Hospice: 10 Things Patients and Families Need to Know

Hospice is a care philosophy that focuses on maximizing the quality of life as opposed to the quantity of life. Hospice may incl...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Social Work Burnout Happens In Different Ways

While having a discussion with my mom today, she said the following: "Chinese people don't want to be social workers because there is no prestige in the profession. They all want to be doctors." Instead of arguing the many things wrong with her statement, I opted to remain silent as I've had this conversation with her thousands of times before to no avail.

What sets me apart from many of my social work friends is that the majority of my stress does not come from work. It comes from having to come home at the end of the day and hear about how I am "less than" because I do not have a more "prestigious" job. Furthermore, coming home from work is like going to a second job. Since my mom is a nurse, she spends dinner time railing about her latest problem patient (like I don't encounter lots of them at work) and lecturing me about what I should be doing at work as a medical social worker. She tells me that nursing is significantly harder than anything a social worker has to do, hence making social workers deserving of a salary half that of a nurse. Unfortunately, my family takes a militant "no secrets" approach which prevents me from setting boundaries at home. Hence, I go to work to escape the stress associated from being at home.

There are three reasons I continue to live at home. The first is to save money. The second is that I have yet to find a stable full time/part time job that will allow me to move out without draining my savings. The third is the cultural belief within my family that unmarried adult children who move out are ungrateful and abandoning their parents. To cope with this situation, I involve myself in extracurricular activities and surround myself with supportive friends. I am also on the hunt for jobs that are not within commuting distance from my house.

In the next few weeks, I will revamp my resume and cover letter and re-intensify my job search in hopes that I can move out before my one year anniversary of graduating with my MSW. Social work jobs right now are pretty tight, and a medical social work position is even more difficult to obtain. As living at home is beginning to result in medical social work burnout, I am open to jobs in different settings such as college campuses.

For the immediate future, my main goals are to find a job and move out. I also want to go on a nice vacation with the money I've saved from living at home. I'll definitely keep everyone updated on my exploits. Wish me luck!

Opening a Roth IRA

Today, I opened a Vanguard Roth IRA thanks to some help from my boyfriend. It was a fairly simple process that took me less than 10 minutes. While I am roughly six years behind my peers who opened accounts after receiving undergraduate degrees, it's never too late to start saving for retirement.

What makes a Roth IRA different from a Traditional IRA is that you're taxed when you deposit money as opposed to when you withdraw it. Since I'm an entry level social worker working per diem, my income and tax rate is not very high. A Roth IRA seemed like the practical choice as I'd rather pay taxes now than have to pay more later.

I feel that as a social worker, I should be especially conscious about saving money. I'm not only saying this because of my profession's reputation for being underpaid. By being knowledgeable about money issues and applying money saving tactics to my own life, I can better counsel individuals and families with their own money problems. One tip I will definitely suggest is to open an IRA and put as much money as possible each year. As of today, I have maxed out my IRA contribution for 2010 and plan to max out subsequent years.

This is not to say that I don't like to shop and have fun, as I've been doing a considerable amount of shopping lately and have a few excursions planned for the immediate future! However, there should always be some balance between spending now and saving up for more fun down the line. I suppose I will (hopefully) see the money I deposited today again in 35-40 years!

I'll post another update later about the different funds I picked and why. This is all new to me, and I have a lot to learn about the investing process!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

(not so) Cheap St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Similar to how I typically only eat roasted turkey during Thanksgiving, St. Patrick's Day is the one day out of the year I eat corned beef and cabbage! In past years, I've gone to restaurants to enjoy this dish. Since I'm currently living at home, I decided to modify a corned beef and cabbage recipe
and make it in my parent's kitchen.

When I've eaten at restaurants on St. Patrick's Day in past years, a plate of corned beef and cabbage cost me upwards of $12. A pint of green beer or Guinness usually cost about $4. Add in (California) tax and tip and you have a St. Patrick's Day meal that sets you back roughly $20.

For my St. Patrick's Day meal, I decided to take advantage of the weekly deals on corned beef, cabbage, beef broth, and Guinness at Safeway. Here's my cost breakdown:

3.06 pounds corned beef brisket * $3.99/pound = $12.21
32 oz. box of beef broth = $2
2.26 pounds cabbage head * $0.39/pound = $0.88
1.06 pounds of baby red potatoes * $0.99/pound = $1.05
0.70 pound of carrots * $0.99/pound = $0.69
FOOD TOTAL: $16.83

After a cash register mishap, I purchased a 4 pack of Guinness for $6.77 with tax included.


$23.60 for a St. Patrick's Day meal for 4 to 6 people seems like a pretty good deal compared to paying $20 per person at a restaurant. Since there are only three people in my household, there will be plenty of leftovers. Maybe I should start cooking every year!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to Make the Most of Birthday Freebies

I recently celebrated my birthday, which is not only a great excuse to have fun with friends, but my favorite time a year to receive free stuff! In this post, I will share how I go about maximizing my annual freebies. My view is that all my meals should be free or have a freebie the week of my birthday!

Step 1: Start preparing for your birthday several weeks in advance. Many freebies can be used as soon as two weeks before your birthday up to two weeks after.

Step 2: Scour websites/blogs/forums for lists of birthday freebies. The main ones I use are on slickdeals.net and fatwallet.com

Step 3: Sign up for websites that offer birthday freebies! If want, you can even open a new e-mail address so your inbox doesn't get cluttered by a barrage of e-mails when your birthday hits. Remember to sign up early, for these e-mails can start coming as soon as two weeks before your birthday. The year I started, several restaurants gave me freebies for just signing up for their mailing lists, making for extra free stuff on my birthday!

Step 4: Wait and watch as you start receiving birthday freebies in your e-mail. When printing out/writing down your freebies, organize them by expiration date. One year, I missed out on a free meal because the coupon expired sooner than I expected.

Step 5: Enjoy your birthday freebies!

A few side notes:
-Don't try to cheat the system! Many restaurants check ID to make sure it's your birthday. At Denny's, they actually wrote down my driver's license number.
-Make sure to tip for the amount before discount! Restaurant employees deserve full tips for good service!
-Offer to split the cost of buy one/get one free meals with your friend. You can also get your friend to sign up for birthday freebies and pay the full priced meal then.
-Have fun and make the most of your special day!

Quick Ways To Help Japan

The situation in Japan is both horrifying and heartbreaking. While I know that many of us want to help, traveling to Japan might not be possible. Therefore, here are some quick and simple ways to assist the relief process:

Donate via text:
-Red Cross: Text "REDCROSS" to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

-Salvation Army: Text "Japan" or "Quake" to 80888 to donate $10.

-World Vision: Text "4JAPAN" to 20222 to make a $10 donation.

An extensive list can be found here: Text to donate

Donate via Paypal:
You can use your Paypal account to donate to one of eight charities.

Please spread the world so we can provide maximum assistance to those impacted by this catastrophe. Also, if you are looking for a loved one please know that Google has launched a people finder that might have some information.

It seems like so many places have been impacted by natural disasters recently. Let's hope that they can all recover as soon as possible.

Friday, March 11, 2011

8.9 Japan Earthquake

I've spent this evening watching news coverage of the earthquake in Japan and texting family in nearby countries to get to higher ground. Events like these are absolutely horrifying and a stern reminder that natural disasters can strike without warning.

While listening to the news, I decided that I needed to have an emergency kit in my room. Grabbing a backpack from my closet, I stuffed it with clothes, first aid tools, a flashlight, batteries, and a bottle of Gatorade. I don't really have much at home, so I might invest in a real disaster kit sometime soon. Since I live in an earthquake prone area, it's probably wise to have basic necessities in a bag so I could just grab it and go.

Apparently the entire West Cost is on tsunami alert. My hope is that this is only a safety precaution. Be safe, everyone!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Social Work Month!

This March we celebrate Social Work Month, dedicated to increasing the knowledge and awareness of the social work profession nationwide. While social workers are commonly stereotyped as child protective service workers, this profession is much more than that. In fact, social workers work with a diverse population of individuals, representing various cultures, socio-economic groups, and age ranges. Social workers can also be found in a number of settings from schools, hospitals, non-profit organizations, corporations, to various government agencies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 640,000 social workers in the United States.

Social workers perform a number of vital tasks. According to a study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), social workers comprise the largest group of mental health services providers in the United States, outnumbering psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurses combined. The Departments of Veterans Affairs employs over 6,000 social workers to provide counseling, substance abuse treatment, post-combat readjustment assistance, and other services to veterans and family members. Additionally, over 40 percent of American Red Cross volunteers are social workers. When it comes to the country's most vulnerable populations, social workers are always there to assist and empower.

Becoming a social worker typically requires an advanced degree and extensive work experience. According to a study conducted by the National Association of Social Workers, about 79 percent of practicing social workers have master's of social work (MSW) degrees. Many entry level social work degrees require an MSW, with opportunities to move up if one becomes licensed. To become licensed in California, a person with an MSW much complete a minimum of 3,200 supervised work hours, 104 weeks of supervision, and 57 hours of continuing education, in addition to passing two state licensing exams. One might think that social workers are compensated well for their credentials, but this is simply not the case. While social workers could work higher paying and less stressful jobs elsewhere, many choose to stay in the field because of their passion for improving the lives of the sick, poor, and disenfranchised.

The theme for this year's Social Work Month is "Social Workers Change Futures". Indeed, social workers work to improve society by creating positive change among its most susceptible members. This month, please thank your friendly social worker for the selfless and benevolent services they provide on a daily basis.