Stay tuned for upcoming mindfulness workshops conducted by FSAO counselor Karen Brouhard! The workshops will be held in the fall and will be on both the Charles River Campus and the Med Campus.
If you would like to discuss with Karen how to practice mindfulness in your life, contact us to set up a free confidential appointment: http://www.bu.edu/fsao/contact/.
The Faculty & Staff Assistance Office on the Medical Campus has moved to a new floor in the same building. Our new office is located in room 818b on the 8th floor of the Dr. S. C. Fuller Mental Health Center (85 East Newton Street). The phone number for the Medical Campus Office is remains the same: 617-638-5381.
Our Charles River Campus Office location has not changed.We are still located at 270 Bay State Road in the basement, room B-30. The phone number for the Charles River Campus Office has not changed: 617-353-5381.
If you would like to make an appointment to see us on either campus, please contact us .
Sandy is a 64 year old professional woman in a long term same sex relationship. She came from an upper middle class family and enjoyed excellent private school, college and graduate school educations. During her working years in a well-paid professional job, she indulged in frequent travel, dining out and generous gifts to her family, friends and favorite political causes. She and her partner bought a condo within their means. Sandy anticipated inheriting money, which she did after her parents died. With the inheritance, she and her partner took an expensive cruise and made some home improvements.
Job and health problems led to an early retirement after which Sandy couldn’t find another position. She became depressed and ashamed, realizing that she was no longer able to pay her bills. She had no safety net of savings and investments to fall back on. She withdrew from friends and eventually declared bankruptcy. Over time, she began to believe that her rescue would come from winning the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes and she bored people with her grandiose, but generous fantasies. She became dependent on her partner for daily expenses and gave up on basics like dental insurance.
What is Financial Well-being?
Financial literacy is simply understanding and using money well. It can bring comfort with money, which contributes to our general sense of health and well-being by allowing us to purchase goods and services for a good life and avoiding the inevitable distress caused by poor management. Financial literacy consists of knowing:
- How money works
- How money is valued
- How money is earned
- How money may be saved
- How money may be invested
- How money can contribute charity to help others
What is financial wellness or well-being? According to Wikipedia, “it refers to the set of skills and knowledge that allows an individual to make informed and effective decisions with all of their financial resources.” [i] Understanding and using money is shaped by the beliefs, attitudes and values learned from parents, schools and organizations. It begins at an early age and continues throughout life.
Who is affected by financial distress?
Many of us are affected. Analysis of the Federal Reserve statistics and other government data find that the average American household has $7,283 in credit card debt.[ii]
On March 9, 2015 The Boston Globe wrote that “Americans score poor marks when it comes to financial literacy. And women lag behind men – which could have troubling consequences for their retirement and overall financial health.”[iii]
The American Psychological Association’s Annual Stress Survey found that money is the #1 stressor for respondents.[iv]
Procrastination, wasteful spending, not doing research before important investments, and not planning for the future are behaviors that may lead to financial distress.
The National Financial Capability Study offers a simple online quiz to help you determine if you are affected by a lack of financial literacy: http://www.usfinancialcapability.org/quiz.php
What are symptoms of financial distress?
- Not checking financial statements and other personal financial reports
- Recycling available credit, moving debt around
- Waiting for the “Big Fix”, i.e. the job bonus, inheritance, lottery
- Paying only minimum balances
- Living paycheck to paycheck
- Failing to plan for the future (education, retirement, etc.)
What are consequences of financial distress?
Emotional symptoms may include depression, sense of stress and anxiety, loss of well-being, social isolation or substance use. These may lead to lower self-esteem and productivity, which may exacerbate the problem. Financial distress can also cause couple or family conflict, loss of property, loss of credit rating. Poor credit makes borrowing more expensive.
What can you do to enhance your financial well-being?
- Explore financial advice offered through your organization.
- Learn more about how money works, how investments like stocks, bonds, index funds work. Free, online websites like Fidelity.com provide comprehensive information on financial management at all phases of the lifecycle.
- Anticipate your financial goals at each stage of life. Examples of goals might be saving for a home or college education, having a child, preparing for an emergency or for retirement
- Make a commitment to understanding and managing your resources
- Understand and check your personal credit rating http://guides.wsj.com/personal-finance/credit/how-to-monitor-your-credit-score-and-credit-report/
Some simple steps you can take to enhance your financial well-being:
- Know and understand your income and expenses on a monthly and yearly basis. Keep track of what you take in from earnings, investments and gifts. Note what you spend each day.
- Pay off credit cards first, reducing the amount you spend on interest.
- Consider good and bad debt in evaluating what to pay down.
- Good debt might be borrowing money for school, a home mortgage or a car. These are long term investments, usually at a reasonable rate, that will increase your earning potential.
- Bad debt may include using a credit card for quickly consumed expenses like restaurant meals, vacations and entertainment, usually at a higher interest rate.
- Save for expensive items
- Pay off debt monthly if possible
- Talk to your children about money
Why did Sandy wind up with so much financial distress?
She did not understand how to use money. In a word, she was financially illiterate. She was not able to delay short-term gratification for longer term gains and investments. She did not anticipate a loss in her earning power or plan for her future retirement. She experienced denial, depression and shame which affected her ability to ask for help until the problem reached a crisis. Finally, she gave up and acquiesced to relying on her partner for her support.
- Faculty Staff Assistance Office-provides confidential consultation, counseling and referrals to community resources http://www.bu.edu/fsao/contact/. Please note that we are not financial advisors.
- Investor.gov has calculators, quizzes, definitions, and basic Information to help you understand how to invest your money. http://investor.gov
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has answers to frequently asked questions about consumer financial product and services. http://www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb/
- The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has an online program to educate individuals about managing their finances https://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/moneysmart/
- Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security, by Laurence Kotlikoff, PhD, Philip Moeller, Paul Solmon. This is a book that gives readers advice on how to maximize Social Security benefits.
[i] “Financial Literacy.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 March 2015. Web. 09 June 2015.
[ii] Chen, Tim. “American Household Credit Card Debt Statistics: 2015 – NerdWallet.” NerdWallet Credit Card Blog. June 2015. Web. 09 July 2015.
[iii] Albernaz, Ami. “Women Lag behind Men on Financial Literacy – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com. 09 Mar. 2015. Web. 09 July 2015.
[iv] “American Psychological Association Survey Shows Money Stress Weighing on Americans’ Health Nationwide.” Http://www.apa.org. American Psychological Association, 4 Feb. 2015. Web. 09 July 2015.
Written by Bonnie Jean Teitleman
Boston University’s Fitness and Recreation Center is offering a great (and free!) 30 minute stretching class for all BU Faculty and Staff at 12:15 pm on Thursdays until August 13th . No registration is needed, and the workout is gentle enough that you don’t need workout clothes. Fore more info about the class, go to the FitRec website here
Anthony Tjan in the Harvard Business Review wrote an article that links self awareness with good leadership. In his article, he lists 5 ways to become more self aware. His tips are good for anyone who wants to practice self-awareness.
To read the article, go here: https://hbr.org/2015/02/5-ways-to-become-more-self-aware .
The Faculty & Staff Assistance Office can help you learn techniques to practice mindfulness. If you work at BU and would like to set up a free, confidential appointment, contact us through our online form, or call us :
Charles River Campus: 617-353-5381
BU Medical Campus: 617-638-5381
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the amount of people in the United States who are practicing yoga has increased from 5.1 % in 2002 to 9.5 % in 2012. To see statistics on this and other Mind and Body Practices, go here http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USNIHNCCIH/bulletins/ff47cc .
We have a great Chair Yoga printout on our Resources for Mindfulness web page that can help you stretch out during long days at your desk.
If you want to make an appointment to discuss how to incorporate mindfulness techniques into your life, contact us using our online form or call us:
BU Med Campus- 617-638-5381
Charles River Campus-617-353-5381
Do you find your co-worker difficult? If you are struggling with how to deal with a difficult co-worker, Duke University has a great presentation that discusses how to address this issue. Click here to see the video on YouTube.
If you would like to discuss your situation and figure out a strategy for addressing a difficult co-worker, contact us or call us at 617-353-5381 on the Charles River campus or 617-638-5381 on the BU Medical Campus. We offer free and confidential counseling, consultation, and therapist referrals for all Boston University faculty and staff.
On the week of April 20th , Karen Brouhard of the Boston University Faculty & Staff Assistance Office will be presenting her workshop on mindfulness and resilience to Medical Laboratory Staff on BU’s Med Campus. If you are interested in having the FSAO bring our Mindfulness and Resilience presentation to your department, or would like to schedule an appointment to discuss how to practice mindfulness and strengthen your resilience, fill out our online form or call us. Charles River Campus: 617-353-5381; BU Med Campus: 617-638-5381.
On April 7th, Bonnie Teitleman of the Faculty & Staff Assistance Office, and Kathy Kuhn of the School of Social Work, will be presenting a workshop from 12:00-1:00 on how to care for elderly and disabled persons. The workshop is part of the BU Occupational Health Center’s Spring Health Promotions series. As of today (March 25th) spaces are still available. Go to the events pages of Occupational Health to register for this workshop: http://www.bu.edu/buohc/events/ .
If you are BU Faculty or Staff and want to figure out strategies for caring for an elderly or disabled person in your life, or just want to talk to someone to talk to about your experience, you can contact the Faculty and Staff Assistance Office to set up an appointment for free and confidential counseling. You can contact us or call us on either the Charles River Campus at 617-353-5381, or the Med Campus at 617-638-5381
Jon Hanc of The New York Times recently wrote an interesting article about a mindfulness awareness sessions, hosted by the Hammer Museum in California and conducted by instructors from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. The article, which you can read here discusses the benefits of the program, and mindfulness meditation in general. The sessions are captured as podcasts, so if you are not in Los Angeles but want to learn how to practice mindfulness, you can.
For other resources on mindfulness, please see our page.
If you would like to learn about mindfulness and meditation, feel free to contact us for a free confidential appointment:
Charles River Campus-617-353-5381
Medical Campus- 617-638-5381