Perspective: Attending Pediatric Physical Therapy

Our son is finishing up a round of pediatric physical therapy.  He has been a ‘toe walker’ ever since he took his first steps.  While this doesn’t stop him from getting around, his pediatrician advised we take him to therapy after his last check up.  The reason for this is because toe walkers often don’t stretch out muscles and tendons in their foot.  This appeared to be the case for my son.  By having him go through therapy, we would all learn methods to stretch these out.  The hope is that it would lead to better walking habits.

The Results

So far, we’re one for two on the  goals noted above.  He has improved the mobility in his foot, meaning that it stretches out better.  This is a good thing.  Unfortunately, he still often walks on his toes.  We always tell him when we catch him, and he’ll drop down while he walks, but it’s just a habit that he’s not ready to break yet.  This isn’t ideal, but it means we’ll have to keep him engaged in the stretching exercises.  The good news is that he doesn’t have to go to therapy indefinitely. His movement will be measured by the pediatrician, and if needed, he might need to go back to therapy occasionally.

I know first hand that habits like this are hard to break.  I never got over my fingernail biting as a child, and I still do it to this day.  Who knows why some habits stick and others form?

Perspective After Attending Pediatric Physical Therapy

Since my son started attending therapy, my wife typically takes him.  She picks him up from school and drives him, and I get our daughter off the bus.  This worked best for us so that it didn’t interrupt my work day.

Still, my wife thought it would be a good idea for me to attend.  I had asked her a number of questions, and rather than be the go-between, she thought I should go.

So I did.

Attending was quite eye opening, but not for the reasons I thought.

Getting some of my questions answered and seeing how things worked was the easy part.  That just involved sticking my head through a door and spending a few minutes chatting with the therapist.  She clarified a few things and confirmed a couple of things I’d been thinking about post-therapy planning.  That was the easy part.

Where it really opened my eyes was seeing some of the other children in for therapy.  We were lucky to find a kids only therapy center, which has worked really well.  But, just as is the case with any medical office, you see the other patients as they enter and leave.

Some Amazing Kids

And I have to tell you, there were some pretty amazing kids there.  I saw a kid that didn’t seem to talk.  They were trying to work with her, and also have her communicate with a special tablet to make sure she had interaction.  I saw a kid who had been in some kind of accident who was really struggling, but working hard to get back to doing what had once been normal.  In the hour that I was there, I saw these and others.

And Some Incredible Parents

I also saw some pretty amazing parents.  It really put things in perspective for me in a number of ways.  We often get pretty wrapped in our own kids lives and their struggles, and we can sometime get overwhelmed in the process.  If one of the kids comes home with a note from school, it’s easy to get frustrated.  When we tell our son for what seems like the 50th time that day to walk on his feet, we become that nagging parent we promised we’d never be.  When we hear toilet talk, it pushes us closer to seeing red.

But, you know what?  Seeing what these other parents go through gives some much needed perspective.  For each other kid I saw there, I saw a parent that was fully supportive.  They were immersed in making sure that their child had every opportunity to work through their particular challenge.  The love was amazing.

It was really cool to see and it made me walk out with appreciation for what they do.  I’m sure it’s not always easy for them.  It can’t be.

Regardless, I had nothing but admiration for these parents.  It was an honor to be able to see this little bit of their lives.  And, it really put things in perspective.

Readers, have you had an eye opening moment like this?   Has there ever been a time when you got a look at someone else’s life, and it made you see yours differently?  Let me know your story in the comments below.  And, thanks so much for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Smart Single-Family Rental Investing

Opinions often vary regarding the advantages of investing in single-family homes (SFHs) over multi-family complexes (MFCs). Some feel the short-term potential of MFCs surpass that of SFHs. While others cite the long-term potential of the SFH as being a preferable trait. The reality is—of course—it depends.

What are your long-term goals? How much is your available capital? What is your overall tolerance for drama? Depending upon your answers to those questions, smart single-family rental investing in a city can indeed be preferable to multi-family rental investing when you take the following factors into consideration:

Lower Barrier to Entry

On the whole, it’s easier to get started with SFHs. In fact, a good strategy for young investors is to purchase a starter home in which to live while they save and help appreciation bolster the value of the property. Once their equity position becomes sufficient, they can then refinance the house to purchase a larger home. If you start at age 25, repeat this process every five years with 15-year mortgages and acquire your last property at age 50, you’ll have a nice home free and clear when you turn 65 — along with six paid-for rentals from which to derive retirement income.

Easier to Afford

Buying a SFH generally entails much less expense than acquiring a MFC. They are lower-priced, easier to finance and require much less liquid capital to buy. Plus, if you ever need to sell, they also tend to move more quickly when they come on the market—assuming they’re well maintained and in good locations.

Faster Appreciation

Single-family properties tend to appreciate more rapidly in cities than complexes do. The resell market is much broader for SFHs, as they can attract people who need to purchase a home as their primary residence as well as investors looking for nice rental properties to add to their portfolios. On the other hand, MFCs tend to appeal only to investors. As a result, the pool of potential buyers is smaller, so demand isn’t as great and appreciation happens more slowly.

Easier to Manage

Maintaining a SFH is much less involved than keeping up a MFC. In a rental house, you’re likely to have at best three toilets. In a MFC the number of units multiplies the number of toilets. Ditto appliances to fix, carpeting to replace, walls to paint and all of the other aspects of keeping your property in tip-top condition. Yes, good property management companies can relieve you of much of the burden, but even then, your costs are lower with SFHs.

More Desirable to Families

In general, SFHs are easier to rent when they’re in good locations because people with children prefer to live in houses. This also means your turnover rate will be lower because all things being equal, a family is more likely to stay put — as long as the place remains comfortable and meets their needs as a family. Further, most people with children prefer a neighborhood setting with backyards, trees and other like-minded people nearby. This is more likely to be the case in a neighborhood of SFHs, than in an area zoned for MFCs.

Fewer “Personality” Problems

Anytime you put a bunch of people in close proximity to one another, you’re inviting personality clashes. Yes, you can screen your tenants very carefully, but it won’t guarantee Tenant A’s preference for the Raiders won’t irk Tenant B’s love of the 49ers. In SFHs, the person who pays the rent calls the shots for the behavior of the occupants of the entire place. In a MFC the number of units multiplies this factor and everybody doesn’t have the same sensibilities, which can lead to landlords finding themselves in the uncomfortable position of arbitrator.

For these reasons and many others, many people prefer smart single-family rental investing in cities to multi-family complexes. Ultimately, it all depends upon the particulars of your individual situation.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

6 Things That Troubled Brick And Mortar Stores Need To Do

In an ever changing retail landscape, Gander Mountain is the latest victim to consolidation in the brick and mortar landscape.  They filed for bankruptcy and will be closing about 20% of their stores.  For now.  As has been the case with many other retailers, this is often the first wave of many.  Can Gander Mountain make it?  That remains to be seen.  What’s clear is that troubled brick and mortar stores need to make changes if they do want to survive.  While there are no guarantees, here are some potential changes.

Cut Locations

This is the first and most obvious solution.  Stores that aren’t making money are the first to go.  Even profitable stores might need to go if the profits are trending downward.  Stores need target more than just the obvious choices here.

Shrink Store Layouts

Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to close a store altogether, but instead cutting square footage might help. Stores will probably see some loss of sales, but if they can cut expenses by 50% while only losing 20% of sales, it could be enough.

Examine Mergers

Over the past year, it seems that sporting good stores are among the hardest hit retailers.  While there is likely a need for physical sporting goods stores, the market doesn’t need half a dozen chains.  Companies may need to examine whether industry consolidation is a viable alternative.  Otherwise, the market may make the decision for them.

Form Partnerships

I’ve seen multiple department stores form partnerships with other brands.  They do so by effectively renting floor space.  As an example, JC Penney has quite a few ‘Sephora’ store-within-a-store locations within their footprint.  This reduces overhead, and if it’s a good fit, customers heading to the mini-store will shop at the big store.  I’ve heard that Kohl’s is looking for such partnerships as well.

Revise Your Merchandise Mix

I was recently at a local mall that I haven’t been to for awhile, and came across an f.y.e. store.  This is an entertainment store.  When this location first opened about 15 years ago, it was massive, and it sold just about every DVD and CD that you could find.  This came about during the heyday of ‘disc’ sales.  This marketplace has shifted, and so has the store.  They are now in a much smaller spot (about 20% of the original size), and while they have some DVDs and CDs, they now focus on items such as toys, vinyl, and other entertainment niche products.  It remains to be seen whether this will be enough for them to survive, but I applaud the company for trying.

Have Special Events

Back when Disney first opened mall stores, the iconic Disney name was enough to draw shoppers in.  After the allure

Image from morguefiles via veggieretz

faded, they realized that they actually had to work to draw in shoppers.  Now, our nearest Disney store often has events that you can’t replicate online.  This attracts shoppers, young and old, that will go to dress up as their favorite Princess, something that you can’t do on the web.

Readers, what changes do you see stores making or needing to make to stay afloat?  Please let me know your observations and ideas in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

7 Cleaning Tips I Find Useful

Cleaning the house is not top on the list of fun things to do for many people.  But, since it has to be done anyway, you might as well make the most of it, right?  Here are a handful of tips I’ve picked up along the way.  I hope you find them useful.

Cleaning Tips I’ve Picked Up

  1. Use vinegar.  We have some traditional cleaners in our house, but a majority of our cleaning is done with vinegar.  A 50-50 vinegar/water mix will clean most surfaces. Why put up with all the chemicals if you don’t have to?  Plus, vinegar is cheap!
  2. Spray first, scrub later.  When you spray something down, give it a minute or two before scrubbing.  You’ll find that many stains will dissipate and caked on mess will become easier to clean.
  3. Clean from top to bottom.  If you clean your floors first, chances are you’ll get them messy when you clean something above it. Work from the top down to avoid cleaning things twice.
  4. Clean windows and mirrors with newspaper.  I still use Windex here, but instead of paper towel, I use newspaper.  It doesn’t streak.  Hint: Only use paper with black newsprint.
  5. Clean lampshades with a lint roller.  Don’t bother trying to vacuum a dirty lampshade or wipe them down with a cloth.  Both leave messes.  A lint roller will do the trick every time.
  6. Clean on both sides of exterior door.  Are you tired of cleaning the floors only to have the first person that walks through the door bring in a mess?  Shake out rugs and sweep or vacuum on the outside of the door to minimize this.
  7. Carry around a screwdriver while you clean.  Technically, this isn’t a cleaning tip but it will save you time.  I often carry around a screwdriver to tighten cabinet pull knobs, doors, or other things that you notice but never get around to fixing.

I hope these tips help.  Readers, what are your favorite cleaning tips?  Thanks for reading!

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