in good health. Exercise and balanced nutrition would be best to maintain our well-being.
Nika: Take advantage of employer HSA plans, if available to you, as this is ensuring you will have a savings account strictly to help fund these future health expenses.
Lukasz: From the investment perspective, it might be a good idea to start looking at the offerings that are less aggressive in growth and allow more stability – differently said, it will be more important at that stage to eliminate volatility.
Nika: If you already have a 401k or other investment account that is diversified, think about and speak to an advisor about potentially redistributing that balance to better ensure stability of your investments. As well, ask the advisor questions about which would be more beneficial for your current financial situation: 401k Roth or traditional. Changing current and future contributions to one or the other could help you have more when you reach retirement. Lastly, self-reflect on your necessities and cut out mindless spending (daily Dunkin coffee vs. making your own)
Credit Reports and Credit Scores
Spread Joy: Letter Writing Workshop
Senior Wellness Coordinator Mairead Fogarty shared how writing can be a great tool for giving back as well as personal growth. If you participated in the workshop and wrote a letter of encouragement for one of our clients, please follow the instructions below.
Email your letter to:
Mail your letter to:
Mountainside Treatment Center
187 S Canaan Road
Canaan, CT 06018
Take Five: Using Your Senses to Ground Your Mind
Mountainside’s Sage Hahn shared how using sensory boxes can help you reduce stress, relieve anxiety, and let go of negative emotions. Want to create your own sensory box?
Start with Reflection:
- What makes you feel comfortable? When you get home after a long day, what helps you relax?
- Think of a memory where you felt particularly calm or joyful. Close your eyes and engage each of your senses during that memory. What did you see? Smell? Hear? Touch? Taste?
Use your responses to brainstorm what you want to include in your own sensory box. Below are some ideas to get you started:
See: Pictures, bubbles, candles, positive quotes
Feel: Play-Doh, pieces of soft fabric, stress ball, bubble wrap, facial spray
Hear: Bell, playlist, eat plugs, watch, shaker
Smell: Perfume, candles, essential oils, incense, scented lotion
Taste: Chocolate, candy, gum, tea, nuts, mints
To find some crafting supplies to make your sensory box, visit these great second-hand art stores:
Want to share your sensory box with the recovery community? Use the hashtag #TakeFiveMountainside when posting on Instagram.
Deep Breaths: Using Breathwork to Manage Stress and Anxiety
Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Jana Wu helped us move out of our mind and into our body with some simple breathing exercises. Here are some breathing exercises for you to practice at home:
This breathing technique is a great way to relief some stress before taking an exam, heading into a meeting or any other stressful event. Diaphragmatic breathing helps adjust your posture and calm your nervous system, often helping to lower your heart rate and blood pressure immediately.
How it’s done:
- Sit in a comfortable position or lie a comfortable, flat surface.
- Relax your shoulders.
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose for about two seconds. Air will move through your nostrils into your abdomen, making your stomach expand.
- Purse your lips and slowly exhale through your mouth for about two seconds.
- Repeat six times, or more as needed.
Sama Vritti or Equal Breathing
This breathing technique helps calm the nervous system, reduce stress, and increase focus. It is a great way to unwind before bed.
How it’s done:
- Sit in a cross-legged position. When that isn’t possible, lie on your back or sit on a chair.
- Close your eyes and slowly inhale through your nose for a count of 4 then exhale for a count of 4.
- Repeat for several minutes.
This relaxation technique aims to return breathing to its normal rhythm or “reset the breath.” It is specially grounding when you are feeling overwhelmed, defeated, or need a confidence boost.
How it’s done:
- Sit upright and slowly exhale through your mouth.
- Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of four.
- Exhale again through your mouth for a count of four.
- Repeat these steps, progressing up to a count of six.
Music for Recovery
Award-winning singer-songwriter and founder of Music for Recovery Kathy Moser shared songs about recovery and wellness. You can listen to some more of her songs below.