Broker Check

The Financial Frontier: May 2024

Changing Unhealthy Behaviors
Most Americans know the fundamentals of good health: exercise, proper diet, sufficient sleep, regular check-ups, and no smoking or excessive alcohol. Yet, despite this knowledge, changing existing behaviors can be difficult. Look no further than the New Year Resolution, 80% of which fail by February.1

Generally, negative motivations are inadequate to effect change. (“I need to quit smoking because my spouse hates it.”) Motivation needs to come from within and be positively oriented. (“I want to quit smoking so I can see my grandchildren graduate.”)

Goals must be specific, measurable, realistic, and time-related. In other words, “I am going to exercise more” is not enough. You need to set a more defined goal, e.g., “I am going to walk 30 minutes a day, five days a week.”

Permanent Change is Evolutionary, not Revolutionary
As a rule, individuals travel through stages on their way to permanent change. These stages can’t be rushed or skipped.

Phase one: Precontemplation. Whether through a lack of knowledge or because of past failures, you are not consciously thinking about any change.

Phase two: Contemplation. You are considering change, but aren’t yet committed to it. To help you move through this phase, it may be helpful to write out the pros and cons of changing your behavior. Examine the barriers to change. Not enough time to exercise? How could you create that time?

Phase three: Preparation. You’re at the point of believing change is necessary and you can succeed. When making plans it’s critical to begin anticipating potential obstacles. How will you address temptations that test your resolve? For instance, how will you decline a lunch invitation from work colleagues to that greasy spoon restaurant?

Phase four: Taking action. This is the start of change. Practice your alternative strategies to avoid temptation. Remind yourself daily of your motivation; write it down if necessary. Get support from family and friends.

Phase five: Maintenance. You’ve been faithful to your new behavior. Now it’s time to prevent relapse and integrate this change into your life.

Remember, this process is not a straight line. You may fail, even repeatedly, but don’t let failure discourage you. Reflect on why you failed and apply that knowledge to your efforts going forward.

1., January 7, 2023

Stop Wasting Money
Benjamin Franklin once said, “a penny saved is a penny earned.” One way to find the money to meet your spending or saving needs is to examine your current spending habits and consider eliminating money wasters.

Top Money Wasters
Bargain Shopping…and its Expensive Cousin, Impulse Buying:
Fire sales and impulse buying (such as products sold on infomercials) can be money wasters, made worse by how often they sit idly in a closet or drawer.
Unused Subscription Services:
It can be tempting to sign up for the “free trials” many subscription services offer, but don’t forget to cancel after your trial period is up. Forgotten subscription services can eat away at your wealth when you don't value the subscription anymore. For example, three $30-per-month subscriptions don't sound like much until you realize they total nearly $1,100 per year.
Cable and Cell:
Call your provider and see if it’s possible to negotiate a new rate. Cell providers, who face stiff competition, may be responsive. Cable companies may be less so, especially if they are a single provider, but you can review your package and make sure you are not paying for service you don’t want.
Paying for Water:
Switching from an essentially free product to one that may cost up to $1.50 a day or more is a real budget leak. Consider purchasing a reusable container and using that during the day.
Gourmet Coffee:
$4 or $5 a day may not seem like a lot of money, but when Americans step into a gourmet coffee shop, they may often buy more than just the coffee. Consider brewing your own. It can be ready before you leave for work, and it’ll save you the wait in the drive-through line!
Eating Out:
While dining out may be one of life’s pleasures, eating out is often less about socialization and more about convenience. Twice a week may not seem like much, but over time it can add up. Try tracking your dining-out expenses for a week. You may be shocked at how fast costs add up. 

Risk Perception Drops After Hurricanes: Study
As time passes after hurricanes, new analysis by Stanford University researchers shows perception of personal risk, including the likelihood of injury and home damage, decline.

The findings suggest that programs and policies that aid households to think beyond stocking up on food and medical supplies and invest in longer-term protections will help overcome the risk perception gap and supporting adaptation to rising climate-related threats.

In Texas and Florida, during the five years when hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Michael ripped through the Gulf Coast, many households took steps to prepare for the approaching storms.
According to research published April 9 in PNAS Nexus, people who took these initial steps too often went on to misjudge their vulnerability to impacts from future hurricanes.

“It totally makes sense that the more things you do to protect yourself, sensibly, your personal risk should be going down,” said lead study author Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, assistant professor of Earth system science in the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability. “In reality, climate change is intensifying hurricanes and future risk of property damage and injury is generally going up in many Gulf Coast communities. All of our findings paint a picture that’s worrisome,” Wong-Parodi said.

Programs and policies encouraging households to invest in longer-term protections are needed to overcome this risk perception gap and help people adapt to rising threats over time, according to Wong-Parodi and co-authors Daniel Relihan of University of California, Irvine, and Dana Rose Garfin of University of California, Los Angeles. This applies not only in hurricane country, they said, but also in areas facing increasing risks from wildfires, droughts and other climate-related phenomena.

The research expands on a 2022 study from Wong-Parodi and Garfin that found people in Florida and Texas who had experienced major hurricanes first-hand tended to perceive greater risks from an impending above-normal hurricane season, and to say they were taking steps to safeguard their households.

The new study, built upon more extensive surveys, looks at how risk perception and actual actions shifted over time based on how recently survey participants had experienced a big storm.

Both studies are part of a growing effort to understand the complex relationship between risk perceptions and behavior as a way to inform programs and policies that can help people adapt to the impacts of climate change and reduce human suffering.

“We need to understand what motivates people and offer solutions that resonate with their realities,” Wong-Parodi said.

The new research is based on analysis of five surveys of 2,774 residents of Texas and Florida between 2017 and 2022.

Residents were asked about their perception of risk from hurricanes, and how they adapted to those risks, whether by putting together an emergency supply kit, installing hurricane shutters, developing and practicing an emergency plan or purchasing flood insurance.

Respondents most commonly reported putting together emergency kits or learning about ways to prepare.

As time passed after hurricanes, the new analysis shows, survey participants’ perception of personal risk, including the likelihood of injury and home damage, declined.

“People tend to be adopting those behaviors that are low-hanging fruit, like getting an emergency supply kit, rather than purchasing flood insurance or getting more durable goods that actually may help them with intensifying events,” said Wong-Parodi, who is also an assistant professor of environmental social sciences.

Intertwined Threats
The researchers discovered that people living in Florida, and people without a college degree were more likely to report feeling at high risk of home damage and injury from future hurricanes.

The study authors suggest this may be partly because those with less education may not have as much access to resources and existing power structures, and that they may be more vulnerable to hurricanes and other disasters.

“As hurricanes and other threats fueled by climate change grow more complex, more intertwined, and bigger, more of us are going to be experiencing the dangers of storms, wildfires, and droughts in the future,” said Wong-Parodi.

When looking at why people may misperceive their risks for climate change-related threats, she points out, it’s important to also take into account their other life stressors.

“People are facing compounding threats, such as the pandemic, political instability, and economic constraints, that they are also grappling with in their lives,” she added.

Wong-Parodi underscores the need for collaborative efforts between scientists and health practitioners to develop effective policies and investment programs.

She urges partnerships at the local, state, or federal level to enact long-term solutions, such as programs that offer funding to help people and communities to adapt and prepare for oncoming storms, especially for those groups with fewer resources.

“We need to prepare communities, not just support them during and after events,” she said.

(This article written by Corey Binns, Stanford University

John Davidson

(913) 706 - 7127

Recipe of the Month
Grilled Cheesy Loaded Potatoes
Courtesy of Food Network Kitchen

8 Slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 Russet potatoes, thinly sliced 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 Ounces Cheddar, grated

2 Tablespoons sour cream3 Scallions, sliced
1)  Prepare a grill for direct and indirect heat: For gas grills (with 3 or more burners), turn all the burners to medium-high heat; after about 15 minutes, turn off one of the side burners and turn the remaining burners down to medium. For charcoal grills, bank one chimney starter-full of lit and ashed-over charcoal briquettes to one side of the grill. Set up a drip pan on the other side to avoid flare-ups. (Be sure to consult the grill manufacturer's guide for best results.)

2)  Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet on direct heat and add the bacon; cook, stirring often, until crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate; set aside. 

3)  Add the potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir to coat with the bacon fat, then move to indirect heat and cover the grill. Cook, uncovering the grill and stirring every 5 minutes, until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. 

4)  Sprinkle with the Cheddar and move back to direct heat. Cook, uncovered, until the potato bottoms are golden and the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes, depending on the heat of your grill. Let cool for 10 minutes, then dot with the sour cream and sprinkle with the scallions and reserved bacon. 

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