5 Things About Budgeting: as Taught by WIC (Women Infant and Children Federal program)

Children on the Playground

These 5 Tips Apply Beyond WIC

WIC is a government assistance program in the United States and more information can be found here: https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/about-wic-glance.

My experiences with WIC fortunately or unfortunately are related to both of my two pregnancies.  I was in transition before the birth of each of my children.  The first pregnancy was announced to me as I was still in start-up phases for my first business and also while I was considering moving to Dallas, TX.  Pregnancy changed those plans and impacted my finances as I even paid out-of-pocket for my first ultra-sound.  My second pregnancy was not long after I had moved to Wisconsin for a new corporate position and then faced family court in the state of IL after my co-parent reversed his decision in supporting my move and peititioned against me before I met the 6 month residency requirement to officially make Wisconsin my home state.  He waited until I was in month 5 which created an uphill battle in the IL family court all while in a new job and pregnant. As a result, I was released from the new job I had secured in my new home state and had to enroll in WIC yet again even though I did find a new corporate position while in my eighth month of pregnancy.  My financial prowess has always been in many ways more substantial than the average person due to my upbringing.  Also, I had held a FINRA series 7 and 63 which are regulated financial licenses from working in the investment banking industry upon exiting the pharmaceutical industry. Still, I found that I consistently had to get increasingly creative as I faced the challenges of becoming a single parent with limited resources.  Needless to say these 5 tips grew out of those various experiences navigating my new chapters of this journey we call life. 

1. Budgeting is even more essential as parent.

From newborns to college, you will find that the costs associated with your amazing, cute child will never cease.  It truly gives you a better appreciation for all that your parents were able to provide to you.  Also, you realize that many things you enjoyed pre-children were far from necessary hence budgeting becoming essential as you utilize WIC and/or lean on family and friends.

2. It’s ok to explore new food groups normally out the budget

While WIC does specify certain items which are known to be nutritious for you as your pregnancy progresses or as your child grow, there is some ability to choose foods you like.  Make sure to leverage this as an opportunity to expose not just yourself but also your family to new foods.  When you have a diverse background like myself, you will naturally want to explore the international foods aisle.  As a person of proud mixed heritage; namely, Asian and African-American, being able to eat food normal to my diet was important to me and should be to you too.

3. You must get creative – diversify

Creativity is born out of strife in many cases so diversify your sources of income becomes essential. Let’s face it, WIC will only take you so far.  You have to be willing and open to considering opportunities you may not have otherwise considered if you did not have children or a growing family to support.  The fact of the matter is direct marketing, e-commerce, and multi-level marketing are not going anywhere.  Also, historically, all businesses started off as direct marketing to friends and family who each had a need that could be fulfilled by a product or service.  And, in these modern times, with not just the internet but the proliferation of smartphones and apps there are many options available so don’t be deterred by the concept of competition.  Competition makes us all better.

4. Maximize your network and resources

If there is one thing a person learns quickly, it’s that you must be willing to accept or even ask for help.  For a type A person for me, that was a difficult adjustment.  However, what makes it easier is that the large majority of people do not want nor like to see children suffer.  So, in many cases, it’s easy to maximize your network and resources simply by asking questions.  There are also so many non-profits that will provide you with relevant information especially if you are feeling overwhelmed by parenthood, financial burdents, family strain, or simply tired.

5. Your budget will change and grow even beyond what WIC provides

Children and their families need more than just good.  WIC ensures that you are eating and receiving nourishment; yet, it may not address your need for basics such as clothing or money to pay rent.  So economizing or even improving your recycling skills can allow you to keep a small budget for a short time. Still, your family needs will continue to grow especially as children get bigger so you, again, have to expand beyond the thought that you must maintain the limits of what WIC and other government resources provide forever.  You can change your situation which also means you can change your budget.  So, plan accordingly and you will get excel in your growing season to bigger and better things.

newborn
WIC is a government program which helps you grow in so many ways

Wanderlust as a Parent

Your ticket anywhere…

It’s 2022, and the Coronavirus now renamed COVID-19 virus rages on. People have collectively sheltered-in-place, experienced curfews, and learned how to connect with each other digitally. The last one, the last one is what resonates. While individuals, families, and even seniors or the well-seasoned as I like to call them become accustomed to Zoom meetings, Microsoft Teams for work calls or other business, Kahoot! for Kids in Hybrid or e-learning, and some older community members finally learned how to use FaceTime or Google Duo. We know how to do all these new things; yet, we miss the old way of life. We as a collective can’t wait for the pandemic to end. Some of us have even resumed travelling. That wanderlust is felt by us all.

However, the wanderlust resonates a little differently for all parents whether married, newly divorced, co-parenting, parallel parenting, or single. We all budget (yes, even rich folks). So, how do you budget for travel or even moving (see our last blog post) when you have kids and want to travel either domestically or internationally or even better you want to do both. There are many amazing tools and sites that make it far easier to satiate your travel desires or as some people are doing completely moving to new states or countries.

So, here are a few tips based on my own personal experiences:

  • Create a System
  • Hire Help
  • Live in the Moment

Create a System

As a parent, a single one at that, I live and breathe by systems to keep my life balanced. Systems for our morning routine, school being in session, summer camps, and even for our trips which is what we are focused on here. Before the pandemic, I travelled with my infant son and toddler daughter to the Bahamas for their Godmother’s wedding. We made it successfully due to my systems for the essential lightweight stroller, the ever-present baby bag, our arrived-in-time passports, multiple pieces of luggage, the carry-on, etc. Those early days of travel as a parent prepared me for the older years. Yet, we still operate with a system. For example, we recently did somewhat of a staycation and visited Starved Rock in Utica, IL. My kids are always advised to pack their own bags so that they take some ownership and it also ensures they bring things they like for the car ride. While they took care of their bags, I packed our snack bag and made sure all their technology (iPads, Amazon Fire Tablet, Nintendo Switch, etcetera) were all charged. It is simply part of my system. Now, our most recent goal was to travel to London and Paris this year…and the pandemic just will not let us be great just yet. I jest but the fact is the constant monitoring of school requirements for testing does make planning ahead for travel a bit harder. So, let’s move on…

Hire Help

Sometimes, I wish I had been more willing to hire people to help us which leads me to my next point and recommendation. For this recommendation, I have two phenomenal links for the same company which is Chicago based. Simply put: Hire Help. You can have professionals help with labor packing in Chicago: www.jcmovers.com/labor-only/ and let you handle the rest yourself. Think back to when your Mom would pack your travel bag for you as a kid and then when the family arrived at the airport, Mom and/or Dad would hire the bag porter to take care of your bag from there. It is worth the investment, hire help. You can even hire sitters while you travel. Do not make excuses, quench your thirst for travel. It may even inspire you to make even bigger moves. Hence, my next suggestion…

Live in the Moment

While you begin your journey, be present with your family and yourself. The pandemic taught us that we are so uncomfortable with sitting still for long periods of time and we adjusted. Some people loved living in the moment so much and that the the coronavirus, or COVID-19 if you prefer, made it easier for us to work remotely and explore the world that they decided to move across the country or even internationally. The link I’m including her for J.C. Movers does not cover international travel but it does cover domestic long-distance moves so check them out on the web at www.jcmovers.com. As a kid my own family, moved several times and the experience of moving to a whole new state was exciting. It is what created my own ongoing wanderlust.

So, as a parent or simply a human being, do not let anything stand in your way. Travel to your hearts content. And, hopefully, these tips will help get you there.

My Top 3 Methods for Sifting Through the News Amidst COVID-19 by TeMeka C. Williams

3 Tips for Sorting data

I have to admit that lately my default has been to truly practice living in each moment as it comes. This is not in alignment with my Type A past. Seriously, I am a graduate of Duke University land of Alpha personalities and overachievers. Several life events forced me to – as I like to describe it: “tone down my Type A.” Yet, I have also been known to say recently that I feel like I am drinking water from a figurative fire hose of information while attempting to move at the speed of light and the last time I checked that’s not humanly possible. Given our current world state of affairs how are we to manage the plethora of information being presented to us – especially without feeling overwhelmed? There are 3 methods that work best for me: stay in the moment, conduct my own research, and be kind to myself and others. So let’s get started on how we all can move forward.

Graphic image yet feels fairly appropriate for what I’m trying to describe too.

I’m an avid reader. So the first books that come to mind when it comes to how I’m coping are:

  1. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  2. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  3. The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz
  4. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Like I said at the start of this blog article, I have to take pause and focus on the present moment. And, the first book listed was actually a gift to me from one of my best friends whose field of study has always touched on human behavior. She started as a social worker who holds a LCSW and now she has a master in Behavioral Analysis. Needless to say I value and appreciate all her knowledge she shares with me just because she loves me and has known me longer than she has had those degrees (funny yet very true!). Also, Eckhart Tolle was featured as part of Oprah’s Book Club and essentially he teaches mindfulness is the best way for me to describe it a nutshell. Now we all know anything Oprah touches usually turns to gold so I forced myself to pay attention. Please note, I am a much bigger fan of fictional work so it was truly a labor of personal development for me to get through this book and his follow-up book which was also part of my gift set. At first, it was not easy to stop planning ahead or reflecting and reviewing on way to improve on my past actions. Then, as I made a more conscious effort to implement his teachings, it gradually became easier. So, when the flurry of information about the Coronavirus started to feel overwhelming or appeared to be a constant influx of often times faulty information, I simply reminded myself to reset my mind. Rather than allow anyone else’s panic to infiltrate my life, I would again simply focus on what was right in front of me. Luckily, that was usually my children especially once Chicago Public Schools and day care were shut down by the IL Governor Pritzker or it was work for my corporate employer. Equally important, I enjoy both my babies and the sales and marketing career I’ve built so the reset is much easier than it would be for a person who is a bit unhappier with their current station in life. I’m sure you can guess what I enjoy more, right? Well, in case it is not obvious, I enjoy my family life with my children immensely and will passionately love and protect them especially from what feels like a huge world crisis right now with the way the information regarding COVID-19 has rolled out.

My children playing at a park near our home in Chicago

This also easily leads me to the passion I learned from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. Her own journey through a life transition stirred my soul in ways that are hard to put into words. Yet, her book came to mind as a reminder on how to sort the information because she was also working as a writer as she traveled ate her way through one country, meditated her way in another, and fell in love in the final leg of the chapter of her life which she was illustrating for us. She was doing her very own first-hand research. This is what I encourage all of us to do as well! It shouldn’t be hard to do with the easy of smart phones, tablets, and voice-activated gadgets we all have in our home. And, if your anything like me and feeling like you practically live in your kitchen while eating non-stop (thanks again coronavirus LOL), then you have all the incentive in the world to put down that yummy food and get to work ensure you have validated the source. The Snopes website: https://www.snopes.com/ even does that work for us so we can get back to eating faster. I jest. Still, I did share with you all that I am a proud Blue Devil hailing from the research-based institution with a renown winning basketball team right? The library, printed sources, and reputable websites if you insist on relying on only internet information will help you to not spread the vicious cycle of misinformation we have all been experiencing as of late. I can not forget how when the virus first hit and I felt like my family was inundating with news and gossip they had heard trying to push me to the grocery stores. They were well-meaning but needless to say I was frustrated at stretching my planned grocery budget well beyond its means not to mention the amount of cooking I had to do to ensure food did not go bad. LOL They say the road to a hot place is paved with good intentions and I get cold easily so perhaps I should go down that path. Again, I am joking so I hope you can bear my style of humor.

With that in mind that leads me to my last tip and point of reference. Laughter is so critical to my life. I can not count the number of times I have had to laugh to keep from crying. So when I reflect on what I learned from the Four Agreements is that most people stay in their own heads and can actually be pretty harsh with his or herself in their. So again be kind. I will even bonus you all with 2 quotes this time:

“Be kind; for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Plato

“The World is a Tragedy to Those who Feel and a Comedy to Those Who Think.” Horace Walpole

source: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/horace_walpole_163240

It’s too easy to be hard on yourself especially when it feels like your surrounded by chaos. Still, the best way to stay focused on the right data also means you must choose the words you spread carefully. And this is the reason why I brought up Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Admittedly, I haven’t finished his book because remember non-fiction is harder for me? Still, I remember him describing how Honest Abe turned around his political career. Honest Abe meaning our former president Abraham Lincoln who is from my home state of IL (bonus points if you know what number president he was)! Hopefully, you understand my parallel. And just in case, here’s the gist of all this information I shared in picture format.

This was a long one but hopefully you made it to the end and will like it enough to leave a comment here or via one of our social media channels. And, thanks so much for taking this journey with me!

TeMeka C. Williams
TeMeka C. Williams

A woman constantly learning for myself & about others whose also a proud mother of 2 beautiful angels. I’m passionate about my loves – all of them. Cheers to the living our best life.