Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Step-Down Principle

Lena Baron
Assignment #4
June 22, 2011
GRADE: 30/30
“I enjoyed reading your paper.  That is awesome that you have taken the time to improve your health and finances.  Way to go!  I hope you will keep up the good work and not slide back.”

Part One – Baron Family One Step at a Time

I have a lot happening in my life right now. I have three young children and I home school our children. My husband just graduated with a Bachelors degree in Public Administration. He is now working towards opening up a small Day Spa where he will work as a Massage Therapist during the next few years as he earns his Nursing degree. I am taking classes part time with USU and behind the scenes, I am also on a mission to heal and strengthen my sickly body.
Because of all that is happening in my world on an every day as well as long-term basis the Step-Down principle has been introduced to me at just the right time. I actually don’t think that there is a bad time for it. I wish we would have applied it to our finances years ago. The process of breaking certain issues down into steps and taking one step at a time towards a certain goal is a simple, yet profoundly helpful principle. Especially when you are overwhelmed by the task of reaching the goal.
As I was pondering the Step-Down principle and trying to decide what I would apply it to, I found myself wondering why it is called the step-DOWN principle and not the step-UP principle. Sometimes we think of progress as moving up the ladder. In this case, I determined that the purpose is to move down to the steady foundation of the basics. One step at a time we become more grounded.
I chose two different issues to apply the Step-Down principle to in my life. The first revolved around health and nutrition with the goal being to plan a menu for the month. The second revolved around our finances and ended with a budget plan for the rest of the year.  
I used the Step-Down principle to break down my health and nutrition and needs for a menu into four main steps. First, I conducted a food elimination diet experiment for 2 weeks. Second, I read the book “Breaking the Food Seduction by Neal Barnard, MD. Third, I determined which foods I would and would not include into my menu. Finally, I created a menu.
I am so excited about the menu that I have and the template that I set up in order for me to plan again for the next month. I have plans for meals that are not necessarily freezer friendly as well as half a dozen freezer friendly meals that I’ll double batch and freeze for the future. I have severe gluten intolerance. With this condition, it’s very difficult to eat healthy while always on the run, not to mention extremely expensive. This menu will be very helpful as I try to eat healthy and rebuild my body’s health and strength. I have wanted to establish a good system for planning ahead for our meals. The Step-Down principle was exactly what I needed in order to get organized and act upon what I needed to do, one step at a time.
My husband and I have been married for eight years this month. We have a happy healthy marriage. Up to this point we have been lucky when it comes to communicating about finances. I say lucky because the reality of thing could really cause shakeup in a marriage. We’re not near bankruptcy. But we’ve had to live off of student loans for a few years and that isn’t easy or stress-free. My husband has worked steadily as much as his schedule will allow. However, money is always tight and up until the Step-Down principle, we lacked a major stress reliever, a budget. Thanks to this principle, I was able to break things down enough to gain the confidence in myself to take on the all-day task of organizing this budget plan. It was overwhelmingly eye opening and worthwhile. As the day moved on my good husband joined me when I needed help and input and to close the night we were able to sit and discuss the plan and commit to it. The budget showed me just how much we can NOT dine out. It showed me how much our hobby farm really costs every month. And it has helped me plan for large upcoming expenses and holidays.  Up until this time we have always had to delve into the credit card. We won’t have to do that this semester as long as we continue to follow the plan one step at a time.
Part Two – Miller Family A Change of Habits a Change of View

It’s always interesting to me how I can pin point other peoples problems quickly but it takes years to sift through my own bad habits. I think this might be the case with the Miller family. It seems that they are so busy just trying to meet their obligations and responsibilities that their finances took the hit. If I were in their shoes and I had just discovered the Step-Down principle and applied it by creating a budget. I would apply it again by stepping down the amount of money paid toward food. I would cut the Eating Out budget down to $180.00 at the most. I would also cut out spending extra money on lunches all together and send lunches from home to school and work, using the money allotted in the grocery budget to pay for the lunches.
If these were the changes that the Millers chose to make, I’m sure it would take a major lifestyle change in order to take the steps. They would most likely need to make a menu and purchase the right foods for the meals. The kids are old enough that everyone in the family could each take a day to prepare the meals. If they plan ahead they can double batch meals and use left-overs for lunch or freeze them for another meal. Finding entertainment that doesn’t cost money or revolve around an ordered meal isn’t easy and most likely for the Millers it might require a real change of habits and a change of view. 

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