Which Comes First? The Money or The Plan?

- by Pocahontas

Suppose you took a survey of 100 people at age 65 and asked them, “Do you want to wanted to retire wealthy?” How many of the hundred do you think would say, “Yes”? Obviously all 100! The real question is how many of them do you think actually make it? 10? 25? What if I told you according to the Department of Health and Human Services (who actually did that survey) the answer is 1! Yes, one out of that hundred will retire wealthy. So what happens to the other 99, you ask? Well, 36% of them are still working. Do you think the little gray haired people greeting you with “Welcome to Walmart” are working because they WANT to or because they HAVE to? Now another 54% of them are dependent. Dependent on what you ask? Dependent on things like Social Security (which many call Social “IN”security), family members (ever heard of the elderly having to move in with their daughters and sons?), or friends. Five percent of them are deceased (and we want to stay out of that category as long as possible!) And the other 4% are doing “okay”. This means they were able to at least maintain the same standard of living they had during their working years in retirement. So let’s examine this, shall we? If you look at the statistics closely, you have a better chance of being DEAD than you do “okay” in retirement! And what’s more if you add up the 54% that are dependent plus the 35% still working that equals 90% of our society retiring B-R-O-K-E! Now do you think when these people were in their 20s, 30s and even 40s like you are they thought they’d be broke at retirement? Of course not! Most of them at least thought they’d be in the “okay” category! So then the million dollar question is, “what happened to them?” Let’s examine two main reasons why they failed.

Well, for starters have you heard the saying, “Keeping up with the Jones?” It typically refers to those who are driving cars they can’t afford and living in homes they don’t make enough money to furnish all for “appearance’s sake”. The problem with this is these people don’t know the Jones they’re trying to keep up with are broke! Sure they may appear on the surface to all of us who are on the outside looking in to be living comfortably with all the trappings of a nice life. But if you look deep inside their financial picture you’ll see multiple credit card payments with more going to interest than principal plus little to no savings and investments which add up to a negative net worth. Bottom line, people are blowing money on material things with no thought to the fact that they could be building up wealth.

Also, there’s an old adage that says, “most people don’t plan to fail they fail to plan.” Wouldn’t you agree? People don’t PLAN to retire broke. At age 25 or 35 they are not sitting down with their spouse trying to figure how to have very LITTLE money at retirement. But the problem is they don’t PLAN at all. And a wise person once told me, “a plan is not a plan unless it’s written.” If you have no written financial plan, that’s as bad as trying to drive to Kalamazoo, Michigan with no road map or GPS! A good “financial road map” would answer 3 very important questions:
What is your FIN (Financial Independence Number)? That is the exact amount of money you need to retire at the standard of living you desire.

* How much do you need to be putting away monthly to get there?

* Where do you find the money to do it?

* Ask yourself, “if you were planning to have your dream house built would you rather the contractor use a blueprint or just “wing it”? Then why are you so willing to “wing” your financial house everyday with no blueprint from now until age 65? Think about it.
Pocahontas is a licensed Financial Coach and has been in the industry since 2005. She can be reached at pfslynette@gmail.com.

Maybe Baby: Infertility Part III. The Tx

- by Pocahontas

It’s amusing to hear some of the “old folks” talk about fertility treatments. Since things like Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In vitro Fertilization (IVF) didn’t exist back in their day, they often look at these procedures with hesitation and think they would be unnecessary if the woman undergoing them would “just relax which would help her get pregnant the old fashioned way”. But if you are one of the unfortunate women in the world who suffer from an IF diagnosis, you may have to get used to hearing unsolicited “elder” advice and even advice from peers like, “why not just adopt?” when you inform people that you are doing ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology). These misguided and sometimes in appropriate comments can come with the territory. What might actually help instead is to explain the usefulness of such procedures in the lives of hundreds of thousands of women for whom they bring the gift of life in the form of a baby.

IUI and IVF are two of the most popular (yet controversial) ART tx (treatments) in the IF world today. There are others like ZIFT and GIFT that are used far less frequently. So let’s examine what each of these tx entail and which ones suit what IF situations. Remember only an experienced RE will be able to tell what will give you an optimal chance at pregnancy given your circumstances.

IUI stands for Intrauterine Insemination, but you’ll sometimes hear it referred to as “Artificial Insemination” depending on the source. Understanding-infertility.com describes it as the woman being, “ injected with carefully prepared sperm from the husband, partner, or a donor”. This technique can be used in instances where there is a male IF problem (like low motility…meaning the sperm aren’t “swimming” properly) or where the vaginal canal for whatever reason is too acidic for sperm to survive. The sperm is processed, drawn up into a catheter and injected directly into the woman’s uterus bypassing the vaginal canal altogether. Sometimes it is done without any medication. Often times it is done in conjunction with Clomid or an injectible hormone (like the ones described in Part II of this series). The drug is given to help the woman either have a stronger ovulation or ovulate more than one egg to give the sperm “more targets” so to speak.

IVF stands for In vitro Fertilization, and hopefully you won’t have to hear anyone archaically refer to it as “test tube babies” (although you might depending on the generation of the person). It is a more invasive treatment than IUI and is typically used when all other treatment options have not been successful. However, there are some instances in which IVF is the first course of action. These would be cases where a woman has had to have a fallopian tubes removed previously, where both tubes are blocked and unable to be repaired, or in cases of women with their tubes tied who decide they want more children and IVF is their only option. It is also used before other ART techniques when a man has had testicular cancer and may have to rely on previously frozen sperm or has such a low sperm count that ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) has to be used during IVF. ICSI is a procedure in which one single sperm is injected into the egg under a microscope using a needle. During IVF, a woman’s eggs are fertilized outside her womb and requires stimulating her ovulation (typically with injectible drugs), a retrieval of her eggs under conscious sedation or general anesthesia, incubating sperm and eggs together, and then tx’ing the resulting embryos back into the woman’s uterus typically 3 to 5 day later.

ZIFT (Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer) is a similar procedure to IVF except a woman must have healthy tubes for it to work since the embryos are tx’ed into her tubes as opposed to her uterus. For this reason it is sometimes referred to as Tubal Embryo Transfer (TET).

GIFT (Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer) is also similar to IVF and ZIFT except once the woman’s egg is mixed with her partner’s sperm, they are immediately placed back in the fallopian tube which means fertilization takes place there. Whereas with IVF and ZIFT fertilization takes place outside of the woman’s body.

Regardless the ART procedure used to achieve pregnancy, every IF woman’s desired end result is a healthy baby. It may not be as easy for a woman suffering from IF to achieve that result as a woman who has no issues conceiving, but if you have been diagnosed with a problem that makes it difficult to get pregnant, take heart in knowing that technology and medicine have come a very long way and with the right tx, you, too, can experience motherhood.

Proud Mommy Moment

We love to celebrate the achievements of our families. Today one of our blog team members shares her latest proud mommy moment.
- by Cherish21

As the summer draws to a close and the first internship my daughter Dominique is working is about to end and her junior year begins we received a surprise in the mail. It was a letter from an organization called People to People, an educational exploration program that was founded by President Eisenhower, offering Dominique an opportunity to travel and study for 19 days in England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland in the summer of 2009.

I am so proud of my daughter. All of our hard work and patience has paid off. This is a wonderful opportunity for her and we will gladly accept the offer so that she can pursue international studies.

Here's the website www.studentambassadors.org

Child Safety Seats Recalled

One more recall for our parents of infants. It turns out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is recalling almost 6,000 child-safety seats by the maker Baby Trend. The recall involves the following models made between May 2007 and April 2008: the Magnum, Galaxy and Silverado. More information is available on NHTSA's website

Maybe Baby? Infertility Part II: The Rx....

-by Pocahontas

I’m sure we all have that co-worker or two (or ten) who has popped up pregnant unexpectedly when she wasn’t even trying or the family member who is uber fertile and gets knocked up every time her DH blinks at her. Some of us may even be that person! But for those of us who are not, those who are in fact far from it, people like these can be a constant often painful reminder of what thousands of women suffer with in silence, IF (infertility).

When IF strikes it can be quite unexpected. It can leave not only the woman feeling devastated that she can’t do something women have done since Biblical times, but if tests reveal her DH is the one who has the problem it can cause a bruised ego on his side of the fence as well. All is not lost, however, most times in situations of IF. There are many recommendations that can be made once a medical professional has assessed the situation. Just as a man sees an urologist to be tested a woman may be referred to a RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist). That is an OB/GYN with additional training in treating reproductive disorders both medically and surgically. Seeing someone who is trained in IF cases is the first step. They may suggest any combination of hormone therapy and/or surgery.

One such surgery is a hysteroscopy which is sometimes done to remove uterine polyps or very small fibroids (growths in the uterus). Another is a laproscopy in which a small incision is made in the bikini line and another in the belly button in which a tiny camera is put inside the uterus to detect things like adhesions, scar tissue and endometriosis.

There are many different medicines that you may be Rx’ed to treat whatever your IF Dx is. Some of these include:
· Progesterone (in suppository or injection form as Crinone or Prometrium)
· Estrogen (in pill or patch form as Estrace)
· Clomid
· Femara
· Follistim or Gonal-F (FSH or Follicle Stimulating Hormone)
· Repronex or Menapur (LH and FSH)

As with anything, you should discuss with your RE why he/she thinks these drugs are most suitable for your particular circumstance. And don’t be afraid to ask questions about his/her experience with patients in your same situation, success rates in his/her practice or clinic, and how he/she codes procedures for insurance purposes.

However, maybe you’re not sure you’re ready to embark on the world of medications and surgeries. You may want to opt for a more holistic route such as acupuncture and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) which includes herbs and teas that are reported to increase blood flow to the uterus or treat other deficiencies. Also, you may try special diets that are designed to overcome your IF diagnosis. Many specialists believe that eliminating wheat (gluten) and dairy from the diet of IF women helps improve fertility. For example, in “Endometriosis: A Key to Healing Through Nutrition”(2002), authors Dian Shepperson Mills and Michael Vernon state, “When symptoms of coeliac disease were removed by excluding wheat gluten from the diet, many infertile patients became pregnant.”

No matter what the route, traditional or holistic, these techniques are often coupled with an ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) technique to achieve pregnancy. The most commonly recommended ART techniques will be investigated in the next and final part of our series.

Although Pocahontas is not a medical professional, she endured 17 months of IF diagnosis’s and treatments before finally conceiving her first born. So she wanted to share the vast amount of information she has learned and compiled in this 3 part series with women who may have to travel the same road to motherhood.

National Breastfeeding Awareness Month

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. That means you will be hearing a lot about the benefits of nursing. Our friends at FitPregnancy have gone one step further by giving resources and tips on making breastfeeding work for busy moms. Read more HERE.
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