Insight News

Feb 07th


Are your kids ready for a cell phone?

Are your kids ready for a cell phone?If your preteen child hasn't hit you up yet for a cell phone, you're among a rare breed indeed. Studies have found that roughly 70 percent of 11–14-year-olds now use cell phones. Closer to home, our 10-year-old has been hounding my wife and me for months to get his own phone.

My initial reaction was, "no way." But upon investigation, I see why many parents eventually give in. Here are a few points to ponder on before you agree or disagree to your preteen’s demand for a phone.

Pro and cons

Anyone who's ever had a flat tire or gotten lost can attest to cell phones' advantages in such desperate situations. On the flip side, unless you install parental controls, your child could access inappropriate content or be more vulnerable to bullying and predatory behavior.

Cell phone use can be wildly expensive, because besides calls, text messaging, web browsing and application downloads all come at a price. So checkout the types of payment options available.

Griffi n breaks barriers in architecture

Griffi n breaks barriers in architectureFew architecture firms get the opportunity to work with renowned architect Renzo Piano on ground breaking design and construction of a world icon—in this case the new Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago, but that is exactly what Interactive Design, Inc. (IDEA) of Chicago did. What is more unusual, however, is that firm is helmed by Dina A. Griffin, a Black woman—in fact one of only 262 Black women architects in the US.

Griffin, however, takes it all in stride. And why shouldn’t she? She is president of a small firm that, in their words, creates designs that enrich and inspire people’s lives. The backgrounds of the IDEA staff are as diverse as the projects that they undertake. The firm only hires licensed architects. Currently they have 10 professionals with experience ranging from ten years to 30. Half of the staff are women—a testament to Griffin’s commitment to bring more diversity into the field. Each architect specializes in a specific area of architecture--from design for zoo enclosures to cultural, governmental and historic preservation. Given this scenario, Interactive Design is the “can do” and “go to” firm.

Social security over the holidays

If your holiday to-do list includes business with Social Security, you should know that the busiest times for Social Security field offices and the agency’s toll free telephone number are early in the week and early in the month. 

“If your business can wait, it’s best to contact us at other times,” according to SSA spokesperson, Rhonda Whitenack.   The same is true during the holiday season — especially the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  If you must do business with Social Security during the holidays, you may experience more busy signals on the telephone and longer wait times in local offices.

Avoiding the holiday spending hangover

Avoiding the holiday spending hangoverAt this time of year, many people overindulge, whether it's overeating or drinking too much at holiday parties or spending too much on gifts and decorations. You'll regret the former the next morning; but with overspending you may not feel the hangover effect until the bills come due in January.

Here are a few tips for managing holiday expenses to avoid a holiday spending hangover:

Before spending a dime on holiday expenses, calculate how much you can afford relative to your overall budget. Many financial planners recommend spending no more than 1.5 percent of annual income on holiday expenses. Consider:
Will your savings cover a few months' expenses in case of a layoff, unexpected medical bills or another financial emergency?
Can you pay off all holiday-related bills within a couple of months?
Do you already struggle to pay your monthly bills?
Would you need to suspend retirement savings to buy gifts?

Gaps in employment: The interview hot spot

Gaps in employment: The interview hot spotOver sandwiches with HR placement guru Susan Seward of HR Advantage Partners, she and I agreed that the number one concern candidates have today is around interviews.  Specifically, “I’ve been out of work for two (ten, twenty) months.  How do I explain that employment gap?”  If you, reader, happen to have a gap in your resume, keep reading.

See, you’re still reading, as are countless others with the same issue.  You are not alone.  So much so that interviewers have become experts in recognizing resume gaps.  They are paid to notice these and ask about them; they are not required to rule someone out because of them.  They simply have to ask, so first, ‘fess up:  “I have been unconventionally employed.”

Social Media: Not that kind of leader?

Social Media:  Not that kind of leader?“I’m not that kind of guy.” The terrified smile suggested this man of influence and considerable decision making authority had considered the question, decided against it, and would not, for any reason, be persuaded to change his behavior. The firm stance would have been perfectly appropriate if the individual were facing any of the inappropriate proposals businesspeople are often handed. This time, however, the question was, “How does your company employ social media?”

Technology is moving so fast that it can seem like one of those sound barriers along the freeway. It divides. And those who suddenly realize they are on the wrong side of the barrier are slow to move forward and are hard-pressed to find a way over or around the wall.

Choose your charities carefully

Today's tough economy has been doubly hard on non-profit organizations that rely on charitable contributions. Many people feeling the pinch have had to cut back on their donations; and because so many are out of work, charities that assist low-income families are being swamped just when their funding has been reduced.

If you're able to make charitable donations, whether cash, material goods or volunteering your time, make sure the organizations deserve your support.

Here are a few ideas that might help:
Make sure the non-profit organization is well-run. Ideally it applies at least 75 percent of contributions to programs that serve beneficiaries, as opposed to salaries, advertising, fund-raising and other administrative expenses.
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