Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Are you a Boomer who feels squished like a sandwich?

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

If so, you aren’t alone. Many people in the boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) have now been referred to as the Sandwich Generation. That is because this generation that thought their middle years would be full of free time with plenty of time to plan what to do with their retirement benefits is facing a very different reality. Due to the recession, some young adults have had to put off college, or have had difficulty finding a job after completing college. So, for some boomers, they have adult children that have come home and aging parents that may need extra help.

On top of the possibility that some boomers may have lost some of their investments they were relying on for retirement, they also may be spending extra money to help their children get on their feet. Meanwhile their aging parents have also felt the effects of the recession.

This has resulted in two or three generations of a family living under one roof. There are various scenarios, out of work adult children move in with parents due to job loss, sometimes with young adults (college or post-college) in tow. Or young adults come back from college and need to live with mom and dad or even grandpa and grandma. Sometimes the older adult is in need of help so it may work out for both the young adult and the grandparent who needs assistance.

 It’s a fact that is backed up by serious stats, between 2007 and 2009 multigenerational households shot up more than 10 percent, from 46.5 million to 51.4 million. According to the Pew Research Center, that is the largest number of Americans living that way in modern history. Even as the economy recovers, those numbers probably won’t chance much as people are still finding a need to live under one roof.

Sometimes it is due to finances, sometimes it is also due to need for more hands on care. Adult children and grandchildren are finding themselves in caregiver roles more often as the older generation lives longer than it used to. They may have left a job to move in with their parent or grandparent or had them move into their house. Even if mom or dad live in a long term care setting boomers and their children will find that they are juggling their work life, family life, and financial problems all while caring for an elder.

Multigenerational households can be a blessing in disguise. Maybe it means that the child or grandchild doesn’t have to worry about childcare because grandma or grandpa is there. It could mean getting to spend time with a loved one in their last years, providing care for them while you gain comfort in knowing you took care of them they way they did you. Or just the simple fact that saving money by all being together means fewer rent or mortgage payments, utilities, etc. Not to mention sharing cooking and cleaning duties. So while the economy may have hurt your savings, it may just have brought your family together.

 NPR has recently begun a series on this topic called “Family Matters” you can read more facts and hear the stories of three families at http://www.npr.org/2012/04/17/150365158/one-roof-three-generations-many-decisions

 The lesson to be learned? Talk about your plans for the future with your family, many of the families in the stories state this is not where they expected to end up, but we all age and we can all become ill at anytime, so talk to your family and be prepared for what you might do when and if the time comes.

Heat and Energy Assistance

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

According to the federal government (US Energy Information Administration), heating bills are expected to increase slightly this season compared to last winter. Those who heat their homes with oil can expect to see an average of about $220 or 12% more this winter. Those households that heating with natural gas are expected to spend an average of $27 or 4 % more. While those heating their homes with electricity can expect to spend an average of $18 r 2% more than last winter.

For those who need assistance the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP is now available for the coming winter season. LIHEAP is designed to help low-income families and individuals meet home heating and medically necessary cooling costs. This year, the application period is November 1, 2011 to April 30, 2012.  To apply for LIHEAP, contact the authorized local community action agency or community based organization in your area.  A list of these agencies is found at www.energyassistance.nj.gov.  For persons age 60 or over, or who are disabled, applications may be received and returned by mail.  Other households may apply by mail at the discretion of the local agency. People who participated in LIHEAP last year will receive a recertification form in the mail to renew assistance through this program.

To be eligible for LIHEAP benefits, the applicant household must be responsible for home heating or cooling costs, either directly or included in the rent; and have gross income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.  The chart below gives specific monthly gross income maximums for FFY 2012.  Persons who live in public housing and/or receive rental assistance are not eligible unless they pay for their own heating/cooling costs directly to the fuel supplier.  The amount of the LIHEAP heating benefit is determined by income, household size, fuel type, and heating region.  This year, the medically necessary cooling assistance benefit is set at $160.

For further information on LIHEAP or to locate the nearest application agency, call 1-800-510-3102.  Additional information about LIHEAP, including an application, is also available at www.energyassistance.nj.gov.

  LIHEAP

MAXIMUM MONTHLY GROSS INCOME ELIGIBILITY LEVELS
FFY 2012

Household

Size

USF

Program

LIHEAP

Program

1 $1,589 $1,815
2  $2,146 $2,452
3 $2,703 $3,089
4 $3,260 $3,725
5 $3,817 $4,362
6 $4,374 $4,999
7 $4,931 $5,635
8 $5,488 $6,272
9 $6,045 $6,909
10 $6,602 $7,333
11 $7,159 $7,485
12 $7,716 $7,638
If more than 12, add: $557 for each person $153 for each person

 If you are above the following income guidelines, but still need assistance with your heating or energy bills you may be eligible for assistance through NJ Shares. NJ SHARES provides energy assistance to moderate and fixed-income households experiencing a financial crisis. Eligibility is based on household size and income. Their clients are families and individuals who do not qualify for Federal and State assistance programs due to the household’s income. NJ SHARES Grant amounts can be up to $700 for heating source (gas, oil, propane and electric heat), and can be up to $300 for electric service. Grants must result in continuance and/or restoration of service. Applicants must demonstrate a temporary financial need and a history of good-faith payments to their energy provider.

 Eligibility Guidelines

 Applicants Must:

  • Reside in New Jersey
  • Be experiencing a financial crisis, such as a job loss or illness
  • Be behind on their energy bill, or need a fuel delivery
  • Have income over the limit for Federal programs such as the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and state programs such as the Universal Service Fund (USF).
  • Have an income level that does not exceed 400% of the Federal Poverty Level
  • Have made a good-faith payment of $100 or more within 90 days of applying for NJ SHARES (for gas and electric customers; deliverable fuel customers are excluded from this rule)

Guidelines for Seniors and the Disabled:

  • Applicants 65 years of age or older, with households of one or two members, will be eligible for NJ SHARES if the maximum household income is $80,000 annually or $6,666 monthly. Proof of age is required.
  • Applicants receiving Federal Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, with households of one or two members, will be eligible for NJ SHARES if the maximum household income is $80,000 annually or $6,666 monthly. Applicants must show proof of Federal SSD benefit.

 Required Documentation for NJ SHARES applications:

  • Documents should be furnished to the intake agency at time of application.

1) Proof of Income (last four consecutive weeks prior to application date)

2) Proof of Identification

3) Most Recent Energy Bill

Utility Assistance

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Utility Assistance        

Between these difficult economic times and extreme weather (how’d you like that heat wave?) it is easy to understand why some households may be having trouble paying their energy bills. PSE&G has recognized that many of their customers have fallen on hard times and so they’ve come up with a new program to offer assistance.

The program is called TRUE, Temporary Relief for Utility Expenses and it is designed to help moderate income households who are having difficulty paying their PSE&G bill. The TRUE program provides a one-time grant of up to $1,500 ($750 for gas and $750 for electric) for households that are not eligible for other low income programs.

To be eligible for TRUE customers must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Must have an annual income for a one person household of at least $21,672 and not more than $57,120. A two person household income between $29,000 and $69,853. A household of four must have an annual income between $44,112 and $103,034. To see income requirements for other household sizes visit, www.pseg.com/true_guidelines
  • Be 45 or more days past due on their energy bill and/or have received a service discontinuation notice (shutoff notice)
  • Demonstrate that four payments of at least $25 each have been made with the past six months
  • Not have received LIHEAP or USF benefits in the last year.

In addition to the TRUE program, there are other programs available to help customers pay their energy bills:

  • The Universal Service Fund (USF) (1-866-240-1347) helps make energy bills more affordable for low income customers with a $5 to $150 monthly credit.
  • NJ SHARES (1-866-657-3273) helps moderate income customers not eligible for low income programs to the TRUE program, with up to $300 toward electric bills and $700 toward natural gas bills.
  • NJ Lifeline (1-800-792-9745) helps seniors and disabled adults with a $225 yearly credit towards their PSE&G bills.

 For more information on energy assistance programs or to download applications, please visit www.pseg.com/help or www.pseg.com/ayuda. Applications are also available at all PSE&G walk in Customer Service Centers listed on your PSE&G bill. For access to billing information and payment history, customers can sign up for My Account at www.pseg.com.

Five Meals, One Chicken- Money Saving Options

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

In a recent issue of Renaissance Magazine, viewable at: www.njfoundationforaging.org/ren.html, we featured an article and recipe focusing on cooking in a tough economy. The article talked about how to be creative and how to get the most out of money you spend in the store. We thought we’d continue with this theme is our blog and share with you a way to not just get 2 meals out of one chicken, but 5 meals!

Meal #1 – Roast chicken, stuffing and oven roasted vegetables

Take advantage of the fact that the oven is already on to bake the stuffing and vegetables. For this first meal, if you are a two person household you could split one breast and each take a wing.

While you have the cutting board and knife out, dissect the uneaten part of the bird for easier future meals. Take the meat off the second breast, thighs and drumsticks and cube it up for use in upcoming recipes. The yield is several cups of chicken meat. Everything else: bones, cartilage, and skin goes into a storage bag for soup-making (coming up in another meal).

Meal #2 – Chicken pot pies

You can make extra gravy so you will be able to add it with some of the chicken, diced potatoes, peas and carrots to individual pie crusts.

Meal #3 – Chicken soup

Boil down all the bones with onions, garlic, carrots, celery and spices for a couple hours until all the meat that was left on the bones falls off and the bones have released their collagen (the gelatinous protein) and you’ve got homemade chicken stock. Strain it, pick out the chunks of chicken, add more ingredients like noodles or rice and new vegetables and you’ve got a pot of chicken whatever soup.

Meal #4 – Chicken Tetrazinni

This is a simple dish to prepare by stirring cubed chunks of chicken into cooked spaghetti noodles with a Parmesan cheese sauce, you can use a store bought jar and even opt for a tomato based sauce if cheese sauces aren’t your thing.

Meal #5 – Chicken quesadillas

Mix shredded chicken with a bit of salsa, spread over tortillas and sprinkle with Cheddar cheese. Fold over and heat on a griddle until the cheese melts.

There you have it: one chicken, five meals! It’s frugal in terms of money and it’s also frugal in terms of time. You cooked one “big” meal which gave you the ability to make four additional meals more easily than if you had to cook more chicken each time. By varying the types of dishes, it seems less like “leftovers” and more like a different meal each time. These are just some ideas for making the most of a whole chicken. Another great tip is to freeze your leftovers, if you will not be eating your Chicken Pot Pies right away, or want to save your left over chicken to do something with it a week or 2 weeks from now, throw it in a freezer safe container and freeze it until you are ready to use it!

What recipes would you use?